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.
- 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)
- Steam the milk. Don’t worry about foam if you’re planning to use whipped cream on top.
- Add the mocha syrup and orange syrup to the steamed milk, then stir.
- Brew the espresso, then add to the drink and stir.
- Top with whipped cream and microplane some orange zest on top.
- 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.
Great article! Oh how I miss my ole grande mocha Valencia!
I do, too! One of the Starbucks classics that has been sadly forgotten by all but the diehards like us!
Omg ty so much mocha Valencia was mine and my wifes favorite starbucks coffee ever why would they discontinue the best drink in the world shane o. U starbucks
The best in the world!!!Omg ty so much mocha Valencia was mine and my wifes favorite starbucks coffee ever why would they discontinue the best drink in the world shane o. U starbucks
Yes but remember the Honey Orange Topping?!?
Sigh. Why did Starbucks have to do this to us? Why mess with such a good thing?
THANNK YOOUUUU!!!!!!!! This was my drink at Second Cup! ECS coffee has the orange syrup BTW. Now you have shared this amazing recipe and I will live happily ever after.
Great article … now going on nearly two years! I am a long suffering Mocha Valencia fan, sadly there are just too few of us in the world. With your recipe, I’m motivated to recreate that awesome flavor and feeling!
Thanks! I also found out recently that the Candied Orange syrup from Monin also works pretty well, and is designed with a PH that shouldn’t curdle the milk in lattes, etc. Another good alternative, especially since Monin syrups are a lot easier to find locally.
Thank you for this hard won gem! I miss my beloved mocha valencia, why would they kill it off when it was the best thing on the menu?
I will try this lovingly crafted recipe, thank you!! 🙂
Thanks for the kind words! Good luck, and I hope it works out for you!
I loved this drink! I was so sad when they discontinued it. Luckily, I got a bottle of the starbucks syrup (label and all). I honestly have wanted to open it and make my own, but the sadness of my coffee making skills would only ruin things. So the bottle sits, in my pantry, unopened…just waiting for someone to appreciate it.
Oooooo I will buy it from you!!!! Shannon On The Lakes at gee mail!!!
I do miss my coffee Valencia, I’m having my try of making one on The last day of 2021, great way to end the year, it took me 2 yrs to find the Orange syrup. But it’s worth it to bring back that great tasting drink, Timmy’s hot chocolate is a pretty good sub for mocha syrup, thanks for the memories, and a new recipe, Happy New Year
Hi Iain, thanks! So I woke up this morning really wanting a Valencia! I found your most excellent recipe! I however didn’t have any orange syrup, nor anyway to magic it to me instantly…
BUT what I did have was a clementine and 1/2 a jar of sweetened condensed milk left over from making key lime cheesecake ice cream!!!
I squeezed the Clementine into a small sauce pan, added the condensed milk 80-100 ounces approx? And let it warm on the stove. I added cocoa powder 15-20 ml… and then added my strongly brewed French press coffee about 250!ml….I used a cute little stick frother to blend it all over low heat until it was drinkable temperature..
While not as spot on as your recipe, it worked to satiate my craving for the delicious Valencia I remember.
Just a little inspiration for anyone that can’t get their hands on the proper orange syrup.
Nice! Thanks! Its not always easy to track down the right syrup for this, especially since the wrong type of acidic citrus syrup one will likely curdle the milk. I can also recommend the Monin Candied Orange syrup, as it is also designed to work with milk. If you’ve got an Italian grocery store near you, there’s a good chance they have Monin syrups. Thanks for commenting!
Yes I just thought of the great mocha Valencia and them found your article
I am not a fan of Starbucks due to their prices and have only been there twice in my life, but a friend just told me about this long lost recipe today, so I went searching for the recipe and landed on your site. Lo and behold, I had all of the ingredients (and thank you for the info about Torani, I luckily bought that brand a few months ago to add to my Diet Vanilla Coke).
We have a winner! This is probably going to be my favorite drink now.