Starbucks Mochas Coffee Guide: Recipe and How to Order It

Mochas are the perfect beverage for any cozy morning. I love sipping on the chocolate espresso when it rains as a way to enhance the snug vibes. Starbucks mochas just hit the spot! They are the perfect blend of sweet and bitter and have become nostalgic for those of us who always get their peppermint mocha during the holidays.

Chocolate is an easy-to-use and readily available ingredient. It is not hard to make a delicious mocha at home with whatever you happen to have on hand. Even the espresso shots can be substituted for regular coffee in a pinch.

If you are ready to cozy up with a velvety mocha latte, stay tuned for various ways to make it in your own kitchen. And if you just don’t want to deal with the hassle, we also have a buyer’s guide for how to order all the mochas on the Starbucks menu. Enjoy!

What is a mocha?

Mocha is actually a shortened version of this popular drink’s name. It is actually a mocha latte or a cafe mocha. This chocolate drink is just a variation of a classic latte. Lattes are popularly customized because they work so well with almost any flavor.

Chocolate and coffee have a long history together. Chocolate is often used to describe how certain coffee beans taste, even. It just makes sense to combine the two. Most mochas will have approximately 1-4 pumps of chocolate syrup (the “mocha” part of the drink) and 2-4 espresso shots depending on its size.

The rest of the drink consists of steamed milk and milk foam. It is often topped with more chocolate sauce or chocolate shaving to decorate it. My favorite mocha topping is nutmeg because it really brings out the nutty flavor of the coffee.

What is a white mocha?

If you have ordered a mocha before, your barista has probably asked you if you want a white or a dark mocha. For those coffee lovers among us who don’t know the difference, it is no big secret. White mochas are a lot sweeter than dark mochas.

White mochas don’t have as much of a bitter chocolate taste and the sauce looks white, which is how it got its name. One of the best things about lattes is just how customizable they are.

You can combine a white mocha and a dark mocha to get what is lovingly referred to as a marble mocha. Marble mochas are the perfect combination of bitter and sweet chocolate. If you are a fan of milk chocolate candy then you will probably love this latte variation as well.

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Can I use hot chocolate to make a mocha?

For those of us who forgot to stock up on mocha sauce, hot chocolate and simple cocoa powder can both be used to make a mocha latte! After all, the mocha sauce is made from cocoa powder.

If you are using hot chocolate powder to make a mocha, it will probably taste more akin to a marble mocha than the deep and slightly bitter traditional mocha-like most coffee shops serve. If you want to make the drink a bit darker in flavor, just add some cocoa powder to the mix.

Cocoa powder can easily be used to brew a mocha latte. Cocoa powder by itself is not sweet at all. It is an incredibly bitter ingredient but this just enhances the espresso’s flavor better. To offset the cocoa powder’s natural bitterness, I recommend adding some sugar until the drink gets to the sweetness you prefer.

The more sugar you add to your mocha, the more it will taste like a white mocha so, in this way, you can modify your drink however you like!

Where did mocha originate?

The name “mocha” came from Mocha city in Yemen. Mocha city was one of the first places in the world to brew and sell coffee because of its vast coffee forests. The chocolate drink itself was first introduced by a cafe in Yemen called cafe Bicerin.

This cafe’s signature drink, the bicerin, was essentially the predecessor of our modern mocha latte. The bicerin contained chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk but each of these ingredients was carefully layered on top of each other instead of mixed.

The modern mocha latte that is currently so popular is not that different from the bicerin. If you really want a taste of the past, it is easy to make a mocha with distinctive layers like the bicerin at home.

Complete list of Starbucks mochas

Starbucks Coffee is a practically magical place where you can order any drink you can imagine as long as they have the flavored syrup to make it. That being said, it can be overwhelming to be presented with so many choices.

