September 29th is National Mocha Day.

What is mocha (MO-kuh), and where did it come from?

The coffee bean, which was first discovered growing wild in Ethiopia, was not extensively cultivated until the 15th and 16th centuries. Then, extensive planting of the trees was undertaken in the Yemen region of Arabia (the history of coffee).

From Yemen, the drinking of coffee and trading of coffee beans spread throughout the Arabian peninsula, and later, beyond Arabia to Europe. Al Mokha was the main port of Yemen, where most of the trading occurred.

When coffee-growing expanded around the world, it was noted that the coffee made with Al-Mokha beans had a chocolatey nuance, and those beans became known as mokha/moka. The term was in use by 1773.

At some later point, a cook combined coffee and mocha flavors into beverages and desserts, and called the flavor mocha. It’s been with us ever since.

Today, the flavor profile is used in everything from:

  • Artisan marshmallows (photo #3)
  • Cake, fillings and frostings
  • Cocktails (mochatini, anyone?)
  • Hot and iced coffee
  • Ice cream, ice cream sandwiches and ice pops (photos #1 and #2)
  • Mocha chip cookies and bar cookies
  • Mousse and pudding
  • Pie
  • Shakes and floats…
    and any other food you’d like to make with the two flavors.

    For a quick mocha fix:

  • Add chocolate chips to a scoop of coffee ice cream.
  • Scoop coffee ice cream atop a brownie.
  • Add a scoop of chocolate ice cream to an iced coffee with milk.

    A mocha latte, also called a caffè mocha, is a variation of the basic caffè latte. Like a latte, it is typically one third espresso and two thirds steamed milk. (Add chocolate syrup to a cappuccino and you have mochacchino. Cappuccino is made with less milk than latte.)

    To make a mocha, some chocolate is added: chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, sweetened cocoa powder (cocoa mix powder), etc. It can be dark or milk chocolate.

    A latte is typically one-third coffee and two-thirds milk. You can change the proportions to your liking.

    Ingredients Per Mug

  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1/3 cup brewed espresso (or coffee)
  • 2/3 cup steamed milk
  • Optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional garnishes: whipped cream, grated chocolate, instant cocoa mix powder, mini chocolate chips, cinnamon

    1. PLACE the chocolate syrup in the bottom of the mug. Add the espresso and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

    2. ADD the steamed milk. You can stir lightly, or leave the coffee and milk in layers.

    3. GARNISH as desired. Some coffee houses drizzle chocolate syrup atop the whipped cream.

    Caramel syrup makes it a caramel mocha latte. Mint extract instead of vanilla makes a mint mocha latte; and it’s the same with hazelnut extract, orange extract, raspberry extract, etc.

    For adults, there’s the Irish mocha latte (add Irish whiskey), the Baileys mocha latte, rum mocha latte, etc.

    You can also pre-rim the mug with instant cocoa mix, grated chocolate, etc.


    Mocha Ice Pops
    [1] Mocha ice pops, a combination of coffee and chocolate. Here’s the recipe from Go Bold With Butter.

    Mocha Chunk Ice Cream
    [2] Mocha chunk ice cream. Here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour.

    Mocha Marshmallows
    [3] Mocha marshmallows. Here’s the recipe from A Cozy Kitchen.

    Mocha Latte
    [4] Mocha latte in a Bormioli cup (photo courtesy Bormioli).


  • Moka java coffee beans are a blend of Moka beans (acidic, winey, chocolatey) and the rich, full-bodied beans from Java. (Note that it’s difficult to generalize about bean flavors, because they very based on microclimate, seasonal weather and processing.)
  • A moka pot is the classic Italian stove top espresso-maker (here’s a photo). There are three parts. Water goes into the base, and ground coffee is placed in a metal filter cup on top of the base. The pot is put on top of the stove, and boiling water goes through the coffee in the base and into the top section, from which it is poured.

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