Are you guilty of staring at a coffee menu for 15 minutes without being able to make a pick?
I don’t blame you.
Most coffee-based drinks seem like the same thing – like a latte or a mocha.
In this article, we’ll discuss both of these coffee beverages and see what makes them different.
Without further ado, I present to you – a latte vs mocha showdown.
What is a Latte?
Caffe latte literally translates to “coffee with milk,” and that’s something Europeans have been mixing for centuries now.
But the latte we all know and love today was popularized in the early 1980s in downtown Seattle by a then-small coffee shop named Starbucks.
A latte is practically espresso topped with steamed milk. It’s sweet yet subtle, and very drinkable – even if you’re not a big fan of coffee.
Mixing coffee and milk might sound simple, but the key is in the details. The milk froth texture is really important. You need to aim for a slightly thickened foam with tiny, uniform bubbles. It’s rather similar to what melted marshmallows or wet paint look like.
Traditionally, a latte is made with cow milk. But given the fact that lots of people are lactose intolerant, you can use plant-based milk and still get a pretty similar result. In fact, most coffee shops nowadays offer these alternatives as well.
Latte is usually served in a wide 8-ounce cup, and it’s commonly decorated with “latte art,” patterns created by pouring thick milk foam into the drink.
How to Make Latte?
Want to make a cup of latte at home? The whole process is easy peasy, as long as you know the right ratio.
A standard latte usually consists of 1/6 espresso, 4/6 steamed milk, and 1/6 foamed milk. Of course, you can always tweak this to make the drink more to your liking.
Here’s how to make a latte:
- Pull a shot of espresso on the espresso machine.
- Steam the milk to a temperature between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pour milk into the cup, while holding back the milk foam on the top with a spoon.
- Lastly, add the frothed milk.
And that’s pretty much it. Of course, you can always show off your latte art skills and play with different designs on your coffee.
What is a Mocha?
Like a latte, mocha is also made with coffee and milk. But there’s also an additional ingredient that makes it stand out – chocolate.
What’s interesting is that the term mocha originally had nothing to do with either chocolate or milk.
In fact, the word mocha was actually used to refer to beans growing in the city of al-Mukha, Yemen. Mocha beans, a variety of Arabica coffee, are rich, oily, and have earthy notes, compared to other varieties from the same species.
Mocha coffee beans have that natural chocolate flavor. That made them quite popular in Europe, a continent that primarily consumed more fruity and floral varieties.
Mocha coffee isn’t necessarily made with mocha beans, but the drink probably got its name from those particular chocolaty notes.
Mocha is usually served in a tall glass rather than a cup. Often, it’s topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings for an additional sugar boost. There’s also an iced coffee version, perfect for hot summer days.
How to Make Mocha?
In terms of ratio, a cup of cafe mocha is usually 2/5 espresso, 2/5 chocolate, and 1/5 steamed milk. You can use store-bought chocolate syrup, or make your own.
Here’s how to make this drink:
- Pour espresso into the glass.
- Add chocolate syrup and mix until you get a smooth texture.
- Steam the milk until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add milk into the cup, then stir the mixture well.
- Optionally, you can top your drink with sprinkles or whipped cream to make it even more enjoyable.
Latte vs Mocha: Similarities & Differences
I’m sure these two milk-based coffee drinks still appear quite similar. So let’s look at their characteristics and how they compare when it comes to things that matter the most.
The brewing process is quite similar in both cases, but with a few tweaks here and there.
Making a latte is pretty simple – first, you pour an espresso shot, then add steamed milk. And that’s pretty much it.
With mocha coffee, things are a bit different. You start by pouring espresso into the cup, accompanied with chocolate syrup. But before you proceed with adding milk, you need to blend coffee and chocolate together and create a uniform mixture.
For centuries now, caffe latte has been quite a popular drink in Europe, especially in France and Italy. And for the longest time, it was considered to be strictly a breakfast beverage.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 20th century that it started appearing as a part of the menu in coffee houses around the continent.
In the case of the US, that happened a few decades later. Precisely, it was Starbucks that made the latte the most popular coffee drink in the whole country.
As for caffe mocha, the drink we know today was actually invented in the States. Mocha was inspired by an Italian drink named bicerin, which uses the same ingredients. The only difference is that the ingredients in bicerin are layered, but in mocha they are mixed.
Between the two, a latte is a much lighter beverage. Due to its high milk content, it’s pretty mild and easy to drink. While Italians may prefer drinking it at breakfast, a latte is suitable for practically any time of the day.
Mocha is very sweet, due to all the chocolate added to it. It’s also often garnished with whipped cream, for an additional sugar kick.
Compared to a latte, mocha has a stronger taste and, even though it’s sweet, you can really feel its coffee content.
In terms of strength, there’s no real difference between these two drinks, as they both are made with the same amount of espresso.
Sometimes, however, mocha is made with dark chocolate, which naturally has a bit of caffeine in it. If that’s the case with your drink, then your mocha will have slightly more caffeine than a latte.
When it comes to calories, the difference is quite noticeable.
An 8-ounce cup of latte has about 100 calories. Of course, the exact amount depends on the type of milk you’ve used for preparing, but that’s a rough estimate.
Mocha is much higher in calories. Again, the exact caloric content depends on the ingredients used. But if you were to grab a cup of mocha from Starbucks, there are 200 calories in an 8-ounce cup.
That’s, of course, because of all the chocolate added to the drink.
Luckily, both drinks can be adjusted to your preference. You can do that by tweaking the amount of each ingredient or switching them with a low-calorie alternative.
However, if you really want to cut down the calories, you should choose a completely different drink (preferably with less milk), such as macchiato.
Still can’t make up your mind between these two drinks?
In this section, I’ll try to answer some questions you might have.
Which is Healthier, Latte or Mocha?
Compared to mocha, a latte is a much healthier espresso drink. Mocha contains chocolate and is often topped with whipped cream, so it’s a much more caloric type of coffee. In fact, a grande cup has as many calories as a breakfast.
Is There Such Thing as a Mocha Latte?
Depending on the coffee shop, you might see a drink on the menu named either mocha latte or just mocha. And generally, they mean the same thing – an espresso-based drink with chocolate and milk foam.
With that being said, many coffee shops have their own taking on classic drinks. They even might have both mocha and mocha latte on their menu with slightly different brewing methods.
The Bottom Line
Now you know the difference between these two drinks.
Latte is an extra-creamy, milky and light coffee beverage. Because of its high milk content, it’s very mellow, so it’s perfect for someone who is not exactly a coffee lover.
Mocha, on the other hand, is a perfect sweet coffee treat for the end of the day. It’s a milky beverage with a delicious chocolate hit, but you can still feel that caffeine kick from your espresso.
But whether you go for a mocha or a latte, you won’t go wrong – they’re equally delicious!
If you are a fan of milky coffee drinks like me, you can check out the best cappuccino machines that can deliver a perfect milk foam, which is good for other foamy beverages such as lattes.
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