Macchiato Vs Mocha – Which Coffee Is Best To Drink?

The choice in most coffee shops is quite daunting and there are a million very different drinks, with various coffee beans, milks, and other additions to choose from. 

Most coffee shop drinks are made with espresso coffee, but even coffee lovers can find it difficult to tell espresso based drinks apart. Two of the most popular options are macchiato and mocha but even though the names sound similar, they're pretty different. 

This guide will give you the full breakdown of macchiato vs mocha, so you easily choose between them when you next visit your local cafe.

Even though they have some of the same ingredients (espresso and milk) a macchiato and mocha are very different. Here are some of the things that set them apart:  


The flavor is probably the most important aspect of a brewed coffee and it's one of the key distinctions between a macchiatio and mocha. 

A macchiato has a bold, intense flavor which is similar to a straight espresso. A mocha has a chocolate and coffee flavor with just a hint of bitterness, but it is a much sweeter drink.

The reasons for the different flavors between these popular coffee drinks all comes down to the basic ingredients. 

Macchiato is simply espresso with a small amount of milk foam. This gives it a much stronger taste with just a hint of creaminess. A traditional macchiato only has a single shot of espresso with an almost equal amount of milk foam, but you can add more than one shot if you need more caffeine. This will make the taste from the espresso beans more intense. 

Mochas are a fair bit sweeter because of the hot chocolate milk combination on top of the espresso. The intense flavor of espresso is drowned with steamed milk and chocolate making this espresso drink ideal for those who can’t handle coffee’s bitterness. The coffee taste isn’t completely lost, only quite diluted so this is a delicious drink, but not a very strong coffee.  

Caffeine Level

Most people drink coffee because of the caffeine kick it gives them, so it's important to know the caffeine content of each espresso drink. 

Macchiatos and mochas both have 80-120mg of caffeine. This is about the same as other coffee drinks like a flat white, cappuccino, or regular café au lait. 

Considering the very different tastes of each drink it might be a surprising to some people that a mocha (which is confused with a hot chocolate) has the same amount of caffeine as a macchiato. Well, it all comes down to the espresso shots in the coffee recipes. 

A traditional macchiato has a single espresso poured into the base. This gives it the bold and strong espresso flavor which is slightly disguised by the frothed milk. 

A mocha is also usually made with an espresso shot too, but actually if you order a large mocha it may contain multiple espresso shots. This means that even though it's actually stronger than a regular macchiato even though the strong espresso flavor is disguised by the hot milk and thick milk foam.


Coffee remains so popular because of all the varieties available. By adding ingredients you can make a completely different drink, and both of these espresso drinks have popular variations. 

When it comes to variations, additions and customisation of a mocha vs macchiato, mocha wins hands down. There are more varieties to order and more ingredients to add in so it's better for those who like to customise their coffee.

A caffè mocha can be ordered in a range of ways from most coffee shops. These include:

  • Dark chocolate mochas
  • White chocolate mochas
  • Milk chocolate mochas
  • Mocha coffee (a popular variation made with coffee instead of espresso)

You can also add a variety of toppings to a classic mocha (or iced mocha) and most coffee bars offer:

  • Added whipped cream
  • Chocolate curls 
  • Added chocolate sauce
  • More milk foam
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Extra milk or espresso added in (some people enjoy a triple shot mocha)

All of these extras will add to the price and add calories, but they'll make it a great macchiato that's better suited to your tastes. 

There are also some variations on a traditional macchiato:

  • Espresso macchiato (a popular version with more foam on top for latte art) 
  • Latte macchiato (with more steamed, similar to a caffè latte or wet cappuccino)

You can also add in (or remove) extra ingredients to a caffè macchiato to have it your own way: 

  • Vanilla syrup
  • Caramel syrup (works particularly well)
  • More milk foam
  • Less steamed milk (to make the espresso taste bolder)

Again, you should be able to get these from your local coffee shop but it will add to the price and calories.


Understanding the calories in these espresso drinks can help you make a healthier choice. 

A mocha contains 250-350 calories, whereas a macchiato has 75-100 calories in each cup. This makes the macchiato the best choice for those counting calories.

