Macchiato vs Mocha: What’s the Difference?

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macchiato vs mocha

If you’ve been inside a coffee shop, local or chain, then you’re familiar with the popular espresso drinks macchiato and mocha.

Maybe you’ve ordered one but didn’t know what exactly you drank. Or maybe you’ve seen them on the menu, but didn’t know enough about it to try one.

Today you’ll find out what makes a macchiato, a macchiato and what makes a mocha, a mocha. Then you can decide which one you prefer for your next coffee shop visit.

What is Macchiato?

Often times the macchiato you order at a coffee shop is loaded with sugar, and isn’t authentic. The Italians intended for macchiatos to highlight the flavor of espresso, not hide it in syrup or sauce.

So, what is an authentic macchiato? In Italian “macchiato” translates to “stained” or “marked”.

Macchiatos are a cup of espresso marked with a little steamed milk and foam on top. This gives you the bold, strong espresso flavor, but with some milk for relief. This is the original version of the macchiato, now deemed an espresso macchiato.

There’s also a version called a latte macchiato. This drink has a lot more steamed milk and uses a different technique. Here, a full amount of milk is steamed and the shots are pulled like normal.

This time, however, the espresso marks the milk. The espresso is poured very slowly over the steamed milk, creating layers. This version of a macchiato is similar to a latte, except for the slow pour and the layers created.

SEE ALSO: Our Breakdown of the Top 5 Milk Frothers of 2020

a macchiato drink

Credit: Wikimedia, Takeaway

What is Mocha?

A mocha can’t be a mocha without chocolate! It combines 2 addictions, coffee, and chocolate, into one drink. What could be better?

Mochas start with espresso and chocolate sauce. Then a generous amount of steamed milk is added, typically without foam. Some coffee shops also add whipped cream and/or chocolate shavings on top.

This is the description of a basic mocha, but there is a multitude of options. White mochas are just as popular as regular mochas at most coffee shops. During the holidays, other versions are available like peppermint mocha or salted caramel mocha.


The Differences

As you can tell from reading the drink descriptions, these 2 drinks are very different. There are 3 things that really separate them from each other; flavor, variety, and milk preparation. We will further explain some of these differences to give you more coffee knowledge.

1. The Flavor Factor

Macchiatos and mochas have very different flavor profiles. Macchiatos have a strong espresso flavor with the addition of creaminess from the milk.

Mochas celebrate the flavors of chocolate and coffee together making it a much sweeter drink.

2. Variety, Variety, Variety

Mochas are the winner when it comes to variety. As mentioned before, they have many flavor options beyond regular or white mochas. Seasonal flavors appear annually. The wide range of flavored syrups coffee shops offer invites customers to create their own flavor of mocha as well. Macchiatos are simple and focus on the espresso.

The 2 authentic varieties available are an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato. Some coffee shops have flavored, non-authentic, versions like caramel and vanilla.

3. Milk Preparation

Both of these drinks have milk, but they use different techniques, which has different effects on each beverage. An espresso macchiato uses the least amount of milk and typically has some foam.

A latte macchiato uses more milk with microfoam to help create layers when espresso is poured over it. Mochas use milk to even out the texture and highlight the real stars; espresso and chocolate.

We also recently wrote a post about the differences between frappe and latte. You can find the post here.

Header image credit: Kellydo, Pixabay