What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte?

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What is a macchiato and how does it differ from a latte or a cappuccino? Find out the differences so that you can order or make the perfect cup of coffee.

What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte?
What Is A Macchiato Is It Different From A Latte 2

I sometimes get overwhelmed by the long list of coffee drinks – cappuccino, latte, espresso macchiato, cortado, flat white, latte macchiato, and so on at the local coffee shop. 

Coffee is coffee, right?


Although the essence of espresso drinks has coffee at their heart, the ratio of hot milk, foam, and espresso makes them unique.

Consequently, the taste, texture, and flavor of coffee can vary greatly.

On top, there are regional differences in how coffee is prepared. 

Moreover, adding flavored syrups also changes the taste of a traditional cup of coffee. 

In this post, we will look at how macchiato differs from other coffee drinks like latte and cappuccino. 

Grab your mug and off we go!

What Is A Macchiato?

What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte? 1

A macchiato is an espresso beverage prepared with steamed milk and one shot of espresso

The foamed milk is poured over the espresso. 

The Italian word macchiato, which means “stained” or “marked,” refers to the little “mark” of foamed milk in a macchiato. 

Baristas had to explain to servers the difference between an espresso shot and an espresso with some milk in it, hence the name “macchiato.” 

The precise coffee-to-milk ratio will vary depending on your neighborhood coffee shop or a particular barista. 

Regional variations also come into play; a macchiato from an Italian coffee shop would not taste the same as one from an American café.

A traditional Italian macchiato uses one shot of espresso while the American version uses two shots. 

What Is The Difference Between A Latte And A Macchiato?

Whipped cream, frothed cream, or 5 millimeters of milk foam on topNo milk foam on top
Sweeter tasteStrong taste of espresso
Mild flavorRobust flavor
1/3 espresso to 2/3 steamed milk ratio2/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk
11-15 ouncesSmaller serving of 1 and 1/4 ounce

Latte literally means “milk” in Italian.

😀Fun Fact: If you ask for a latte in an Italian restaurant, you’ll get a glass of milk!

Café latte or as the French like to call it café au lait is “coffee milk”. 

In Germany, it’s called “Milchkaffee‘ (milk coffee).

It’s made by adding foamed milk to a single espresso shot. 

A latte can have a thin layer of whipped cream, or frothed milk on top and if you don’t mind having more calories, you might also ask for sugars or syrups to be added. 

The taste of the standard latte is sweeter with a more mild flavor as it contains more milk and less coffee. 

There are variations in making lattes by country. 

The French version of the latte contains a double shot of espresso, while you will find the American version laced with caramel or chocolate syrup. 

In fact, in the US, you can have a latte made from non-dairy milk like almond or soy, or coconut milk. 

The bottom line: latte is ⅓ espresso and ⅔ frothed milk that’s rich and creamy. 

What makes a macchiato different from a latte is that it’s made with a higher percentage of coffee to milk – ⅔ espresso mixed with ⅓ steamed milk

The milk is steamed and then foamed and added to the coffee, which gives the macchiato its characteristic thick, white, and rich consistency.

So, the difference between macchiato and latte lies in the proportion of coffee and milk and the way they taste. 

Plus, macchiato does not have foam on top.

There’s one more difference: macchiato is a smaller serving than most other coffees as it contains 1 and ¼ ounces or 37 milliliters of coffee. 

A typical latte serving is 11 to 15 ounces. 

Macchiato is not prepared in the same way everywhere in the world. 

For example, in Australia, a macchiato will have two shots of espresso and just a splash of milk. 

Latte vs macchiato can be confusing but if you can remember that latte means milk, it’s easy to order your choice of drink.

You can find variations of both these drinks on the Starbucks keto drinks list. 

What’s A Latte Macchiato?

What’s A Latte Macchiato?
What Is A Macchiato 1
Espresso MacchiatoLatte Macchiato
Milk is added to espresso        
Espresso is added to milk
One shot of espressoOne or half shot of espresso
Robust espresso flavor        Sweeter milky flavor

You might wonder what is a latte macchiato coffee when you see it on the menu of one of your neighborhood coffee shops. 

There are two main types of macchiato coffee: espresso macchiato and latte macchiato.

The “stain” of the original macchiato is a shot of espresso that has been slightly diluted with 1-2 teaspoons of steaming milk. 

The espresso macchiato has the highest espresso to milk ratio, and because milk is used as a supplementary ingredient, the espresso still dominates the flavor profile.

On the other hand, the latte macchiato is a sweeter, layered espresso beverage

It is made by adding a shot or half a shot of espresso to a glass of warm milk, topped with a milk foam layer. 

Note that instead of milk being added to espresso, the latte macchiato has espresso added to a glass of hot milk. 

Herein lies the main difference between latte and latte macchiato. 

Unlike an espresso macchiato, served in a short glass, a latte macchiato is served in a tall glass.

The latte macchiato meaning can be remembered easily if you can recall that “latte” simply means milk. 

There are countless permutations and combinations you can make by using macchiato and latte. 

Speaking of which, let’s look at macchiato vs latte iced first. 

The difference between iced latte and macchiato is the order in which the ingredients are added.

In a glass, a shot of espresso is added, followed by milk, and finished off with ice cubes on top to make an iced latte.

Usually, low-fat milk is used to make iced latte.

The finished drink has one color and looks a lot like milky coffee.

