Understanding Espresso Drinks: Mocha vs Macchiato

If you are new to the world of coffee drinks, don't worry we have you covered.  Today we are going to look at the differences and similarities between two of the most popular espresso based coffee drinks out there: mocha and macchiato.

Mocha vs Macchiato, the Same Foundation.

Let's start with he similarities between a macchiato and a mocha.

Both are based on espresso, not dripped or steeped coffee.  When making a mocha or macchatio, the key is first a nice fresh espresso shot (or double espresso shot)

Then, steamed milk is added.  How much is added depends on the drink.

Here is where the similarities end.

What is a macchiato?

A macchiato is simply espresso and steamed milk, with just a little bit of foam.

The ratio of espresso to steamed milk is what changes here.  In a macchiato, which is often also referred to as an espresso macchiato, you are just staining the espresso with steamed milk.  Macchiato means stained milk in Italian.

This means you aren't looking at a huge cup of coffee beverage when it comes to a true macchiato.

You should also be able to distinguish between the layers of espresso, steamed milk, and foam in a true macchiato.

In the United States you may see more steamed milk than you would in Italy traditionally.

Whats an Iced Macchiato?

Remember, a macchiato is espresso with just a stain of steamed milk.

In the case of a iced macchiato, cold milk is used as a base, and the espresso is poured over the cold milk and ice, once again creating a layered coffee beverage.  You can thank Starbucks for the widespread rise of the iced macchiato.

Mocha vs Macchiato, the Differences

The first difference to understand is that there are many differences!

Now that we know what a macchiato is, let's look at a mocha.

What's in a mocha?

Just looking the mocha, also called the cafe mocha, there are so many variants like a classic mocha or a white mocha.

There are also the toppings to think about, since a mocha also often has whipped cream and chocolate on top.

The mocha really breaks down into these components:

  • Espresso
  • Steamed Milk
  • Chocolate
  • Whipped Cream

Confused yet?  You may also have heard this drink referred to as a mochachino.

Is a Mocha Hot or Cold?

Traditionally, a mocha is hot beverage since it uses steamed milk.  You can also make a cold mocha.  A cold mocha is called an iced mocha and is a combination of espresso, cold milk, and chocolate over ice.  These iced mochas are often also made with whipped cream and cocoa on top.

The fact of the matter is that mocha means chocolate at the end of the day.

It also has a lot more steamed milk than a macchiato.  Think of a mocha as a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso.

When you think of it that way it is easy to see the difference.

Mocha vs Macchiato the Final Verdict

When it comes to choosing a mocha vs macchatio, the key differences come down to your preferences.

A mocha is a chocolate espresso beverage often served with whipped cream.  It is also a larger beverage by volume.

A macchiato is primarily an espresso heavy beverage, with just a stain of steamed milk and foam, and also much smaller by volume.

If you are looking for an indulgent treat, then the mocha is the way to go.

If you need a pick me up, but straight espresso is a bit too much for you, try a macchiato.

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