Food Liquids Recipes

Recipe: Starbucks Mocha Valencia

Starbucks Mocha Valencia
My version of the classic (but dearly departed) Starbucks Mocha Valencia, also known to Second Cup patrons as the Mocha Mandarino. I don’t have the orange sprinkles, so I microplaned some orange peel on top.

Back in the late 1990s, one of my favourite Starbucks drinks was the Mocha Valencia. It was an entrancing combination of orange syrup, mocha syrup, steamed milk and espresso, with some whipped cream topping and special orange sprinkles on top. It was like drinking a liquid caffeinated Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and I loved it.

And then Starbucks killed it. The bastards.

In Canada, Second Cup carried on with their knock-off version, the Mocha Mandarino, but then it was also cut from the menu. And there was much sadness among those who loved chocolate-orange espresso beverages.

My dad was also a huge fan of the drink, so I recently decided to recreate it for his benefit (and, yeah, for mine as well because it’s delicious). Through trial and error and an Amazon order, I produced a drink that tasted just like the Mocha Valencia I remembered making during my brief stint as a professional barista. And here, for your benefit, is that recipe.

Note that all ingredient quantities are approximate. Mugs vary in size, so please adjust my recipe to your own sizes and desired sweetness level.

Note also that the single hardest thing for me to get right with this was the orange syrup. There are lots of orange syrups out there, but only a handful are explicitly dairy-friendly. If it’s not dairy-friendly, the acidity will curdle the milk and wreck everything. I know this from experience – gross, gross, gross. Don’t use just any orange syrup without knowing for sure that it’s dairy-friendly. Trust me on this.

The Torani syrup I wound up using is dairy-friendly, though it’s also one of the hardest Torani syrups to track down in local shops. While Second Cup and other cafes stock Torani syrups, the orange variety is impossible to find. I checked around and couldn’t find it, so I ordered it on Amazon (by all means, please buy it through our handy Amazon affiliate link). If you don’t have Nesquick (another Amazon affiliate link!) where you live – and that strikes me as impossible, as I’ve seen it in grocery stores in Burkina Faso, West Africa – you’re welcome to substitute another chocolate syrup.

The following recipe makes a 13ish oz drink. Adjust for different sizes or sweetness preferences. And honestly, I normally omit the whipped cream. Because I don’t always have whipped cream in the fridge.

Starbucks Mocha Valencia
I can’t stress enough the importance of using a dairy-friendly orange syrup in your drink, like this orange syrup from Torani. It’s also remarkably hard to find at cafes that stock other Torani syrups. I have no idea why.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Torani Dairy-Friendly Orange Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Nesquick Syrup
  • 2 shots of espresso (80 grams)
  • 2/3 cup steamed milk (160 grams)
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Orange peel, microplaned (optional, for fancy-ass garnish on top)

Directions

  1. Steam the milk. Don’t worry about foam if you’re planning to use whipped cream on top.
  2. Add the mocha syrup and orange syrup to the steamed milk, then stir.
  3. Brew the espresso, then add to the drink and stir.
  4. Top with whipped cream and microplane some orange zest on top.
  5. Enjoy!

Modifications

  • If you don’t have access to an espresso machine (fair enough), try using a mix of half steamed milk and half strong coffee. Or, if you have a Tassimo machine, you should be able to find an espresso disc. That should do.
  • If you REALLY lack coffee gear, you can mix some instant coffee into the hot milk instead of using espresso or drip coffee. Just increase the milk quantity to make up for the lack of espresso volume. Thankfully, the instant coffee twang isn’t as noticeable because the chocolate and orange are so dominant.
  • I don’t normally top my drinks with whipped cream. Milk foam is perfectly fine. And don’t sweat the orange zest. Only try that if you’re feeling fancy.
  • Steaming milk is a pain on my espresso machine (more cleaning, which is annoying), so I typically microwave my milk until it’s hot, then use an IKEA foaming wand to froth it up a bit.

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