Cappuccino vs Mocha – What’s the Difference?

As you’re probably already aware, there’s tons of different types of espresso drinks out there. From Americanos to lattes, to cappuccinos to mochas, there’s coffee beverages for everyone!

If you want to branch out to something new, or just want to feel more confident the next time you go to your local coffee shop, let’s learn the difference between two popular drinks – the cappuccino vs the mocha.

Short on time? Keep reading, I’ve got you covered.

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Cappuccino vs Mocha – What’s the Difference?

The main difference between a cappuccino vs a mocha is that the mocha is made with chocolate, making it more sweet than the cappuccino and the cappuccino consists of less milk.

A cappuccino, is made up of layers, with the third layer consisting of milk froth. The cappuccino does not contain any chocolate and less milk giving it a more intense coffee flavor.

Want to impress your friends or your favorite barista? Keep reading!

Espresso Drink Basics

Let’s start with the basics of an espresso drink since that’s what these are! As we all know, most espresso drinks contain the same 3 main ingredients. Those are espresso, steamed milk and milk froth. While yes, some drinks like an Americano are only espresso and hot water, most espresso drinks have milk in them.

The ratio of these, how the are mixed and what else is added creates different types of drinks.

A cappuccino and mocha both start with an espresso shot. An espresso shot is made out of coffee beans (just like regular coffee) but it’s made different. Most shots of espresso are made using an espresso machine.

Next is the steamed milk! In most coffee shops you’ll see this being made using a steam wand off of their espresso machine. There are other ways to do this, including milk steam and froth machines that can be used at home.

Finally is the milk froth. This is made from the steamed milk. It’s whipped to create air bubbles that will be placed on top of the coffee beverage. Skilled baristas can create latte art out of the froth! It’s one of my favorite things about getting coffee from a skilled barista.

Now let’s chat specifics.

What’s a Mocha?

mocha

Are you a chocolate lover? Than this one is for you! A mocha is similar to a latte (espresso + hot milk), but with chocolate, added via cocoa powder or chocolate syrup. Think of a mocha as a grown-up hot chocolate.

The name derives from Mocha, Yemen, a city that was one of the centers of early coffee trade.

A mocha is also often called a caffè mocha or mocha latte.

Now on to the cappuccino.

What’s a Cappuccino?

Cappuccino

Love your froth? Then a cappuccino is your drink! A cappuccino is made with espresso and equal parts steamed or frothed milk. It’s a smaller volume drink compared to a latte with much more froth. As you can probably tell by its name, cappuccinos originated in Italy.

The name cappuccino comes from the word “capuchin” which comes from the Capuchin friars. The color of the hooded robes monks and nuns of the Capcuhin order wore was the same color as the coffee drink where milk was added to coffee (aka the cappuccino as we now know it).

History of a Mocha

The mocha coffee originates from the Red Sea coastal town of Mocha, Yemen. It’s from this town that coffee was exported and it had a chocolatey taste to it. It was given the name mocha to describe the addition of chocolate to the coffee!

It became extremely popular in the United States back in the 1980’s thanks to Starbucks!

History of a Cappuccino

The cappuccino was invented in the early 1900s in Italy after the espresso machines were introduced. The drink went through a few changes after World War II to make it into the drink we know today – equal parts espresso, steamed milk and froth. In some parts of the world like Vienna, they’re still made with whipped cream as well as things such as cinnamon or chocolate shavings on top.

Cappuccinos didn’t become popular in America until about the 1980s.

(There’s a lot of confusion about cappuccinos vs flat whites too. The key difference is that a flat white is made with textured milk or milk foam and no froth while a cappuccino is made up of equal parts steamed milk and milk froth.)

How to Make a Mocha

mocha

A mocha is made up of espresso and steamed milk combined with chocolate and a thin layer of froth on top. Like the latte, this can be customized in a variety of different ways to the type of chocolate you use to the type of milk you choose!

Here’s how to make a mocha at home:

  1. Make your espresso
    • Do this with either an espresso machine, espresso maker, Nespresso or Aeropress
  2. Add chocolate to your mug
    • You can add some chocolate chips, chocolate sauce or chocolate powder (even hot chocolate mix would work! You can also add whatever chocolate flavor you like (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, etc!) to your mug.
  3. Add the espresso to your mug to mix together the chocolate and espresso.
  4. Steam your milk
    • For the best latte, use whole milk. For one with less calories, use skim or 1% milk. If you have an espresso machine use that to steam your milk. Otherwise use a milk frother or heat it on the stove to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Add the milk

Add the milk to your chocolatey espresso mixture. Then add a thin layer of the froth on top! (If you want it to be extra rich, swap the froth for whipped cream!)

How to Make a Cappuccino

cappuccino

A cappuccino is made up of espresso, steamed milk and milk froth.

(Fun fact – a dry cappuccino has more milk froth while a wet cappuccino has more steamed milk. A true cappuccino has equal parts espresso, milk and milk froth.)

Here’s how to make a mocha at home:

  1. Make your espresso
    • Do this with either an espresso machine, espresso maker, Nespresso or Aeropress
  2. Steam your milk
    • For the best foam, use whole milk. For one with less calories, use skim or 1% milk. If you have an espresso machine use that to steam your milk. Otherwise use a milk frother or heat it on the stove to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Add the milk
    • Add the milk to your espresso.
  4. Add the Foam
    • Finally, add a layer of the froth on top!

Cappuccino vs Mocha FAQs

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1. Is mocha stronger than cappuccino?

No, cappuccinos are stronger than mochas because they are made with less milk and no chocolate. If you like strong coffee, you’d likely prefer a cappuccino over a mocha!

2. Is the Mocha a Chocolate Cappuccino?

No. If anything a mocha is a hot chocolate with espresso added! It’s also a similar drink to a café latte with the addition of chocolate.

3. Is mocha a latte or cappuccino?

A mocha is a latte with added chocolate. (But don’t order it that way!) You can also get a cappuccino with added chocolate to it by ordering a mochaccino!

4. What’s the difference between mocha and cappuccino?

In case you just scrolled to the bottom for the answer, a mocha has the addition of chocolate to espresso and milk while a cappuccino has equal parts espresso, milk and foam. A cappuccino has less milk than a mocha and no chocolate.

So there you have it! Now you can confidently go into a coffee shop and order a new drink, whether it’s a mocha or a cappuccino!

If you want to learn about even more coffee drinks, check out the difference between a latte and a mocha or a the difference between an americano vs a latte!

About bit of cream

Rishi and Jen are the creators behind Bit of Cream. They start each morning with a cup of coffee and are on the hunt to make that simple cup of caffeine better and brighter. Feel free to send them a message or follow along on Instagram!

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