Macchiato vs Latte

Macchiato vs Latte: How Are They Different?

Coffee is a complex drink, right? You walk into a coffee shop, thinking you know what you want. Then suddenly, you look at the menu and become dazzled by the sheer variety of coffees available. It can feel overwhelming, and if you don’t know the differences between each coffee, you might not end up with the beverage you’re after. If this has happened to you, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain everything that you need to know about two of the most popular coffees in the world – the humble latte and the rather fancy macchiato. So, let’s take a look, shall we?

Here’s a quick table showing the main differences between a latte and macchiato:

Macchiato Latte
Main Ingredients Espresso, Foamed Milk Espresso, Heated Milk
Serving Temperature 40 °C 55-60 °C
Place of Origin Italy Italy
Caffeine per Serving (mg): ~80-120mg per single shot ~80-120mg per single shot

What is a Macchiato?

What is a Macchiato

Macchiato translates from Italian to ‘marked’, referring to the ‘stained’ look that the coffee has.

It’s a very small and simple coffee, consisting of a single shot of espresso and a dash of steamed milk. This allows the espresso to shine through, and really be the star of the show.

A macchiato is therefore the perfect middle ground between espresso and cappuccino. If you find espresso a little too strong, but don’t get the strong kick that you’re looking for with a cappuccino, a macchiato might just be perfect for you.

There are two variations of macchiato coffee; an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato.

An espresso macchiato is the traditional recipe. It consists of an espresso and about 2 teaspoons of steamed milk. It’s much stronger than a latte macchiato and uses this ratio to let the flavor of the espresso shine.

A latte macchiato features much more milk than its traditional counterpart. This makes the drink much sweeter and more palatable for some people. It’s a great way to delve into the world of macchiato without having your head blown off by the taste of espresso!

What is a Latte?

The humble latte has quickly become one of the most popular coffees worldwide.

Image credit > Fahmi Fakhrudin from Unsplash

Originating from the beautiful country of Italy, the humble latte has quickly become one of the most popular coffees worldwide. But, what actually is it?

Well, a latte consists of an espresso shot, a layer of steamed milk, and a small layer of frothed milk on top. The silky texture of the milk makes it one of the smoothest caffeinated drinks out there and is the perfect place for the coffee novice to start.

A latte has a high milk content, making it one of the weakest-tasting coffees available. Therefore, if you’re not a fan of overly strong coffee, lattes are probably the best option to go with.

Because of the way that the milk is steamed, skilled baristas can actually make artwork by dragging the milk through the golden crema of the espresso. So, whenever you go to a coffee shop and see a delicious-looking coffee with a heart or rose made of milk, it’ll probably be a latte!

Similarities Between a Macchiato and a Latte

There are quite a few similarities between these two coffees. The biggest ones are:

  • Ingredients: Both drinks share the same two ingredients: espresso and milk. The differences come from the way that these ingredients are prepared.
  • Origins: Both drinks originate from Italy. Although, the exact dates and city of origin for both drinks are contested.
  • Caffeine content: Both drinks use one espresso, so have the same caffeine content of about 80-120 mg. Just remember that the recommended daily intake of caffeine is no more than 400mg, so try to stick to one or two of these a day.

Differences Between a Macchiato and a Latte

However, there are also a few differences between the beverages:

  • Size: lattes are much bigger than macchiatos because they use more milk. As such, many people have a latte as a sophisticated ‘sitdown’ coffee but tend to ‘shot’ macchiato’s as a mid-day pick-me-up.
  • Strength: Although they contain the same amount of caffeine, a macchiato will taste much stronger than a latte. This is because the espresso in a latte is much more diluted, due to the increased milk content. Therefore, if you prefer stronger coffee, you’ll probably like a macchiato more than a latte, and vice-versa.
  • Flavor: Despite being made of the same ingredients, these two coffees are very different in flavor. With a macchiato, the espresso is the star of the show, so the main flavor notes are bitter and complex. Whereas a latte is a more balanced drink, making for a more balanced and rounded taste.

Which Drink Should I Order?

So, the big question. Which drink should I order?

In honesty, the answer to this question all comes down to your personal preference. Fans of strong coffee are probably going to prefer a macchiato. You’ll probably prefer this one if you don’t like massive drinks either.

On the other hand, if you like to taste more than just espresso when you have a coffee, a latte is probably going to be the best way to go. Lattes also offer great versatility, as you can add flavored syrups, for example.

The best way to figure out your favorite is to give both a try and see which coffee you prefer!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Macchiato Stronger than a Latte?

Because of the differences in espresso: milk ratio, a macchiato will taste far stronger than a latte. Although, the overall caffeine content between the two drinks is quite similar.

Which is Healthier, a Macchiato or a Latte?

Both a latte and a macchiato can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. But from a calorie standpoint, a macchiato will be slightly healthier than a latte. This is because it contains less milk than a latte.

Why do People Drink Macchiatos?

People drink macchiatos if they don’t like the taste of pure espresso, but don’t feel a latte or cappuccino is strong enough. This is because a macchiato ‘stains’ the espresso with milk, slightly diluting its strength and overpowering flavor.

What is the Point of a Macchiato?

The point of a macchiato is to allow you to enjoy the complex flavor of espresso, without finding it too strong or overbearing. The small amount of milk dilutes the espresso shot enough to make the espresso more palatable, without compromising its flavor.

Why Don’t you Stir a Macchiato?

You don’t stir a macchiato because the drink is meant to be enjoyed in a ‘layered’ form. You’ll first taste the rich foam and steamed milk, before enjoying the rich espresso at the bottom. Stirring your macchiato would completely ruin this tasting experience.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s everything that you need to know about the similarities and differences between a macchiato and a latte. As you can see, the two drinks look very similar on the surface and are both made from the same ingredients. However, in reality, these two drinks are completely different and will suit very particular taste buds. If you love strong coffee, you’ll probably prefer a macchiato. But, if you’re a fan of more subtle flavors, a latte is the way to go.

So, be bold, and the next time you grab a coffee, try a latte or a macchiato- you won’t regret it!