Copycat Caribou Spicy Mocha

This mocha is vegan, dairy free, and made with only natural sugar
Servings: 2
Jump to Recipe
Time: 10 mins

This page may contain affiliate links. Find out more in our privacy policy.

This Copycat Caribou Spicy Mocha is the best version of itself! It’s creamy, delicious, dairy free, and has no processed sugar! Ready in minutes, with or without espresso, it’s the perfect holiday drink!

Brown and tan drink in a blue cup surrounded by red chilis, napkins, and cocoa powder in a glass jar.


Some folks get excited when Starbucks coffee shops start adding their seasonal coffees in their famous red cups to their popular drinks list. Us in the Midwest though, get excited for Caribou’s iconic images of prancing caribou and snowflakes on their cups. Caribou Coffee drinks are far superior with seasonal flavors like Ho Ho Mint Mocha, Fa La Latte, Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha (be sure to check out our at-home version here!), and their Spicy Mocha.

While pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas are great, you can’t deny Ho Ho Mint sounds a little more exciting (right?!). If you are lucky enough to be able to visit your local Caribou Coffee shop this holiday season, the air will smell of maple syrup, cinnamon sticks, freshly ground coffee beans, and beef and cheese (you don’t smell like Santa! Get the Elf reference?).

Just kidding, it won’t smell like beef and cheese but it likely will be crowded and overpriced and while it’s nice to treat yourself to those decadent coffees with real chocolate and brown sugar once in a while, it’s also nice to save your coffee money for gifts or experiences with the family. So, we made this at-home version that can be made with all ingredients you probably already have in the pantry or fridge!

Like I mentioned above, this simple recipe is even dairy-free and has no processed sugar so, dare I say it, a little bit better than Caribou? Maybe, maybe not, I’ll let you decide.


Table of Contents


Recipe Ingredients

Milk, honey, espresso, cocoa powder, cayenne and an espresso maker on a white table.


How to Make This – Step by Step

Step One: Make espresso as you normally would, or make ½ a cup of strong regular coffee. Even though this is a copycat recipe, we do still like to use Caribou Coffee’s Reindeer Blend (available in most grocery stores in the Twin Cities and beyond or check out the link in the substitution section below).

Step Two: Add creamer, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper powder, and honey to a microwave-safe container that has a lid or an electric frother. Heat in the frother or in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Step Three: If not done in an electric frother, cover the jar and shake vigorously to mix the creamer mixture and create foam or use a handheld frother like this one. Just make sure the cocoa powder is fully incorporated.

Step Four: Add coffee over milk.

Step Five: Enjoy! Try topping with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.



Quick Facts and Common Questions

What is a Caribou spicy mocha?  

A spicy mocha, sometimes called a Mexican mocha, is typically chocolate and either chili, cayenne, or cinnamon. Sometimes it can be both cinnamon and cayenne with chocolate. Caribou Coffee’s Spicy Mocha boasts chocolate, chipotle, and ancho chili.


Does this meet my dietary needs?

This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.


Do I need an electric frother?

Nope! While we love ours since it heats, mixes, and froths with one button (get it here), you can use a handheld frother like this one or put the contents in a mason jar or microwave-safe Tupperware and seal and shake aggressively to achieve the froth.


What’s the difference between espresso and coffee?

Espresso beans are simply dark roast coffee beans. Dark roast coffee beans can be used to make strong coffee or espresso, depending on the process.

What makes an espresso is grinding the coffee beans to a super fine consistency, packing them tightly, and then brewing those beans at high heat with hot water. An espresso maker not only heats the water to a high temperature but also produces high pressure. The combination of high heat, pressure, and fine grounds create the rich, dark flavor of a typical espresso.

Regular coffee, on the other hand, uses course ground coffee beans, medium heat, and no pressure to brew a light to medium roast coffee.

Note that coffee beans can vary in their depth of flavor as well. A light roast coffee is typically more acidic, while a dark roast typically has less acid.


How long does this keep?

1 day in the fridge. Sometimes when putting chocolate drinks in the fridge uncovered, they can develop a film on top. This is more likely to happen when using dairy milk but since we are using plant-based, it should not be an issue. That’s not to say you shouldn’t cover it. Always better to keep it sealed. Just reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop when ready to drink again.


Can this be made into an iced mocha?

You betcha! Simple make the hot coffee or espresso and set it in the fridge while you make the creamer mixture. When making the creamer mixture, do not heat it, just mix well. You can even throw the ingredients in the blender to get the same froth without the heat. Fill a large glass with more ice than you think is normal (⅔ rds full of ice) and then pour the coffee and creamer mixture over it and enjoy.


Is there a best plant-based creamer?  

Yes! All plant-based creamers are different. Some have added Xanthax gums which help to thicken it and create that creaminess that is typical of half and half. Some just use a higher percentage of main ingredients (oats, cashew, almonds, flax, etc.) to water. Creamers with added gums typically do not froth because they are too heavy while creamers with too high of a water content will create foam not froth, meaning the bubbles will deflate quickly resulting in a watery coffee.

