There are so many things to love about the winter season. The air gets cooler, people get friendlier, and, if you’re lucky, a few inches of white, fluffy snow might coat your front yard, setting a scene straight from a seasonal postcard.
But the best thing this time of year brings is a wide selection of delicious coffee drinks enhanced with festive flavors like gingerbread, toasted cranberry, and one of our favorites, peppermint.
Enter the good old peppermint mocha. This cup of coffee is a seasonal staple on almost every café menu, from Starbucks to the mom-and-pop shop in your neighborhood.
However, you don’t have to wait until these establishments roll out their winter drinks to enjoy one. Read on for the full peppermint mocha recipe, then round up the ingredients you need to make one at home whenever you want.
What is a peppermint mocha?
Anyone who’s crazy about chocolate will likely adore this cozy drink. The mocha, short for mocha latte or caffè mocha, is a regular latte (espresso and steamed milk) with a few pumps of chocolate syrup added.
Add peppermint syrup to the mix, and you’ve got the peppermint mocha, a.k.a. the king of winter seasonal drinks.
Mint and chocolate flavors complement each other (see: York peppermint patties, mint chocolate chip-flavored ice cream, etc.), so, unsurprisingly, the two blend smoothly into a latte.
Peppermint Mocha Recipe
You’ll Need the following:
- 3/4 cup strong coffee or a shot of espresso
- 1/3 cup half-and-half or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Whipped cream
- Crushed candy canes
Kick things off by pouring half-and-half into a saucepan and letting it heat on the stove on medium heat.
You can use whole milk or your favorite non-dairy milk substitute if you don’t have half-and-half lying around.
Add vanilla extract, granulated sugar, peppermint extract, and cocoa powder to the warming milk, and stir the mixture until bubbles form.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to pull out the coffee maker or espresso machine and start brewing.
You don’t have to go out and buy fancy beans to make this drink taste good, but we recommend you prioritize freshness by checking the roast date and, if possible, grinding your own coffee just before brewing time.
After brewing the coffee, pour it and the chocolatey mixture you made with your milk of choice into a mug and stir.
Now, for the fun part: the garnish! This step is optional, but we think it’s too fun to skip and an easy way to treat yourself.
Top the milk and coffee mixture with a dollop of whipped cream and crumble crushed candy canes over top of it, and you’re all set!
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Dress Up this Favorite Winter Drink
While the tried-and-true peppermint mocha doesn’t necessarily need any add-ins or substitutions, they are a fun way to spice up this favorite winter drink.
Here are some things we recommend you try if you’re interested in experimenting with the recipe.
The peppermint white chocolate mocha is probably as big a fan favorite as the regular peppermint mocha.
You can make your own with white chocolate sauce or syrup instead of cocoa powder.
Another easy way to dress up your peppermint mocha is by adding a bit of vanilla-flavored simple syrup.
The vanilla lends extra sweetness to your cup and helps tame the sometimes-overpowering taste of peppermint.
If you want to experience a flavor profile that coffee can’t offer, let the espresso machine rest and use matcha green tea powder in your peppermint mocha instead.
The combination of mint, chocolate, and earthy, savory matcha works surprisingly well, and even though there’s no java involved, it’ll still give you a gentle caffeine kick.
More About the Mocha: Answering FAQs
Is peppermint coffee good for you?
You may already know this, but coffee is stacked with health benefits.
For starters, our favorite drink has polyphenols, which are antioxidants that combat chronic disease-causing oxidative stress. It also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes; heart, liver, and Parkinson’s diseases; and more.
Peppermint isn’t so bad itself, as it’s a fantastic source of vitamins A, C, and E and beta-carotene.
Put these two together, and you’ve got a beverage that doesn’t just taste good; it does the body good, too.
Can you use peppermint extract in drinks?
Yes, you can. However, you should be mindful of how much of it you add to your mug of hot coffee or tea (or cold cup, if that’s more your style). When using peppermint extract, a little goes a long way.
Generally, you can make do with a quarter to half a teaspoon of the stuff; any more than that, and you risk overwhelming the drink.
What is in the peppermint mocha at Starbucks?
The ingredients list for Starbucks Coffee’s peppermint mocha is short: the company’s signature Espresso Roast, steamed milk, mocha sauce, and peppermint syrup.
The barista finishes this rich coffee drink with a swirl of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings.
How much coffee is in a peppermint mocha?
The amount of espresso that goes into your Starbucks peppermint mocha depends on the size you order: short (8-ounce) and tall (12-ounce) cups get one shot, while grande (16-ounce) and venti (20-ounce) servings get two.
However, the amount of joe you use in your copycat coffee recipe is entirely up to you.
Also, don’t feel obligated to use espresso if you don’t want to. Regular drip joe, cold brew coffee, and even instant coffee granules (so long as they’re high-quality) are all options here.
Some people may even leave the coffee out of the equation entirely and use steamed milk, vanilla and peppermint extracts, sugar, and cocoa powder to make peppermint hot chocolate instead.
How much caffeine is in a peppermint mocha?
A grande (16-ounce) peppermint mocha from Starbucks contains 175 milligrams of caffeine.
The version you make at home may have more or less, depending on the beans you use, but if your recipe is anything like Starbucks’, the caffeine levels should be pretty similar.
Prepare a Peppermint Mocha Coffee Drink at Home
The peppermint mocha is perfect for a coffee lover looking for something cozy and comforting to sip on while they curl up by the fireplace.
Not making this drink during the cold winter season? No worries; you can brew it over ice for a refreshing minty pick-me-up on a hot day, too.
- ¾ cup strong brewed coffee
- ⅓ cup of half and half or whole milk
- ½ teaspoon of peppermint extract
- 1 ½ tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- Whipped Cream
- Crushed Candy Cane
- On the stovetop at medium heat combine milk, peppermint extract, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and sugar. Stir constantly until bubbles form and mixture is smooth.
- Put coffee into a mug and pour milk mixture over the coffee. Stir till combined.
- Top with whipped cream and candy canes and enjoy!