Macchiato vs Mocha: Are They Any Different?


I always got these two mixed up when I didn’t know the difference between coffee drinks – they both start with an M and have ch in them.

Somehow this was enough for my brain to think they’re the same thing, but the truth is that the macchiato and mocha dissimilarities are worth exploring.

In this article, I’ll explain what macchiato, latte macchiato, and mocha actually are.

You can find these drinks everywhere, including large coffee chains such as Starbucks, so knowing the basic differences between them will be useful when you’re wondering whether to choose one or the other.

So let’s dive in.

Macchiato versus Mocha – the Differences

The mocha and the macchiato, just like the latte and the cappuccino, which I’ve previously covered, are espresso-based drinks.

But each one of them has its distinguishable characteristics, and once you figure them out, it would be easy for you to tell them apart.

So here you can see the macchiato versus mocha comparison:

A mocha is generally served in an 8 oz. to 12 oz. (240 to 350 ml) cup.

It is made with 1 to 2 shots of espresso, steamed and foamed milk, and 2 tablespoons of chocolate sauce (or 5 to 8 g of cocoa/cacao powder).

A macchiato is traditionally served in a 2 oz. to 3 oz. (60 ml to 90 ml) demitasse cup.

It’s usually made with 1 espresso shot and 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk foam added on top.

Therefore the macchiato vs. mocha difference consists in the fact that the latter has a larger serving size, contains more milk, and has a chocolate component.

In the following photo you can see them side by side:

Often you will get the mocha served with toppings such as whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

If not, it will have about 0.4 in (1 cm) layer of microfoam on top – just like the latte.

Actually the mocha and the latte are two pretty similar drinks that I’ve covered in a previous post of mine – you can check out their detailed comparison by clicking the link.

At many coffee shops and cafes, you can also get a white chocolate mocha, made with white chocolate sauce, instead of a dark one.

I’ve actually posted both hot and iced white chocolate mocha coffee recipes.

The one that you see in the photo above is homemade.

It’s quite easy to prepare these delicious beverages at home, so you should definitely check their recipes out.

The macchiato, on the other hand, is a really simple, well-balanced espresso-based drink, which I love.

Its name comes from an Italian word that means stained – your coffee is stained with a teaspoon of milk.

By placing the microfoam on top of the espresso crema, you add a bit of sweetness.

At the same time, your coffee isn’t too diluted with milk, and you’ll get to enjoy your espresso’s flavor profile.

If you want to learn more about the macchiato, you can check my dedicated post on it, by clicking here.

While you can get an iced mocha in virtually any coffee shop, you would rarely come across an iced macchiato.

Still, at Starbucks and other popular coffee chains, they’d sometimes offer iced macchiato drinks. Nevertheless, said beverages are much more similar to a latte than to a traditional macchiato.

Dissimilarities: Latte, Macchiato, Mocha and Latte Macchiato

Here we’ll quickly go over those espresso-based drinks and compare them:

  • A latte is made in an 8 oz. to 12 oz. (240 ml to 350 ml) cup just like the mocha.

    1 to 2 shots of espresso are added to the cup, then steamed milk until the glass is full.

    It usually has a thin 0.4 in (10 mm) foam layer on top and is often finished with latte art, just as seen in the following photo:
  • The mocha is basically a latte, but with added chocolate sauce or syrup, or chocolate powder.

    It’s also often topped off with whipped cream, as you can see in the photo below:
  • A latte macchiato has the same ingredients as the latte, but the way it’s made is different.

    The barista first pours the milk in the cup and then adds the espresso.

    This way the milk gets stained with espresso, which is why the Italian word for stained (macchiato) is added to the drink’s name.

    You can see what I mean in the following picture:



    A Latte Macchiato often has a thicker foam layer compared to the standard latte.

    At some coffee shops, if you order a latte, you’ll get a latte macchiato. After all, they’re quite similar.

    Unlike the traditional macchiato, its latte version has significantly more steamed milk added, which results in a more diluted espresso flavor.
  • Here you can see a photo of a traditional macchiato made with a shot of espresso and a teaspoon of milk foam:

Mocha and Macchiato at Starbucks – dissimilarities

At Starbucks, you can find those drinks made a bit differently.

They usually add milk to the espresso in a macchiato, which brings it closer to a latte.

The mocha served at Starbucks is usually topped off with whipped cream and is often sprinkled with toppings such as chocolate curls.

Both drinks contain different flavored syrups and sauces, depending on the type you’ve ordered.

Starbucks offers iced macchiato and mocha too. They just make them with cold milk and add ice to the iced versions.

Actually, every Starbucks drink that has ‘Mocha’ added to its name it has a chocolate component. For example, their Mocha Frappuccino is an iced and blended chocolate-flavored coffee beverage. (I’ve posted a Copycat Starbucks recipe of the Mocha Frappuccino, so if you’re interested, check it out.)

Overall, it’s safe to say that the difference between their macchiato and mocha is not as pronounced compared to the drinks’ traditional versions.

Starbucks’ Espresso Macchiato is what you need to order if you’re looking to have the classic version.

If you need a stronger caffeine kick you can even get an Espresso Macchiato, made with 4 espresso shots (a ‘quad’ serving).

It contains around 300 mg of caffeine and it’s one of the most caffeinated Starbucks drinks.

Having said that, if you get a mocha at Starbucks you’ll most likely end up with a drink topped off with whipped cream, which isn’t included in the making of their macchiatos.

Other than that, both drinks come in the same sizes and have the same basic ingredients – milk and espresso.

The things that keep them apart are the flavored syrups, sauces and topping combinations that vary, depending on the type of Starbucks drink you’ve chosen.

What to choose

Now that you know the difference between a macchiato and a mocha, I think it would be easy for you to choose.

If you like chocolate, then a mocha will definitely suit your taste.

The espresso flavor won’t be well pronounced because of the milk, and it will most likely be sweetened or with added whipped cream.

So if you’re looking for a warm and sweet chocolaty drink that contains espresso – the mocha is the one for you.

Nevertheless, if you want to clearly feel the flavor profile of the coffee beans your espresso is made of, get yourself a cup of macchiato.

The foam on top will make the taste a bit sweeter and mellower.

This is a drink that is traditionally served unsweetened and is usually only 1 fl. oz. to 2 fl. oz. (30 ml. to 60 ml), so you can quickly finish it up without it making you feel too full.

If you’re at Starbucks and you want a simple drink you can order an Espresso macchiato which is closest to the classic version.

If you’re looking for a drink that will give you a stronger caffeine kick, well, go for a dark chocolate mocha.

The cocoa in it contributes to the amount of caffeine the beverage contains.

That’s why a mocha is often more caffeinated than a macchiato, made with the same number of espresso shots.

I’d love to know which one suits your taste better. Drop m a comment below and share your thoughts!

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