Latte vs Mocha: The Absolute Essential Differences You Need to Know

Whether you’re a seasoned coffee drinker or new to the java craze, you’ve probably noticed that there are many different types of coffee. With all the different types of beans, methods of preparation, ways to serve, and flavors to add, it can get confusing to know what’s what. 

If you’ve been wondering about the difference between a latte and a mocha or want to know which is better, latte vs mocha, read on to find out more.

Latte vs Mocha: What’s the Difference?

Both latte and mocha are made of the same essential ingredients: espresso and steamed milk. The difference comes in the ratio of espresso to milk and the addition of a couple of ingredients. A latte has a higher milk-to-espresso ratio and includes frothed milk, while a mocha has a higher espresso-to-milk ratio and includes chocolate.

Latte Definition

What is a latte? A latte is an ideal beverage for coffee drinkers who want to go light on the coffee flavor. The main ingredients are espresso and steamed milk. According to the latte definition, the typical ratio is ⅔ steamed milk to ⅓ coffee. A latte also usually has a thin layer of foamed milk on the top.

a woman holding a white ceramic cup of latte, latte vs mocha

Different coffee shops and baristas may have a slightly different take on the latte recipe, varying the ratio a bit one way or the other, but this ratio is generally accepted. Most lattes are between 10-12 ounces.  A latte is the favorite coffee drink for some people, as they’re not big fans of a strong coffee taste.

The latte doesn’t stop at espresso and steamed milk, though. Many latte lovers make the drink their own by adding sweeteners, syrups, and other flavors. Others may use different types of milk, such as soy or almond milk. In some cases, people forego the coffee altogether and make a latte with tea instead.

Mocha Definition

What is mocha? Mocha is short for a mocha latte or caffe mocha. According to the mocha definition, a mocha is made with an even ratio of chocolate to espresso. Steamed milk is then added but in a smaller quantity. Typically, the ratio is ⅖ chocolate, ⅖ espresso, and ⅕ milk. The mocha usually comes in a 10-12 ounce cup.

a blue ceramic cup of mocha on a wooden table, latte vs mocha

According to most coffee enthusiasts, the mocha is a remix of the latte. Where the latte has a milder, creamy taste, the mocha is bold, sweet, and dark. Less cream allows for a much richer coffee flavor to come through, but the mocha is still an appealing drink for those who don’t love strong coffee as the chocolate cuts the bitterness.

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You can also easily customize your mocha in a variety of ways. Many coffee drinkers prefer white chocolate for a smoother, milder taste. You can also add toppings like whipped cream, chocolate and caramel syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Some innovative java fiends have added chocolate milk in the place of steamed milk and chocolate syrup.

How to Make a Latte 

Whether you have an espresso machine or not, making a latte is relatively straightforward. You don’t have to visit the local coffee shop to have a fantastic latte. Read on to learn how to make your own.

With an Espresso Machine

The main ingredients you’ll need are espresso beans and milk. You’ll also want to gather anything else you’d like to put in your latte, such as sweeteners or syrups. Grind your coffee beans, or purchase ground coffee if you don’t have a grinder.

The type of milk you choose is based on taste. Whole milk will give you a richer, creamier taste, while 2% or skim won’t be as rich but will have fewer calories. Begin by warming your cup and brewing a double shot of espresso. Pour into a cup and put milk into a frothing pitcher. 

Use your machine’s steaming wand to steam to 150 degrees. Pour onto espresso slowly, allowing the milk to go first and the froth to go last. As your skills grow, you can start to create some simple and then incredible latte art for the full latte experience.

Without an Espresso Machine

No espresso machine? No problem! You can still make a delicious latte from the comfort of your home. You can use a microwave or stovetop to steam your milk, although the stovetop is recommended as you’ll have more control over how hot the milk gets. 

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Simply pour the milk into a saucepan and heat on medium-low heat until it reaches a temperature of 150 F, stirring occasionally. You can make frothed milk by putting milk into a mason jar, shaking to aerate, sealing the lid, and heating in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Finally, you can make espresso with an Aeropress or a french press. Just use finely ground espresso. It won’t be quite as rich as when using a machine, but it’ll do, and you can make quite a tasty latte.

How to Make a Mocha Latte

If you’ve been wondering how to make a mocha latte, making a mocha coffee is similar to making a latte. You’ll use the same equipment and the same techniques. We’ll detail the method for making a mocha with an espresso machine below, but if you don’t have an espresso machine, just use some of the techniques listed above to make your mocha.

You’ll need to gather your ground espresso, chocolate syrup, milk, and cup. You can start by pouring the chocolate syrup into your cup, about ⅖ of the way full. Then, extract two shots of espresso directly over the chocolate and stir. 

Use a milk pitcher and your machine’s steaming wand to steam the milk. It’s ready when it’s reached a temperature of 165 F. Pour slowly, letting the foam go into the cup last. Finally, you can add toppings like whipped cream, syrup, and sprinkles for a truly decadent beverage.

History of the Latte

Caffe latte translates to “coffee and milk” and dates back to at least the 17th century in Europe. These drinks weren’t true lattes, as the espresso machine had yet to be invented, and these drinks were just a mixture of coffee and milk.

Legend has it that the latte and other milk-based drinks have their roots with American tourists in Italy. Upon trying espresso, the Americans found it much too strong and bitter. Thus, the Italian coffee houses added steamed milk to the drink to make it more palatable to Americans.

The modern-day espresso machine was invented in the 1940s and allowed for easy espresso extraction and milk frothing. The latte became highly popular in the 1980s when Seattle baristas started using the steaming wand to make elaborate artwork on top of their lattes.

History of the Mocha

The popularity of the mocha has its roots in the latte boom of the 1980s. As the latte grew in popularity, coffee shops and baristas started to experiment with ratios and by adding other flavors to their lattes. Chocolate was added to the latte, the espresso content was upped, the milk content lower, and the mocha was born.

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The mocha is also likely inspired by the Turin beverage Bicerin. This coffee drink dates back to the 1700s in Italy and features a mix of espresso, chocolate, and steamed milk. In Bicerin, the ingredients are poured on top of the other, while the ingredients in a latte are mixed.

Related Questions

Which Is Sweeter, Latte or Mocha?

In the case of mocha vs latte, a mocha will be sweeter than a latte. A mocha uses chocolate, which will add an extra sweetness that you won’t find in a latte. However, if sweeteners are added, then either a mocha or a latte can be sweeter, depending on how much is added.

Does a Mocha or Latte Have More Caffeine?

When trying to figure out latte vs mocha to determine which has more caffeine, it’s a question of simple math. Both beverages use espresso, which has a higher caffeine quotient than regular coffee. A mocha has a higher ratio of espresso to milk than a latte so that the mocha will have more caffeine per cup.

What’s the Difference Between a Latte and a Cappuccino?

Do you find a latte too milk-heavy and a mocha a little too bold? A cappuccino may be the perfect happy medium for you. Like the other drinks, a cappuccino is a mixture of steamed milk, espresso, and foam. For the cappuccino’s ratio, it’s equal parts steamed milk and espresso. 

You’ll find that a cappuccino is more decadent than a latte without being as strong as a mocha. You can also add sweeteners, chocolate, whipped cream, and other add-ins to customize it to your particular tastes.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to latte vs mocha, both drinks have their own appeal, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. A latte is perfect for sipping when you want something mild and creamy, while a mocha is ideal for those times you want something sweet and bold. 

Whether you prefer one over the other or if you love both, these two coffee shop staples are some of the most popular drinks around.

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