Macchiato vs. latte- differences between your favorite coffee drinks explained

Macchiato vs. latte- differences between your favorite coffee drinks explained
macchiato vs. latte

Deciphering the menu of milk-based espresso drinks can be challenging even for coffee connoisseurs as it can be confusing how these beverages differ regarding ingredients, calorie count, and caffeine content. Whether you want to enjoy a good cup of espresso-based coffee or improve your caffeine routine, knowing the differences between these popular drinks can be helpful. This macchiato vs. latte guide will closely examine the key differences between these Italian coffee beverages. So next time you order at your local coffee shop or brew these beverages at home, you will know why they are different. Are you ready? Let’s get into it!

Macchiato vs. Latte

The mighty Latte and refined macchiato are truly classic Italian beverages. But what’s the difference between these two original Italian heavyweights. Latte is a ubiquitous espresso drink that is hard to resist as it is creamy and often flavored with various ingredients. In comparison, a macchiato is a more robust coffee drink that celebrates espresso and is created to power through your afternoon slumps. 

macchiato vs. latte
macchiato vs. latte

What is Latte?

Latte or café latte literally means coffee milk. It is quite popular worldwide like its cousin Cappuccino. However, there is no standard recipe for making Latte. It is the union of the bold shot of espresso and steamed milk with a thin micro foam layer on top. To enhance taste, sugar or sweeteners are also added to it. 

What is Macchiato?

The traditional macchiato coffee contains a shot of espresso and a small splash of milk. Macchiato means marked or stained in Italian, and authentic macchiato recipes call for espresso marked with a little steamed milk and topped with foam. The original version of macchiato, aka espresso macchiato, highlights the flavor of espresso rather than hiding it with tons of sugary syrups. However, this Italian delight has many other variations, and latte macchiato is one of the most popular versions out there. Latte macchiato involves an espresso shot of lightly aerated milk. 

True to its name, a small amount of steamed milk is added to espresso to stain while making a macchiato. It offers a more robust flavor than other beverages due to a small amount of milk. You can amp it up by adding two shots of espresso. If the bold flavor is not your thing, sweeten your drink with flavored syrup. People who like milky coffee may enjoy a latte macchiato or a cortado (Latin American espresso milk coffee) more than espresso macchiato.

Macchiato vs. Latte: What’s Differences? 

Both drinks share a common theme, but still, they are different from each other. Latte and Macchiato are hot coffee drinks made with espresso and milk. There are some things make these drinks different from each other, and you should know about them before ordering. However, there is not that much difference between Latte and macchiato, but these minor differences offer different drinking experiences to coffee drinkers. Let’s take a look at some key differences between macchiato and Latte!

Coffee to milk ratio


Latte contains more steamed milk (2/3), less espresso (1/3), and a thin layer of micro-foam on top as the 2/3 portion of this drink is milk, which gives it a creamy mouth feel. 


On the other hand, a little bit of milk is used to make macchiato. So you can say that it is mostly espresso because this drink comprises two parts espresso and one part milk. However, a 1:1 ratio of coffee to milk is typically used in North America, making it a bastardized drink.

Amount of coffee

Different amounts of coffee make these coffees different from each other.


A macchiato is made using double shots of espresso and a dollop of steamed milk which is about 2 oz.  


There is no correct way to make Latte, but it is generally used with a single shot of espresso, and the rest of the beverage is made of steamed milk.



Latte contains higher milk content that is responsible for milky and creamy flavor. Moreover, it tends to have a sweet taste more than macchiato due to the high proportion of milk than espresso. The addition of abundant milk in coffee offers mild flavor. The sweetness you find in the cup of latte also comes from milk foam added on the top.


Macchiato is known for its stronger flavor as only a dash of milk goes with espresso into it. The higher percentage of espresso makes it slightly bitter than latte, and macchiato also has high acidity. When it comes to traditional macchiatos, they are less sweet than modern versions of this coffee. This is because of the sweeteners that are added to modern macchiatos, like an iced caramel macchiato, in which caramel is added to enhance the flavor of this iced drink.  

Caffeine content


Typically, a small cup of latte packs about 80mg of caffeine, while a medium cup contains around 173mg of caffeine. So when you’re going to order a latte, remember that it will be served with a lot more milk in it.


When it comes to macchiato, it is served in small quantities, usually between 2 ounces and four ounces. A small to a medium-sized cup of macchiato has around 80mg to 100mg of caffeine. Made with 90% of coffee and 10 % milk, macchiato has more caffeine content than Latte.

