Mocha latte…caffe mocha…mochaccino. Call it what you want, but have you ever wondered why chocolate mixed with coffee is called a mocha?

First we must look back at where the term mocha first beccame associated with coffee. You might be surprised, but it’s a far cry from the present day chocolately espresso drink.

Etymology of Mocha

Originally, mocha was a variety of coffee from Yemen that was shipped from the port of Mocha (or Al Mokha) in the later part of the 1700s. Those beans grown in Yemen became very popular, and it was common for the word mocha to appear on all things coffee, whether from Yemen or not. Another similar and perhaps more familiar example is java. Even today, we commonly refer to coffee as java although the coffee does not originate from Java, Indonesia.

So what about Coffee and Chocolate?

For many years, coffee and chocolate have been combined to create the delicious combination many of us know today.

In 16th century Italy, the combination was refered to as bavareista or bicerin, although not quite the same as a mocha today.

So where does the modern day association with the mocha latte come from? The origin is not truly known, but mocha beans are known to have very distinct chocolatey notes. On top of that, the mocha name used to be very widely known and was even falsely used on coffee labels for advertising. Combine the distinct flavors of mocha and the popularity of the name, at some point the name stuck with the present day, augmented version, the mocha latte. However, I think we can all agree that chocolate notes are certainly a far cry from chocolate syrup. Nonetheless, the mocha name lives on!

Just something to think about the next time you order yourself a mocha latte, or anything mocha for that matter, from coffee to candy to milkshakes.