Latte vs Mocha: Which to Choose?
Lattes and mochas are both incredibly popular coffee based drinks, but for quite different reasons. A latte and a mocha are actually quite similar in the way they are made, but they are aimed at quite different audiences.
Where a latte is a smooth, creamy espresso based drink that appeals to the coffee enthusiast that wants to show off their latte art, mochas offer people a little less experienced in their coffee journey a way to enjoy coffee with a sweeter flavour.
So, let’s take a closer look at the key differences between a latte and a mocha!
What is the Difference Between a Latte and a Mocha?
The key difference between a latte and a mocha is that a mocha contains chocolate flavour, usually in the form of chocolate powder, syrup or melted chocolate pieces, whereas a latte does not. Both drinks are made from a double shot of espresso, steamed milk and a thin layer of foam, but a mocha also tends to contain more calories and has a sweeter flavour. Mochas are often also topped with whipped cream.
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!
Check out my article on exactly what a mocha is and how to make one here!
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.
What is a Latte?
A latte is a rich, creamy espresso based drink that combines a double shot of espresso with plenty of steamed milk, and a thin layer of foam to top it all off.
One of the defining characteristics of the latte is the aptly named “latte art” that they are so often finished with. Latte art is created when steamed milk is poured carefully on top of the espresso shot, and then foam is swirled around in a very specific manner to create patterns on top of the light brown crema.
A latte is a milky, espresso based drink that is made using a double shot of espresso, and ⅔ of a cup or approx 8 oz of steamed milk.
Whole milk is traditionally used for a latte as it has the most creamy and luscious texture, however milk alternatives like oat milk or soy milk have also become popular in recent years.
To make a latte, milk is steamed using a steaming wand or specially designed milk frother, until microbubbles (or microfoam) is formed. This gives the milk an even silkier texture and ensures you get the most pleasurable drinking experience possible from your latte!
The steamed milk is then poured over the double shot of espresso, and is typically made into a pattern, called ‘latte art’.
Check out my article on explaining exactly what a latte is and how to make one here!
Where a Latte Comes From
The origins of the latte begin in the heart of European coffee, Italy! The idea of combining coffee with hot milk is nothing new, and has been present throughout the entire history of coffee.
There has been mention of the original Mocha back in the 1700s, but the common term for latte did not come into the mainstream lexicon until the mid 1800s. According to the Wikipedia page for the latte, the first reference to caffe e latte came in the essay “Italian Journeys” by William Dean Howells.
The Differences Between a Mocha and a Latte: Explained
So, here are the main differences between a Mocha and a Latte. Whilst they may sound relatively similar, there are actually a few key differences between them!
A Mocha Contains Chocolate, Whereas a Latte Does Not
Of course, the key difference between a latte and a mocha is that a mocha contains chocolate and a latte does not. This usually takes the form of hot chocolate powder, but the chocolate flavour can also come from syrup of even squares of melted chocolate placed in the hot drink and mixed together with the espresso and steamed milk.
Mochas Are Sweeter than Lattes
Naturally due to the sugariness of the chocolate in a mocha, it has a sweeter taste than a latte. Whilst lattes still used steamed milk, which has its own sweeter and nuttier flavour than regular milk, it is still easy to taste the distinct bitterness of the espresso.
However, with a mocha, the bitter taste of espresso is dialed down, only leaving a hint of coffee flavour on the after taste.
Lattes Tend to Contain Less Calories than Mochas
Due to the fact that mochas are usually topped with whipped cream and contain sugary chocolate, lattes tend to contain less calories than mochas. This means you can still enjoy a rich, creamy coffee based drink without having to worry as much about your waistline!
So, Which Should You Choose?
If you are looking for a coffee cup of joe that blends both espresso and steamed, hot milk in harmony, then a creamy latte is the way to go.
However, if you are new to the world of coffee and prefer a sweeter variation of the latte that masks the natural bitterness of espresso, then a mocha may well suit you best.
Overall, a Mocha and Latte are very similar espresso based drinks, despite being aimed at different audiences! The creaminess and smoothness of the steamed milk gives both of these drinks a luxurious texture, but the latte separates itself from the mocha by offering a more balanced blend of milk and coffee. Whereas, the mocha combines chocolate flavour with the bitter espresso and steamed milk to deliver a sweeter flavor overall!
Which is Healthier, Latte or Mocha?
Because a latte does not contain any chocolate or whipped cream that is typically served with a mocha, a latte is generally considered a healthier drink than a mocha.
Does a Latte or a Mocha Have More Caffeine?
The small amount of caffeine contained in the chocolate in a mocha means that a mocha will usually have slightly more caffeine than a latte.