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Mocha vs Latte: What’s the Difference?

mocha vs latte

If you find yourself staring at a coffee menu for way too long, it’s probably because there are so many options and they all sound so tasty. Among these tasty options are two espresso drinks: the latte and the mocha. Some people are very familiar with these, but if you find yourself enjoying a latte or a mocha without quite knowing what it is you’re drinking, we are here to explain.

SEE ALSO: Our complete guide to the 21 different types of espresso drinks (with pictures).

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What is a Mocha?

Two words: chocolate and coffee. This is the epitome of a mocha. Mochas are a very satisfying option if you like to live on the sweet side. They have a subtle coffee flavor with tasty chocolate and creamy milk. So, how exactly is this drink made? First, the espresso shots get pulled and go into the cup. Then, chocolate sauce and steamed milk are poured on top. If you’re lucky, you might get whipped cream or chocolate shavings, too!

How to make a mocha latte

There are also a lot of other flavors that can be added to your mocha to make it your own style. One example is a salted caramel mocha. These tend to come around during the holidays, but you may be able to find them at other times of the year or just make one at home.

Pros
  • Delicious pairing of chocolate and coffee
  • Many flavor options
  • Often served with whipped cream or chocolate shavings
Cons
  • May be too sweet
  • Not very espresso-forward

What is a Latte?

Lattes are made with six to eight ounces of steamed milk and a shot or two of espresso. They’re typically topped with foam, sometimes poured in a decorative pattern.

What is a latte?

Unlike the chocolate in mochas, there is no extra flavor that comes standard in a latte. This means you can taste the espresso flavor much better in a latte. If you would miss having a sweet flavor, don’t worry. Coffee shops are dedicated to your satisfaction. You can ask your barista to add one of a wide range of flavors to your latte to make it taste just the way you want.

HELPFUL TIP: If you order a latte in Italy, don’t forget to add the word “caffè.” “Latte” means milk in Italian, so if you don’t specify caffè latte, you’ll be served a cup of milk!

Pros
  • Can be made with many flavors and syrups
  • Rich espresso with creamy milk
Cons
  • May not be sweet enough

Making Mochas and Lattes at Home

While some don’t mind waiting in line, others agree that we shouldn’t have to go to a coffee shop every time we want an espresso drink. As long as you have the equipment to make espresso, like a Moka pot or an espresso machine, you can make almost any espresso drink at home, including lattes and mochas. There are some differences to account for when making them at home, however.

To make a latte, you just need to add hot milk to your espresso. If you have a frother, this will work the best. If you don’t have a frother, don’t fret; you can also heat the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave. That is all you need to make a latte.

If you are craving a mocha, you’ll need to make or buy chocolate sauce. To make your own, heat chocolate chips or bars on the stove with a splash of milk. After the sauce is finished, make your espresso shots and heat up your milk. Add the espresso first, then the chocolate sauce, and stir them together. Add your milk last. This process is the best way to mix all the flavors. To make a decadent treat, top your mocha with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, sprinkles, or syrup.

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Mocha vs Latte: The Bottom Line

Lattes and mochas are similar but not quite the same. Here’s a quick summary of the differences.

Mochas are sweet, chocolate-flavored espresso drinks made with steamed milk and often topped with whipped cream or chocolate shavings. Lattes are more espresso-forward and less sweet. They’re typically made with steamed milk and espresso and topped with simple foam.

Mocha
  • Made with steamed milk, espresso, and chocolate syrup
  • May be topped with whipped cream or chocolate shavings
  • Sweet, rich, and chocolatey
Latte
  • Made with steamed milk and espresso
  • Topped with silky microfoam
  • More espresso-forward and less sweet

So which should you choose? If you’re looking for a sweet treat, try a mocha. If you prefer the bold flavor of espresso, order a latte. Can’t decide? Get the best of both worlds with a mocha latte.

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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