They’re both espresso drinks mixed with milk, but there’s a lot more when it comes to the differences between mocha vs macchiato beverages. Here’s a closer look at what sets them apart.
If you’re not a coffee enthusiast, you could be forgiven for thinking that a macchiato is just a smaller, cuter version of a mocha. And before I started learning about coffee, I may or not have had the same impression 🙂
In fact, I avoided ordering a macchiato at coffee shops for the longest time because I didn’t really know what it was. Thankfully, I was eventually able to overcome my debilitating macchiato phobia!
But I digress, both macchiatos and mochas are delicious. So if you’ve been holding back because you aren’t sure what each one is, you’re in luck. I’ll go over the main differences for each drink, so you can order with confidence.
And I’ll include steps on how to make each one, so you can whip up your very own macchiatos and mochas at home!
What is a mocha?
Ah, mocha. Delicious, delicious mocha. Why are you so perfect?
Ok, you may be able to tell that I really like mochas! And what’s not to like? Coffee mixed with milk mixed with chocolate? Um, yes please!
And essentially, that’s what a mocha is. A standard mocha starts with an espresso base. Then chocolate syrup or chocolate sauce is poured over it and mixed in. Finally, hot, steamed milk is added.
While that’s the standard recipe, there are different types of mocha that use various other ingredients. They include:
White chocolate mocha – This substitutes regular chocolate for white chocolate.
Flavored mochas – These include flavored syrups. Examples include peppermint and hazelnut mochas. Adding caramel is also a popular option.
Mochaccino – A cappuccino mixed with chocolate.
Maybe the best part: you can have a hot or iced mocha!
The history of mocha
Mocha has its origins in the Middle East. The word is derived from Mokha (also known as Al Moka or simply Mocha), a port city in Yemen that was a trading center for premium Arabian coffee beans between the 15th and 18th centuries.
It’s believed that at some point, European coffee houses began using those beans to make espresso, then mixed it with chocolate.
For example, the drink Bicerin, which originated in the mid-18th century in the Italian city of Turin, is made with espresso, chocolate, and cream or whole milk.
It’s seen as a precursor to the mochas now commonly consumed around the world and popularized in the United States by coffee chains like Starbucks.
What is a macchiato?
Opinions differ on what can constitute a macchiato, but typically it contains one or two shots of espresso with a little bit of steamed milk foam on top.
It’s believed to have originated in Italy as a way for restaurant baristas to easily distinguish for waiters which drinks were just espresso and which included a bit of milk. So they “marked” them with the milk foam.
A variation of the drink is called Café Pingado in Portugal. This includes more milk than espresso. And in Spain, you can order a Cortado, which has equal amounts of espresso and milk.
A latte macchiato flips the ratios. It starts with steamed milk, then is topped with a shot of espresso.
Difference between macchiato vs mocha
Now that we know what goes into each drink, here’s a breakdown of the key differences between them.
Ingredients – Espresso, chocolate syrup (or cocoa powder), steamed milk. Optional flavorings like syrups or caramel.
Ratios – Usually 1/3 espresso; 2/3 steamed milk; desired amount of chocolate syrup/flavorings.
Size – Can be made in a variety of sizes, but typically around 8 oz.
Taste – Mix of coffee and chocolate. Mochas can often be sweeter than most coffee drinks.
Caffeine Content – Between 65 mg – 130 mg of caffeine, depending on whether there are one or two shots of espresso.
Average Calories – 200 – 400, depending on size and flavorings added.
Origin – May date as far back as the 15th century in what is now Yemen. Likely popularized in Europe in the 18th century with the addition of chocolate.
Ingredients – Espresso, steamed milk foam.
Ratios – Traditionally 1 espresso shot, but can be made with a double shot of espresso (called a doppio espresso macchiato); small amount of milk foam.
Size – Can be made in a variety of sizes, but typically around 2-3 oz.
Taste – Strong espresso flavor.
Caffeine Content – Around 65 mg of caffeine (if made with one shot of espresso).
Average Calories – around 10 for a traditional macchiato.
Origin – Believed to have originated in Italy in the 1980s.
How do you make a mocha?
Making a mocha at home is easier than you may think. And you don’t even have to own an espresso machine. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Espresso maker or a coffee machine that can make a rich cup of coffee (espresso or very rich coffee provides the right consistency)
- Milk (can be whole, skim, or other type of milk, as well as non-dairy options)
- Milk frother or espresso machine (or whisk) to make the milk foam
Here’s how to make a mocha step-by-step:
- First, make 1-2 shots of espresso or rich coffee. Add it to a coffee cup.
- Next, add about 3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup and mix it with the espresso. Add more if you prefer more of a chocolate flavor.
- Then either steam 8 ounces of milk with the espresso machine steam wand, microwave for 45 seconds, or warm it on the stovetop to about 150° Fahrenheit. If you’re using the stovetop, heat the milk but don’t boil it. Then use a milk frother or whisk to create the milk foam.
- Pour the milk and foam over the espresso and chocolate. Top with whipped cream and more chocolate syrup if desired.
How do you make a macchiato?
To make a traditional espresso macchiato, you’ll need the same equipment as you do for a mocha. Then follow these easy steps:
- Make 1 shot of espresso or very rich coffee.
- Add the espresso to a small cup.
- Heat up 2 oz of milk in the microwave or on the stovetop and froth it with a whisk or frother. Or use an espresso machine steam wand.
- Don’t pour the milk directly over the espresso. You just want the foam, so use a spoon to scoop the milk foam and gently place it over the top of the espresso.
While all are espresso-based drinks, a latte has more of a milk flavor than either a mocha or macchiato. That makes sense since “latte” is the Italian word for milk.
While a macchiato uses much less milk, both lattes and mochas are usually 1 part espresso, and 2-3 parts milk. The main difference is the addition of chocolate in a mocha, which gives it a richer and sweeter taste.
The amount of caffeine will be similar, as long as they have the same number of espresso shots. With one shot, each drink will contain about 65 mg of caffeine.
For taste, a macchiato will have a strong coffee flavor, as it uses much less milk.
A caramel macchiato is made with espresso and much more milk than in a traditional macchiato — typically 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. It also includes vanilla syrup and caramel sauce. The result is a coffee drink that resembles a sort of sweet latte.
Macchiatos are also very similar to cappuccinos, in that each consists of espresso and milk foam. The key difference is that in a cup of cappuccino, there’s a lot of steamed milk and foam (about 1/3 each of in the drink). There’s only a small dollop of milk foam in a macchiato. Therefore, a macchiato is typically a much smaller drink.
So coffee lovers, hopefully this helps clear up any confusion around the difference between a macchiato and a mocha.
Whether you prefer to get yours at your local coffee shop or plan to make them at home from now on, either a mocha or a macchiato is bound to satisfy your coffee craving.
More coffee-related answers
Get more answers to your coffee questions with the links below.