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Latte vs. Mocha: 2 Popular Espresso Drinks, 1 Big Difference

barista holding a latte and a mocha, latte vs. mocha
Difference between a latte and a mocha
Mocha or latte

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You are not alone if you’ve ever stood in a coffee shop and quietly pondered the difference between a latte and a mocha. 

With so many different types of espresso drinks out there, it’s easy to get confused. Latte vs. mocha: aren’t they both just espresso and steamed milk?

Yes and no. Here, we’ll take a closer look at each of these espresso drinks and get to the bottom of the latte vs. mocha debate once and for all.

So, let’s get brewing.

Latte vs. Mocha

What’s A Latte?

A cafe latte is made with espresso and steamed milk. This espresso-based beverage gets its name from the Italian word for milk, which is what lattes are known for. 

At some point, Americans casually dropped the “cafe” from “cafe latte,” which, in America, works just fine. Order a “latte” in Italy, and you’ll be served a glass of milk.

Lattes have a higher ratio of milk to espresso than many other espresso drinks

latte in a white mug on a wooden shelf, Caffeine in a latte
Ingredients for a latte
Making a latte at home
Make lattes at home
Making lattes

Generally, the ingredients for a latte are one part espresso, four parts steamed milk, and one part foam. Most coffee shops will use two parts espresso for larger-sized lattes.

Lattes are creamy and delicious and, even with a double shot of espresso, have a milk-forward flavor and a bit of rich foam on top. 

Syrups, powders, and other additives are used to customize lattes and create endless flavor concoctions. An eggnog latte for the holidays? Yes, please.

So, what is the difference between mocha and latte flavor profiles?

Lattes have a mild, milky flavor that lends well to customizing, while a mocha already features a pronounced chocolate flavor.

mocha in gray mug on napkin close up

What’s Mocha Coffee?

Let’s get one thing straight before we jump into what goes into a cafe mocha. 

The term “mocha” may refer to two different things. First, there’s the chocolate-infused espresso and steamed milk beverage that we’re discussing here in our latte vs. mocha showdown.

But did you know that mocha also refers to a specific coffee bean from Yemen? Mocha coffee beans were initially named for the coastal city of Mocha, a port where most Yemeni coffees were exported before the 20th century

These days, the city of Mocha is far from the coffee hub it once was, and mocha coffee beans, known for their chocolatey undertones, are challenging to find in the US. The term is now most commonly used to refer to the espresso beverage discussed in this article.

woman's hands holding cappuccino over saucer on wood table, What’s mocha coffee?
What is in a cafe mocha?

What’s In A Cafe Mocha?

Milk is the prominent flavor in a latte vs. mocha, where dark chocolate reigns supreme. 

Chocolate is added to the espresso and steamed milk via a ganache, syrup, or chocolate piece.

The ingredients for a mocha are two parts espresso, two parts chocolate, and one part steamed milk. The espresso and chocolate flavors are most prevalent here.

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Mocha Latte Or Mochaccino?

Now that we know a bit more about a mocha versus latte, let’s look at the combination of the two. Yes, there is such a thing.

May we introduce the mocha latte to make matters a bit more confusing? The main difference here is that there is more milk in a mocha latte vs. mocha, which is predominantly espresso and chocolate.

A mocha latte is simply a traditional latte with chocolate or cocoa added for flavoring.

So, what is a mochaccino?

espresso drink sprinkled with chocolate on a white saucer with spoon, mochaccino
mocha cappuccino
mocha vs. cappuccino

A mochaccino features equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam, with either chocolate or cocoa added for flavoring. It’s essentially just a cappuccino with chocolate.

So, what’s the difference between a latte and a cappuccino

The main difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the ratio of milk to espresso.

A latte is 1 part espresso, four parts milk, and 1 part foam, while a cappuccino is 1 part espresso, 1 part milk, and 1 part foam. All ingredients in a cappuccino are in equal proportions.

All of these beverages may be served hot or iced.

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Iced Latte Or Iced Mocha?

Iced latte vs iced mocha: is one better? Aren’t iced lattes and iced mochas just hot lattes or mochas poured over ice?

Not exactly. An iced latte or iced mocha doesn’t require any milk steaming since the milk is served cold.

Lucky for us, iced lattes are incredibly easy to make at home. In fact, making iced lattes at home is even easier than making lattes hot.

barista pouring milk into two iced lattes in mason jars on wood table, Are lattes hot or cold?
Iced lattes

So, how do you make an iced latte or iced mocha at home?

Brew your espresso and set it aside.

Fill a tall glass with ice and add your preferred milk to about ⅔ full. Swap 1 part milk for the desired amount of ganache or chocolate syrup if making an iced mocha.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of cold milk to the espresso shot and swirl to combine. Pour your espresso and milk over the top of the milk and ice and give it a stir. 

extreme close up of espresso beverage in white cup with leaf latte art, Caffeine in a latte

Caffeine In Latte vs. Mocha

Whether you choose a mocha or latte, both will have caffeine unless ordered as decaf. But what is the difference between latte and mocha caffeine levels?

The amount of caffeine in a latte will be the same as that of a mocha, provided both drinks are made with equal parts espresso.

In some cases, there may be less caffeine in a latte vs. mocha because a mocha traditionally features a higher ratio of espresso to milk than a latte. 

For example, if you order a small latte, it will have one shot of espresso, and the remainder will be milk and foam. On the other hand, a small mocha may include two espresso shots, depending on the coffee shop. 

Mochas also include chocolate, which may contain trace amounts of caffeine as well.

But, generally speaking, you can expect comparable amounts of caffeine in a mocha versus latte.

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Final Thoughts: Difference Between Latte And Mocha

Now that we know the difference between latte and mocha, which one is better, the mocha or latte? Honestly, there’s no clear winner in the latte vs. mocha debate.

All coffee is subjective and a totally personal experience. If you’re someone who likes chocolate, the mocha may be the obvious choice for you.

However, a latte’s light and creamy appeal might suit you just fine. You can’t go wrong with either one if you ask us.

We let our mood decide for us and don’t place too much weight on our decisions. Any day that begins with a thoughtfully crafted latte or mocha is a mighty fine day.

two lattes in white cups with leaf art in foam on wood and white table, Ingredients for a latte
Making a latte at home
Make lattes at home
Making lattes


What Is Healthier Mocha Or Latte?

The difference between a latte and a mocha is marginal regarding nutritional content. This is because the nutritional content of these espresso-based beverages will vary depending on what’s added to them.

A mocha will automatically contain more calories than an unsweetened, unaltered latte due to the addition of chocolate. 

That said, any added sweeteners and syrups will significantly impact the overall healthiness of either beverage, so opt for the plain latte and sweeten with caution if you’re watching your calorie or sugar intake.

Additionally, you may want to ask for a latte with oat milk instead of cow’s milk, as oat milk is lower in calories and fat than cow’s. Oat milk froths better than most other milk alternatives, so we always pick it when looking for a vegan option.

Is Mocha Coffee Bad For You?

In a word, no. Mocha coffee is a type of arabica coffee with similar nutritional benefits to other coffee bean varieties. Mocha coffee may be prepared as coffee or espresso and features a natural chocolate undertone that makes mocha coffee quite popular.

What Latte Flavors Does Starbucks Have?

Where do we start? The Starbucks menu features a variety of latte options that change throughout the year as seasonal beverages make their debut. To help you decide which Starbucks drinks to try, we’ve rounded up our favorites for summerfall, and winter.

 We even compiled a list of five winter favorites that aren’t on the menu! These secret menu Starbucks drinks will surely delight you, so give them a try next time you’re stuck wondering what to order from Starbucks.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters