What is Marocchino Coffee? (And a Recipe!)

If you’re a coffee aficionado like the team here at JayArr Coffee, then it’s likely that you consume multiple cups a day.  But, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from chugging standard brewed coffees on-repeat, and experiment with something new. For this reason, read on for an in-depth look at the Marocchino—including its origin, comparison with other popular coffees, and a DIY recipe to prepare one right in your kitchen.

Meet the Marocchino

Care to keep your daily coffee routine interesting? If so, have a go at a delicious Marocchino (pronounced Mahr-ohk-KEE-noh). Easy on the eye, and a delight to your palate – Marocchino coffee is a sublime blend of flavors that tends to attract loyal coffee fanatics. 

Although the ingredients are sometimes tweaked, it’s typically a delicate cocktail of cocoa powder, foamed milk, hot chocolate, and espresso. The intense flavor of the espresso combines perfectly with the creamy consistency to create a spanking cup. Contrary to what you’d expect from a chocolate-based beverage, the Marocchino is not too thick. The outcome is a distinct taste that may (or may not) be addictive.

But the uniqueness of a Marocchino isn’t only in its ingredients – the presentation matters! Serving a Marocchino in anything other than a small cup may be considered a figurative crime in coffee circles. Keep in mind that the layers should be clearly visible during the presentation.

By Dhinal Chheda – Marocchino, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54701642

PS: A Marocchino is occasionally referred to as ‘Vetrino’ or ‘espressiono’ in some parts of Italy.

The History of Marocchino

What is the first assumption that popped in your head with the mention of “Marocchino?” Exotic origins? Maybe in Morocco? In spite of the name (which translates to Moroccan), Marocchino has nothing to do with the North African country—its origins lie in Italy. So, then what’s up with the Moroccan sounding name? Well, that is in reference to the color of the coffee. The brownish shade of a Marocchino bears a close resemblance to a type of high-quality leather by the same name, which was popular in the early 20th Century—right around the time the coffee was invented.

Café Marocchino was invented in the Piedmont region of Alessandria before spreading to the rest of the Peninsula. In fact, it’s actually an evolution of another iconic drink – the Bicerin di Cavour. According to historical records, Marocchino was modeled after Bicerin—which is a traditional Turin drink. Much like a Marocchino, Bicerin features a variation of hot chocolate, espresso, and milk—but a step heavier.

Fun Fact:  Camillo Benso (Count of Cavour), Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso were Bicerin ‘junkies.’

Comparison with Similar Drinks

Thanks to experimentations by coffee connoisseurs and baristas, new variations of espresso-based coffees keep popping up. While this is good news for coffee fanatics who love to sample before settling on a particular coffee, it can also be hard to navigate the ever-growing list of espresso-based coffees on the menu. 

Although the Marocchino easily stands out, it’s sometimes mistaken for some of its espresso-based cousins—including Cortados, Mochas, and Macchiatos. For this reason, here are some of the key differences between these drinks.

  • Marocchino Vs Macchiato

Macchiato’ is the name of an Italian espresso drink that roughly translates to “marked,” in reference to the idea of adding a dash (staining) of either espresso or milk to the other. If the milk ‘stains’ the espresso, it’s known as an espresso macchiato. The drink is often presented in a ceramic demitasse cup—contrary to the small glass cups used to serve a Marocchino. The espresso macchiato also gravitates more towards espresso in the espresso-milk scale—i.e., around 2 tablespoons of steamed milk (plus foam) for every shot of espresso. For a Marocchino, baristas typically use around 5 tablespoons of whole milk—which is frothed—and 3 tablespoons of chocolate for every shot of espresso.

If steamed milk is stained by the espresso, the drink becomes a latte macchiato. Similar to a Marocchino, it’s layered and served in a glass cup. The difference arises in the ingredients and recipe ratios. A latte macchiato uses up to 1/2 glass of steamed milk and 1 shot (or less) of espresso—capped off by a layer of foam on top.

