Macchiato vs Cortado (A Comparison of Delicious Drinks!)

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Johny Morrisson

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♡ Written by Humans for Humans

Macchiatos and Cortados – two espresso drinks that sound similar yet deliver distinct coffee experiences.

The key difference between a macchiato and a cortado is the ratio of milk to espresso and how the milk is added. A macchiato is a shot of espresso with a small amount of foamed milk on top, while a cortado is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk, resulting in a creamy flavor.

Macchiato Vs Cortado

What is Macchiato?

In Italian, “macchiato” means “stained” or “marked,”. So macchiato is essentially just a shot of espresso stained with a dollop of steamed milk on top. 

It’s similar to a tiny cappuccino only with less milk and more espresso.

The goal is to have just enough milk to take the edge off the bitterness of the espresso and create a creamy texture, but not so much that it dilutes the robust taste of the espresso.


How’s Macchiato Made?

Traditionally, the Espresso Macchiato is made by combining a single or double shot of Espresso with 1 oz of foamed milk.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Start by pulling a shot of espresso. Use dark roasted beans for a robust flavor profile.
  • Froth a small amount of milk (2-3 tbsps), just enough to create a dollop or two. You want the milk to be nice and frothy, but not too hot.
  • Add the Frothed milk on top of the espresso, using a spoon to create a small mark or “stain” on the surface. This is where the name “macchiato” comes from – the milk “marks” the espresso.
  • Serve and enjoy! Some people like to add a touch of sweetness with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of caramel syrup, but that’s totally up to you.

And there you have it, a delicious and beautifully crafted macchiato. It may be small in size, but it packs a big punch of flavor. Give it a try and see for yourself!

What is Cortado?

Cortado coffee has Spanish Origins and is made by mixing equal parts of espresso and steamed milk. The milk is not frothed but steamed to give a velvety texture that complements the espresso. It’s a small, creamy, and strong coffee that you can savor slowly in a small glass.

The term “cortado” is derived from the Spanish word “cortar,” which means “to cut,” and this drink is called after the milk, which “cuts” the harshness of the espresso.

This drink comes from Spain and Latin America, and it’s gaining popularity in other parts of the world too.

If you want a coffee drink that’s more balanced than espresso and less milky than a latte, the cortado is the perfect choice.

Cortado coffee

How’s Cortado Made?

Cortado is usually made with a double shot of Espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk added to the top.

Cortados are typically 4 ounces in size and are often served in small glasses or cups. This makes them perfect for savoring slowly.

They make a great pick-me-up in the afternoon or any time of day when you want a delicious and sophisticated coffee drink.

Difference between Cortado and Macchiato

Macchiato vs Cortado

Is cortado stronger than macchiato?

Macchiatos have a stronger coffee taste than Cortados because they contain less milk. This results in a more intense and bold flavor experience.

On the other hand, a cortado has a well-balanced flavor due to the use of equal parts espresso and milk.

As both cortado and macchiato are typically prepared with double shots of espresso, they are essentially equal in terms of caffeine content which is around 120-133 mg.

The Difference in type and amount of Milk

One of the main differences between cortado and macchiato is the type and amount of milk used.

There is a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk in a cortado.

On the other hand, a macchiato is made by adding only 2 or 3 tablespoons of milk on top of the espresso to add a hint of sweetness.

Macchiatos are made with frothed milk, while Cortados are made with steamed milk.

In case you are wondering what’s the difference between these milks.

Compared to steam milk, frothed milk’s air bubbles are significantly bigger, have a larger volume, and feel lighter. On the tongue, it seems to dissolve. Because frothed milk includes more air and less water than steamed milk, baristas frequently describe it as being “drier” than steamed milk.

The difference in the Calories 

Espresso has very few calories on its own. A double shot of espresso has only 5-6 calories.

So it’s actually the amount of milk that adds calories to the drink.

There are about 20-25 calories in a Macchiato since it contains only two to three tablespoons of milk.

On the other hand, Cortado contains about 2 ounces of milk, which adds around 40-50 calories.

Note: These numbers are without any addition of sugar or sweetener. A tbsp of sugar will add extra 15-20 calories to the drink.

Macchiato and cortado are ideal low-calorie alternatives to lattes, cappuccinos, and sweetened condensed milk-based drinks for individuals on a diet.

If you’re limiting your calorie consumption, these drinks can be a smart choice without compromising the taste of milky Espresso drinks.

Variations of Machhiato and Cortado

Both cortado and macchiato have various variations based on the region and personal preferences.

The Variations of Espresso Macchiato

Caramel Macchiato: A variation of macchiato with caramel syrup and sometimes whipped cream on top.

Hazelnut Macchiato: This variation is made by adding Hazelnut Syrup to the Macchiato. The hazelnut syrup adds a rich, nutty flavor to the latte macchiato, complementing the espresso shot nicely.

Mocha Macchiato: This variation is a favorite among chocolate lovers and is made by adding chocolate syrup to the Macchiato.

The Variations of Cortado

Cortado Condensada: In some parts of Spain, a cortado is made with a touch of condensed milk instead of simple milk which makes the drink even sweeter.

Cortadito: It is a Cuban version of Cortado. It is made by blending the Espresso shot with the Cuban sugar and adding equal parts of condensed milk at the top.

Macchiato vs Cortado? What’s the best

And there you have it—all the key differences between Macchiatos and Cortados broken down.

While I can appreciate the purity of a macchiato, I’m definitely more of a cortado person. I just love how the additional steamed milk smooths out the espresso’s strength.

But what about you – are you Team Macchiato or Team Cortado? Let me know in the comments which one you prefer and why!

Read Related Comparisons


Is A Cortado The Same As A Flat White?

No, A cortado has equal parts espresso and steamed milk, while a flat white has more milk and a thinner microfoam layer on top. The cortado is stronger in coffee taste, while the flat white is a bit milder and smoother.

Which One Is A Healthier Choice Cortado Or Macchiato?

When considering the health benefits of cortado and macchiato, both drinks are relatively low in calories and sugar, making them an excellent alternative to heavy Cappuccinos and Lattes.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About, bringing passion and expertise to the world of coffee.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.