The Café au Lait
In this article, we’ll walk you through a timeless classic in the coffee world, café au lait. Transport yourself to a Parisian cafe without ever leaving the house.
Nothing beats the taste of good coffee in the morning… or afternoon, or night. If you are coffee lovers like us, you probably have a particular way you like to have it. Ever stepped into a cafe and found yourself choosing between a latte, cappuccino or a mocha? While they’re all espresso-based beverages, each has distinct notes and characteristics that makes it so irresistible.
The difference is simple, really. They all begin with a fragrant espresso base, piling on different milk content, and sometimes a delightful addition of syrup or chocolate. A steamingly delicious cup of Mocha, in particular, uses a strong coffee with hints of chocolate.
At Good Fika, we believe that you should know your coffee to love your coffee. And we don’t just do routine caffeine fixes, we do outstanding coffee. By knowing what makes the perfect cup of mocha – that’s how it should be enjoyed.
As far as the beauty of coffee goes, each beverage brings along a unique twist to the simple hearty espresso, and the mocha is no different. When it comes to mocha coffee, or mocha latte, the first thing that comes to mind is a strong chocolate taste. Essentially, we’re talking about a latte with chocolate.
Traditionally, it starts with a shot of espresso, usually made from Arabica coffee beans, which are the best at bringing out the chocolate notes. Then, add in the same amount of chocolate followed by steamed or foamed milk in a 2:1 ratio. The chocolate can be added in the form of syrup, melted chocolate or cocoa powder.
A common misconception is that drinks like this should and will be overly sweet, due to ingredients like syrup, but that is not the case. The type of chocolate you add plays a big part in how your mocha turns out. For instance, dark cocoa powder will give you an earthier, bitter beverage.
The history of this delectable brew dates back to the 17th century in Al Moka, a bustling port city in Yemen. During this time, Yemen had a strong coffee economy, mostly fuelled by its neighboring mountain regions, which were then shipped to Al Moka for trade. However, at this time, “mocha” was used interchangeably with the term coffee, unlike the way we use it today. Mocha beans were used to describe the beans that came from the coffee capital of Yemen and shipped from Al Moka. At this time, fruitier coffee had a hold over Europe, but Yemeni coffee brought along an earthier, more “chocolatey” perspective that soon became favored by many.
While the port of Al Moka has been long gone, replaced by the Suez Canal and only existing in history, what was once known as mocha beans have evolved to be Arabica beans – found in coffee houses everywhere today.
Still, during the Yemeni coffee capital era, mocha coffee had not been popularized, or even created, yet. But, creamy and steamy hot chocolate beverages have existed way before mocha. The mocha lattes we know and love today seem to be inspired by bicerin, a native coffee beverage originating from the Caffè al Bicerin in Italy during the early 1700s. Bicerin, meaning “small cup” in its native dialect, uses steamed milk, hot chocolate and espresso, the three mighty ingredients we know. By putting American twist on a traditionally thicker Italian hot chocolate layered carefully with the others, we have come to arrive at the mocha coffee.
Today, the mocha graces the signboards of cafes, coffee chains and restaurants everywhere, with in-house twists like the White Chocolate Mocha and the Mocha Frappe, topped with perfect whipped cream swirls.
Ask any coffee lover what they love about their cuppa and be prepared for a string of reasons. Firstly, caffeinated beverages are so enjoyable simply because each drink is tailored to suit an individual’s preference and tastes. But what is it about mocha in particular that makes it so great?
It seems self-explanatory when you combine a tasty substance with the nuances and flavors of coffee beans. For starters, chocolate is one of the most beloved flavors in the world, known to have powerful effects on the brain’s ability to feel happiness. Adding this tasty substance into our morning pick-me-ups definitely couldn’t hurt. Plus, it doubles down as a great snack.
Besides taste, these creamy beverages are known to help reduce anxiety and increase attention span and focus. When on its own, cocoa does pretty well in increasing alertness, but studies have found that combining this with caffeine can enhance the effects.
If that’s not a good enough reason to indulge, we don’t know what is.
While it is one of the most common and pervasive styles of coffee, brewing the perfect cup of mocha takes precision and shouldn’t just be done anyhow. Mocha coffee follows a list of ingredients and a fixed method, somewhat similar to a latte, but feel free to come up with your interpretations of this heavenly brew. Ultimately, we believe that everyone should do coffee their own way.
You can make this however you like. Here at Good Fika, there are a variety of brewing styles we love – like The Pour Over, and The French Press. Or, you could just use your trusty espresso machine.
Chocolate comes in many forms: could be syrup, cocoa powder or any form of chocolate. Although one tip is to reduce the quantity to 1 tablespoon if you’re using powder. When it comes to syrup, there are two variations: white mocha and dark mocha. The former uses white chocolate syrup and is on the sweeter side, while the latter uses dark chocolate syrup. Put this at the base of your mug or glass and pour your extracted espresso over it. The heat from the freshly brewed liquid will warm up the syrup or powder and make it easy to mix. Stir it thoroughly.
Any alternative form of dairy works, really. If you prefer soy, almond, cashew or oat, this is completely up to you. Steam your milk to about 165°F (you’ll know when the pitcher gets too hot to touch) while your espresso-chocolate mixture slowly seeps. Then, carefully pour it into the mug and a thin layer of enticing frothed milk should form at the top.
There are many ways to put your own spin on this classic recipe to really make it your own. For instance, mocha coffee follows a conventional espresso-to-chocolate-to-milk ratio of 2:2:1, but you can customize this to your preferred taste. Too sweet? Use less syrup. Need more sugar? Add it in. You can even opt for Robusta beans if you want a deeper caffeine taste.
Seasonal mochas, like the Peppermint, do a great job at amping up the holiday spirit. On a normal day, these velvety, fancy beverages could also do with some bedazzling. Add in some sprinkles or nutmeg, or take the chocolate-ness to the next level with a garnish of more syrup! Oh, or you could just add in ice on a hot day. The possibilities are endless.
Honestly, what more could a caffeine lover ask for?
At its core, a mocha coffee combines possibly two of the best flavors in the world – coffee and chocolate – to make something beautiful. Anything that comes after belongs to you. Whatever your preferences are, there is a perfect mocha recipe out there for you. So when you find that sweet spot in a recipe, remember to record it down in your Good Fika app so you can experience good mocha whenever you want.
Now that you know what a Mocha is, how to make it, go out an enjoy one, and when you do, try checking into your Mocha on the Good Fika app.