Mocha vs Macchiato: Which to Choose?
Mochas and macchiatos are both popular variations of classic espresso based drinks. A mocha adds a chocolaty twist to the traditional latte, whereas a macchiato takes the edge off a strong, bitter double espresso by adding a dash of foam.
But, how do these so called misfits of the coffee world compare?
Well, let’s find out!
What’s the Difference Between a Mocha and a Macchiato?
There are a number of differences between a mocha and a macchiato. In fact, other than starting with the letter ‘M’ and being made using espresso coffee, they aren’t much alike at all!
Mochas and macchiatos differ in that, a mocha is a large 8 oz, smooth drink that combines chocolate powder with espresso and steamed milk. Whereas, a macchiato is simply a 2 oz double espresso, topped with a spoonful of foam. A macchiato is much stronger, more bitter and is drunk more quickly than a mocha.
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.
What is a Macchiato?
A Macchiato is a very popular, traditional espresso based drink that combines rich, earthy espresso with a dollop of milk foam on top.
This small drink is a close relative to a simple double shot of espresso, since it is only separated by the small dot of foam on the surface of the drink.
A macchiato is for the coffee lover that likes the strength and efficiency of drinking a double shot of espresso, but simply wants to take a bit of the edge off by adding a small amount of milk foam for good measure.
A macchiato is a very basic, but strong and earthy coffee that simply combines a double shot of espresso with a small amount of foam. Residual foam is created when milk is steamed, and this is added to the top of an espresso to add a touch of creaminess to an otherwise bitter espresso.
I wrote an article explaining what a Macchiato is and how to make one here, so if you are interested in giving it a go yourself from the comfort of your own home, check it out!
Where a Macchiato Comes From
The origins of the macchiato, as with many coffee based drinks, hail from Italy. The name of the macchiato stems from traditional Italian baristas showing their apprentices and waiters how to create an espresso with a ‘spot’ of milk foam.
According to the Wikipedia page for the macchiato, the brown crema on the surface of the espresso shot was ‘marked’ (hence the name macchiato) with white milk foam, to demonstrate the difference between a standard espresso shot and one with milk.
The Differences Between a Mocha and a Macchiato: Explained
There are a number of differences between the sweet and nutty mocha, and the bold and bitter macchiato. So, let’s take a closer look at them here!
Macchiatos are Much Stronger than Mochas
First off, since a macchiato is simply a double shot of espresso topped with foam, it is naturally a lot stronger in flavor than a mocha. A mocha has 6 oz of milk, chocolate powder and a thin layer of foam to dilute the bitterness of the espresso, whereas a macchiato just has a small spoonful of foam to offset it.
Macchiatos are More Acidic than Mochas
Due to the fact that a macchiato is little more than a double espresso with a small layer of foam dolloped on top, it is of course more acidity than a creamy, milky mocha. Coffee is actually quite an acidic drink, so milk is often used to reduce the acidity and balance out the bitterness.
Check out some of the best low acid coffees here!
Mochas are Much Sweeter than Macchiatos
Because a mocha contains chocolate powder and sweety, nutty steamed milk, it is naturally a much sweeter drink than a macchiato. The smaller macchiato is a bold, short and sharp drink that is perfect for a powerful pick me up. However, a mocha is a sweet treat that should be savoured!
Mochas are Larger than Macchiatos
Since a mocha is based on a latte, and a macchiato is a variation of a double espresso shot, a mocha is about 4 times the size of a macchiato! A typical mocha is around 8 oz, whereas a macchiato is around 2 oz.
So, Which Should You Choose?
Since mochas and macchiatos are quite different drinks, they don’t really compete for the same audience of coffee lovers. Where a mocha appeals to those looking for a sweet, indulgent drink that will help them relax and unwind, a macchiato is aimed at someone that needs a quick pick me up!
Overall, whilst the Mocha and the macchiato both originate from Italy, they are actually very different drinks.
Where a mocha is a velvety smooth blend of espresso, chocolate and milk, a macchiato is a small but mighty drink that will keep you going on a busy day. Both drinks are popular variations on classic coffee based beverages, but equally earned their place in the coffee world!
Is a Mocha and a Macchiato the Same Thing?
No, not at all! A macchiato is a small, strong coffee topped with a small amount of foam. Whereas, a mocha is a rich, creamy, drink based on a latte, that combines steamed milk, chocolate powder or syrup and espresso.
Is a Macchiato the Strongest Coffee?
Since a macchiato is such a concentrated, small drink that is made using a double espresso, it has a very bold, strong and intense flavour. However, it is slightly less strong than a regular double espresso, due to the small amount of milk foam that sits on top. This takes the edge off the natural bitterness of the espresso.