  • Marocchino Vs Cortado

A Cortado is an espresso-based beverage that attracts its fair share of fans and adversaries alike. On the one hand, it’s a delicious cup with a nearly-perfect harmony of flavors. On the other hand, it’s served in a notoriously small cup—and we mean small! Regardless of the barista or café—including large chains such as Peet’s and Starbucks—the cup size is pre-determined and non-negotiable. Although a Marocchino also uses a small-sized glass cup, baristas have the leeway to customize or alter the drink and serving size. 

It’s also worth noting that a Cortado has little-to-no foam, while the foam is a major part of the Marocchino experience. Milk and espresso are served in a 1:1 ratio to create an equally robust and creamy cup. In contrast, a Marocchino is roughly 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot chocolate, and 1/3 milk foam.

  • Marocchino Vs Mocha

If you were asked to name one chocolate-infused coffee variety, we’re almost certain that your answer will include a mocha—and for good reason. The specialty drink is widely popular due to its balanced yet complex flavor. Plus, who wouldn’t love a dose of caffeine with a chocolate accompaniment in the morning? 

Due to the popularity and availability of mochas, it’s easy to mistake it with a Marocchino. A typical mocha is 2/5 chocolate, 2/5 espresso, and 1/5 steamed milk. A Marocchino has similar ingredients, but in different ratios and served in smaller portions. For reference purposes, keep in mind that there are different spinoffs of the classic mocha—including mocha lattes and mochaccinos. 

PS: The term ‘mocha’ may also refer to Arabica coffee beans associated with the Al Mokha port in Yemen.

How to Make a Marocchino at Home

A good cup of Marocchino coffee in the morning can set a productive mood for your entire day. While trekking across town to your favorite barista is always an option, sometimes getting your caffeine fix at home is more convenient—and it’s easier than you think. With the right equipment, an adventurous spirit, and our simple recipe, you can turn your kitchen into a specialty-grade brew bar.


  • An espresso machine – A Marocchino is espresso-based so it only makes sense to own an espresso machine. If not, you can opt for a Moka pot as a cheaper alternative.
  • A small serving glass.
  • Small pitchers.
  • Fine-mesh sieve (optional)
  • High-quality freshly ground coffee – medium to dark roasted beans. You’re to extract 1 shot of espresso coffee.
  • Cocoa powder – one tablespoon.
  • Fresh whole milk – 25 ml or 1 oz (scant).
  • Hot chocolate or Nutella – 2-3 tablespoons.


  • Start by preparing hot chocolate in one of the pitchers. Pour it in the small serving cup. If you’re not a fan of chocolate, you can use Nutella as an equally good substitute. Just scoop a spoonful and smear it on the sides of the serving glass.
  • Prepare your espresso by machine. Make sure it’s properly cleaned and free of strange flavors.
  • Start up the espresso and allow the coffee to percolate for at least half an hour—i.e. until the right flavors have been extracted.
  • Collect one shot of espresso into the serving glass containing chocolate or Nutella.
  • With the chocolate/Nutella and espresso out of the way, it’s time to froth the milk. If you have an espresso, simply purge the wand into the milk—which should be placed in one of the pitchers. 
  • For the final layer of the Marocchino, gently pour the foam onto the chocolate + espresso mixture in the serving glass (up to the rim).
  •  Now, using the fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle the cocoa powder evenly on the foamed milk.
  • The final step is to bask in the mouth-watering beauty of your beverage before savoring its layered deliciousness.

Final Remarks

So, there you have it—everything you need to know about the Marocchino and how to flawlessly brew your own cup. The espresso-based and chocolate-infused drink is the perfect way to indulge in your caffeine consumption habits—especially if you have a sweet tooth for chocolate. The eye-catching architecture of layers, intense flavor that explodes in your mouth, and the creamy consistency of a Marocchino are perfect for kick-starting a productive day. 

Brewing your own specialty coffee is an adventure that only gets better with time—regardless of whether you’re genuinely interested or just the curious type. Get brewing and experience the espresso drink for yourself!

Jay Arr

Jay Arr is passionate about everything coffee. What began as a simple interest in the history, production, and brewing of coffee led him to a job as a barista at a national coffee chain. That’s not where Jay’s story with coffee ends, however. Roasting and brewing day in and out, he continued to gather knowledge about all things coffee.

Recent Posts