The Difference Between a Mocha and a Latte – Explained

Edited February, 2023

I’m sure some people don’t know what’s in the coffee drink they’ve just ordered.

Back in high school, I was one of those people.

When we wanted to feel more like a grown-up, my friends and I would go to a café. I was ordering either a latte or a mocha without knowing what is the difference between them.

Their names appeared cool to me back then and, to be honest, I quite enjoyed their taste.

I assumed that mocha had almost no coffee in it, as it had this sweet chocolaty flavor.

It was more like hot chocolate to me. I thought the latte was the stronger alternative in terms of caffeine.

Those assumptions were well embedded in my mind until I started asking myself some questions.

What is Mocha made of? Does it really have coffee in it? What’s in the caffè latte I’ve been having for quite some time now?

What are the differences between a mocha and a latte and when should I choose one or the other? It’s been a while since I know the answers, so let’s get to them.

Author’s Note: Do you want to learn the names and the ingredients of over 45 coffee shop beverages? Check out this drink guide.

What is the Dissimilarity between a Mocha and a Caffè Latte?

When you find out what’s in a mocha or a latte you will realize their ingredients are quite common for espresso-based drinks.

Small dissimilarities in the components and proportions are what keep those beverages apart.

Here is the difference between a mocha and a latte:

Latte is an espresso drink usually served in an 8 to 12 oz. (240 to 350 ml) cup. It is made with 1 shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a top microfoam layer of around 0.4 in (1 cm).

A mocha is generally made with the same ingredients as a latte, but with added 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate sauce (or syrup) or 5 to 8 grams of cocoa (or cacao) powder.

Therefore the difference between a Mocha and a Caffè Latte is in the chocolate component added to the Mocha.

Latte vs mocha coffee comparison

You will find that the way those espresso drinks are served, and the proportions of the ingredients, differ going from one coffee shop to the other.

In many places, the caffè mocha is made with 2 espresso shots for a more pronounced coffee flavor.

So have in mind that the mocha isn’t a drink that you can use as a less-caffeinated alternative to a latte.

Furthermore, because of its chocolate component, the mocha coffee contains cocoa powder that additionally increases the caffeine content of the beverage.

According to the USDA 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 12.4 milligrams of caffeine.

So it’s safe to say that a mocha is usually more caffeinated than a latte.

That’s the reason why a couple of mocha beverages have made it to my list of the strongest Starbucks coffee drinks.

It’s also common for this drink to be served with whipped cream on top.

This is the case with the mocha you can see in the photo I made below:
Mocha in a glass with whipped cream and chocolate syrup toppings

It looks delicious, right? It’s also topped off with some extra chocolate syrup.

If you want to find out more about the mocha and where it comes from, check out this post

When it comes to the caffè latte it’s either served in the tall latte glass, or a ceramic cup (click the links to check them out on Amazon).

It can be topped off with beautiful latte art – such as tulip, heart, or rosetta that you can see on most cappuccinos.

Tulip latte art on the surface of a caffè latte

At some places, they pour the milk in the glass mug first and then add the espresso.

The barista does a bit of etching (drawing on the top foam layer) and it turns out pretty cool.

You can see what I mean in the photo of the latte I got here:

Latte macchiato in a glass decorated through etching

Some would argue that this type of drink is not a true latte, but a latte macchiato.

The former is made by adding the milk to the espresso, and when making the latter – the espresso is added last.

Furthermore, a latte macchiato usually has a thicker foam layer.

If you are a beginner those clarifications might be a bit confusing.

It’s also worth noting that I’ve been to many coffee shops where if you order a caffè latte, they actually give you a latte macchiato.

This isn’t that big of a deal for me.

By the way, the traditional macchiato is another simple espresso-based drink, that you might enjoy – you can see how it compares to the mocha here.

On the following photo you can see a latte which is made by adding the espresso shot first, and then the milk:

Caffè latte in a glass

Sometimes the caffè latte is made with either a double espresso or with a double ristretto shot.

This is done to avoid a too diluted coffee flavor or to increase the amount of caffeine the drink contains.

When it comes to the size of the serving cup, there is actually a large variety.

For example, you can often find mocha coffee drinks, offered in a 16 oz. (450 ml) mason jars. This means that the amount of added milk also varies.

You can always tell your barista what size you prefer and whether you want a single or a double espresso shot.

You can get an iced latte or an iced mocha in virtually all coffee shops. They are made with the same ingredients, but they’re served over ice cubes and the milk isn’t steamed.
Iced latte vs iced mocha comparison
There are also mocha coffee drinks made with white chocolate sauce instead of a dark one. If you’re a fan of white chocolate, you can check out my guide on how to make an iced white chocolate mocha.

What to Choose?

Now that we’ve cleared the difference between a mocha and a latte you know which one to pick.

It all depends on your taste. I still love both and choose the one that suits my current needs best.

If I want a sweeter chocolate-flavored espresso drink I go for a caffè mocha.

If I want to have espresso but I’m in the mood for a milder in taste drink, I go for the caffè latte.

There are many more espresso-based drink options that you can order when you go to a coffee shop.

In my future articles, I’ll go over them so that you know what they’re made of and what goes into the cup you order.

After all, I’m all about making informed decisions.

To further explore the different types of espresso-based coffee drinks, check out my guide on the differences between an Americano and a Caffè Latte.

What’s also worth noting is that you can easily make mocha and latte coffee drinks at home. Here are a few cool recipes that you can check out here, on the WokeLark:

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