Macchiato vs Latte

When it comes to the world of coffee, two contenders have won the hearts of enthusiasts everywhere: the Macchiato and the Latte.

As a coffee lover myself, I often find myself faced with the delightful dilemma of choosing between these two espresso-based beverages

While both Macchiato and Latte share the essence of espresso, the Macchiato offers boldness and intensity, while the Latte presents a creamy and indulgent experience.

Join me as we dive into the origins, ingredients, and unique characteristics of Macchiato vs Latte. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of these delightful espresso drinks, empowering you to make the perfect choice to satisfy your coffee cravings.

Macchiato vs Latte

First, what is a Macchiato?

Espresso Macchiato is an Italian beverage that combines the rich flavor of espresso with a touch of milk.

A macchiato in Italian means “stained” or “marked,” referring to how a dollop of milk is added to espresso, leaving an impression on the dark color of Espresso. 

Macchiato is a small drink around 3 oz and is characterized as a bolder and more intense coffee experience compared to other milk-based espresso drinks.


Making a delightful Italian macchiato involves finding the perfect milk-to-espresso ratio. Too much milk and you’ll venture into cappuccino or latte territory.

The goal is to strike a balance, adding enough milk to bring a touch of creamy sweetness without overpowering the bold espresso flavor. 

At a coffee shop, they serve a single shot of espresso with a splash of foamed milk in a demitasse cup.

You can easily prepare Espresso Macchiato at home following this process:

  • Start by brewing a double shot of espresso using approximately 14-18 grams of finely ground coffee.
  • Next, heat an ounce of milk to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit and create foam using a steam wand.
  • Finally, top the Espresso shot with steamed milk.

This simple yet artful combination results in a balanced and satisfying macchiato.

Now, What is a Latte?

Unlike the macchiato, the latte is a milder and more milk-centric coffee beverage. The term “latte” comes from the Italian caffè latte, which means “milk coffee.”

It is believed to have originated in European coffeehouses in the 17th century and has since become a staple in coffee culture worldwide.


A latte consists of a shot of espresso combined with steamed milk, topped with a layer of milk foam.

The ratio of milk to espresso is higher in a latte compared to a macchiato, resulting in a smoother and creamier texture. Typically, in a latte, the ratio of espresso to milk is 1:3.

The large proportion of steamed milk helps to mellow the intensity of the espresso, creating a well-balanced and approachable flavor profile.

The latte’s popularity stems from its versatility and the option to customize it to individual preferences. By adding flavored syrups like vanilla, chocolate, or caramel, latte variations have emerged, catering to those who enjoy a hint of sweetness in their coffee.

Is Latte Macchiato the Same as Macchiato?

While the names may sound similar, a latte macchiato is not the same as a macchiato!

A latte macchiato is a different beast altogether. It’s basically a Starbuck invention.

Although it is also prepared with milk and Espresso, the preparation method is slightly different than that of a Traditional Latte drink.

While preparing latte macchiato, the Espresso is layered at the last on top of steamed milk giving the drink a bold first sip.

Latte macchiato

Macchiato means stained in Italian, as we discussed above. So, In Espresso Macchiato, the espresso is stained with a small amount of milk, while in Latte Macchiato, the Latte (milk in Italian) is stained with a small amount of espresso.

So, In short, you can say that Latte Macchiato is nothing but an upsidedown version of a traditional Latte

In an effort to provide clarity and help customers understand the distinctions between their diverse espresso drinks, Starbucks released this infographic:

Latte vs Latte Macchiato

Differences between a Latte and a Macchiato

Differences between a latte and a macchiato

The Type and Amount of Milk Used

In a traditional macchiato, the milk-to-coffee ratio is 1:2, with one part milk and two parts espresso. On the other hand, a caffè latte has a ratio of 3:1, with three parts milk per one part Espresso. 

These distinct ratios result in different flavor profiles, with the macchiato offering a stronger coffee experience and the latte providing a more balanced combination of milk and coffee.