The key reason a mocha is packed with calories is because of the high volume of steamed milk, chocolate, and sugar that comes with it. In comparison, a macchiato has fewer ingredients and only a dollop of milk foam so it's naturally got fewer calories.

Milk Preparation 

Milk is a key ingredient in every espresso drink. The type and style of milk will influence the flavor, texture, and even the temperature of the final drink - so it's worth knowing what you're ordering. 

Macchiato and mocha both contain milk, but a macchiato only has a dollop of milk foam on top, whereas a mocha has lots of steamed milk. 

A mocha uses more milk to combine with the espresso and chocolate flavor when the drink is created. This gives it a rich taste and beautiful texture. 

A macchiato is a layered drink with a tiny amount of milk and a microfoam on top which forms when the espresso is poured into the drink. 

Both drinks can be served with dairy free milk alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant of vegan. You'll need to check what your local coffee shop has available, but most cafes have:

  • Almond milk 
  • Coconut milk
  • Soy milk 
  • Oat milk

Just remember that an iced mocha and iced latte are both made with cold milk rather than steaming milk.

Macchiato Coffees: Overview & How They Are Made 

The term macchiato originated from the need for baristas to show waiters the key differences between an espresso shot and an espresso shot mixed with a bit of milk.

In Italian, the term “macchiato” means marked or stained, which is a perfect description of the drink because of the addition of milk to the espresso. It was initially made to be the ideal afternoon coffee but is now enjoyed at almost any time of the day.  

The macchiato (sometimes called an espresso macchiato) consists of two parts, a shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed or foamed milk. Unlike a cappuccino which has equal parts espresso, milk, and milk foam added on top, a macchiato is one part milk and two parts espresso (just like a standard latte). 

The small amounts of milk and lack of other ingredients make this a smaller serving size than other espresso drinks. This is part of the reason coffee lovers often order an espresso macchiato or latte macchiato because the addition of more foamed milk makes them a longer drink.

The milk preparation in a regular macchiato doesn’t overpower the taste of the coffee, allowing the intense coffee flavor to shine, but you can choose to add more espresso to make it stronger, or add more or less milk to slightly change the taste too.

This drink is perfect for people who find an espresso shot too strong but a cappuccino too weak.  

latte macchiato

To make a macchiato at home, here’s what you need to do: 

  • 1
    Start by pulling an espresso shot by passing hot water over the ground beans. The amount of beans you’ll use depend on your personal taste.  
  • 2
    Pour the shot in a demitasse cup. These are the smallest cups you can find in a coffee shop. If you don’t have one, anything will do.  
  • 3
    Steam a little bit of milk. Remove the dry foam from the steamed milk and pour it over the shot of espresso. You can play around with this and maybe create a design.  

Mocha Coffees: Overview & How They Are Made 

The literal translation of mocha is 'a drink that mixes coffee and chocolate', but the original version comes from the name of a port city in Yemen called al-Makha or Mocha. During the 15th to early 18 century, this port city was known as the central coffee marketplace. Now,  the term mocha is popularly used to describe a coffee beverage.  

The mocha drink uses a double shot of espresso combined with chocolate (syrup, shavings, etc.) and steamed milk. The type of chocolate used on a mocha drink varies per cafe and can also come with whipped cream or marshmallow, depending on the barista.  

While a double shot of espresso may seem overpowering, a cup of mocha delivers balanced flavors of sweetness and bitterness. This drink is perfect for those who aren’t fans of intense coffee flavor but still want a caffeine kick. Because it contains chocolate, it’s easier to drink than most espresso-based beverages and is perfect during cold weather.  

Here’s how you can make a mocha at home:  

  • 1
    Pull two shots of espresso and pour it into a tall glass.  
  • 2
    Then, mix one ounce of chocolate syrup or powder in the glass. Followed by steamed milk until the cup is almost full. 
  • 3
    You can top it off with whipped cream or garnish it with chocolate shavings, marshmallows, or anything you like.  
mocha coffee

Mocha Macchiatos (Variations + How To Make At Home) 

Starbucks has introduced a new coffee drink variation that marries the flavor intensity of macchiato and the sweetness of mocha called mocha macchiato. While it isn’t an official menu item, mocha macchiato can be ordered by asking for a caramel macchiato with mocha drizzle instead of caramel.  

