What is a Mocha? A Beginners Guide to Delicious Chocolate Espresso

Last updated on September 15th, 2023 by Jules Winnfield

The perfect chocolate, espresso and milk treat…

The mocha coffee. Otherwise known as a caffè mocha, a mochaccino, or mocha latte. Most of us have heard of it but what is a mocha exactly?

We like to think of a mocha coffee as a fusion. A fusion of two of life’s most wonderful gifts: chocolate and coffee. This delightful beverage consists of a combination of espresso, milk, and cocoa, combined and served in a small glass. The mocha has grown into a firm coffee shop favorite that can be found all over the world! 

However, it’s not uncommon for even the most passionate coffee connoisseurs to be unfamiliar with the mocha latte.

If we find a coffee that wakes us up on a Monday morning, tastes good enough, and lasts us through the day, what’s the point in changing it? Well, this guide will hopefully convince you otherwise! 

If you’re beginning to wonder what you could be missing out on by not venturing to try this cup of chocolate, velvety, creamy goodness, this guide is for you! We’ve gathered all the information you need to know about the mocha, from what it is, how to go about making one yourself, and where to visit on your morning coffee run. So, let’s dive in!

What is a Mocha?

So, you’ve gone into a coffee shop, you’ve seen that there’s mocha on the menu but there’s no information about the beverage? What’s in it? How’s it made? What kind of milk does it come with?

Now, you’re questioning is it even worth ordering if you’re not going to like it. Well, we can tell you, rest assured, the probability of you absolutely loving it is high. Very high.

Simply put, usually served in an 8 fl. oz. to a 12 fl. oz. mug, the mocha contains a double shot of espresso, chocolate (either syrup or powder), and is topped off with steamed milk. It’s often compared to a caffè latte, in that a third of the cup is espresso, two-thirds of it is steamed milk, and then either chocolate milk or dark chocolate flavor is added.

The key ingredient? Chocolate. You can’t make a mocha without it. This makes it the perfect hot drink for those avoiding that bitter taste of coffee, who want something slightly sweeter, slightly creamier, and slightly weaker, but still searching for that quick caffeine fix in the morning!

Not to mention, most coffee shops will ask if you’d like it topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce or a dusting of chocolate similar to a frappuccino. This makes your beverage a little extra special and puts an extra spring in your step to help you get through the rest of the day.

But What if I Only Drink Iced Coffees?

Now we realize the consumption of iced coffees has increased astronomically in the last few years, gaining popularity not only with long popular coffee consumers but newly confessed coffee lovers too.

Well, here’s the good news. A mocha can easily become an iced mocha! Just a simple switch of steamed milk to cold milk and topped with ice, this coffee drink transforms your classic winter warmer into your go-to summer beverage.

what is a mocha iced
A refreshing delicious iced mocha beverage
Photo by Nathan Dumlao

How do You Like your Mocha?

Not only can you make it iced, but you can also pick the flavors of your new beverage. From white chocolate to chocolate orange, to even the crisp taste of peppermint or comforting gingerbread at Christmas, there’s something for everyone.

You may even consider dark chocolate flavors for a slightly healthier option.

Don’t forget you can adjust the strength too. Usually, a mocha is on average around fifty percent chocolate and two shots of espresso.

But this can be adjusted! Too sweet? Add extra shots of espresso or pull back on the chocolate. Too strong? Ask for only one shot of espresso? Maybe your barista will add even more chocolate syrup?

That’s the wonderful thing about mocha’s, the possibilities are endless and customizable to your liking.

But remember, it’s not hot chocolate. It’s still coffee. So although you’re going to experience an array of new sweet, nutty flavors in your journey to becoming a regular mocha drinker, you’ll still always get that caffeine fix you’re craving! 

The Origin of the Mocha- Where did it Come From?

automatic espresso machine beans

Mocha came from Mocha! Yes, you read that correctly. The Mocha actually came from the city, Mocha, otherwise known as Al Makha in Yemen, a port city that once reigned as a center for trade and commerce in the 17th century.

It’s commonly believed that this chocolate drink was named after the mocha bean, which consisted of a rich, velvet chocolate flavor and was shipped from the port of Al Makha.

Originally a variety of the Arabica coffee bean which would have been roasted in central Yemen before being shipped to Al Makha to sell, the mocha bean is rarely referenced to anymore. But the presence of that same rich chocolate flavor is what makes it a very popular drink even to this day.

Although the coffee beans were famously sourced from Yemen, the mocha drink itself has sparked some debate.

Because Italy is so widely recognized for all things coffee, many only know of this espresso drink being dated back to 18th century Italy, where it was commonly known as a bicerin or bavareisa, made with steamed milk, hot chocolate, and thickened with cornstarch.

It was then later first referred to as a caffè mocha in a Betty Crocker recipe in 1892 and has since been crafted into one of the most popular espresso drinks we see in coffee shops today.

