Espresso VS Mocha (Compare and Contrast)

Espresso is a coffee brewing technique that involves pushing in hot water through finely-ground coffee beans.

In comparison, mocha is a coffee variant with a base of an espresso shot, prepared with a mixture of coffee, steamed milk, and chocolate syrup.

High pressure is the key for an espresso brew that’s why originally, you can’t make espresso without an espresso machine.

This produces a strong undiluted liquid commonly known as an espresso shot.

A single espresso shot has about 30 ml and a double shot is basically a single shot multiplied by 2.

Mocha is prepared from coffee beans that already have a natural chocolate flavor.

When mocha is prepared, chocolate grinds or syrup are added to the drink to further enhance its chocolatey-ness!

Mocha is much stronger in terms of taste and flavor compared to a latte and cappuccino.

The coffee beans used for preparing mocha originated from Mocha, a city in Yemen.

The chocolate undertone of the beans enhances its taste profile and this is why most people associate the term ‘mocha’ with chocolate.

Let’s keep reading to know more about how these two drinks differ in terms of their caffeine content, taste, and health effects.

The difference in caffeine content

Top view of different types of coffee in mugs of different sizes.

A typical mocha contains 12.67 mg of caffeine per fl oz and that’s about 42.83 mg per 100 ml.

There’s about 152 mg of caffeine in a serving of 12 fl oz.

Comparatively, an espresso has 63 mg of caffeine in a single shot which contains 1 oz of liquid.

Due to its small size, espresso is usually served in a double shot which has roughly about 125 mg of caffeine. 

If you’re wondering if the caffeine content makes the coffee’s flavor stronger or not, you have to consider the roasting style of the beans first.

A common assumption is that the more bitter the drink tastes, the more caffeine it has, and ultimately the stronger the drink is.

Unfortunately, that assumption is incorrect. No matter how bitter your coffee tastes like, it doesn’t mean it has high caffeine content. 

The caffeine content will depend on the roast level of the beans from which the drinks were prepared.

Caffeine breaks down during the roasting process and the coffee beans tend to lose some of their caffeine while being roasted.

Lightly roasted coffee beans contain more caffeine. Moreover, dark roast contains lesser caffeine since the roasting process diminishes its caffeine content.

So if a mocha has an espresso base brewed from light roast beans, it’ll be consequently stronger in flavor than a regular coffee with a dark roast.

How do they differ in taste?

Espresso is rich in flavor as it’s basically only coffee and water. The taste of mocha, on the other hand, is also rich but sweet and smooth, combining the addicting strength of coffee and the delectable sweetness of chocolate.

Espresso has a rich flavor with a bitter, faintly lemony taste. It’s a concentrated drink extracted from ground coffee beans.

You’ll know if espresso isn’t made well because you’ll get a watery, sour, or bitter outcome.

Speaking of beans, the kind of beans used to make the drink will give the espresso its distinct flavor.

The strong flavor of espresso is because it simply contains coffee and water. That’s why many people choose to enhance its flavor with milk, cream, chocolate, or other additives. 

On the other hand, caffè mocha combines the taste of both coffee and chocolate.

It contains the earthy, delicate flavor of coffee beans and the rich, sweet taste of chocolate.

Without a doubt, mocha is indeed one of my most favorite drinks because it’s rich and smooth at the same time.

Mocha is the perfect blend of the roast qualities of coffee and the mouthfeel of the intense flavor of chocolate.

Sometimes, hot chocolate drinks are referred to as mocha when they have very low to zero coffee content.

The chocolate undertone of mocha may confuse some regarding the features of an actual mocha coffee and a mocha chocolate drink. If you have a sensitive palate, you’ll immediately know whether your mocha contains coffee or just chocolate.

I have an in-depth post here if you want to know more about mocha.

Which is healthier: espresso or mocha?

Espresso is considered much healthier than a mocha due to its low calorie and sugar content.

It contains antioxidants that boost the immune system and reduce the risk of heart diseases, especially for the obese.