Our favorite creamers for overall creaminess are Silk Oat Yeah (unsweetened) and Oatly Original Oat Milk. Sometimes I like to add a splash of creamer that does have added gum, like Sown Sweet Cream for extra creaminess. Just a note, Xanthax gum is not necessarily considered healthy, my opinion is that it helps with added creaminess and has not been shown to be determinantal to my health so I will continue to use it in small quantities. But, please make that determination for yourself.


Substitution Options

*All substitution options are a 1:1 substitution unless otherwise noted

Espresso: Brewed decaf or dark roast coffee can be used in place of espresso. Use ½ cup of regular brewed coffee in place of 2 oz of brewed espresso. And plan for a larger mug!

Plant-Based Creamer: Any of your favorite plant-based creamers can be used, or your desired cow’s milk such as whole milk, or half and half. Skim milk should be avoided because it results in a watery drink.

Cocoa Powder: Melted Chocolate chips can be used instead. But, also omit the honey called for.

Honey: Maple syrup, agave syrup, sugar, or coconut sugar can be used in place of honey.

Cayenne Pepper Powder: You can use ground chipotle pepper, ground ancho chilies. Note: We don’t recommend using chili powder because it has garlic in it. To remove the heat, use cinnamon in place of the cayenne pepper.


Fun Fact! 

The hottest Cayenne peppers are pretty dang spicy! Measuring in at 30,000 – 50,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units, a way to measure how spicy something is). By comparison, jalapenos spiciness is measured at 5,000 SHUs. So the hottest Cayenne pepper is about 10 times hotter than a jalapeño! That’s why we use just a pinch in this recipe. (Source)


Try These Other Delicious Drinks!

Gingerbread Latte

Protein Hot Chocolate

Copycat Caribou Vegan Pumpkin White Mocha

Peppermint Mocha Latte


Copycat Caribou Spicy Mocha Photo from the side

Copycat Caribou Spicy Mocha

Servings: 2
Total Time: 10 minutes
This Copycat Caribou Spicy Mocha is the best version of itself! It’s creamy, delicious, dairy free, and has no processed sugar!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Caribou, cayenne, coffee, espresso, pepper, spicy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Calories: 236 kcal


  • 2 oz espresso or 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup creamer or milk of choice
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper powder


To Make: Blender (best for iced coffee)

  • Make espresso or coffee however you normally would.
  • Add all ingredients except coffee in blender and blend for 30 sec, or until foam begins to form.  Transfer to microwave safe container and heat for 45 seconds.  Pour milk mixture on top of espresso and enjoy!

To Make: Electric Frother (preferred)

  • Make espresso or coffee however you normally would.
  • Put all ingredients except coffee in electric frother.  Use the recommended settings to heat and froth the milk mixture.  Pour on top of espresso and enjoy!

To Make:  Jar

  • Make espresso or coffee however you normally would.
  • Using a microwave safe and sealable container, heat the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds.  The container can be an old olive jar, Tupperware, mason jar, anything with a lid you can shake.
  • Add all other ingredients except coffee to the jar with the heat milk.  Shake until froth forms and pour on top of espresso and enjoy!



Nutritional information is an estimate and for informational purposes only.


Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 1254mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 22IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you try this? We'd love to hear how it went. Please leave a review below! Or, follow and tag us on Instagram!Mention @_Joytothefood_ or tag #joytothefood!


  1. MP

    5 stars

  2. angie

    5 stars
    I am one of those folks who love sweet and spicy and every year I look forward to Caribou’s spicy mocha! I am so happy to have this easy version at home!

    • Melissa

      Did it really taste like the Caribou version?? I have just recently discovered the Spicy Mocha, and every time I go to Caribou, I think I am going to order something else, but I keep coming back to this one LOL – It would be great to be able to make at home, considering I am spending $7.00 every trip to Caribou – YIKES!

      • Mika

        I feel you! I always have that cringe when I pull up to the Caribou drive though – but they are SO good and I wait all year for them! Speaking of this recipe – it is a dairy free version with less sugar, so no it does not taste exactly like it. I actually think it tastes better because I always order half sweet at Caribou anyways. So, while it is not exactly the same, it is pretty darn good!

  3. Laura

    5 stars
    This drink sure hits the spot!

  4. Katie

    I have been looking for a copycat recipe for the Spicy Mocha for YEARS now. So happy I found this!! I am going to attempt it this weekend.

    • Mika

      Ya! Glad we could help – let us know how it goes!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Photo of mika and dan smiling

Welcome to Joy to the Food! We’re so glad you’re here. We’re Mika and Dan, and the two Nalas (our spunky pups). We’re all about easy and affordable recipes that bring joy to the kitchen and make life stress free!