Macchiato vs Latte – Knowing the Difference

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Macchiato vs Latte

If you are ready to move on from the world of black coffee, finding your signature drink is no easy task. There are many coffee drinks to choose from that cater to tastes all along the spectrum. Find out if a macchiato or latte could be your next favorite drink.

Macchiato vs Latte? While both a macchiato and a latte use espresso as their base, the amount of milk that is used differs. A macchiato is made to highlight the taste of the espresso while a latte is a creamier drink that unifies the stark taste of the espresso and the sweetness of the milk. Both give you the same punch of caffeine but their subtle method differences make for big taste differences

What is a Macchiato?

what is a macchiato

A macchiato is one shot of espresso with a little bit of steamed milk in it. It is also called a caffe macchiato or an espresso macchiato in Europe.

The name has its origins in Italy. The word macchiato means spotted, which is what the drink looks like once you add a splash of milk to the espresso.

A macchiato uses a bit of steamed milk, with some foam on it to show that most of the drink is just espresso. The milk sits on top as an accent.

What is a Latte?

what is a latte

A latte starts with one shot of espresso. The rest of the cup is then filled with steamed milk. Finally, a layer of foam is on top.

A latte exists in various forms all over Europe. While it is popular as a breakfast drink in Italy, lattes are enjoyed at all times of the day in North America.

North America has taken the latte and made many variations of it. You can find iced lattes, chai lattes, and many other flavors.

Macchiato vs Latte – How are they made?

There are many different espresso drinks, most with very subtle differences that make them hard to distinguish. When you enter a coffee shop you want to order with full confidence, so it helps to know what exactly is in the drink you are about to hopefully enjoy.




There are two ingredients to a macchiato: milk and espresso. While a traditional macchiato only has one ounce of espresso, you can order a double or a triple if you need an extra pick me up.

The milk that is steamed is usually 2% although you could change this according to your tastes.


The purpose of a macchiato is to temper the espresso just a bit with the milk, and not to overwhelm it.

Start by crafting a shot of espresso. Pour it into a small cup.

Steam the milk until it is nice and hot, between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, pour just a splash on top of the espresso. The milk adds a bit of creaminess and sweetness to the espresso, without taking away the strong flavor.

There is some confusion when it comes to flat white coffees. A flat white is quite similar in that it starts with a shot of espresso but adds a bit more steamed milk on top, whereas a macchiato is all about highlighting the espresso taste with minimal milk.

Caffeine Content

A standard macchiato has one shot of espresso in it. This is about 60 to 80 mg of caffeine, depending on the type of coffee beans used.

Milk Content

There are only 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk in a macchiato. It is not a large amount of milk and it shouldn’t change the consistency of the espresso too much.

The milk is steamed with just a bit of froth included. You want to be able to see the milk on top of the espresso so it needs to have a bit of airiness in it. Otherwise, it will sink and quickly mix in with the drink.




A latte has three ingredients in it: espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.

A standard latte will have one shot of espresso which is poured into a mug. About 4 ounces of steamed milk is used and then a thin layer of milk foam is spread on the top.


To prepare a latte, start with one ounce of espresso. However, you can add two or three shots if you desire. If more espresso is used, a larger mug is used to keep the ratio of milk and coffee the same.

In North America, a latte often includes sugar in order to make it sweeter. Iced lattes are also popular and they often add flavored syrup to the drink.

Caffeine Content

With one shot of espresso in a latte, expect the caffeine content to be around 60 to 80 mg. A double shot of espresso would then double the caffeine content.

Milk Content

A standard latte has about 6 ounces of milk. However, if a larger one is ordered, especially to accommodate more espresso, then more milk will be used.

Latte Macchiato

Just in case you were starting to understand the difference between a latte and a macchiato, there’s a third term to also be aware of, and that is the latte macchiato.

While a latte pours steamed milk into espresso, a latte macchiato adds espresso to milk that is already in a glass. It also only has half an ounce of espresso.

The final difference is that while a latte is a mixed drink, a latte macchiato is a layered drink. It is served in a glass so that you can see the milk layer on the bottom and the espresso layer on top.

If you want a latte macchiato, be sure to specify that you do. Many coffee shops will assume you want a caffe macchiato, which has only a small amount of milk in it.

What is the main difference between a latte and macchiato?

The main difference between a latte and a macchiato is that a latte has much more milk in it. Both start with one shot of espresso but a macchiato only has a bit of milk to slightly take the edge off the drink.


There are many types of coffee and two of the most popular are the latte and the macchiato. Both give you a burst of caffeine and flavor. If you want a bolder drink, go for the macchiato. If you want a creamier drink, them a latte is best.

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