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When I’m in the mood for a creamy, flavorful pick-me-up in the afternoon I often find myself facing a dilemma. Should I opt for a smooth latte or a super-sweet mocha? Both of these options really hit the spot when it comes to milk-based coffee drinks and it can be nearly impossible to decide on the best option on any given day.
Coffee lovers and chocolate lovers can both find solace in a rich creamy mocha. It combines the beautiful sweetness of delicious chocolate with the intense, moreish flavors of coffee. A latte lacks the chocolate flavor but still incorporates the dark taste of coffee with creamy steamed milk.
This got me thinking of the similarities and differences between a mocha and a latte and what makes both these drinks so special. From their ingredients to how they’re made, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right drink for you.
Both a mocha and a latte are espresso-based drinks with steamed milk. The mocha has the benefit of chocolate sauce to give it an ultra-sweet twist.
To help you really narrow down your options and choose the drink that’s perfect for you, here’s everything you need to know about the mocha vs the latte.
What Is a Latte?
A latte (or caffe latte) is a coffee drink that combines a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a layer of milk foam. It has origins in Italy where the espresso was first developed. Milk was added to this to create a breakfast drink. As the latte gained popularity in the USA, it evolved into a creamy drink with a higher milk content. The concept of latte art was also founded as baristas found creative ways to serve the drink at coffee shops.
What Is a Mocha?
The Caffe Mocha (also called a mochaccino) is the perfect marriage of coffee flavor and rich chocolatey notes. It’s very similar to a latte but the main difference is the inclusion of chocolate sauce, chocolate syrup, or actual melted chocolate. There are many possible ways to make a mocha and these include a variety of coffee beverages combined with an array of chocolate flavorings.
Mocha vs Latte
The Italian latte is typically used as a base for the cafe mocha. Starbucks makes this drink by combining chocolate sauce with espresso shots and topping it up with steamed milk with the option to finish with whipped cream.
A latte of 8 fl oz has around 100 calories, 9g of sugar (from the milk), and 3g of fat. It has a rich and creamy texture with a smooth hint of coffee throughout. A layer of froth on top gives it an indulgent feel and a satisfying texture.
A mocha of 8 fl oz has around 200 calories, 18g of sugar, and 9g of fat. This includes dark chocolate syrup and sweetened whipped cream to finish. It’s smooth and indulgent with rich chocolate flavors. The taste of coffee stands out but isn’t overpowering. It’s the perfect hybrid between a cup of coffee and hot chocolate.
Espresso as a Base
Both the drinks typically start out life as an espresso. The amount of espresso used depends on the size of the drink and this will determine the caffeine content. A single shot of espresso contains around 60mg of caffeine and a double shot of espresso has closer to 120mg.
To brew this kind of coffee you need an espresso machine that can create a high-pressure environment. This helps extract a wide spectrum of coffee flavors and aromas as well as the characteristic layer of crema on top of the coffee. Espresso is concentrated in volume as well as flavor making it a perfect addition to these creamy drinks.
To create the milk for these drinks a steam wand is the best tool. This works to heat the milk using a pressurized jet of steam, introduced just under the surface of the milk. The steam incorporates loads of tiny air bubbles into liquid, giving it a thick texture made up of microfoam.
It’s best to choose milk with a higher fat content as these types hold the foam well. Whole milk, half and half, or even cream work well. It’s also possible to swap out this for a non-dairy option such as soy, almond, coconut, or oat milk but make sure it’s a brand that’s recommended for barista use as they are designed to foam well.
To turn a latte into a mocha, a hint of chocolate is all that’s needed. The quickest way to make the drink ultra sweet and bursting with chocolate flavors is to add chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup. These can be plain chocolate flavored or with added complimentary flavors like hazelnut or vanilla. You can even swap out dark chocolate for white chocolate syrup if you like it super sweet. Other ingredient options included actual melted chocolate, hot chocolate powder, and cocoa powder.
Cafe au Lait
Cafe au lait roughly translates into milk coffee is a drink made from strong brewed coffee and warm milk. It is said to be the precursor for the latte and was enjoyed in Europe for many centuries before the espresso was invented.
The cafe au lait is the favorite coffee for many individuals and the recipe makes it an ideal base drink to make into a mocha.
Mocha Coffee Beans
When talking about mochas and lattes, coffee enthusiasts may be aware of a type of coffee bean called mocha coffee beans. Despite their name, these are not beans intended for brewing chocolate-flavored coffee. Mocha beans are actually a variety of arabica coffee beans that come from Yemen. The name ‘Mocha’ comes from the port of Mocha where most Yemeni coffee was exported from before the 20th century.
Other Espresso Drinks
You’re bound to find this option on your local coffee shop’s menu. It’s very similar to a latte but the espresso is topped up with half steamed milk and half milk foam. It’s foamy, bubbly, and a really delicious way to enjoy coffee.
Like a cappuccino but remove the steamed milk, a macchiato is an espresso topped with milk foam. It’s a darker drink as the coffee flavors stand out more against the foamy milk.
No milk in this option, the Americano is an espresso topped up with hot water to give a cup of black coffee that’s rich in flavor. It’s similar to drip coffee but more aromatic and retains the crema from the espresso.
Another option that’s similar to a latte is the flat white. It is espresso topped up with steamed milk and just a hint of milk foam. It’s smaller in size and has less milk than a latte so the coffee flavor stands out more.
Which is the sweeter option, a latte or mocha?
A latte is made up of steamed milk and espresso coffee. A mocha is steamed milk, espresso coffee, and chocolate sauce or syrup. This makes the mocha a much sweeter option when compared to a latte.
Does a mocha or latte have more caffeine?
The caffeine in both these drinks comes from the espresso coffee base. The amount of caffeine in the drink depends on how much coffee you add. For an 8-ounce latte and mocha, both these will have a single shot of espresso so will have 60 mg of caffeine per serving.
What is the difference between a mocha and a latte?
Both a mocha and a latte are very similar in that they contain espresso and steamed milk. The mocha has chocolate sauce or syrup added alongside the coffee to sweeten it whereas a latte has no additional ingredients.
When would you have a mocha?
A Caffe Mocha is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up if you’re looking for a sweet treat but still want that coffee fix. It makes for a really indulgent treat with breakfast on a cold morning. A mocha is really delicious anytime really, but be wary close to bedtime as the caffeine can end up keeping you awake!
Every coffee aficionado can agree that a mocha and a latte are very similar drinks. The main difference is one contains rich chocolate and the other is just espresso coffee. There are many different ways to make a mocha and if you’re a chocolate lover then you won’t be short of options. The one thing we can all agree on is that the best coffee is the one you enjoy most. So mocha vs latte, it’s up to you!
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