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Mocha vs Coffee – What’s the Difference?

You’re heading out to your local coffee shop with the intent of trying something new. But with so many different items on the menu, how do you choose? Do you even know the difference?

Today I’m going to walk through the difference between a mocha vs coffee – two very popular coffee drinks that you’ll find at just about any coffee shop!

A mocha is an espresso drink so let’s start there!

Espresso Drink Basics

As we all know, most espresso drinks contain the same 3 main ingredients. Those are espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. The ratio of these and what else is added creates different types of drinks.

Mochas 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 foam. This is made from the steam 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 foam! It’s one of my favorite things about getting coffee from a skilled barista.

Now let’s chat specifics.

What’s a 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. There’s other types of mochas such as a white mocha!

What is a Coffee?

This one doesn’t need much explanation – black coffee is simply a mix of water and coffee! There’s no milk or sugar added. (Unless you add it yourself, of course.)


The French name for black coffee is “café noir,” which is good to know if you’re feeling fancy or just want to annoy your spouse by insisting they call it by its proper name.

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 Coffee

Coffee has been around for centuries but nobody exactly knows when or how it was discovered! We do know the Arabian Peninsula was where coffee cultivation and trade first began. Coffee in homes as well as at coffee shops became wildly popular.

Coffee made its way to Europe in the 17th century, New Amsterdam in the mid-1600’s and the Americas in the 1700s.

Similarities of Coffee and Mocha

The main similarity is that they’re both coffee drinks! They’re both can be served hot or cold. That’s about it! 😉

Differences of Coffee and Mocha

  • The main difference between mocha and coffee is that mocha is an espresso and coffee is not.
  • Coffee is made with hot water while caffe mocha is made with warmed milk.
  • Mocha has chocolate added to it while coffee does not.
  • In general, coffee has more caffeine than mocha. (However with slight variations like having a double shot of espresso could change that.)

How to Make a Mocha


A mocha is made up of espresso and steamed milk combined with chocolate and a thin layer of foam 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, even the amount of espresso you put in!

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 microfoam on top! (If you want it to be extra rich, swap the foam for whipped cream!)

How to Make a Cup of Coffee

black coffee

This is a bit of a loaded question because there’s so many different ways to make a coffee! You can use a traditional coffee maker, an Aeropress, a Chemex, a french press or more.

There is a general way of how to make a drip coffee in a regular coffee maker so I’ll share that.

  1. Grind your beans
    • If you are using whole beans, you’ll first want to grind your means into a medium or medium-fine grind size.
  2. Add ground beans to machine you’re using
    • You will need some sort of coffee filter whether it’s a paper filter or the one built in to your machine.
  3. Add Water
    • Add filtered water to your machine
  4. Run the Brew Cycle
    • Brew your coffee!
  5. Enjoy!
    • That’s it! As soon as your coffee is finished brewing, drink it!

There’s so many different types of coffee beans to choose from! There is light roast, dark roast and everything in between. One of the fun things about drinking coffee is trying out all the different beans to find one you love!

That’s it! Now you know all about both coffee and mocha. A mocha is a great option for someone with more of sweet tooth or wants some caffeine without too much coffee taste while a coffee is the best option for coffee aficionados or someone who loves to taste the coffee flavor.

Which of these popular drinks would you choose?

If you’re looking for more coffee fun head on over to one of these posts!

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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