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Mocha vs Latte – What’s the Difference?

So you’ve been into coffee for a while now and you’re venturing your way into the wide world of espresso.

Espresso is one of those things that can come across pretty intimidating if nobody has sat you down and explained what it is, but once you have a little bit of knowledge it all makes a ton of sense.

Two of the most common terms and types of espresso drinks you may have heard of before are mocha and latte.  Both of mocha and latte are types of espresso drinks that can be made easily with your espresso machine at home or ordered at your favorite coffee shop.

In this article, we’ve created a complete comparison of mocha vs latte.  We’ll go over all the similarities, all of the differences, and everything else you need to know to be an expert on these two types of coffee drinks!

Understanding Espresso

Before we get into the details of mocha vs latte, it’s helpful to go over some basic knowledge about espresso.

It’s a method of coffee making that utilizes a small amount of really hot water (almost boiling), that’s forced with pressure through finely ground, compressed coffee beans.

The end result is a very concentrated form of coffee that is particularly strong, especially compared to regular drip coffee.  Because of this, light roast and medium roast coffee beans are probably more popular for espresso, although nobody is stopping you from using a dark roast if that’s what you prefer.

Most coffee drinks that are served at your local coffee shop involve espresso in some way.  The second ingredient that you’ll find in a lot of coffee drinks is milk – which is typically steamed or foamed before it’s combined with other ingredients.

In the case of both latte and mocha, espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk are all there – but the proportions are different and some of the other ingredients vary.

What Is a Latte?

A latte is a type of coffee drink that’s espresso based, and features a proportionately large amount of steamed and foamed milk to go alongside it.

Your typical latte looks something like this:

  • 1 oz espresso
  • 4 oz steamed milk
  • 1 oz foamed milk

The coffee flavor in a latte is pretty diluted compared to other types of espresso based drinks, so it’s especially popular for those who prefer a creamy drink with more tame coffee flavors.

Of course, you can play with the proportions a little bit and make your drink a little stronger than the above guidelines if you prefer.  Make it a double shot of espresso and add only a couple of more ounces of steamed milk and it still qualifies as a latte.

Latte’s are also popular and well known for the canvas they provide baristas to perform a little bit of latte art.  While you slowly pour your steamed milk into the espresso, when it’s about two thirds of the way full, you can pour the milk in different patterns to create some pretty cool aesthetics on the top layer of your drink.

What Is a Mocha?

A mocha is another espresso based coffee drink, but in addition to the three ingredients found in a latte it introduces dark chocolate to the mix.

Mocha drinks commonly look like this:

  • 2 oz espresso (double shot)
  • 2 oz hot chocolate
  • 1 oz steamed milk
  • Small layer of foamed milk on top

Some coffee shops substitute dark chocolate chunks or chocolate syrup for the hot chocolate in a mocha.  No matter which you use, the idea is to have equal proportions of espresso and chocolate in a mocha.

Mocha is pretty strong in terms of having a coffee forward flavor.  It’s stronger than cappuccino and potentially only out strengthened by an americano in terms if coffee flavor.

It’s worth pointing out here too that there actually exists a “mocha latte”.  This is not to be confused with a true mocha drink – the mocha latte is just a latte with an ounce of chocolate syrup added to it.

The other thing that confuses people about mocha is that the term also refers to a type of coffee bean with origins in Yemen. These beans are pretty rare and very pricey, so it wouldn’t be surprising if you never came across them – but it’s a little caveat worth pointing out.

In this article, we’re talking about mocha as an espresso based drink that’s popular at coffee shops and also popular to make at home.

Mocha vs Latte – Similarities

When it comes to these two drinks, here are the things they share in common:

  • Both drinks incorporate an espresso base, steamed milk, and foamed milk.  All of which can be made easily with an espresso machine or with other home equipment like a frothing device.
  • Mocha and Latte are both extremely popular types of drinks.  I guarantee that each of these drinks are ordered frequently at just about every coffee shop you’ll come across, and you can order one anywhere you go.
  • Both are pretty easy to make with some practice.  If you’re completely new to espresso it may take a few tries to get it down, but both of these drinks are easy to get the hang of.

Mocha vs Latte – Differences

While these drinks do share a few things in common with one another, they are far from being one and the same.  Here are some of the distinctions between mocha and latte:

  • Latte is much creamier and muted on the coffee flavor strength compared to mocha.  On the other hand, mocha will hit you pretty head on with its strength and concentration of coffee.
  • Mocha incorporates chocolate.  This one is a huge difference!  Mocha by nature has chocolate undertones that balance out the strong coffee flavor beautifully.
  • Lattes are a little bit healthier.  That chocolate tastes good, I know.  But unfortunately it adds a significant amount of sugar and calories to your cup – especially compared to a latte.
  • It’s easier to make art on a latte.  If you’re into that kind of thing, the extra milk content in a latte makes it much easier to create beautiful designs on the top layer of your drink.

Which is Better?

The answer to this one is truly left to the eye of the beholder.

Even though mocha and latte both share an espresso base, they’re very different drinks.  Personally I enjoy both.  If you’re the type who prefers strong coffee flavor or chocolate, mocha might be for you.

On the other hand, latte is perfect for those who prefer a less strong coffee experience.

There is no right or wrong answer as to which is better between mocha and latte.  Ask 100 people and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a 50/50 preference split.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped to clear up the air for you about mocha vs latte.  The next time you go out to your local coffee shop you’ll know exactly what to expect when you order either one.

Not sure which one you’ll prefer?  Try both!  They’re both great options that can be enjoyed and easily recreated at home.