Starbucks mocha syrup is a popular coffee-flavored syrup used to flavor drinks like lattes, frappuccinos, and hot chocolates. The key questions around Starbucks mocha syrup are: Does it contain real coffee? What ingredients are used to create the mocha flavor? How much caffeine is in the mocha syrup?
To quickly answer – yes, Starbucks mocha syrup does contain some coffee. However, the primary ingredients used to create the mocha flavor are cocoa and other natural and artificial flavors. The amount of caffeine in Starbucks mocha syrup is minimal compared to a regular cup of coffee.
Starbucks Mocha Syrup Ingredients
According to the Starbucks website, the ingredients in Starbucks mocha syrup are:
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Cocoa processed with alkali
- Potassium sorbate
- Citric acid
- Caramel color
- Sulfating agents (to maintain freshness)
The primary ingredients providing the mocha flavor are cocoa and natural and artificial flavorings. Further down the ingredients list is “Brewed Coffee”, which indicates there is a small amount of actual coffee in the mocha syrup. However, the quantity is likely minimal, as coffee is not touted as a primary ingredient.
The cocoa provides the chocolatey flavor in the mocha syrup. Cocoa beans are roasted, cracked and ground into a powder called cocoa liquor. This liquor is further processed with alkali to mellow the pH and color of the cocoa powder.
Natural and Artificial Flavors
The “Natural and Artificial Flavors” provide the dominant coffee and mocha flavors, while using only a small amount of real coffee. Food scientists can use extracts, oils and other methods to produce artificial coffee and mocha flavors without needing to use significant quantities of real coffee beans.
Caffeine Content in Starbucks Mocha Syrup
Given coffee is not a primary ingredient, the caffeine content of Starbucks mocha syrup is relatively low compared to brewed coffee.
According to Starbucks, a 16 fl oz cup of its Pike Place medium roast coffee contains 180 mg of caffeine.
Comparatively, a pump (0.5 fl oz) of its mocha sauce contains approximately 15 mg of caffeine.
So a tall Starbucks cafe mocha (12 fl oz) made with 2 pumps of mocha sauce would contain around 30 mg of caffeine from the mocha syrup.
Caffeine Content of Starbucks Drinks with Mocha Syrup
|Mocha Syrup Pumps
|Total Caffeine (mg)
|Tall Latte with Mocha Sauce
|Grande Latte with Mocha Sauce
|Venti Latte with Mocha Sauce
|Tall Mocha Latte
|Grande Mocha Latte
|Venti Mocha Latte
As the table shows, adding mocha syrup only provides 15-60 mg of additional caffeine compared to regular latte and coffee drinks.
How Starbucks Mocha Syrup is Used
Starbucks uses its mocha syrup to add chocolate and coffee flavors to various blended coffee drinks and dessert-style beverages:
Customers can request mocha sauce pumps added to traditional lattes, combining espresso with steamed milk and mocha sauce. Tall lattes get 2 pumps of mocha, grande 3 pumps, and venti 4 pumps.
The mocha latte or cafe mocha is traditionally made by combining espresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup, and foam. At Starbucks, their mocha sauce replaces chocolate syrup in a traditional cafe mocha.
Frappuccinos are blended iced coffee drinks combined with syrups and other ingredients. The mocha frappuccino gets mocha sauce as well as coffee and milk blended with ice.
Starbucks offers mocha hot chocolate, combining steamed milk with mocha sauce instead of chocolate syrup. Whipped cream and chocolate shavings garnish hot mochas.
Pricing of Starbucks Mocha Sauce
Starbucks mocha sauce is available for purchase in grocery stores to make specialty coffee drinks at home. As of November 2022, a 64 fl oz bottle retails for $9.19 on the Starbucks website and Amazon.
Mocha Sauce versus Brewed Coffee
To compare the value of pre-made mocha sauce versus brewing coffee at home:
- 64 oz Starbucks Mocha Sauce: $9.19
- 64 oz (or 1/2 gallon) of Brewed Medium Roast Coffee: Approx $3-$4
Given a 64 oz bottle contains approx 48 tall servings (2 pump doses), the pre-made mocha sauce works out to about $0.19 per serving. Comparatively, brewing a 12 oz coffee at home costs $0.05-$0.06 per serving.
So while the Starbucks mocha sauce provides convenience, brewing coffee at home is significantly less expensive. However, the mocha sauce does provide unique chocolate and mocha flavors that can not be replicated at home through only brewing coffee.
Starbucks mocha syrup is high in sugar, like most coffee syrup flavorings. A serving (1 pump) contains 15g of sugar – similar to 4-5 tsp of granulated sugar.
The nutrition info per pump (0.5fl oz) of Starbucks mocha sauce is:
- Calories: 60
- Fat: 0g
- Carbs: 15g
- Sugar: 15g
- Protein: 0g
Given the small pump serving size, a tall latte with 2 pumps would have 120 calories from mocha syrup and 30g sugar.
Sugar Content of Starbucks Drinks with Mocha
|Sugar from Mocha (g)
|Total Sugar (g)
|Tall Latte with Mocha
|Grande Latte with Mocha
|Venti Latte with Mocha
|Tall Mocha Latte
|Grande Mocha Latte
|Venti Mocha Latte
Adding mocha sauce significantly increases the sugar content compared to plain lattes, often doubling the total grams of sugar. Those looking to lower sugar may request less pumps of mocha or opt for sugar-free syrup.
Comparison to Other Coffee Chains
Starbucks is not the only coffee chain offering mocha sauce – many competitors also have similar coffee and chocolate flavored syrups.
Dunkin Donuts offers both mocha and chocolate swirl coffee flavorings that can be added to hot and iced coffee drinks. A 32 oz bottle of Dunkin mocha coffee flavor swirl retails for $3.99, making it significantly less expensive than the Starbucks version.
Caribou Coffee has a mocha sauce available in stores, very similar to the Starbucks version. The ingredients are nearly identical and it provides the same mocha flavor profile.
While Peet’s does offer mocha drinks on their menu, they do not sell the mocha sauce separately for home use like Starbucks and others. So Peet’s does not offer the same convenience and customization for home coffee drink makers.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf prepares in-store mocha drinks using their chocolate powder and brewed coffee rather than a pre-made mocha sauce. They focus more on flavored syrups rather than mocha or chocolate sauces.
So for pre-made mocha coffee syrups, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts offer the most convenience and variety for purchase. Yet independent testing would be required to compare the true flavor and quality amongst different brands.
To summarize key points:
- Starbucks mocha syrup contains a small amount of brewed coffee, but cocoa and natural flavors are the main ingredients responsible for the mocha flavor.
- The caffeine content of Starbucks mocha syrup is relatively low compared to brewed coffee, with about 15mg per pump.
- Mocha syrup can be added to lattes, cappuccinos, frappuccinos and hot chocolates for additional chocolate and coffee flavors.
- Pre-made mocha syrups provide convenience but are more expensive compared to brewing coffee at home.
- Starbucks mocha syrup contains 15g of sugar per pump serving.
- Competitors like Dunkin Donuts and Caribou Coffee offer similar mocha syrup products.
So in summary – yes, there is a small amount of coffee in Starbucks mocha sauce, but the chocolate and other natural flavors have a more dominant presence and contribution to the mocha flavor experience.