Ordering from a café menu can sometimes be confusing, as there are many different types of drinks, all slightly different from each other.

The difference between a mocha and a coffee can also be confusing, as how the two drinks are made can sometimes change from café to café.

Learning more about each, however, can help you decide which suits you better.

Coffee vs Mocha

Beans

Mocha and coffee are both types of coffee, but they utilize different bean varieties.

Coffee can mean regular black coffee or espresso. Even mocha itself is simply a type of coffee.

Regular coffee can be made with either Robusta or Arabica beans. Arabica beans are a bit sweeter, while Robusta beans are slightly bitter and have a more potent, bold flavor.

Mocha, on the other hand, is made using mocha beans, which are a particular Arabica variety.

Like most Arabica beans, mocha beans have a slightly sweet flavor. Mocha also has a natural chocolate flavor that lends a sweet, smooth, chocolate-like taste to the coffee.

A mocha drink can be made with any type of coffee, with chocolate added, but it’s not a true mocha unless it is made from mocha beans.

robusta vs arabica beans

Brewing

In general, black coffee is brewed using a pour-over, drip, or percolator method.

These methods vary slightly, but they’re all the same in that hot water is slowly trickled over the ground coffee beans to produce the coffee.

Sometimes, black coffee is also made using a cold brew method, in which case the ground beans are left to soak in cold water for a much longer time, such as overnight.

This creates a flavorful, bold coffee.

Coffee can also be made using the espresso method. Brewing for this method involves compressing finely ground beans into a very small filter.

Hot water is then quickly forced through the grounds, creating a strong, silky, and highly caffeinated single serving of espresso.

You can make coffee in whatever way suits your needs, and you can use mocha beans for any type of brewing.

However, most mocha beans are finely ground and brewed using the espresso method.

Espresso is often a little creamier and richer than regular coffee, and this texture enhances the sweet, chocolatey flavor of the mocha beans.

mocha coffee with cream and chocolate

Flavor and Boldness

Mocha drinks are generally considered to be the lightest and sweetest of all coffee drinks, while regular coffee or espresso has a bolder, more intense flavor.

However, the roast of the beans used affects the flavor of both regular coffee and mocha. Lighter beans are more acidic, but they give a fruity flavor that still manages to be strong.

This is a good choice for flavorful coffees, including mochas. Dark roasts give a smokier flavor, and this can sometimes enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

Espresso is most commonly made from a dark roast. Dark roasts have more oils, so they give the final cup of coffee a silky, almost creamy texture, which also works well with mochas.

Light, medium, or dark roasts all work well for regular coffee. The exact variety of beans will usually dictate which roast is best.

If you want a well-rounded coffee, however, a medium roast is often a sure bet.

holding coffee beans in hands

Ingredients

Although you can serve mocha without any other ingredients, most baristas add some type of chocolate to a mocha drink to enhance the chocolate flavor.

This can mean adding chocolate syrup or hot chocolate.

Regular coffee can be served black, but people often add sugar or creamer, such as cream, milk, or a non-dairy creamer such as soy or almond milk.

mocha with chocolate and cream

Toppings

Depending on what type of coffee drink you’re having, it might be topped with milk foam, sometimes in a decorative pattern, or the milk or foam might be stirred into the coffee.

Mochas are often topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, which helps to further enhance the flavor of the coffee.

mocha with decorative pattern

Drinks

A mocha drink usually includes two shots of espresso, made from mocha beans. Milk, chocolate syrup or cocoa powder, and sugar are then added to give the drink its signature taste.

Regular coffee can be used to make a wide variety of drinks, including lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites. Coffee can also be served black.

Both regular coffee and a mocha can be mixed with ice to create an iced coffee or iced mocha. The ice can also be blended in for a thicker drink with a smoothie-like consistency.

iced mocha

Calories

Technically, both coffee and mocha have very few calories. A cup of coffee usually has about 2 calories, as long as nothing, such as milk or sugar, is added to it.

Plain mocha also has about 2 calories. Since you’ll rarely find plain mocha without added chocolate syrup or hot chocolate, however, the calories in a mocha drink are much higher than that of black coffee.

black coffee in white cup and saucer

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