Milk Type

Milky-based coffees can be made with any milk. The milk you use can create a different texture. Whole milk, the common ingredient of these coffees, gives off a rich flavor. However, 2% fat milk, also known as lower-fat milk, is a great choice to keep your drink low caloric, and it also foams up much better than whole milk. Moreover, this reduced-fat milk holds its fluff for more time while you enjoy your coffee.


For instance, 2% fat milk or whole milk is typically used to make Latte.


While macchiato coffee uses whole milk, as you can see, most recipes call for whole milk to make these popular coffees.


Still have questions about macchiato vs. Latte? Here you can find answers to some of the most asked questions about the difference between these two Italian coffee beverages. 

What coffee is used in Latte and Macchiato?

Both coffees have the same base, i.e., strong espresso. This espresso coffee is brewed using an espresso machine. However, if you haven’t fancy equipment to make espresso at home, you can either use a Moka pot or Aeropress to make the espresso. For Latte, medium to dark roast coffee beans is used to pull a shot of espresso, while the best coffee roast for macchiato is dark roast coffee beans.

Latte Macchiato vs. Latte: what’s the difference?

The key difference between these coffees is how the ingredients are poured into the cup. Latte macchiato is a layered drink as you first pour freshly brewed espresso over the steamed milk. Consequently, you get aesthetically pleasing separate layers of coffee and milk. This macchiato version is more similar to a latte, except for the layers created and the way you pour ingredients. On the other hand, latte starts with a strong shot of espresso, and then steamed milk is added, making this beverage creamy, often topped with a layer of frothy foam.

What is the difference between a Starbucks macchiato and Latte?

Starbucks latte comes with a creamy mouth feel and is milkier than their macchiato. It is a more balanced drink when compared with Starbucks Macchiato. However, their macchiato is a blend of two ingredients, i.e., espresso and steamed milk, but it is less milky and stronger than Starbucks latte.

What is latte macchiato?

Latte macchiato contains espresso, milk, and airy foam. This drink features distinctive layers that are created when espresso marks the milk. Contrary to the traditional macchiato, espresso is poured on the top of the milk to make this macchiato version. It means the first sip of latte macchiato is more espresso. You can say this type of macchiato is an espresso-forward latte. Typically whole milk is used to make latte macchiato rather than 2% milk. However, you can order your latte macchiato at Starbucks with non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk or oat milk. If you don’t specify any type of milk, you will get a cup of latte macchiato made with whole milk.

Is a latte or macchiato healthier?

As macchiato contains less milk than a latte, it is definitely healthier than Latte. On the other hand, latte is a milkier drink, which means it is more caloric. Latte is fattier than a macchiato, while macchiato has only a little milk, making it an almost non-fatty drink and healthier.

Macchiato vs. Latte: Which is better?

Are you trying to figure out which espresso-milky delight is right for you in this macchiato vs. latte debate? There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the coffee drinker what kind of flavor he wants and where he is located. When it comes to the USA, there is no significant difference between these coffee beverages- macchiato and Latte.

In America, a cup of macchiato may have a bit less flavoring but contains the same amount of milk as a cup of Latte because both drinks are served in the same size cup. This drink is more considered as latte macchiato than a classic macchiato coffee because of more milk content. On the other hand, these beverages might look a little different when you order them in Europe.

For instance, asking for a latte in Italy means asking for a cup of cold milk-means no espresso and no steamed milk. A Caffe Latte made with espresso and warm milk. However, it will not be foamy like American Latte. So if you are a fan of flavor-forward coffee with more milk, then it would be best if you went with a cup of latte. But if you like stronger coffee but want to cut the bitterness just slightly, a cup of macchiato is usually the best option for your taste buds.

Bottom line:

If you are wondering what the key difference between Latte and macchiato is, it all comes down to the milk to espresso ratio. Some people say that Latte is a great coffee drink for fast-paced mornings, while macchiato is a perfect beverage for relaxed afternoons. Both drinks are incredible when appropriately brewed with the correct coffee-to-milk ratio.

However, it also depends on your preferences and how frothy and creamy your beverage will be. Both drinks have different ingredients that affect their nutritional value and caffeine content. We hope this macchiato vs. latte guide has helped you understand the most significant differences between these popular espresso-based beverages. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment box!