Coffee or espresso can come in so many different forms. Latte, macchiato, cortado, cappuccino, flat white, frappe, Americano, ristretto, lungo, and so many more. And it can be hard to keep track of which is which. What are these beverages, and what is the difference between latte, frappe, and mocha?
A latte is a combination of espresso, milk, and foam, a mocha is an espresso, chocolate, and milk, and a frappe is a coffee, sugar, and milk. Lattes can be hot or cold and have designs on top. Mocha has a distinct chocolate taste and is always served hot. Frappe is a cold beverage similar to a milkshake.
In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into these three variations of espresso. We will discuss their origins, preparations, taste, appearance, serving size, etc. Hopefully, by the end, you will have a better idea about the coffee you are drinking.
Latte vs. Frappe vs. Mocha: Differences
Before we start with a comparison, here is a cheat sheet to help you out.
|Features||Caffe Latte||Caffe Mocha||Frappe|
|Basic components||Espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam||Espresso, chocolate, and milk||Instant coffee, sugar, water, or milk|
|Serving||Hot, usually in a cup||Hot, usually in a glass||Cold, usually in a glass with a straw|
|Taste||More milk than coffee||Distinct chocolate flavor||Tastes like a milkshake with coffee|
|Appearance||3 distinct layers, usually with artwork on top||3 distinct layers have a chocolate layer.||No discernable layers.|
Secondly, a quick word on espresso and coffee. Both drinks are made from coffee beans. But espresso is the thicker, more intense flavored version of the two that is more popular in Europe. And latte, frappe, and mocha are variations of espresso. They all use a shot (serving) of espresso as their base.
As with most espresso-based drinks, the roots of the latte can be traced back to Italy since this is where espresso became popular. The term caffe latte translates to “coffee and milk”. According to the Oxford dictionary, William Dean Howells first coined this term in 1847.
Coffee author Kenneth Davis credits America for the commercialization of caffe latte, despite its ancestral home being Italy. Since then, this drink has spread in popularity throughout different parts of the world and has seen numerous variations.
Mochaccino, or mocha for short, is the drink you get when you combine expresso, chocolate, and milk. It is assumed that the invention of cafe mocha happened in Italy, like most other espresso-based drinks. The name supposedly comes from the port of Al Moka in Yemen, which was one of the earliest trade centers for coffee beans.
Out of the three, a frappe is the newest member in the line of coffee-based drinks. And instead of Italy, the roots of the frappe go back to Greece. It was invented by a Nestle representative who made a drink for kids by mixing chocolate, instant coffee, and milk in a milk shaker.
In bulk, the main ingredients in all these drinks are espresso and milk. Latte is one of the purest forms of this formula – it is just espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
Caffe mocha takes this concept one level higher. It has the added element of chocolate in it. This can be in the form of chocolate syrup, chocolate sauce, or cocoa powder. It can even be a combination of all of them. The chocolate in a caffe mocha can be white, dark, or milk chocolate.
When making latte or mocha, most cafe shops utilize fresh ground coffee beans. But frappe, in most cases, uses instant coffee powder. In its very basic form, a frappe is a mixture of water, sugar, and instant coffee powder that you then serve with ice as a cold beverage. Optional additions include chocolate syrup, vanilla extract, whipped cream, etc.
Caffe latte is very similar to a cappuccino, another famous Italian drink. There are two distinct methods for its preparation. In the traditional Italian version, you pour the hot espresso on top of heated milk. Outside of Italy, you put the espresso in a cup first, then pour steamed and frothing milk. This frothing milk adds a thin layer of foam on the top.
Caffe latte will invariably feature some sort of art, which is so synonymous with the drink that we call it “latte art”. The intricacy of the design will depend on the skill of the barista.
In a caffe mocha, baristas usually add chocolate to a double shot of espresso. Then they add milk on top in a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. This is the basic construct of a caffe mocha.
The milk foam on top is not necessary, but many coffee shops will make it that way. Like hot chocolate, a caffe mocha often has a whipped cream topping sprinkled with cocoa powder.
Most cafes use a milkshake machine to make a frappe. The Greek version of the drink requires combining instant coffee, sugar, and a little water until you get a thick foam. You would then add this foam to a glass full of ice, cold water, and occasionally milk.
Caffe latte is one of the world’s most popular versions of espresso drinks, right up there with cappuccinos. This is thanks to a combination of the drink’s taste and the various artwork that comes with it. People usually drink a much simpler version of this drink that requires coffee and steamed milk at home.
Caffe Mocha is one of the most popular variations of caffe latte. It is a particular favorite for chocolate lovers. Most cafes around the world have their version of cafe mocha.
Most espresso-based drinks are some sort of combination of coffee and milk. The ratio of coffee to steamed milk, with the occasional milk foam, defines what drink you are making. And this will also define the taste of the drink.
A caffe latte is more milk than espresso. So, it has a much milder and sweeter flavor. It has a lovely foamy texture but not as much as a cappuccino.
Caffe mocha has a distinct chocolate flavor. Between cappuccino, latte, macchiato, and mocha, the latter is the only one with chocolate in its composition.
It is easy to tell these three drinks apart just from appearance alone if you know what to look for.
For example, a caffe latte will always have a layer of foam on top. And if you buy this from a cafe, there will also be some artwork on top. On the outside, you will notice three distinct layers – a dark espresso layer, a white milk layer, and a frothing foam layer.
A Caffe mocha is similar to a latte except for the middle layer. Instead of the white layer of steamed milk, you will usually find a dark-brown layer of chocolate. The color of the chocolate is darker than the espresso, but the chocolate layer is thinner. Caffe mocha often has a serving of whipped cream on top, something you will never see in a latte.
A frappe is perhaps the easiest to spot amongst this group. It is the only drink that has ice in it (yes, iced lattes exist, but we are talking about traditional lattes, so shush!). Typically, people serve frappe in a tall glass rather than a cup or mug. In a frappe, you add the milk first, and then you pour in the espresso. This means that the darker layer of coffee is at the top and the white milk layer is at the bottom.
In most cafes, a latte is served in a wide cup, usually 240 ml or 300 ml in volume. It mixes a single shot of espresso with steamed milk and a small layer of foam at the top. During the final part, the barista will drip the foam to make various designs on top.
Caffe mocha is usually served in a glass, which is about 350 ml in volume. It is usually served with a whipped cream topping and/or a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
A frappe resembles a milkshake more than it does any other espresso-based drink. You always serve freppe cold and with a straw.
Latte vs. Frappe vs. Mocha: Which One Is the Best?
Depends on what you are looking for. The mocha is the best choice if you want a chocolate flavor in your coffee. A latte is more versatile if you want more milk than coffee and like to see various artwork on top of your drink. Conversely, if you want a cold espresso or coffee-based beverage, you must go with a frappe.
To conclude there are so many types of coffee-based beverages, each one perfect for a specific mood and time. Find the best one that suits your taste, kick back, and enjoy.