How Do I Make a Mocha at Home?

Decorate your mocha with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and more!
Photo by Shayna Douglas

We at The Cup Coffee House believe everyone should have the opportunity to make a mocha at home, regardless of whether you have a fancy espresso machine or not. That’s why we have included this easy-to-follow recipe for when you’re craving the sweet taste of a caffè mocha from the comfort of your own home.

This recipe only needs a microwave and of course, like all coffee recipes, feel free to adjust or make tweaks to suit your personal taste buds.

How to Make a Mocha Without an Espresso Machine


  • 1 cup whole milk (you can use 2% or skim but it creates less milk foam)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1-ounce milk chocolate or dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles or shavings (entirely optional but entirely recommended)
  1. Place 1 cup of milk in a microwavable jug and heat in the microwave for around 1 minute and 30 seconds. It should be slightly steaming.
  2. While the milk is in the microwave, heat your chocolate in a saucepan, adding in your instant espresso and sugar, then mix continuously until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Of course, if you fancy a white mocha or dark mocha, use white chocolate or dark chocolate instead.
  3. Remove the milk from the microwave and slowly add in the chocolate mixture by the tablespoon. Keep 1/4 cup of the milk aside. Increase heat slightly if required to help continue melting the chocolate and heating the mixture.
  4. Put a lid on or cover the jug with the rest of the milk remaining and shake for 30 seconds until you create your milk foam.
  5. Finally, pour the espresso and chocolate mixture into a latte cup and top with the milk foam.
  6. Enjoy! And don’t forget to top with all the whipped cream and grated chocolate your heart desires!

Read TheCupCoffeeHouse’s full review of Breville’s Best Espresso Machines.

But What if I do Have an Espresso Machine?

Awesome! If you’ve got an espresso machine, we’ve got you covered too. All you need for the perfect mocha drink from your espresso machine is three simple ingredients.


  • Milk (or chocolate milk if you don’t have chocolate syrup)
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Cocoa Powder or Chocolate Syrup
  1. Pour the appropriate amount of water into the espresso machine as per your machine’s instructions. Heres a list of budget friendly espresso machines to get you started if you don’t already own one.
  2. Pack the coffee grounds in the basket and place a small cup under the spout of the espresso machine.
  3. Take a mug and add in your chocolate syrup or cocoa powder. Add them according to how sweet you want your mocha. The more chocolate syrup, the sweeter! Of course, if you fancy a white mocha or dark mocha, use white chocolate syrup or dark chocolate syrup instead.
  4. Heat your milk. If your espresso machine has a steam wand, make use of that too. But if it doesn’t, don’t panic as you can get the same results with a blender, an egg beater, or even a French press.
  5. Once your milk is ready and at the correct temperature, then you pull your 1 or 2 shots of espresso. Its better to pull your espresso shot after steaming your milk to preserve the espresso flavor.
  6. Add your espresso and hot milk to your mug with the chocolate syrup or cocoa powder. Stir to mix your chocolate milk espresso creation.
  7. Don’t forget to add in the milk foam for that fancy coffee shop effect, along with as much whipped cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, cocoa powder, or chocolate shavings as you want.

Don’t fret about not getting that same rich chocolate taste you get in a coffee shop mocha either, as here are our top recommendations to match that melt in the mouth sensation listed below:

For more recommendations and information on coffee creamers, check out our ranked list of best coffee creamers to try. You can also check our article to learn how to froth coffee creamers and reasons why coffee creamers are getting chunky.

Final Thoughts

So to summarize, the mocha really is the perfect beverage for everyone. A blend of espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate (whether that’s real chocolate, chocolate powder, or chocolate syrup), the mocha never lets you down.

For coffee drinkers and chocolate lovers alike, the perfect fusion of espresso and chocolate, rich and sweet, makes for a tasty treat all year round, whilst still giving you that fix of caffeine your body craves.

Whether you’re opting for a white mocha, milk chocolate mocha, dark chocolate mocha, or even a festive gingerbread mocha, we believe nothing truly satisfies your sweet tooth whilst giving you the energy boost you used to get with a plain old Americano, quite like it.

We hope with the help of this guide, you’ll know how to impress your coffee morning friends with the story of the mocha’s origin, what to expect when ordering in a coffee shop, as well as having an understanding of how to make one at home should you ever fancy one without having to leave your house.

So what are you waiting for? Now you’re a newly qualified mocha expert, go out and try one! We promise you’ll adore it!

Want a more automated way to make your favorite latte, cappuccino, and mocha beverages? Check out our guide on the best Ninja coffee makers or take a look at the Vertuoline of Nespresso machines. There are also plenty of budget friendly options available too!

Want to sip on more coffee drink types? Check these out!

Coffee Has Never Read This Good!

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