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Mokka Coffee Variety: What Is Mokka Coffee?

Mokka, Mocha, Moka, Mokha might be one of the most confusing terms in all of coffee. Are they all different things? Are they just spelling variations of the same thing? To muddy the waters even further: the answer is yes and no.

This article looks specifically at the Mokka coffee variety. Keep reading to learn what it is, tastes, and relates to the rest of the “mochas” out there.

What is Mokka Coffee?

First, a quick history lesson. All Arabica Coffee originally comes from Ethiopia, but it was first grown commercially in Yemen, hence the name Arabica. In coffee’s early history, the centre of the coffee trade was the Yemeni port of Mokha (sometimes spelt Mocha). This port lends its name to so much coffee terminology (1).

Yemeni Mocha is one of the oldest coffee varieties, but it is no longer as common as it once was. You can sometimes find it in the famous Mocha-Java blend, but Ethiopian coffee is often used in place of Yemeni beans.

Maui Mokka Coffee

Maui Mokka Coffee

The Mokka coffee variety, also known as “tall Mokka” because it is more of a tree than a bush, is a type of Arabica coffee grown primarily in Hawaii, often known as Maui Mokka. It is a hybrid of Yemeni Mocha and a tall Brazilian Typica.

Maui Mokka is characterized by its small coffee cherries and tiny, round coffee beans. While there is sometimes a notion that bigger is better for coffee beans, Hawaii’s Big Island Coffee Roasters explains that this is not always the case.

Mokka is the contrarian of the coffee world: these tiny beans captured coveted first place in the 2014 Hawaii Cupping Competition.

Compared to most commercial coffee plants, Mokka is low yielding and difficult to harvest, so it is both highly prized and highly-priced. This, along with its exceptional flavour, is why it is often called the champagne of coffee.

Mokka vs Mocha vs Moka

Now you know the difference between the Maui Mokka variety, the Yemen Mocha variety, and the Yemeni port of Mokha.

What about the mocha drink, which adds chocolate to a traditional latte? How did Mocha coffee beans come to be associated with chocolate? It’s not entirely clear, but legend has it that it derives from the natural chocolatey flavour profile of Mocha coffee beans.

Then there’s the stovetop espresso maker known as the Moka pot. It was invented by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti, who named it the Moka Express in reference, once again, to the famous Yemeni port. This brewer is now so ubiquitous that “Moka pot” and “stovetop espresso maker” have become synonymous, even when not made by Bialetti.

Brewing Methods and Flavour Profile

Maui Mokka coffee is usually given a medium to dark roast, highlighting its prized chocolate flavour. While chocolate is the dominant tasting note, Maui Mokka is also known for its subtle acidity and notes of nuts, dried fruit, and spice (2).

Compared with the other popular Hawaiian variety, Kona coffee, Maui Mokka has a heavier body and less fruity and floral flavours.

Maui Mokka is a versatile coffee suitable for most brewing methods. Still, we think its heavy body suits the Moka pot, French press, or espresso machine. These methods preserve the coffee oils, resulting in a delicious fudge-like brew with or without milk.

This video shows you how to brew perfect French press coffee with Maui Mokka beans:

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has clarified the whole Mokka vs. Mocha vs. Moka confusion. The homonyms derive from the Yemeni port that was central to coffee’s early history.

The Mokka coffee variety is a unique hybrid grown commercially on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Often referred to as “the champagne of coffee,” It is notable for its tiny coffee beans and prized for its rich, chocolatey flavour.

FAQs

Kona coffee is a variety of Arabica coffee grown only in the Kona district of Hawaii’s Big Island, where the climate is ideal for growing high-quality coffee. It is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. This is due to its delicious flavour, smart marketing tactics, and the high cost of doing business in America compared with most coffee-growing regions.

The Caturra coffee is another example of an Arabica coffee bean, in this case, a natural hybrid of the Bourbon variety. It is one of Central America’s most economically important coffees, delivering high yields and a flavour profile that nicely balances sweetness and acidity.

The Catuai coffee is a hybrid coffee bean variety produced intentionally by breeding Caturra and Mundo Novo, two other varieties of Arabica. It is grown primarily in South and Central America and is renowned for its high yields and exceptional flavours.

  1. Gilbert, D. (2017, September 20). The History of Mocha Coffee & Yemeni Coffee Culture. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/09/the-history-of-mocha-coffee-yemeni-coffee-culture/
  2. Arr, J. (n.d.). Is Kona the best Hawaiian coffee? – Islands and Varieties. Retrieved from https://jayarrcoffee.com/blogs/news/hawaiian-coffee-islands-and-varieties/
Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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