Traditionally, both lattes and macchiatos are made with whole milk.

However, there are many variations of Latte, allowing for the use of different types such as skim milk, half and half, or nondairy milk alternatives like almond, soy, or oat milk. 

Taste and Flavor Profiles

Macchiatos and lattes offer significantly different tastes and flavor profiles.

Macchiatos has a bold and powerful Espresso-forward taste, as it is prepared with just a splash of frothed milk. Macchiato is typically enjoyed without sugars or flavorings. 

Whenever I am in need of a caffeine boost on busy afternoons, I love to drink Espresso Macchiato with just a splash of milk.

In contrast, lattes provide a more versatile experience, as they can be infused with various flavors such as cocoa, vanilla, or caramel, allowing for a broader range of taste options.

A large proportion of milk in lattes creates a smoother and creamier texture, enhancing the overall indulgence in flavor.

Caffeine and Calorie Content

Both macchiatos and lattes can be made with a single or double shot of espresso, which will affect the caffeine content. A standard 1-ounce (30-ml) shot of espresso contains around 63 mg of caffeine and the double shot has 120-130 mg of caffeine.

Therefore, if a macchiato or a latte is made with a single or a double shot, their caffeine content will be similar.

However, lattes have the potential to contain more caffeine if they are made with multiple shots of espresso. Some lattes may even include three shots, resulting in a higher caffeine content compared to a single-shot macchiato.

As expected, Lattes have more calories than Macchiatos as they are prepared with a large quantity of milk.

A simple 8 oz serving of Latte without any sugar or additives has around 90 to 100 calories. While the Macchiato has only 15-20 calories

How Are These Drinks Different from Cappuccino?

Cappuccino, Latte, and Macchiato are all popular milk-based Espresso drinks with only a slight difference in preparation method and ratios of ingredients.

A cappuccino consists of equal parts steamed milk, espresso, and milk foam. While Latte has a large proportion of Milk and the Macchiato has only a splash of milk.

This table highlights the key differences between cappuccino, latte, and macchiato:

Coffee DrinkIngredientsProportionsTopping
CappuccinoEspresso, Steamed Milk, FoamEqual parts of eachA thin layer of foam
LatteEspresso, Steamed Milk, Foam, Sugar or Syrups (Optional)More steamed milk than espressoA thin layer of microfoam
MacchiatoEspresso, Steamed Milk, FoamSplash of MilkEspresso, Steamed Milk, Foam, Sugar, or Syrups (Optional)

Macchiato vs Latte: So What’s Better?

If you’re craving a creamy and indulgent experience, the latte takes the spotlight. Its generous milk content offers a velvety texture, and the option to add flavors like Vanilla, or Chocolate enhances its allure.

On the other hand, if you prefer a bold espresso-forward profile with a subtle foam topping, the macchiato is the winner. Its intense flavor lets the nuances of the espresso shine through, with just a touch of milk for balance.

Personally, I appreciate the depth and robustness of a well-crafted macchiato when I’m in the mood for a strong coffee experience.

In the end, both beverages have their unique charm and can satisfy different coffee cravings. So, don’t hesitate to explore and experiment with both to find the one that resonates with your palate.

Also read:


Which is healthier, macchiato or latte?

When it comes to healthiness, the macchiato generally wins with fewer calories and typically less caffeine compared to a latte.
However, Latte is also a very healthy drink when drunk in moderation.

What is a latte with less milk called?

A latte with less milk is often referred to as a “flat white.” It contains a higher ratio of espresso to milk compared to a traditional latte, resulting in a stronger coffee flavor.

Which is sweeter, latte or macchiato?

Generally, lattes are considered sweeter due to the higher milk content and the option for various different flavored syrups and sweeteners.
Macchiatos have a more robust and bold taste with a subtle touch of sweetness from the milk and are often enjoyed without any added sugars..

Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.