Mocha Macchiato is simply a macchiato drink that contains vanilla syrup, steamed milk and foam, espresso, and mocha drizzle. You can prepare it at home by simply making a latte macchiato with mocha or chocolate syrup on top. Starbucks and other coffee shops have introduced different mocha macchiato variations. Here are some of the other drinks, plus the steps on how you can make them at home:  

Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato 

Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato is a fun spin on Starbucks ’ Iced Caramel Macchiato drink. AS its name implies, it uses coconut milk instead of regular milk. If you want to make this drink at home, here’s how to make an iced coconut milk mocha macchiato: 

  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate sauce (any brand) 
  • 1.5 ounces of espresso (you can use 1 cup of cold brew if you don’t own an espresso machine) 
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (or more, depending on your preference) 
  • Sugar or vanilla syrup (optional) 
  • Whipped cream  (optional) 
  • 1
    In a glass, add chocolate sauce, espresso, and coconut milk. Then, add some ice.  
  • 2
    Top with some whipped cream if you prefer and some more chocolate sauce.  
  • 3
    Add some sweetener or not, depending on your taste.

Marble Mocha Macchiato 

Another Macchiato Mocha variety you can make at home is Marble Mocha Macchiato. This coffee drink is essentially just an espresso topped mocha macchiato that uses white mocha sauce or white chocolate. Here’s how you can do this drink at home:  

  • 2 tablespoons of white chocolate sauce (any brand) 
  • 1-1.5 ounces of espresso (you can use 1 cup of cold brew if you don’t own an espresso machine) 
  • 8 ounces of milk 
  • Sugar or vanilla syrup (optional) 
  • Whipped cream  (optional) 
  • 1
    Steam the milk until it reaches 145 degrees. 
  • 2
    In a glass, add white chocolate sauce and espresso. 
  • 3
    Gently pour the steamed milk. 
  • 4
    Finish by adding some whipped cream to the espresso steamed milk mixture, or if you prefer add some more chocolate sauce.  
  • 5
    You can also add some sweetener or not, depending on your taste.  
Macchiato Vs Mocha

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How does a cappuccino differ from mocha and macchiato? 

These two drinks use espresso and steamed milk, but there are some basic differences. Cappuccino uses milk foam on top and is often dusted with chocolate powder. Mocha, on the other hand, has chocolate in it as opposed to an espresso macchiato, which has steamed milk and espresso only.  

How does a latte differ from mocha and macchiato? 

The main difference is that a latte uses more steamed milk than mocha and macchiato. It's often referred to as cafe latte or milk coffee because of the generous amount of milk it uses. Like a cappuccino, it also uses milk foam but not as much as this drink 

A latte macchiato is a cross between both drinks and can give you the best of both worlds.

Does Dunkin Donuts have Mocha Macchiatos? 

Unlike Starbucks, where Mocha Macchiato isn't on the official menu, Dunkin Donut offers the drink, released last February 2021.  


Macchiato and mocha are two of the most popular coffee drinks and you'll see people order them in many coffee shops around the world. 

Hopefully you now know the main differences between a macchiato vs mocha, and you'll find it easy to choose between the two drinks. A mocha is made with more milk and foam so it's rich and sweet, but a macchiato is made with espresso flavors and you'll definitely taste the coffee beans. 

So if you can handle intense coffee, go for a macchiato. But if you like chocolate and sweet beverages with a little bit of caffeine, mocha is a better choice for you. 

Kim Fernandez


Kim Fernandez
Kim offers a unique perspective on coffee culture and trends. Kim's writing is personal and experiential, providing readers with firsthand advice on the latest in coffee. Beyond her writing, Kim is an avid explorer of new coffee trends and spots, always seeking to share the most genuine advice and latest trends. True to her love for coffee, you'll often find her in a café, immersed in a book with a freshly brewed cup of joe.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A freshly brewed cup of joe

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