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Latte art on Mocha

What Is a Mocha?

Whether you call it a caffè mocha or a mocha latte, this distinct coffee is a big deal for chocolate lovers the world over - and when you get that combination of coffee zing and velvety cocoa just right, it's undeniably delicious!

If you're wondering what goes into the take-out cup, it's simply a latte (as you know it) with some chocolate syrup.

However, as with all barista brews, there's a bit more technique and skill required to blend those powerful flavours perfectly.

Today Hoxton Coffee explores the basics of a mocha and shares some advice for creating your signature cup, whether you have a massive sweet tooth or want a slightly more subtle taste profile.

The History of the Mocha

We always like to explore the origins of our coffee because it means we don't lose sight of the original recipe or the concepts that created our favourite brews!

An American coffee classic, the mocha was derived from a popular caffè latte and started to take off in the 80s in Seattle (birthplace of a certain coffee chain, as you're no doubt aware).

Anyhow, we didn't call a mocha a mocha, to begin with - it comes from Italy, and a Turin coffee known as a Bicerin; a hot coffee that was made by a coffeehouse called the Caffè al Bicerin, hence the name.

The Bicerin had a similar mixture of espresso, chocolate and milk, although the layers differed from today's modern alternative.

How to Make a Mocha at Home

The ingredients in a mocha can vary depending on taste (as we'll explain later), but a standard cup will include:

  • One to four chocolate syrup pumps.
  • Two to four shots of espresso.
  • Steamed milk and a milk foam or a whipped cream topping.

It's similar to a latte in preparation, and you'll need to grind your espresso beans separately and pour the chocolate syrup straight into the cup.

Check out our guide on How to Grind Coffee if you're new to making coffee at home!

The beauty is that you pour in the syrup first and then add a couple of espresso shots, gently warming the chocolate and creating that sensory experience.

Give the mixture a gentle stir to blend the flavours, and steam your milk while the espresso has time to brew.

The ideal temperature is about 73 °C, and you want to pour the steamed milk into your cup, leaving a thin foamy layer on the top.

You can use filter or pour-over coffee in a pinch, or if you don't have an espresso machine - we've written before about the Difference Between Espresso and Filter Coffee.

If you're keen on presentation, you can top your mocha with more chocolate syrup (milk, white or dark chocolate), nutmeg, sprinkles, whipped cream or cinnamon - anything goes!

Mocha coffee

How to Customise Your Mocha

Now, if you like the taste profile of a mocha but feel it lacks a little something, you have tons of opportunities to tailor your coffee, make use of the ingredients to hand or adjust it to suit your individual preferences.

A great coffee shop will usually offer a white or dark mocha: it's as simple as it sounds!

A standard mocha is made with milk chocolate syrup, whereas white or dark mochas use the appropriate alternative syrup.

White mochas are sweeter, but bitter dark chocolate works equally well, or you can even create a marble mocha with a little of each.

If you're making a mocha at home and don't have syrup, swap this out for cocoa powder (or even hot chocolate powder) and adjust exactly how much chocolate you add.

Unusual Mocha Recipe Ideas

Looking for a mocha less ordinary? Why not try one of these combinations to test your barista brewing skills!

  • Milkshake mocha: replace the syrup with chocolate milk as a fast and easy way to whip up a decadent coffee/chocolate combo with a retro twist.
  • Iced summer mocha: if you need a caffeine hit but are sweltering in the heat, you can use cold brew or cool your espresso, and blend the same way (with a generous handful of ice) to turn a warming mocha into a cooling coffee.
  • Sophisticated mocha: although chocolate tends to be something we love as kids, you can make an elegant mocha using high-quality dark chocolate, single origin beans, and serve it in a tall glass with ice or in a traditional coffee cup for a more 'grown up' drink.

The joy of making a mocha is that there aren't any right or wrong answers - throw in some cookie crumble topping, add an extra espresso shot for a punchier taste or layer with whipped cream for a cheeky treat!

Whether you are craving a chocolate pick-me-up or want a refined caffeine boost with a hint of cocoa flavour, a mocha is a go-to all year round.

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