Mocha vs. Latte: Distinctions & Resemblances

Picture of Mocha and Latte

When you enter a coffee shop, depending on the location, you could potentially be faced with over a dozen drink options, not including size and potential add-ins. In fact, Starbucks boasts that its menu offers customers 87,000 drink combinations.

From espresso and cappuccino to plain black coffee, the possibilities can seem daunting, especially for a coffee novice. Distinguishing between all the different types of coffee beverages is no easy feat. Two espresso-based beverages that are hard to set apart are mochas and lattes. While both contain similar ingredients, one packs an extra flavor punch with the addition of chocolate. Not only that, but one has more milk than the other, muting the espresso taste. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two coffee house favorites, seeing if one beverage is better than the other.

What’s a Mocha?

This beverage, which is also known as a caffè mocha or mochaccino, is made by combining an espresso shot with chocolate syrup and steamed milk. In some instances, cocoa powder is used instead of chocolate syrup. Mochas are also usually topped with milk foam.

In some varieties, this beverage is topped with whipped cream instead of milk foam. They can also be made with a thin dusting of cinnamon, sugar, or cocoa powder. This wonderful combination of coffee and chocolate is also a great starting point for adding extra flavors, such as salted caramel.

Taste & Texture

When you order a mocha, be prepared for a sweet treat. The bitterness from the espresso shot is perfectly balanced and slightly muted by the sugary chocolate. When combined and topped off with steamed milk, the texture is velvety and creamy.

Milk Content

The amount of milk in a mocha varies depending on the size of the beverage. There are also many different recipes available for creating this beverage at home. For example, one mocha recipe calls for 2 espresso shots, 2 oz of chocolate, 1 oz of steamed milk, and a thin layer of foamed milk to top the beverage. 

Starbucks also provides a recipe with different ratios for making mocha at home. This recipe calls for 1 espresso shot, 8 oz of milk, and 1.5 oz of mocha syrup. Once the espresso and chocolate have been mixed, the recipe says to top off with the steamed milk until the glass is full, meaning not all 8 oz of milk is used.

Caffeine Content

When looking at how much caffeine this drink contains, the size of the serving, the type of coffee used, and how the espresso shot was prepared all greatly impact this number. An 8 oz caffè mocha contains approximately 87 mg of caffeine, whereas a 16 oz mocha would be closer to 175 mg.

Calories & Carbs

An 8 oz mocha contains approximately 159 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of sugar. These nutritional values will change depending on the size of the beverage, the ratios of ingredients used, and the type of milk and chocolate products utilized during preparation.

What’s a Latte?

Lattes are a combination of an espresso shot and steamed milk. It’s also topped off with milk foam. The name of this beverage, which is also referred to as caffè latte, is Italian for “coffee and milk.”

There are many variations to this popular beverage, as the basic recipe for it is truly customizable, making it a great starting point for adding various flavored syrups.


Since this beverage only contains two ingredients, the flavor of the espresso is present and blends well with the creaminess of the milk. The silky foam layer on top adds to the indulgence when enjoying a latte. The taste has often been described as milky coffee.

Milk Content

The ratio of espresso to milk in a latte can vary from 1:7 to 1:11 depending on the size of the beverage. The amount of milk used also varies from size to size. 

An 8 oz latte contains one espresso shot and 7 oz of steamed milk and milk foam. Similarly, a 16 oz latte contains 2 espresso shots and almost 14 oz of steamed milk and milk foam. A 20 oz latte, on the other hand, requires 2 espresso shots and 18 oz of steamed milk.

Caffeine Content

When looking at the caffeine content of lattes, this number can vary depending on the size and number of espresso shots that are used. In a single-shot latte, there is approximately 63 mg of caffeine, whereas a latte prepared with a double shot of espresso can contain closer to 125 mg of caffeine. 

It should be noted that the amount of caffeine in an espresso shot can vary greatly depending on the type of coffee being used and how it is prepared. The range of caffeine content in one shot of espresso is anywhere from 29 mg to 100 mg. A double shot of espresso can have anywhere from 58 to 185 mg of caffeine.

Calories & Carbs

Depending on the milk being used, the nutritional values of a latte can vary. A typical 16 oz latte contains just under 200 calories. When looking at the other nutritional facts, the same size latte also contains roughly 25 grams of carbohydrates. This includes 1 gram from a double shot of espresso and just over 24 grams for 16 oz of milk.

Distinctions & Superiority

Depending on the situation, both mocha and latte have the potential to reign supreme. Mocha contains less milk than a latte since it has an extra ingredient- chocolate. If you are looking for something sweet, a caffè mocha would be the winner. Mocha beverages also contain slightly more caffeine due to the espresso and chocolate combination.

Between the two, if you are looking for a healthier option, the caffè latte is the winner. One 16 oz latte has just under 200 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates when compared to an 8 oz mocha that has 159 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates. This means you can enjoy a larger latte without guilt.

Final Thoughts

Mocha beverages are jazzed-up lattes that have chocolate in them. Since caffè mochas have one extra ingredient, it doesn’t require as much milk. It’s also sweeter than a latte and contains slightly more caffeine. For these reasons, lattes are a more health-conscious choice for those who track their nutrition throughout the day. When it comes right down to it, the best option for a coffee beverage can only be determined by personal preference and individual choice.