How to make the best mocha at home

I’ve often touted that I make the best mocha in Raleigh (at least, in my slightly biased opinion anyway). This is my recipe. There are three key components to a mocha: milk, espresso, and chocolate sauce. I’ll go over all of these.


One of the keys to making a mocha better than cafes is by doing something cafes don’t have the time to do–make freeze-distilled (cryodessicated) milk. This is fairly easy to do, but it takes time. Start with a jug of milk (I prefer 2%, but whole is perfectly fine). Ditch a little bit of the milk, and then put the jug in the freezer overnight. You want the milk to freeze completely. This is why we removed some of the milk–to prevent the jug from exploding when the milk expands from freezing. The next day, open the jug, and in the refrigerator, put the jug upside down over a bowl. The frozen milk will slowly melt into this bowl, so make sure this is fairly large. You want to let about half the jug melt before you remove the bowl–this will take about 16 hours or so, but your mileage may vary. You’re done–the milk in the bowl is the freeze-distilled milk. If you taste it, you’ll find it’s significantly creamier in texture–not quite the same as half and half, it really is its own texture. That’s the secret to a great mocha.


For this part, you’ll need to be good at extracting espresso well. For best results, you’ll want a good espresso-focused grinder and a capable espresso machine. Bonus points if you adjusted the over-pressure valve on the machine. Choose your beans wisely–you don’t want something very fruity or floral–in fact, I’d avoid anaerobic processed coffees altogether. Instead, I’d pick something with a lot of sweetness. Chocolate, apple pie, and jam are the sorts of notes you’re looking for. Make sure you taste the espresso! Ensure it’s well-extracted and delicious.

Chocolate sauce

You really want to make your own chocolate sauce for the mocha, so that you can tweak it if you want. I use the recipe from allrecipes: in a saucepan, combine 1.5 cups water, 1.5 cups sugar, 1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, and a dash of salt over low heat, and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, add 1 tsp pure vanilla extract. You can use this as-is or refrigerate it to use later.


Assembling the drink is the easiest part. You want about 8oz of the freeze-distilled milk with a double shot of espresso and about 16g chocolate sauce. For the hot drink, you treat the freeze-distilled milk similarly to whole milk while steaming, and pour it over a mix of the espresso and chocolate sauce. For the iced version, you pour the milk over ice, and then add the mixture of espresso and chocolate sauce over it.

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