Mocha vs Macchiato: All the Key Differences Explained

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Introduction: Mocha vs Macchiato 

It can be intimidating walking into a coffee shop and seeing so many different types of coffee drinks. Espresso-based beverages have become increasingly popular in recent years. As a result, more and more coffee shops now offer everything from a classic latte to a to a flat white, to a red eye coffee. While coffee enthusiasts may have a good idea about the difference between these drinks, most people do not know the nuances that differentiates them. In this article, we discuss all the main differences between a mocha and a macchiato. 

two glass coffee mugs on a wood table with coffee beans spilled on the table. There is a jar with coffee beans and a spoon in the background. In the two mugs, one contains straight espresso (on the left) and the other contains a macchiato (on the right).

Macchiato vs Mocha: What is the Difference?

A cafe mocha contains a combination of espresso, steamed milk, milk foam, and chocolate sauce.  This sweet coffee beverage boasts several variations and methods of preparation.

Caffe macchiatos contain espresso with a small spoonful of milk foam layered on top. 

The main differences between these two drinks are that macchiatos have significantly less milk than a mocha. Macchiatos only contain a spoonful of milk foam on top the espresso, whereas a mocha typically contains 8-12 oz of milk and milk foam. Additionally, mochas contain chocolate sauce, which sweetens them. A classic macchiato does not have any added sweeteners or syrups. 

Because of these difference the strong espresso flavor of a macchiato stands out, whereas the sweet chocolate flavor stands out more in a mocha.

Where Do Macchiatos Get Their Name?

Macchiatos are sometimes referred to as caffe macchiatos. Macchiato is an Italian word that means “spotted,” “stained,” or “smudged.” In Italian, “caffè” means “coffee.” A caffe macchiato, therefore, literally means “stained coffee, ” and refers to the small amount of milk that is added to the top of espresso that stains the appearance of the black coffee. 

Where Do Mochas Get Their Name?

Mochas get their name from a type of coffee bean known as “mocha beans.” These mocha coffee beans are known for their chocolatey aromas and were historically exported from the Port of Mocha in Yemen. The mochas that are typically served in coffee shops in the United States usually do not contain true mocha beans from Yemen. Rather, they are named because of the chocolate syrup they contain, resulting in a chocolate coffee drink.

Mocha vs Macchiato: Preparation

How Are Mochas Made?

There are no standard proportions for the milk to coffee ratio when it comes to mochas. What differentiates a mocha is the addition of chocolate to a milky coffee drink. In American coffee shops, a mocha is usually a latte with added chocolate. 

To Make a Basic Mocha:

Step 1: Brew a double shot of espresso

Step 2: Add 1 oz of chocolate sauce to a coffee mug

Step 3: Pour 6 oz of cold milk into a milk pitcher.  Use a steam wand to heat the milk until the temperature registers between 145-165F. Avoid heating above this temperature or you will scald the milk and alter the flavor. The volume of the milk should expand by about 1/3.

Step 4: Pour the brewed espresso into the mug, then pour the hot milk over the top to fill the mug. Feel free to do some latte art if you are proficient in it. 

Step 5: Add any desired toppings such as a dusting of cocoa powder, whipped cream, or chocolate shavings.

blue-green mug containing a mocha. The mug is sitting on a napkin on a wooden cutting board with cocoa powder sprinkled on the napkin and cutting board.

How Are Macchiatos Made?

Macchiatos are made by brewing espresso in an espresso machine. Macchiatos typically contain a double shot of espresso, which is equivalent to 2 oz of espresso. A small spoonful of milk foam is then added on top of the brewed espresso. 

To Make a Basic Macchiato:

Step 1: Brew a double shot of espresso and pour it in a small espresso cup

Step 2: Use a steam wand or hand held milk frother to make a 1/4 cup of milk froth. 

Step 3: Spoon the milk froth on top of the espresso and enjoy

Do Mochas or Macchiatos Have More Caffeine?

Mochas have slightly more caffeine compared to a macchiato due to the caffeine content found in chocolate. This, of course, assumes that the mocha and macchiato are both made with a double shot of espresso. 

A 1-oz espresso shot contains 64 mg of caffeine.  

Macchiatos contain only a small amount of extra milk, which contributes no caffeine. 

A 12-oz mocha may contain 1 oz of mocha sauce, which contains 5 mg of caffeine. 

So therefore, for a mocha with a double shot of espresso contains 133 mg of caffeine, whereas a macchiato with a double shot of espresso contains 128 mg of caffeine. 

Do Macchiatos or Mochas Have More Calories?

Mochas have more calories than a macchiato. 

Macchiatos are primarily espresso, which does not contain any calories. The amount of calories that comes from the little bit of added milk foam to the top of the espresso is minimal, contributing only 14 calories

On the other hand, a caffè mocha has a significantly greater quantity of milk, plus the addition of the sweet chocolate. An 8-oz mocha contains 160 calories. 

