What is a Mocha? (And How to Make One)
The mocha is a deliciously sweet and nutty flavor sensation that brings together classic coffee and delicious chocolate. The mocha is actually a close relative of the latte, making it velvety, creamy and smooth.
But, what exactly is a mocha, where did it come from and how can you make one for yourself? Well, let’s find out!
What is a Mocha?
A mocha is a combination of a traditional latte and hot chocolate, that brings sweetness and richness to the party.
A mocha is made using a double shot of espresso, (⅓ of the contents), chocolate powder and ⅔ steamed milk. Mochas are made in a similar way to lattes and contain only a thin layer of foam on the top of the drink.
Whilst it may sound like a mocha is just a standard latte with some chocolate powder thrown in for good measure, there is actually a lot more to it than that!
Why is it Called Mocha?
You may be surprised to know that the word mocha doesn’t actually have anything to do with chocolate… in fact, according to the caffe mocha Wikipedia page, the name is actually derived from the City Mocha, in Yemen.
Yemen has been one of the largest and most prominent cities throughout the history of the coffee trade, and gave the mocha its name thanks to the beans the port city produced.
As per this article from Nescafe, “What is a Mocha?”, the arabica coffee beans that are produced in the Al Mokka port have a distinctly chocolatey flavor. This is what gives this chocolate-flavored drink its name.
In terms of the origins of the mocha, this article by The Sprudge “The Mocha: The Surprising History Of A Delicious Coffee Drink” (Liz Clayton, April 2021), states that the mocha was first invented in the 18th century. Whilst the name originates from Yemen, it is commonly thought amongst coffee historians that the mocha was first drunk in Italy in the 1700s. This is where chocolate, coffee and milk were first combined in a tall glass and consumed by cafe goers across the country.
How to Make a Mocha (Step by Step)
Now we have an understanding of what a mocha is and where it originated from, let’s take a closer look at how to make a mocha, step by step!
Finely ground, Medium roasted espresso coffee beans
⅔ Cup/8 oz of Whole Milk
Milk steaming wand
(Alternatives): Aeropress/French Press/Milk Frother/Moka Pot/Percolator
Here is a simple step by step method to help you make a magnificent mocha from home!
Step 1: Choose Your Coffee Beans
The first step in making a great mocha from the comfort of your own home is to pick the perfect coffee beans.
Picking a medium roasted coffee bean that is well balanced and has distinctive nutty or chocolaty flavor notes will give you the perfect accompaniment to your chocolate powder. This also works perfectly with the silky smooth steamed milk.
If you want to take your coffee beans selection to the next level, then going for a blend of both arabica and robusta coffee bean varieties will add even more bite and caffeine to your mocha.
Step 2: Brew Your Espresso
Next, you’ll need to brew your double espresso.
To do this, grind your coffee beans finely if you have a grinder at home. Alternatively, look out for ground coffee that is labelled as espresso grind, as this will be fine enough to use in your espresso machine.
Simply add your ground coffee to your portafilter, distribute evenly, tamp and away you go!
If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, you could also use a moka pot, percolator or aeropress to brew strong espresso.
If you don’t have a fancy espresso machine at home, check out these 7 alternative ways to make espresso-like coffee!
Step 3: Prepare Your Steamed Milk
Once your espresso is brewed, it’s time to steam your milk.
If you are using an espresso machine with a built-in milk steaming wand, simply turn the setting on to activate this and your steaming water will automatically heat up through your coffee machine itself.
Simply pour your ⅔ cup of milk into a metal steaming pitcher, place the wand into the pitcher and slowly rotate the pitcher around for 20 seconds or so. You only need to steam your milk for a short period of time, until it is starting to warm up and a few small bubbles appear on the surface.
To create the foam, simply move your milk pitcher down so that the tip of the steaming want is touching the surface of the milk itself. When making a mocha, there is only a small amount of foam used, so you can simply pour this over the top of your steamed milk, or practice your latte art!
Top Tip: The milk used for a mocha is up to you. Typically, whole milk is used as it gives the most velvety and smooth texture when filled with micro air bubbles. However, if you want to reduce the calories, go for a skimmed or semi skimmed milk. If you are lactose intolerant, then using a milk alternative also works well. Just make sure it is a ‘barista’ style milk alternative, so there is enough creaminess to replicate the fat content of whole milk.
Step 4: Combine Your Ingredients
Next, pour your double shot of espresso into your serving glass, along with your chocolate powder or syrup and stir. This will ensure your chocolate is fully incorporated into your hot espresso, and there are no clumps of floating powder!
Then, top your chocolaty espresso mix with your steamed milk and foam, and you’re ready to serve!
Step 5: Serve and Enjoy!
Simply top your mocha with light dusting of extra chocolate powder, serve and enjoy!
Mocha Compared to Other Coffee Drinks
A mocha is often used to introduce non-coffee lovers to the drink, as the taste is more subtle. The rich, sweet chocolate offsets the natural bitterness of the coffee nicely, making it more palatable to a wider audience.
Now we have discussed where the mocha originated from and how it is made, let’s see how it compares to other popular coffee drinks!
A mocha is relatively similar to a latte considering they are both made using a double espresso and steamed milk. However, a mocha is sweeter and has a less bitter flavor than a latte. Both drinks are creamy and smooth when compared to other coffee based beverages.
Check out this article on where lattes come from and how to make them!
A cappuccino, like a mocha, is often topped with cocoa or chocolate dust. However, a cappuccino uses significantly more foam and is often made with a dark roasted espresso bean, rather than a more commonly used medium roast.
This gives the cappuccino a distinctly bitter flavor that pairs well with the sweet and nutty foam and steamed milk.
Check out this article on where cappuccinos come from and how to make them!
Whilst the classic mocha is a sweet and nutty drink flavored drink that comes in a tall glass, there are a few variations of it that you should try.
White Chocolate Mocha
A popular alternative to the classic mocha, that is often served at Starbucks, is the white chocolate mocha. White chocolate powder or syrup is used to give a more delicate, creamy flavor profile to the classic milk chocolate mocha.
Another way to make a mocha more interesting is to substitute out the hot, steamed milk for cold milk and ice cubes!
Iced mochas are a great alternative to their hot chocolate style counterparts, as they are creamy, delicious and refreshing!
Salted Caramel Mocha
Whilst a mocha is already a sweet and nutty tasting drink, you can up the ante and make it even more of a delicious treat by adding salted caramel syrup. The salt in salted caramel opens up your taste buds and helps you experience the combination of flavors more intensely.
This is a great way to add another dimension to your mocha and take the sweetness to the next level!
Finally, an iconinc flavor combination that can be easily translated into your everyday mocha is mint chocolate. Adding peppermint flavored syrup to your chocolate and espresso mix, brings a freshness that offsets the sweet and creamy flavors brilliantly.
Overall, the mocha is an age old coffee based drink that combines two of the world’s most loved ingredients to create a delicious beverage! Chocolate and coffee go hand in hand, and it is no surprise that the mocha is so popular all over the world.
From its humble beginnings in the heart of Italy, to being popularized by modern coffee chains like Starbucks, mochas are a great way to introduce anyone uninitiated to the world of coffee.
Is a Mocha Coffee or Hot Chocolate?
A mocha is a combination of hot chocolate and coffee. The name stems from the city of Mokka in Yemen, but the combination of chocolate powder, chocolate syrup or squares of actual milk chocolate is what makes a mocha unique.
What is a Mocha vs a Latte?
A mocha is very similar to a latte, but it chocolate powder is added to the freshly brewed espresso and added to the foam that sits on top of the brew. This gives the mocha its distinctly sweet flavor.