The difference between a mocha and a latte is how indulgent you wish your coffee to be. Do you fancy a timeless coffee or a sophisticated brew? In this guide, we will explain what makes a mocha and a latte different, how you can reproduce these coffee drinks at home and when to order them from your local coffee shop.
So next your friends or family seem unsure about what to order, you can bring in your own expertise and tell them the differences between types of coffee.
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What goes into a latte
A latte is perhaps the most ordered espresso-based coffee drink. It is on the menu of all coffee shops and restaurants and it's relatively easy to make. Some will serve it in a tall glass, while others will serve your latte in a normal cup of coffee.
A latte has a subtle sweet taste, with the right smoothness, thanks to the steamed milk that goes into the latte.
A latte is made of a shot of espresso which is then topped with steamed milk and around 2-3 cm of foamed milk. Some experienced baristas are using their skills to create latte art.
And while the above recipe is the classic type of latte, nowadays a latte can be made with all sort of ingredients, thus, making it confusing. A matcha latte, a chai latte and even a chocolate latte (which is similar to a mocha). For example, you can even have Dalgona latte which is a whipped coffee cocktail.
A latte is a drink which by all means should have coffee + milk. The word itself from from Italian caffe latte which means coffee and milk. However, nowadays, it's fashionable to order a matcha latte which contains matcha tea and is topped with steamed milk and milk foam. The Indian chai masala has chai tea instead of espresso, also topped with steamed milk and milk foam. You can even find turmeric latte and sweet potato latte in some Asian places.
While latte is traditionally made with cows milk, you can order it with plant-based drinks like almond milk, oat milk or soy. Remember that a large percentage of the population is actually lactose intolerant so drinking a latte with oat milk is a lot more common than you think.
When to order a latte? Any time of the day. Just remember that in Italy a latte is ordered as a breakfast coffee. For lunch or dinner, one should order an espresso, a doppio (double espresso) or a macchiato (an espresso with a touch of milk foam).
What goes into a mocha
A mocha is similar to a latte but it also contains a secret ingredient: a little hot chocolate. Although many believe that mocha is a caffeine-free drink, this is not correct. The right way of making a mocha is by adding a shot of espresso into a cup, then adding a small amount of hot chocolate or chocolate syrup, then topping it with steamed milk and milk foam.
What makes a mocha more indulgent is the hot chocolate content. You can think of mocha as a latte + hot chocolate combined. However, a mocha can contain higher contents of sugar, so drinking mocha on a regular basis might add some unaccounted for calories to your daily diet.
A mocha is best enjoyed once in a while when there is a call for an indulgent drink. Mocha can be created with normal hot chocolate or white hot chocolate, making the drink even more sugary and sweet. During the winter holiday seasons, many commercial coffee shops will sell seasonal mocha drinks which contain hot chocolate and mint, hot chocolate hazelnut, salted caramel or even hot chocolate and black forest gateaux syrup. Mainstream coffee shops will also add whipped cream to your mocha, instead of just steamed milk and milk foam.
Just remember that these are not original mocha coffee drinks, just more indulgent variations of the classic.
Mocha vs Latte
So while both drinks are espresso-based and they contain steamed and milk foam, the main difference between a mocha and a latte is that the former contains a shot of hot chocolate. The chocolate taste of the mocha makes it more indulgent and sophisticated, but also a little more sugary. For those who like a timeless cup of coffee, a latte is the way to go.
Of course, the comparison between a mocha and a latte is only fair when we use the same type of coffee beans and the same type of milk for both. Tastes will vary a lot from coffee shop to coffee shop and from recipe to recipe.
If you want to learn more about coffees, make sure to also read differences between cold brew vs iced coffee.
Which coffee will you order next time you visit a coffee shop? Let me know in the comments section below.