Mochas vs Macchiatos: Taste

Mochas have a much sweeter flavor compared to a macchiato due to the addition of chocolate. They can have many different flavor profiles depending on the type of chocolate used. White mochas have a subtle rich and sweet flavor without the bitterness of darker chocolates. Mochas made with milk chocolate are more sweet and less bitter compared to those made with dark chocolate sauces. The chocolate neutralizes the strong taste of coffee. This makes it a good choice if you have sweet tooth and prefer a sweeter drink. If you do want a stronger mocha, you can add an extra shot of espresso. If you want to learn more about what mochas taste like, check out this post.

Macchiatos usually do not contain added sweeteners. The only sweetness comes from the milk foam on top, allowing the strong coffee flavor to come through. This drink is a better choice for coffee lovers who can appreciate the flavor of straight espresso, but still want a bit of milk to complement the strong espresso. 

Variations of Mocha vs Macchiato

Variations of Mocha

  • White chocolate mocha: Also known as a white mocha, this drink used white chocolate sauce instead of milk or dark chocolate. Learn more about white mochas here.
  • Peppermint mocha
  • Salted caramel mocha
  • Iced mocha

Variations of Macchiato

  • Sweetened with any sweetener used in other espresso drinks: sugar, flavored syrups such as lavender or vanilla syrup, etc.
  • Caramel macchiato: This is the most popular variation of a macchiato and was popularized by Starbucks in 1996 to celebrate Starbucks’ 25 year anniversary. Starbucks caramel macchiato is more similar to a latte macchiato than a caffe macchiato, as it contains much more milk than a traditional macchiato.
    •  The iced caramel macchiato has also become one of Starbucks’ most popular coffee drinks in the summer. 
  • Latte macchiato

Best Non-Dairy Milks for Macchiatos and Mochas

Traditional espresso macchiatos and mochas usually contain whole milk, however, there are so many options for vegan milk alternatives. Oat milk and soy milk have a neutral flavor and work well for steaming milk. Other popular choices include coconut milk and almond milk. Keep in mind that coconut milk does not froth well due to its high fat and low protein content. 

Unfortunately, non-dairy milks do not produce as much froth as cow’s milk. Because of this, a vegan macchiato won’t have quite as much milk froth as an authentic macchiato with real cow’s milk, but it should still taste delicious. 

There are two coffee to-go cups of mocha and macchiato side by side. The left one is taller, the right one is shorter. They are sitting on a concrete table. In the background there is a park with grass.


What is the Difference Between a Latte and a Macchiato?

It is important to understand that a caffè macchiato is different from a latte macchiato. 

A latte macchiato is very similar to a regular caffe latte, however it differs in how the ingredients are assembled. In a regular caffè latte, the espresso is added to the cup, then the steamed milk and milk foam are added to the cup. 

In a latte macchiato, the proportions of ingredients are similar, however, the steamed milk is added to the cup first, then the espresso, then the milk foam. The result is a beautiful layered coffee drink that is much more rich and creamy than a caffe macchiato. This is because latte macchiatos have much more milk than a caffe macchiato. 

What is the Difference Between a Macchiato and a Flat White?

Flat whites contain a base of espresso with 6-8 oz of steamed milk and only a thin layer of milk foam. Traditional macchiatos only contain a dollop of milk foam without steamed milk. 

What is the Difference Between a Cafe au Lait and a Macchiato?

A cafe au lait is a French coffee drink that is a combination of drip coffee with a generous amount of steamed milk. Macchiatos use espresso, rather than drip coffee, and only contain a small topping of milk foam. 

Can I Make a Mocha with Hot Chocolate Powder?

Yes, you can make a mocha with hot chocolate powder. Prepare the hot cocoa mix according to the package instructions and add 1-2 shots of espresso. Unless otherwise specified, prepare the hot chocolate with milk for a creamier mocha. 

Can I make a Macchiato if I Don’t Have an Espresso Machine?

Yes, you can make a macchiato without an espresso machine. Try using a stovetop espresso maker, also known as a moka pot. Moka pots are compact coffee makers that can make a strong coffee that is very similar to espresso (although technically it does not produce true espresso). 

You can also use regular drip coffee or coffee from a French press to make a macchiato, but the flavor will not taste as good as espresso. 


Macchiatos and mochas are two popular espresso-based drinks that have some key differences that make them very different drinks. One of the main differences between these two popular coffee drinks is the milk preparation. Macchiatos, contain only a small amount of milk foam on top of one or two shots of espresso. A mocha contains a generous amount of steamed milk, a layer of milk foam, and chocolate mocha sauce. Which coffee beverage you choose is a matter of personal preference, but hopefully now you can navigate the menu a little bit better then next time you hit up your favorite local coffee shop.

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