Choosing between cappuccino and mocha can be difficult at times, especially if you love coffee and chocolate equally.
For those who are not very familiar with the drinks, distinguishing between the two can be difficult.
This is what I will try to help you with today. Hopefully, you will get a better understanding of what a cappuccino is and what a mocha is.
So let's start with the key points of each drink and then we'll compare them, so you can really understand them.
Be aware that not all coffee shops follow the 'traditional' recipe and may have their own small changes in the drinks. And in the case of large coffee chains, you may find that the drinks are very different.
What is a cappuccino?
A cappuccino is an espresso-based drink; it usually follows an espresso-to-milk ratio of 1:3. In some cases, the ratio increases to 1:5, but those are a bit rare.
The aim of the cappuccino is to balance the strong, dark espresso with the creamy milk. For this reason, a combination of steamed milk and milk foam is used to combine them beautifully in a 5 oz / 150 ml cup.
You get 2 distinct layers in a cappuccino: The first is the beautiful blend of espresso and steamed milk in the bottom half of the cup. The second layer is the combination of milk foam and espresso cream. This is a thick layer, about half an inch thick or more, depending on the barista.
This is also where latte art (drawings in the foam of the coffee cup) will form, often in really beautiful patterns.
In general, the drink is the traditional way of serving an opaque espresso, with enough milk to make it a pleasant drink.
What is a mocha?
A mocha is another type of espresso-based drink, and also uses a combination of espresso and milk. But not only that, it also has real chocolate sauce or syrup!
Originally, mocha was served in the port of Mocha, Yemen. This was an ancient Arab trading post and most of the world's coffee passed through this port. The story goes that the beans traded through Mocha were a strain of Arabica that tasted a lot like cocoa beans, giving the coffee a chocolate flavour. Over time, the recipe changed to incorporate real cocoa powder and then chocolate sauce to fully enhance the chocolate flavour.
Currently, the main way to make mocha is to use 1 oz / 33 ml of espresso and 1 oz / 33 ml of chocolate sauce, and cover everything with a thin layer of milk foam.
However, there are variations that use whipped cream instead of frothed milk, or use more coffee than chocolate, or simply use a large size (think 8 oz / 130 ml) instead of the regular 2-3 oz / 66-100 ml.
Which has more caffeine?
Both mocha and cappuccino have the same caffeine potential. Both use just one shot of standard espresso, which means they have the same caffeine levels. However, the cappuccino will act a little slower in your system, due to all the milk and sugar added to the drink, which tends to slow down the caffeine and cancel out some of its effects.
Main differences between cappuccino and mocha
There are some clear differences between cappuccino and mocha, and differentiating between them is quite easy.
If you are a newcomer to coffee, the names won't tell you much. Mocha means the port city where the drink originally came from, while cappuccino comes from the robes of Capuchin monks. They were a light shade of brown resembling cappuccino, hence the name. So let's start comparing each drink to better understand their differences.
1. Cappuccino is a dairy drink.
If a milky, creamy drink is your thing, then you should opt for a cappuccino. It is the drink that contains the most milk, being between 2 oz / 66 ml and 4 oz / 120 ml, at least by volume.
Mocha has much less milk. Normally, it should have only a thin layer of milk foam, just enough to register as real milk.
2. Moka is the original chocolate coffee
When it comes to taste, mocha is the winner for most people. Because, most people love chocolate and would gladly choose a chocolate and espresso drink over pure espresso.
This is the only coffee that has real chocolate sauce, if done right. It's supposed to be on the thicker, creamier side of coffee. Not as liquid as a cappuccino, but the chocolate sauce should be strong in the drink.
So if you got a chocolate cappuccino, it wouldn't be the same. You would just get a chocolate syrup or a bit of chocolate on top. A bit of flavour, yes, but not the real chocolate mixed with the coffee.
So, if you like sweets, the best thing to do is to have a cup of mocha coffee.
3. Cappuccinos are always bigger than mochas.
The large amount of milk and milk foam often puts cappuccinos in larger cups than a mocha. By way of comparison, a normal coffee shop cappuccino is about 5 oz / 150 ml, all-inclusive. A mocha is a smaller drink, often less than 3 oz / 100 ml, as it has only one shot of espresso, an equal amount of chocolate sauce and only a little milk foam. This makes it a small drink, so if it's portion size you're looking for, keep this in mind.
4. Cappuccinos have less coffee flavour
Due to the nature of cappuccino and mocha, you may find that cappuccino does not offer that strong coffee taste you might be looking for. It's the milk in the drink that tones everything down, and this leads to a less espresso-like taste. If that's what you're looking for, go ahead, it's really good as a morning drink.
But if you are looking for a more espresso-oriented taste, then mocha is a better choice. It's just that coffee and chocolate go very well together. They both have a nice, earthy, rich taste that goes very well together. If you get a mocha that is sweetened or too sweet, you may not notice it.
But done the right way, without overpowering the espresso, coffee and chocolate should combine to create one of the most irresistible drinks around. And the bitterness and earthiness of espresso somehow becomes a deep, buttery taste with chocolate.
Both mocha and cappuccino are great ways to enjoy espresso. Each brings a new way to enjoy the taste of espresso, and you decide which one you want to take home.
If you are looking for a more traditional and refined version of coffee, cappuccino is for you. There is a lot of skill involved and the barista really needs to know what he or she is doing to achieve the perfect cappuccino.
And for those who prefer a very tasty cup of coffee that satisfies their sweet tooth at the same time, then a mocha is the perfect combination of coffee and chocolate.