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Mocha fans have many Starbucks drinks to choose from ranging from common to secret-menu only. Keep in mind that if you order off of the “secret menu,” your barista may not know the drink by heart. If this is the case, you will just need to tell them the ingredients of the secret drink so they can make it for you.

  • Cafe mocha
  • White mocha
  • Marble mocha
  • Peppermint mocha
  • Peppermint white chocolate mocha
  • Toasted white chocolate mocha
  • Salted caramel mocha
  • Skinny mocha
  • Mocha macchiato
  • Hazelnut mocha
  • Toffee Nut mocha
  • Cinnamon dolce mocha
  • Raspberry white mocha

As with nearly every Starbucks drink, you can order any of these drinks hot or iced. Most of the time, your barista will ask which you prefer. You can also substitute any milk that Starbucks has in stock to add to the flavors.

For example, a hazelnut mocha can be taken to the next level by adding coconut milk. Your basic latte has now become a hazelnut coconut milk mocha. Delicious!      

How to order a Starucks mocha

Ordering a mocha from Starbucks is not as complicated as it seems at first. There are a few options to choose from that will personalize the mocha to your liking. Don’t worry, if you don’t specify, your barista will probably just ask what you prefer.

White vs. Dark

A white mocha is sweeter than a dark mocha so this is really a choice between having a sweet chocolate drink or a bitter chocolate drink. If you are not sure how sweet or bitter the sauces are, just ask! Your barista has probably tried them all.

Hot vs. Iced

An iced mocha doesn’t have steamed milk, like a hot mocha does, but it will contain one of those clear domes filled with whipped cream!

Blonde, Dark, or Decaf Espresso

Blonde espresso typically contains more caffeine but is brighter in flavor which can be off-putting in a mocha. Dark espresso has notes of chocolate so it pairs well with chocolate, but has less caffeine than blonde espresso. Decaf espresso will taste like a medium roast but it does not contain any caffeine.

Latte, Americano, Cappuccino, or Macchiato

A latte is a typical mocha. It contains steamed milk, espresso, chocolate, and a little bit of milk foam all blended together. It usually comes with whipped cream.

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An Americano contains espresso and hot water. It is usually served without flavorings but adding chocolate sauce is not unheard of. A cappuccino, on the other hand, has all the same ingredients as a latte but there is a lot more milk foam than there is steamed milk.

A macchiato has the same ingredients as a latte and cappuccino but it is distinctly layered instead of mixing all the ingredients. The espresso shots will be on top of the milk foam instead of at the bottom and it is not served with whipped cream.

Added Flavors

Your Starbucks barista can add any flavored syrups you desire to your mocha. If you are unsure what syrups your local Starbucks has in stock, just ask and your barista will help you find the perfect flavor.

Copycat Starbucks Mocha Recipe

Mocha lattes are incredibly easy to make at home with some chocolate sauce, espresso, and milk. Mochas taste best with medium, dark, or French roast coffee due to their inherent chocolate flavor. Any coffee beans that have notes of chocolate or nuts will taste great in a mocha.

Now that you have selected your coffee, grab your favorite mug and we will get started making a copycat mocha that will give the green mermaid a run for her money.


  • 17 grams of ground espresso for a doppio
  • 1/2 oz (14 ounces or 3 teaspoons) chocolate sauce
  • 8 ounces of steamed milk


  • In your latte mug, add the chocolate sauce and set aside.
  • Brew 2 shots of espresso or a doppio and pour the espresso into the mug with the chocolate sauce. The heat from the espresso will mix the thick sauce.
  • Using a steam wand, froth the milk until the preferred consistency has been reached.
  • It is recommended to slowly pour the steamed milk into the espresso. Use a spoon to scoop the milk foam on the top of the drink
  • Use extra chocolate sauce or chocolate shavings to top your mocha and enjoy.


Mochas are a deliciously creamy drink that can be entirely personalized. Using any number of flavored syrups or milk, you can create a customized Starbucks order. Since it is so easy, try making a mocha right in your own home.