As we have already seen, macchiato as a typical drink does not contain ice and it’s not served in a glass. 

Just like we have iced latte, we have iced macchiato.

Now, let’s take you through iced macchiato vs latte in detail.

Whole milk is poured into a glass, lots of ice is added, and two espresso shots are topped off to create an iced macchiato.

You’ll notice a visually appealing marble appearance as the coffee and milk gel when the espresso falls into the beverage.

As you have already seen, latte in its basic form does not come with ice and it’s made by adding steamed milk to an espresso shot, not the other way around. 

Iced LatteIced Macchiato
One shot of espresso, milk, and ice cubes in this orderMilk, ice, and two espresso shots in this order
Low-fat milk        Whole milk
Plain milky coffee effect        Marble effect

What Are Cappuccino, Flat White, And Cortado?

Milky coffees come in many forms and sizes and while we are on the topic of latte vs macchiato, let’s have a look at other popular milky espresso beverages like cortado, flat white, and cappuccinos. 


What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte? 2

In Italy, traditional cappuccino is a morning drink and is seldom consumed during the daytime or evening.

This Italian espresso drink is made by using equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. 

However, the certified Italian cappuccino uses 25 milliliters of espresso coffee and 100 milliliters of cold milk that should be steamed to a volume of 125 milliliters.

A visible dome shape cap of frothed milk is added to finish off the coffee drink which is then served in a white porcelain cup with a 150-160 milliliter capacity. 

When sipping a cappuccino, you’ll be greeted by a stiff and thick milky foam and then a rich and warm espresso coffee.

No wonder the drink has a smooth, rich, and creamy mouthfeel. 

But the key to a great cappuccino is the quality of the espresso as it contains less of it and more milk, making it imperative that the espresso is of top-notch quality. 

Flat White

What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte? 3
Flat White

A latte is an espresso drink that has extra milk foam on top. 

This milk foam typically has a thickness of 5 millimeters. 

A flat white, in contrast, is a latte with a thinner milk foam layer on top, typically less than 2 millimeters thick. 

It is “flat” as a result of that.


What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte? 4

One to two shots of espresso and about the same amount of steamed milk are used to make a cortado. 

The Spanish verb “cortar” means “to cut,” as in “cutting the coffee with hot milk.” 

This coffee drink has a higher milk content than a macchiato and less milk than a cappuccino

In addition, the milk is steamed rather than heavily frothed, giving the coffee drink a different texture from typical Italian coffee drinks.

Caffeine Content: Macchiato Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino: Which Is The Strongest?

Each serving of all three coffee drinks has about the same amount of caffeine.

For instance, since a shot of espresso is used to make both cappuccinos and lattes, they both have the same amount of caffeine.

The actual amount of caffeine in a medium 16-ounce (475 ml) cappuccino and latte is around 173 mg.

In contrast, a 2-ounce (60 ml) macchiato provides less than 85 mg of caffeine per serving or nearly half the amount of caffeine.

If you’re trying to cut down on caffeine intake, these Starbucks low caffeine drinks are right for you.

How To Make Caramel Macchiato At Home

If you want to know how to make caramel macchiato at home Starbucks style, here’s a step-by-step guide.

What Is A Macchiato? Is It Different From A Latte? 5
Caramel Macchiato

Things you need:

Milk steamer like this

Espresso machine


  1. Inside your coffee cup, drizzle thick caramel syrup all around by turning the cup while you squeeze out the syrup.
  2. Add half-inch thick of caramel syrup to the bottom of your cup. 
  3. For every two 1-ounce shots of espresso used in a 16-ounce beverage, steam 12 ounces of milk.
  4. Allow space at the top of the jug when adding the milk. 

The milk level shouldn’t go higher than the internal spout of the jug. 

Keeping things level will prevent overflow because milk expands as it warms. 

Your milk will reach 140° using the steaming spout on an espresso machine or a premium steaming wand in around 40 seconds.

  1. Prepare your espresso shots after the milk has steamed. 

Letting the milk settle will aid in the milk’s frothed portion floating to the top. 

Your steamed milk can achieve the ideal consistency while resting.

  1. Use freshly ground Arabica or dark espresso coffee beans to get the best flavor from your latte. 
  2. Pull the required espresso shots and add them to the coffee cups. 
  3. If you are planning to use any sweeteners or syrups, now is the time to add to the hot espresso so that they mix in well. 
  4. Gradually pour the steamed milk into the coffee cups.

You will see that the milk separates from the froth as you pour it. 

The froth will be left at the bottom of the jug.  

  1. Top the coffee with the froth.
  2. Then add whipped cream and some caramel syrup to get a nice cup of caramel macchiato.


What’s The Difference Between A Latte And A Macchiato?

A latte has 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk, has a milk foam on top, with a milder and sweeter taste, and comes in 11 to 15 ounces serving.
Macchiato has 2/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk, making it more robust with a stronger coffee flavor, and a traditional macchiato comes without a milk foam on top and is served in a small cup of 1 and 1/4 ounces.

What Makes A Coffee A Macchiato?

A coffee that has 2/3 parts espresso and 1/3 part steamed milk is called a macchiato.

What Is A Macchiato Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino?

Macchiato is 2/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk.
The latte is 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk.
The cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 milk foam.

What Is The Point Of A Macchiato?

The point of a macchiato is to tweak an espresso by adding a splash of milk.
Thus, it’s not as bitter or strong as an espresso but not weak or mild like a latte.

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