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What Is a Marocchino? Everything You need to Know

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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There can be no doubt that Italian coffee culture is the most influential in the world. I mean, espresso, cappuccino, latte macchiato and other Italian coffee specialties are known far beyond the borders of the boot. However, marocchino leads a more shadowy existence.

There can be no doubt that Italian coffee culture is the most influential in the world. I mean, espresso, cappuccino, latte macchiato and other Italian coffee specialties are known far beyond the borders of the boot. However, marocchino leads a more shadowy existence.

Italians rarely order it, and you will seldom find this layered latte variation with espresso, chocolate, cocoa and milk foam on a typical café menu.

But wait a minute: Espresso? Chocolate?? Milk foam??? That actually sounds like a coffee drink that even people who wouldn’t write “coffee lover” on their Instagram profile would enjoy.

That’s why we’re taking a closer look at the origin, preparation and pronunciation of coffee with chocolate. I’ll also tell you how easy it is to make marocchino at home.

Overview: What is Marocchino Coffee?

If you pronounce marocchino like cappuccino, you are unfortunately wrong. Marocchino, which translates to English as “Moroccan,” is pronounced mahro-kee-no. The Italians also have various names for the drink:

  • Morocco

  • Mocha

  • Mochaccino 

  • Espressino

Despite the literal meaning, Marocchino has nothing to do with the country, but refers to Moroccan leather. This was used in Italy from the 1920s onwards to make hair and hat bands. This was also the case in Alessandria, Piedmont, the place of origin of Marocchino.

At that time, the Carpano bar was located opposite the Borsalino hat factory. Here, the workers always ordered coffee with cocoa and chocolate at lunchtime. Because the drink was the same light brown color as the leather from the hat factory, the name marocchino was created.

But there are even older sources. In fact, marocchino is based on the traditional Bicerin di Cavour from Turin. This coffee drink has existed since the 19th century and consists of espresso, cocoa and whole milk.

Marocchino Recipe: How to Make Espresso With Cocoa and Chocolate

Italians place great importance on the correct preparation of all recipes. However, with marocchino, the presentation is almost more important. The drink is naturally served behind glass so that the layers of milk, espresso and chocolate can be seen to their best advantage.

To ensure that a marocchino remains stable and pleasant to drink on the way from the espresso machine to the guest, the glass is also preheated.

Of course, the base is espresso with a good coffee crema, which must come from nothing other than espresso beans and an espresso machine. Since you aren’t here to learn the ins and out of espresso preparation, I recommend checking out my guide to making the perfect espresso.

Marocchino Coffee

Ingredients: What’s in a Marocchino?

As with all other Italian coffee specialties, you’ll find different versions of marocchino wherever you go. So, I asked an Italian barista, who shared the ingredients for the original recipe:

  • 0.8 ounces (25 milliliters) espresso

  • 1 piece of dark chocolate (alternatively 1 ounce thick cocoa)

  • Pure cocoa powder (alternatively chocolate powder)

  • 1 ounce (30 milliliters) frothed milk

If you prefer milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate, you should reduce the amount. Otherwise the marocchino will quickly become too sweet.

Preparation: The Original Marocchino

  1. Melt the dark chocolate in a water bath or prepare thick cocoa. This can be individually mixed from milk and cocoa powder.

  2. Brew the espresso in your espresso machine. Go for a slightly stronger result to create a balance with the sweetness.

  3. Pour the liquid chocolate into the glass. Note: Choose insulated coffee glasses or a thick-walled glass. However, a cup will also do.

  4. Carefully pour the espresso over the cocoa. The thicker the chocolate base, the easier it is to create layers.

  5. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top as the next layer.

  6. Froth the milk and add the milk foam as the last layer in the glass.

  7. Add some more cocoa powder to the foam.

With this recipe, it’s important that you follow the order. So, first prepare the chocolate or cocoa powder, then make the espresso, then make the milk foam. Chocolate and espresso can warm each other up, but pillowy milk foam quickly collapses.

Caffe Marocchino Variations

Most variations of chocolate coffee only change the order of the layers, but all contain cocoa powder, espresso and milk.

Some baristas sprinkle the bottom of the glass with cocoa powder and leave out the chocolate, while others use only hot milk instead of milk foam. What’s more, some folks prefer ristretto or change the layering in the glass.

If you like chocolate all the way, you can swirl the liquid chocolate around the glass to spread it. It won’t look as neat, but it will still taste good.

It should come as no surprise that cocoa powder sometimes goes well with cinnamon, vanilla and even extra sugar. However, I would only use sugar if you are using pure cocoa powder and dark chocolate.

Choosing the Best Coffee Beans for Marocchino

Fellow Opus Filling in Beans

When it comes to taste, a good marocchino has a triple hit of bitterness, sweetness and creaminess. The right coffee beans or espresso blend can be roasted a little darker, but acidity should hardly be an issue here.

That’s why I think my Coffeeness blend is exactly the right choice for fully automatic coffee machines (and espresso machines).

Nut and chocolate flavors set the tone here, which go perfectly with chocolate. The coffee is bold without being too bitter and, together with milk, creates a sweet taste that almost makes the chocolate seem (a little) unnecessary.

Naturally, the coffee beans you ultimately choose depends on your general preferences. However, as always, only buy high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans from independent roasters.

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Marocchino: Time for a Revival?

Why should you order a complicated and overpriced coffee drink when a marocchino is not only easy to prepare, but also has everything that Starbucks sells for a lot of money?

Sweeter than a cappuccino, just as eye-catching as a latte macchiato and definitely more versatile than pure espresso, I think the marocchino deserves a place in the coffee bars of the world. After all, there are much crazier coffee recipes that don’t work half as well and still go viral.

Have you ever tried a marocchino? What did you think of this Italian specialty drink? I look forward to your comments!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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