While both the Americano and mocha (aka caffe mocha) are popular choices among coffee lovers around the world, many people don’t know their exact differences.
Don’t worry, I’ve been there. Let me help you with this detailed guide about these two drinks and explain their ingredients, ratios, flavors, and more.
By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll have a clear understanding of both the differences and similarities between Americano and mocha.
Key takeaway: What’s the difference between a Mocha and an Americano?
The Americano blends one part espresso with two parts water, resulting in a mellower, yet still nuanced flavor profile that bridges the gap between a strong espresso and a subtler black coffee. Conversely, the Mocha brings together one part espresso, 3 to 6 parts steamed milk with a thin microfoam layer, and a dash of chocolate syrup or powder, offering a rich and indulgent taste reminiscent of a dessert.
Let’s have a look at their details.
What is an Americano?
The birth of the Americano takes us back to World War II when American soldiers stationed in Italy needed their coffee fix but they found Italian espresso too potent. So they worked out a simple solution – diluting the intense espresso with hot water, giving birth to what we now know as an Americano.
To make an Americano, you’ll need traditional espresso, maintaining a 1:2 to 1:3 coffee to water ratio, while using 7g of coffee grounds for a single shot and 14g for a double shot. Third-wave coffee uses more coffee, 9g for a shot and 18g for a double. To turn it into an Americano, you combine one part espresso with two parts hot water. Sometimes I switch it up and add the espresso over a mug of hot water. This makes a so called Long Black, which retains more crema in my coffee.
Americano usually is served in portions of 3 oz and poured into a glass or ceramic coffee mug that can hold 120-150 ml (4-5 oz). Each serving has around 60 to 80mg of caffeine and just 2 calories.
Now onto its taste profile. An Americano serves as the middle ground between the intensity of an espresso and the subtlety of filtered drip coffee. You can still taste the nuances of a well-made espresso, but in a lighter form.
It has a smooth texture that’s fluid and medium-bodied, making it an ideal choice if you find straight espresso too potent for your taste.
Here’s a quick guide on making one:
- Fill your mug with hot water.
- Brew your espresso.
- Pour the espresso shot into the hot water-filled mug.
Interested in a deeper dive? Check out my guide on how to make an Americano.
Now let’s check out what mocha is.
What is Mocha?
Caffé Mocha gets its name from Mokha, a Yemeni port city that has been a key coffee trading hub for over 200 years. This drink combines espresso’s strong flavor with chocolate’s sweetness and steamed milk’s creaminess.
The espresso part uses the standard 1:2 to 1:3 coffee-to-water ratio, combined with 3 to 6 portions of steamed milk with velvety microfoam and a squirt of chocolate syrup or dash of cocoa powder.
A full caffé mocha’s volume is 5 to 16 oz (think the largest at Starbucks), but it’s typically served in a 240 to 300 ml (8 to 10 oz) ceramic or glass latte mug. A 240 ml Mocha has around 180 calories, mostly from the milk and chocolate in the drink, while the caffeine is 60 to 80g per espresso shot used.
Drinking a mocha is like having dessert and coffee at the same time. The blend of bold espresso, creamy steamed milk, and sweet chocolate provides a balanced drink with a velvety texture and the taste of chocolate that’s not found in other espresso-based drinks.
Here’s a short recipe on how to whip up a Mocha:
- Prepare a single or double espresso.
- Stir in the chocolate syrup to blend.
- Pour cold milk into a steaming pitcher up to the spout’s bottom.
- Heat and aerate the milk to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit to create a silky texture with microfoam.
- Pour the milk over the coffee and chocolate mix.
- You can then add latte art, whipped cream, or a sprinkle of chocolate syrup or powder but this is all optional.
You can also read my detailed guide on how to make a Caffé Mocha at home.
Comparing Popular Coffees: Americano vs Mocha
Let’s break down the distinctions and similarities between Americano and Mocha with this quick comparison:
|Taste and Texture||Mellow, nuanced, smooth, and fluid||Bold espresso flavors, rich chocolatey sweetness, creamy and indulgent|
|Coffee-to-Water Ratio||Standard 1:2 to 1:3 for the espresso||Standard 1:2 to 1:3 for the espresso|
|Ingredient Ratio||2 parts water mixed with 1 part espresso||1 part espresso, 3-6 parts steamed milk, a thin microfoam layer, chocolate syrup/powder|
|Typical Serving Size||3 oz (90 ml)||5 to 16 oz (150 to 480 ml)|
|Caffeine Content||60-80 mg per 1 oz shot of espresso||60-80 mg per 1 oz shot of espresso used|
|Calories||2 calories per shot||2 calories per shot of espresso + 18 calories per 1 oz of whole milk + chocolate|
|Brewing Difficulty||Intermediate||Home barista|
|Bean Roast||Light to medium||Medium-dark|
Now, diving deeper into the unique characteristics of each:
- Ground Coffee Weight & Ratios: Both the Americano and Mocha use espresso as their base, which needs 7g for a single shot and 14g for a double shot (9g and 18g respectively for third-wave coffee) while following a 1:2 to 1:3 brew ratio.
After that, an Americano combines 1 part espresso with 2 parts water. Meanwhile, to make a mocha, one part of espresso is mixed with chocolate powder or syrup and is combined with 3 to 6 parts of steamed milk with a microfoam layer.
- Taste: Americano and mocha have the complexity of espresso in common, but the final flavors are still different. Americano retains the taste of espresso but is milder due to the water, while mocha adds the creaminess of milk and the distinct sweetness of chocolate to your coffee, creating a dessert-like beverage.
- Volume, Calories, & Caffeine: Americano is typically served in a 3 oz (90 ml) portion, with 2 calories per shot and a caffeine content of 60-80 mg per 1 oz shot of espresso.
Mocha has more volume, ranging from 5 to 16 oz (150 to 480 ml). It has the same caffeine as Americano, but with the added milk and chocolate, the calories of a 240 ml mocha go up to 180.
- Bean Roast: Light to medium roasts allow the vibrant acidity and complexity of your beans to shine through when you brew an Americano. For a mocha, medium-dark roasts work best as the bold flavor pairs perfectly with chocolate.
- Steamed Milk: Unlike the Americano, mocha incorporates milk into its recipe to make a creamier beverage. You can use full-fat milk or alternatives like soy, almond, or oat milk. You can check out my step-by-step guide on how to steam milk to help you with this.
- Serving Suggestions: I enjoy the Americano and mocha under very different circumstances. Whenever I crave coffee that’s not as intense as espresso but still want to savor its rich flavor, I opt for an Americano.
Café Mocha is like having dessert in a cup, so I often drink this in the afternoon with friends meal when I want something sweet with that espresso+chocolate taste.
While they both have espresso as their base, the Americano and mocha become completely different drinks after the coffee is diluted with water for the Americano, or blended with milk and chocolate to brew a mocha.
You have to remember though, the espresso base still plays a huge part in the outcome of your cup. You can start your brewing right by using the best espresso beans this 2023.
If I had to pick between these two drinks, I’d go for the mocha. During quiet afternoons, I crave a cup of joe with small sweets, but sometimes I just fix myself a mug of mocha which satisfies both cravings at once 🙂
That’s just my preference, how about you? Which drink does magic to your taste buds? Let me know in the comment section below.