Mocha is a heavy drink containing sugar and calories that may cause weight gain especially when consumed regularly.

Do you want to know more about coffee and how it affects our health? I have another post right here you can check out.

If you’re health-conscious and want to choose between the two drinks, it’s better to compare their nutrition values.

Refer to the following table for a brief nutrient comparison between an espresso and a mocha.

Nutrient ContentMocha (per 16 fl oz)Espresso (per 100 grams)
Sugar36 grams0 grams
Fats6 grams0.2 grams
Caffeine175 mg212 mg
Protein9 grams0.1 grams
Calcium300 mg2 mg
Nutrient comparison of mocha and espresso.

How to make an espresso?

A strong shot of espresso just coming out of an espresso machine.

Espresso machines these days come with adjustable settings which is ideal for those who want a quality homemade espresso.

Some machines can even simplify the setup by letting you save your presets. All you have to do is press the go or brew button when you want a cup.

Ingredients and equipment you’ll need

  • Espresso machine
  • Finely ground coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • A tamp
  • A portafilter
  • An espresso cup

Steps to make an espresso

  1. You’ll need to preheat your espresso machine by doing a ‘blank’ shot –  filling and running the machine without any coffee.
  2. Fill your portafilter with finely ground coffee beans, the actual quantity may vary depending on your portafilter and machine, but it is generally around 20g of coffee.
  3. Give your beans a pressured, firm tamp to compress them.
  4. You can twist the portafilter into the machine once it is ready to go. Press the right button for your desired espresso.
  5. Before pressing the go or brew button, make sure to place cup beneath the portafilter to catch your espresso!

How to make a mocha?

A tempting mug of mocha with whipped cream on top.

Ingredients of a mocha

Mocha may be made with more add-ons but the traditional way of preparing has 3 ingredients – espresso or coffee, milk, and chocolate.

The quantity of the ingredients may vary depending upon the person preparing it. Typically, the basic recipe followed by most coffee shops I’ve been to is:

  • 1/2 espresso shot – single shots contains 1 to 1.5 ounces
  • 2 or a little bit more ounces of hot chocolate
  • 1 ounce of steamed milk
  • A topping of milk froth
  • Cocoa powder

Steps to follow

  1. Brew an espresso and put in your coffee mug.
  2. Add two teaspoons of hot chocolate and mix with the espresso.
  3. Foam and texture the milk, ensuring you are left with a good quality foam.
  4. Pour the milk into your mug containing the chocolate espresso and top it with whipped cream which is of course optional
  5. If you want a pretty drink, dust with some cocoa powder before serving.

A bigger mug of mocha may require more of these ingredients.

If you’ll be making your mocha using a cup of hot brewed coffee, which is typically 8 oz, you’ll need to add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder with 2 tablespoons of milk.

The proportion of the basic ingredients you put in may vary depending on your taste.

You can watch the video if you want to make an amazing mocha in the comfort of your home.

How to make a mocha at home?

To sum it all up

Espresso is made by pushing in hot and pressurized water through finely-ground coffee beans.

Mocha has an espresso base and is made with a mixture of coffee, steamed milk, and chocolate syrup.

If you’re a coffeeholic with a sweet tooth, mocha can definitely satisfy your caffeine and sweet cravings at the same time. It can also keep you full longer because of the milk.

On the other hand, if you prefer a classic no-fuss coffee, then go for an espresso.

It has no milk or sugar. Just plain water and coffee bean extract.

To be honest here, mocha is more appealing – to me especially but it’s not really a healthy option in the long run because of its high content of milk and sugar.

It’s okay to drink it occasionally but if you do this on a regular basis, you’re in for future health problems.

An espresso, though just containing water and coffee bean extract is way more healthy if all you need is a caffeine boost.

It has all the healthful goodness of coffee like antioxidants minus the calorie-laden additives.

That doesn’t mean you can drink all the espresso you want since it doesn’t make you put on extra weight.

What I’m saying is that whichever drink you choose, it’s always best to drink it in moderation.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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