Mocha VS Macchiato – 4 Little Things That Set Them Apart

When looking at a coffee shop menu you’ll often find a plethora of coffee drinks, among which will be mocha and macchiato. If you’re not careful, you might order the wrong one.

But what’s the difference between a mocha and a macchiato ? They sound very similar and you could be excused for thinking they’re the same thing.

The truth is, there’s 4 small but important differences between a mocha and a macchiato. Let’s go through them, and I’ll help you make one of each by the end of this article.

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1. A mocha contains chocolate, macchiato does not

When ordering a mocha, you’re ordering chocolate coffee, basically. This is the only, and I mean the only internationally recognized type of coffee drink that’s got any kind of chocolate it it.

There are variations on the affogato, which can have chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, but that’s still ice cream.

Mocha is the way to go if you want a chocolate-y coffee, along with some beautiful milk and dense milk foam.

Why and how the chocolate came to be in the mocha, I don’t know. But I do know it’s delicious, and nowadays pretty much everyone loves this tasty little drink.

The ratio of chocolate to espresso is 1:1, so you’re getting quite a shot of chocolate. This depends on what the chocolate flavor is made of, though.

If you’re using chocolate syrup, it will be a milder chocolate than chocolate ganache. Which again will be milder than melting dark or milk chocolate straight into the coffee.

Still, you can even make mocha with powdered cocoa and get a nice result. As long as it’s got chocolate, it’s mocha. It does have a few other requirements, but this is the main one.

The macchiato has no such thing, though. A macchiato is just espresso and milk foam, no chocolate at all. Adding any chocolate will turn into into not-macchiato.

You can add it, if you want to, of course. It will just be a different drink.

2. Macchiato has a stronger coffee/espresso taste

Macchiato is just espresso and milk foam, right ? This give it a much stronger espresso taste, which is heavenly if this is what you’re looking for.

Usually a macchiato is ordered by the number of shot of espresso you’d like to have. If you specify no such thing, you will usually get one shot of espresso, with an almost equal amount of milk foam.

This is a drink that’s not sweet at all, if you add nothing to it. It’s about as bitter and strong as a usual espresso. Only it’s got the layer of milk foam to tone it down a bit, just a bit.

If you’re an intense coffee person, this is for you.

A mocha however is closer to a cappuccino in terms of coffee taste. You’ve got just 1:4 espresso, the rest is chocolate, steamed milk, and milk foam (or whipped cream).

The taste of coffee isn’t completely lost, but it’s diluted quite a bit by the amount of milk and chocolate. Delicious, no doubt. Just not a very strong coffee.

So, keep this in mind before you order one of these.

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3. Mocha is more of a dessert-type drink

Since the mocha is such a lovely mix of milk and chocolate and coffee and whipped cream, often with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top and possibly chocolate syrup drizzles, you’re right to think of it as a sort of dessert.

Again, the only thing as close to a desert as this is the affogato, which is just one beautiful scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it.

Sometimes you might find your mocha on the dessert side of the menu.

This also means it will be a much higher calories drink than the macchiato, especially if you add some extra sugar.

Usually a mocha will be around 200 calories. That’s the amount stated on Starbucks’ site, for a short (8 fl oz/236 ml) with 2% milk and whipped cream.

A macchiato barely reaches 50, since there is very little there to add calories. There’s also the fact that it’s a smaller serving size, but still. Coffee by itself is low-calorie, and the milk foam is very little in this drink.

So if calories are something you’re worried about, you’re better off with a macchiato. Adding sugar to it will raise the calories though, even if there’s not much fat in it.

4. Macchiato is usually smaller than mocha

Speaking of serving sizes, this is another thing to take into consideration when ordering your coffee.

Different sizes serve different purposes.

Like with latte and espresso, one is a long, tasty drink meant to be sipped for a longer amount of time. The espresso is meant to give you a quick shot of caffeine and you’re good to go.

Same with macchiato here. It’s a shot of espresso, on top of which you’ll find some milk foam. A very dense, velvety milk foam, but still something that you can down in 2-3 gulps.

This puts the macchiato at about 4 oz/118 ml, unless your barista is feeling generous with the milk foam.

As for the mocha, it’s a much larger drink. Actually about 10 oz/300 ml of drink, along with the chocolate syrup or ganache, and the steamed milk, and the milk foam.

It can be even more, or a much smaller serving but still over 3 oz, depending on where you get your drink from.

For example Starbucks’ smallest serving is 8 oz/236 ml, and many people order a much larger drink than that. Their largest is a Venti, which is 20 oz/591 ml. That’s… an entire meal.

Other establishments, like a cute cafe on the corner of a boulevard can be 10 oz/300 ml too, so no matter how you take it your mocha will always be larger than a macchiato.

What is Mocha, and how to make it

now that we know he main difference between these two drinks, let’s briefly discuss how to actually make on at home.

In both cases you’ll need an espresso machine, as these drinks are made with shots of espresso.

So for a mocha, you will need:

  • 3 oz/88 ml of espresso
  • 3 oz/88 ml of steamed milk
  • 2 oz/60 ml of chocolate syrup (thick), or chocolate ganache
  • 2 oz/60 ml of milk foam, or whipped cream

Add your espresso, then the chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and finally the whipped cream or thick milk foam. Drizzle some extra chocolate syrup if you’d like, no one’s going to stop you.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can use a glass mug and drizzle part of the syrup on the sides of the cup, so you’ll get to see some pretty chocolate and whipped cream streaks.

Once you’ve decorated it, it’s ready to be served. Mix everything with a spoon if you like, or start picking at the milk foam/whipped cream first if you like.

Just made sure to not add any additional sugar until you’ve had your first sip, since the chocolate syrup has sugar in it.

Do not confuse Mocha with Moka !

A small addendum, since this happens very often. Moka coffee is coffee made in a percolator or Moka pot. It’s an old Italian design of coffee pot, and it’s seeing a bit of a comeback nowadays.

In some cafes you might find your mocha listed as Moka. Make sure to ask the server exactly what’s in the drink, so you can get the drink you want.

What is Macchiato, and how to make it

As for macchiato, this is a much simpler drink than the mocha. Again, you will need an espresso machine, and:

  • 3 oz/88 ml of espresso
  • 1 oz/30 ml of milk foam, thick

That’s the original ratio, and we’ll discuss the newer, more popular version of macchiato.

For the original macchiato, you just add to the finished espresso a dollop of milk foam. It sound like very little milk, I know, but that’s the whole point of a macchiato.

In Italian it means ”spotted”, which is exactly what this drink looks like.

Now for the second, more popular variation of macchiato, let’s name it. It’s called latte macchiao, and it’s pretty much the opposite of espresso macchiato.

You’ll need:

  • 7 oz/207 ml of thick, velvety milk foam
  • 3 oz/88 ml of espresso

Add the milk foam into your cup, and then drizzle the espresso into your cup, so it marks the milk foam. This is a reverse version of the espresso macchiato, and the coffee flavor is much more subdued in this drink than in the original version.

You are bound to find at least one of these drinks in the menu of cafes, and sometimes they don’t bother to mention if it’s a latte or an espresso base. If you’re unsure, make sure to ask the waiter.

Final thoughts

Figuring out the difference between mocha and macchiato is easier now, and I hope you’ll keep in mind that there’s such a thing as latte macchiato and espresso macchiato.

Both dink versions are beautiful in their own way, and I have to admit I’m a sucker for mocha. My boyfriend too is very much in love with chocolate, and it’s the kind of coffee he orders half the time when we go out.

Now that you know the main differences, I’m sure you’ll know which to order when you find yourself out in town next.

If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?