What is a Mocha Coffee? Ingredients, Brief History, and a Perfect Recipe

by Mama Loves A Drink

What is a mocha coffee? Learn what mocha is, where it comes from and how you can make this delicious coffee drink at home with our tired and tested mocha coffee recipe.

If you are reading this article, chances are you came to it after a puzzling moment in front of a coffee house menu.

You probably looked at the list of coffee drinks, didn’t feel like your usual order, got attracted by the mention of mocha and then got stumped: a mocha coffee sure looks inviting, but what is a mocha coffee exactly?

What does mocha mean and how is it served? Does is come in a small cup, big cup? How much coffee is in it and is a mocha milky?

When we first came across mocha at our local coffee roaster, we shared the same doubts but now, we did out research and can come to the rescue!

In this guide, you will find all you need to know about mocha.

Can’t make it now? Pin it for later!

Two glasses of mocha with text: what is mocha coffee with recipe

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What is a mocha coffee?

Mocha is a popular coffee drink made with espresso, chocolate and milk.

It has a rich, strong flavour and it is particularly popular with coffee drinkers who like richer, bolder varieties of coffee.

Mocha coffee is served in a variety of ways and it is easy to customize.

In its most common form, mocha contains espresso, steamed milk, chocolate and milk foam however, you can customize it to your liking.

You can choose the strength of coffee, the amount of milk and the type of chocolate you want and create a true signature drink.

Due to the presence of milk, mocha is often considered a type of latte. However, the differences are significant: you can read all about it in our guide about latte vs mocha.

What does Mocha mean? A brief history of mocha coffee

Mocha coffee has an interesting history that brings us as far as Yemen and Italy.

coffee with foam and chocolate
coffee cup and beans, cinnamon sticks, nuts and chocolate on wooden table on brown background

The word mocha is said to come from the port city of Al-Mocha, in Yemen.

Between the XV and the XVIII century, Al Mokka was an important trade port for coffee.

The city would receive large quantities of Arabica beans and would be the departure point for this important crop to the rest of the world, which seemed to never get enough of these beans and the strong brew it delivered.

Arabica coffee beans are known for their rich flavour and are often described as having chocolate undertones.

This chocolate connection influenced the name of the drink we today know as Mocha.

The second source of inspiration for mocha coffee came from Italy and precisely from the city of Turin, in Piedmont.

Turin is the birthplace of a popular coffee drink locally known as ‘bicerin’ (Lit: small glass).

A Bicerin is a coffee served with chocolate and foamed milk or whipped cream and has been a popular order in the city since the late XVIII century!

How do you serve a mocha coffee?

There is no standard way to serve a mocha.

Depending on your coffee roaster of choice and the amount of milk you like in your mocha, you can find it offered in a small cup, a tall one, a glass container and it can come with or without whipped cream.

How to make mocha at home: ingredients

The best way to make mocha at home is by using an espresso machine or a latte machine as they will be able to deliver on the most important element of this recipe: espresso, steamed milk and froth.

As well as your machine, to make the perfect mocha at home you will need:

  • Espresso – single or double shot
  • Milk or dairy-free milk alternative
  • Chocolate syrup or hot chocolate (instant is perfect)
  • Sugar or sweetener

Can you make mocha dairy free?

Yes, you can make mocha dairy free!

If you cannot or do not want to use milk, you can use several milk alternatives.

Depending on which one you choose, you may find you will not get quite as rich a foam but the taste will be delicious nonetheless!

Mocha Recipe

two glasses of mocha

Mocha is a delicious drink mixing the strong flavors of coffee and chocolate with the soothing texture of milk. This easy to follow recipe teaches how you can make this delicious coffee beverage at home

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Chocolate Syrup OR drinking chocolate
  • Dark choclate and milt leaf as garnish (optional)


Start by getting all the ingredients ready:

Steam your milk

Prepare your espresso

Get your chocolate syrup on the counter

Once all the ingredients are within easy reach and your milk and coffee are hot, you can assemble your drink: start with your chocolate, then add your coffee.

Top tip! For best results, do not pour the coffee straight into your cup. Instead, place a small spoon inside the cup and pour the coffee so that it stops on the back of the spoon first.

This will prevent the chocolate from splitting and is particularly important if you are using drinking chocolate rather than syrup.

Finally, add your milk by pouring it gently on top of your drink.

If the milk was steamed and frothed correctly, you will ned up with a delicious layered drink with a thick foam on top.

To dress it up, you can sprinkle hot chocolate on top or decorate it with a mint leaf

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