Macchiato vs Mocha: Are They Any Different?

I always had those two mixed up when I didn’t know much about the different 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 is actually a macchiato, a latte macchiato, and a mocha.

You can find those 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

Those two, just like the latte and the cappuccino 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) glass cup. It is made with 1 to 2 shots of espresso, 2 tbsp of chocolate sauce or 5 to 8 g of cocoa/cacao powder and steamed milk. A macchiato is traditionally served in a 2 to 3 fl oz demitasse cup (60 to 90 ml). 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 is a much larger drink with chocolate flavor that has much more milk in it.

On the following picture 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 article – you can check out their detailed comparison by clicking the link.

The macchiato, on the other hand, is a really simple, well-balanced espresso 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 more sweetness.

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

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 to 12 oz glass 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) microfoam layer on top and is often finished with latte art, just like on 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, just like on the following photo:

  • 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 on 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 – they’re quite similar after all.

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

If you order a Cloud macchiato it will be topped off with sweet fluffy foam, which is made with something called cloud powder. This powder is crafted by the Starbucks team and contains egg whites which are the ingredient making the fluffy texture of the cloud foam.

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

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.

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

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. The cloud foam, on the other hand, you can only get as part of the Cloud macchiato that’s offered at Starbucks. 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 flavors a mocha will give you those. 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 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 just 1 to 2 fl oz, 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.

I’d love to know which one suits your taste better – drop a comment below and share your thoughts!

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4 months ago

Thanks for sharing this information, one Espresso Macchiato next visit:).