How many times have you been standing in line at a popular coffee shop like Starbucks, gazing at the menu and wondering what all those varieties are? Maybe you end up ordering a standard Americano or regular coffee not just because you like it, but because you’re not sure whether you’d like the other hot beverages.
Two very popular options that can be found in coffee shops across the country are the mocha and the latte. Lattes can be enjoyed hot or cold too, giving them even more versatility. But would you like them, and if so, which one would you end up liking more?
Here we’ll take a look at the basic differences between a mocha and a latte so you can figure out which one should win the battle when it comes time to place your order. You can also learn how to make these popular beverages at home and save yourself some money in the process.
What Is a Mocha?
No matter what kind of coffee drink you're looking at there's a good chance it includes the two basic ingredients, which are espresso and milk. So many beverages start from this point and then flavors and ingredients can be added to it to build on the profile. The mocha is simply named after the coffee bean it derives from. Mocha coffee beans come from Yemen and come from a particular type of Arabica bean.
As its name implies these beans have a distinct chocolate taste to them. Not a sweet chocolate like milk chocolate, rather a true chocolate flavor. Now if you were to order a mocha in a coffee shop, they typically add a bit of chocolate to the drink. What this does is boost the natural chocolate flavor in the coffee bean, thereby boosting the overall flavor.
The overall result is something bold and strong, so it can be a great pick me up in the mornings.
How Do You Make a Mocha?
Because this drink is so unique and flavorful, many are under the impression you need to spend big money at the coffee shop to enjoy it. The simple questions of what is a mocha at Starbucks and can you achieve it at home may have crossed your mind. The good news is that with the right ingredients and tools you can easily make a tasty mocha at home, for a fraction of the cost. This one can take a bit of trial and error as you get the flavor just right for your liking.
To make a mocha, you'll need the following ingredients:
- 2 espresso shots
- 1 ounce steamed milk
- 2 ounces hot chocolate
- Foam to top it with (a light layer)
So, what happens if you don't have an espresso machine at home? Not to worry, the ingredients can then be simplified to the following list:
- 1 cup fresh brewed coffee (pick a bold brew)
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened, not hot chocolate)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp 2% milk
For the sake of making the recipe as simple as possible, this is the ingredient list we’ll work with. What’s also great is that you don’t need any sort of special machine such as the espresso machine or a milk frother whisk or unit.
Simply pour the hot coffee into a mug, add the sugar, cocoa, and milk and give it all a stir. You'll get all the authentic flavor of a coffee shop mocha without the work involved.
How to Dress Up a Mocha?
Now maybe you want to dress up your mocha a little bit, serve it to guests and create that special vibe in your home. If that’s the case, there are several things you can add to the mocha to put it over the top.
Some additions to try include:
- Whipped cream on the top (fresh or out of the can)
- Thin chocolate shavings
- Ground cinnamon sprinkled on top (this will enhance the chocolate flavor)
- Crushed cookie pieces
- Chocolate syrup drizzled on top
- Caramel syrup drizzled on top
You can get as creative and fancy as you like with the drink.
What is a Latte?
So this brings us to the next question, which is "what is a latte"? In terms of coffee-based beverages, a latte tends to be the mildest in flavor. For those who don’t appreciate bold coffee and rich espressos, this can be a better option. Lattes are one of the most popular drinks ordered at coffee shops across the country, which is in part thanks to the many variations there are of the drink.
A latte is simply coffee that has been mixed with milk, but it's the process and the ratio of each ingredient that makes it so unique and tasty.
How do You Make a Latte?
Curious if you can make a latte at home? The good news is that this is a simple enough drink to make, and as stated you can make a cold or hot latte.
To make a latte you'll need some kind of milk (cow's, coconut, oat, almond, or soy) and brewed coffee. In coffee shops, they tend to use a bold/strong brew or espresso, but you can use whatever you want at home.
Simply fill your mug about 1/3 of the way with the freshly brewed coffee and then pour frothed milk on the top. To make the frothed milk, you can pour it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it for 30-60 seconds. From there, take the lid off and microwave it for 30 seconds maximum, and pour it over the coffee.
If you love the taste of lattes and plan on making them regularly, you may want to invest in a hand-held electric milk frother or a standalone unit that also heats the milk as it froths it.
How to Dress Up a Latte?
As mentioned, part of what makes lattes so popular is the fact you can find so many different types. This can make for some really interesting flavor pairings. There are even tea-based lattes if coffee isn’t your thing.
Some of the popular flavors and additions you can enjoy in your latte include:
- Chai tea latte
- Vanilla latte
- Chocolate latte
- Caramel latte
- Cinnamon Dolce latte
- Caramel Macchiato latte
- Caffe latte
- Hazelnut latte
- Blond vanilla latte
- Lavender latte
- Pumpkin latte
There are no rules when it comes to the flavor pairings in lattes, which is why you’ll find so many fabulous variations. Many baristas make it their goal to create something unique, which you can try at home.
What Is a Mocha Latte – It’s the Perfect Combination
Now we can take this mocha vs latte argument one step further and combine the two. This can make for the ultimate hot beverage that ticks off all the boxes for you. You’ll get that thick layer of airy froth that lattes are known for plus the distinct chocolate flavor of mocha. To make a mocha latte at home, just combine the two recipes.
You’ll want to start with a bold fresh brewed cup of coffee, add sugar and cocoa powder to it, then add the fresh froth of milk to the top making it nice and thick. As for garnish, you can put whatever you like on the top to amplify the flavors even more.
A mocha latte may become your go-to drink on cold winter days, or as that warm cozy drink that is perfect in the evenings while curled up on the couch. If you’re out and about, not to worry as this is a popular combination to find in coffee houses as well.
Mocha vs Latte Which One Wins the Battle – Not Clear Cut
So, knowing the flavor profiles of the mocha and the latte, plus how to make each one, the question is: which one is better? That’s not a clear cut answer because it comes down to many factors.
A few questions to ask yourself are:
- How bold a coffee or espresso do you like?
- Do you like the taste of chocolate that is unsweetened?
- How thick a froth do you enjoy?
- What kind of flavors do you like to add to your coffee?
- Do you prefer to drink your coffee hot or cold?
- How much work are you willing to put into the drink?
- Do you want to purchase any special equipment to make your drink?
All of these questions will start to point in a clear direction, making it obvious which beverage is for you.
Give Them Both a Try
At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be mocha vs latte, rather, it should be about trying as many coffee-based beverages that speak to you. Because these can be easily replicated at home, and you have the freedom to add other flavors and garnishes, there’s no stopping you from broadening your coffee repertoire. Just think how fancy you’ll feel when you make these concoctions at home.