What is a mocha? This popular drink pairs espresso, milk and chocolate for a deliciously rich sip. Here’s how to make a mocha at home!

How to make a mocha

What’s better than a warm, creamy mocha? The mocha is one of the most famous espresso drinks, possibly because it’s so rich and chocolaty it’s like drinking chocolate pudding. Did you know you can make a barista-quality mocha in the comfort of your own home? This one comes out just like one at a coffee house: no shortcuts like hot chocolate mix or whipped cream. It’s part our Barista Series to teach you how to make all your favorite coffee drinks…homemade!

What is a mocha?

A mocha or mocha latte is a drink made with espresso and steamed milk that’s flavored with chocolate syrup. There’s lots of variation on exactly what constitutes a mocha: it’s up to the barista! This drink can be made with various levels of espresso shots, quantities of steamed milk, and amounts of chocolate syrup. The mocha rose to popularity with Starbucks culture starting in the 1980’s in America.

This recipe is how to make a mocha…the real way! It’s made like a latte or a cappuccino with steamed milk. Some mocha recipes use hot chocolate mix and coffee: essentially a cheater’s version. This one is much tastier: and easy to make. Instead of a chocolate syrup, we went for real chocolate chips and maple syrup for sweetness. Here’s how to do it!

How to make a mocha

Start with espresso

The first component to a mocha is the espresso! Technically in this drink you could use very strong coffee, since mochas can be more free form. But the truest mocha has espresso! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Espresso roast coffee. This is very dark roast coffee that gets just the right espresso flavor. Make sure to grind it on a fine grind when you make it.
  • Espresso machine, manual espresso maker, or Aeropress: There are a few ways to make an espresso. The best is an espresso machine: we use this countertop espresso machine. Want something a little cheaper? Try this manual espresso maker: it’s also portable! The last ditch resort is an Aeropress: the espresso is not nearly as good, but it’s very cheap and does the trick. Go to this Aeropress Espresso recipe.
Espresso

The milk to use for a mocha

The other main ingredient for this espresso drink is milk! But not just any milk will do. Here’s what to know about the best milk for a mocha:

  • Most importantly: use milk that’s as fresh as possible! Milk that’s nearing its expiration date does not foam as well.
  • The best milk for a mocha? Whole milk. It froths the best because it has the highest milk fat. You can also use 2% milk. It works fairly well, but you lose a bit of the richness.
  • Want a vegan mocha? Use oat milk. Oat milk froths up the best of any dairy milk and has great flavor. Go to How to Froth Milk for more details.

How to steam milk for a mocha: with an espresso machine

If you happen to have an espresso machine, you can use it to steam the milk for a mocha. Steamed milk is what puts the latte in mocha latte. But contrary to our Perfect Latte, here you don’t have to worry quite as much about getting the perfect micro-foam texture that’s like wet-paint. In fact, this mocha has fluffier foam and is a bit more like a cappuccino. Here’s how to steam milk for a mocha with an espresso machine:

  • Hold the steaming wand just below the surface of the milk until it doubles in size and is very foamy.
  • Lower the steaming wand slightly until the milk reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer or judge by when your hand can’t hold the pitcher for more than a few seconds.

For more details, go to How to Steam Milk!

How to froth milk with a milk frother

How to froth milk for a mocha (cheater method!)

Most people don’t have an espresso machine: which is AOK for a mocha! For a great homemade mocha you can heat the milk and froth it using one of various tools. More details are at How to Froth Milk, but here are our top 3 choices for the home barista:

  • Handheld milk frother. A handheld milk frother is only $10 and works great! It gets the milk extremely frothy, which is perfect for this mocha.
  • French press. If you have a French press for making coffee, it’s great for making foam! It makes a nice frothy foam with bubbles a little larger than the frother.
  • Whisk. The most basic of tools! A whips up the milk pretty well: it has a bit larger bubbles but that’s perfectly acceptable for a mocha.
How to make a mocha

How to make a mocha at home

There are many variations on a mocha, and it will come out differently depending on the equipment you use above. That’s ok! A mocha is a little more of a free-form drink than the exacting latte, flat white, cappuccino or macchiato. Don’t worry so much about the steaming and frothing. The best part is the chocolate!

  • Make the espresso using an espresso machine, espresso maker, or Aeropress (see above).
  • Place chocolate chips in the cup, then add espresso. The heat of the coffee melts the chocolate.
  • Steam the milk and maple syrup (espresso machine method): Note that you’ll add a little maple syrup to get just the right sweetness. Honey, agave or simple syrup also work.
  • OR, heat the milk and syrup on the stovetop, then froth it. Heat the milk in a pan until it reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect: that’s where the milk is hot to the touch but not simmering. Then froth using your desired method to froth the milk until it’s very foamy..
  • Serve. Pour the frothed milk into the chocolaty espresso and serve!

And that’s it! How to make a real mocha that’s rich, chocolaty and tastier than any other mocha you’ve had. (Promise.) Let us know what you think in the comments below!

This mocha recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, use the oat milk variation.

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How to make a mocha

How to Make a Mocha


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

What is a mocha? This popular drink pairs espresso, milk and chocolate for a deliciously rich sip. Here’s how to make a mocha at home!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 espresso shots (2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) fresh whole milk*
  • ½ tablespoon maple syrup
  • For the garnish: chocolate shavings

Instructions

  1. Make the espresso: Use an espresso machine or manual espresso maker to make two shots of espresso  (or try our Aeropress Espresso). Place the chocolate chips into the mug and pour the espresso on top.
  2. Steaming method (espresso machine): Place the milk and maple syrup in a pitcher. Hold the steaming wand just below the surface of the milk until it doubles in size and is very foamy. Lower the steaming wand slightly until the milk reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit (use a thermometer or judge by when your hand can’t hold the pitcher for more than a few seconds).
  3. Foaming method (without espresso machine): Heat the milk and maple syrup to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is “scalding”: hot to the touch but not simmering. Measure with a food thermometer, or you can approximate by testing with your finger. Use a milk frother, French press or whisk to froth the milk until it’s very foamy. For a mocha you’ll want a good amount of froth. We recommend reading How to Froth Milk if this is your first time frothing. For the French press method, note that it’s useful to have at least 1 cup to have more milk to work with: this makes enough for 2 drinks.
  4. Serve: Swirl the milk container a few times. Pour milk and foam into center of the chocolaty espresso. If desired, top with chocolate shavings for garnish.

Notes

*Whole milk works best; milk that is a few weeks old may not froth. You can also use oat milk for a vegan mocha. The milk frother works well; for the French press pump vigorously until frothy, about 25 times. Do not overwhip, as the foam will deflate!

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Espresso
  • Cuisine: Coffee

Keywords: How to make a mocha

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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2 Comments

  1. Just made this recipe and it is so good! I just got an espresso machine and love it. Thank you for this easy recipe!