The marocchino is an espresso-based Italian coffee drink made of a shot of espresso, chocolate sauce, cocoa powder and steamed milk.
A chocolate and coffee lover’s delight, it may sometimes be confused with its close relative, the mocha.
One of the main differences is that a mocha is usually topped with whipped cream and chocolate drips, while the marocchino is better for letting the flavor of espresso shine.
Mochas are served in larger 8 to 12 fluid ounce cups, while a marocchino is presented in a smaller 4.5 ounce glass cup, which is better for observing the exquisite layering involved in the marocchino’s creation.
Often called an espressino in Milan, the marocchino should also not be confused with espresso macchiato, which has a higher ratio of espresso coffee to milk/foam and no chocolate.
The marocchino comes from Alessandria in Italy, where it dates back to the 18th century.
The town is famous for its hat-making, producing styles like what Indiana Jones wore.
The hats, which rose to prominence in the early 20th century, have a brown leather stripe called a marocchino inside.
To honor the hats, they created a coffee drink with a layer of cocoa resembling the strip.
How To Make a Marocchino
While the drink might seem complex, it’s really not. A few practice runs through the following steps will have you creating delicious marocchino coffee in no time:
- Pour a tablespoon (0.5 oz/15 ml) of chocolate sauce into the glass
- Pour an espresso shot directly on top of the chocolate sauce
- Heat and texture milk
- Dust espresso with cacao/cocoa powder
- Pour steamed and foamed milk on top of espresso
- Sprinkle cocoa powder on top
- Create latte art/design if desired
- Serve with a spoon as the ingredients in the glass should be mixed before sipping/drinking.
Tips and Tricks
No espresso machine? No problem! A marocchino can also be made with a moka pot.
A moka pot is a stove-top (or electric) coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by stream through ground coffee (in our case, ground espresso beans).
The ingredients can also be substituted for. Try Nutella or drinking chocolate (hot chocolate) in place of cocoa.
When To Drink a Marocchino
Really, the appropriate time of day to serve a marocchino is a matter of personal preference.
In Italy, it is most popular as a mid-morning break drink, or at breakfast.
But it can also be a great after-lunch drink for a surge of warm energy as thoughts return to the afternoon’s work.
Try it for dessert after dinner, as the sweetness of the chocolate combined with the bitterness of the espresso can make it the perfect way to end a large meal.
Regardless of when you try it, be warned: this one can be addictive!
The Marocchino Coffee Difference
Presentation vs. Drinking
Part of the appeal of a marocchino is the distinct combination of layers and colors which are unique to this drink and differentiate it from other espresso-based coffee drinks.
The bands of different shades of brown present in the glass hark back to the drink’s origins in the hat-making town.
After admiring the aesthetics, use the spoon to stir and mix the layers before drinking.
Human vs. Machine
A friend’s restaurant has a super-hi-tech espresso machine that, with the touch of a single button, spits out perfectly servable espressos, Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos and mochas.
Guess what it doesn’t do? That’s right: marocchinos.
The distinct layering—not to mention the nightmare of cleaning a single tube that had coffee, chocolate sauce and cocoa powder passing through it—can make a marocchino a little too difficult for some coffee machines to pull off properly.
But this provides an opportunity for you to bring your own personal skill set to the process of creating this flavorful coffee beverage.