Macchiato vs Latte

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The Macchiato and Latte are two Italian heavyweights in the coffee scene. Both are espresso-based drinks that have become extremely popular over the years. Unfortunately, coffee chains’ loose interpretation of these classic drinks has led to a lot of confusion over what they actually are. In this article, we will compare the Macchiato vs Latte and try and clear up some of the confusion.

Macchiato vs Latte – In Summary

The main difference between the Macchiato and Latte comes down to proportions. The Macchiato is an espresso-forward drink, consisting of an espresso topped with a dash of steamed milk to cut through the strong, bitter flavors. In comparison, the Latte is a sweet, milky beverage consisting of an espresso, served in a large glass and topped with steamed milk and some foamed milk. 

Espresso Macchiato


Macchiato is an Italian word that means Marked or Stained and this really defines the drink. The Espresso Macchiato originated in Italy, where busy espresso bars needed a way to distinguish between an order for espresso and an espresso with a dash of milk. Typically if you added a dash of milk to an espresso shot it was hidden underneath the layer of crema. To solve this problem, baristas started adding a small spoonful of milk foam on top to mark which drinks had milk in them. And so the Macchiato was born.

Today, the modern Macchiato is quite different, with baristas wanting to embellish the drink with latte art. While it is still served in a small cup, the drink is more similar to a Cortado with a ratio closer to 1:1 espresso to steamed milk.

What Is A Macchiato?

The Macchiato is a single or double shot of espresso topped with a dollop of steamed milk. The Macchiato is usually served at a coffee shop in a small 2-4 oz demitasse and has a ratio of 1 part espresso to 1 part milk.

What Does A Macchiato Taste Like?

A Macchiato is much stronger than other coffee drinks with a bold espresso flavor. It is as close to straight espresso as you can get without actually going there. The dash of milk takes away the bitter edge of the espresso while allowing you to still enjoy the subtle notes of the coffee. 



The Latte or Caffè Latte is another espresso drink that originated in Italy and has since become one of the most popular coffee drinks worldwide. Caffe Latte is an Italian word that means milk coffee. In its simplest form, a Latte is made with espresso and steamed milk. It is served in a glass or ceramic cup and topped with a small amount of foamed milk.

While the concept of adding milk to coffee has been around for centuries, the modern Latte only gained popularity in the United States at the end of the 20th century. The Latte became associated with the specialty coffee movement, with the addition of flavors like caramel, vanilla, or hazelnut and latte art becoming common practices. Today the Latte has become a staple in coffee shops worldwide, with many variations such as an iced latte, chai latte, flavored lattes, and milk alternatives.

What Is A Latte?

A Latte consists of a double shot of espresso, served in a large glass, and topped with steamed milk and a little milk foam. A latte is typically served in an 8-12 oz cup and has a ratio of 1 part espresso to 4-7 parts steamed milk. The texture of the milk is crucial both for the mouthfeel and to be able to pour latte art.

What Does A Latte Taste Like?

A Latte is often associated as a drink for those who aren’t really into coffee. This is because it is a sweet, milky beverage with only a mild coffee flavor. The Latte is able to be personalized with a huge number of variations available. The Latte is often combined with flavored syrups, teas, or alternative plant-based milks.

Macchiato vs Latte

What Is The Difference Between A Latte And Macchiato?

The main difference between a Latte and Macchiato comes down to the proportion of espresso to milk. The Macchiato is served in an espresso cup and has a 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk, making it a much stronger drink. The Latte is served in an 8-12 oz cup and has a 1:4-7 ratio of espresso to steamed milk, giving it a sweet, creamy flavor.

Which Is Stronger?

The Macchiato is a lot stronger drink due to the higher ratio of espresso to milk. The Macchiato is as close to a straight espresso shot as you can get. The Latte is a weaker coffee drink with a lot more milk added. Both drinks have similar amounts of espresso and thus caffeine.

Which To Order- Macchiato or Latte?

We hope this article has helped clear up some of the confusion around the Latte and Macchiato. Which one to order at the coffee shop comes down to personal preference. These two coffee drinks are very different in composition and taste. If you are an espresso enthusiast and enjoy experiencing the subtle notes of coffee the Macchiato is for you. It is a short and sharp drink that is espresso-forward.

If you prefer a mild coffee the Latte is a better fit. The addition of steamed milk helps to balance out the strong espresso flavor and provides a creamy and smooth texture. Lattes are also highly customizable with options to add flavored syrups and non-dairy milk alternatives.

What Is A Caramel Macchiato?

Just to add to the confusion, Starbucks created the Caramel Macchiato which has become a hugely popular drink. The Caramel Macchiato is a far cry from the traditional Macchiato and is more similar to a sweetened latte macchiato. The drink consists of steamed milk sweetened with vanilla syrup, marked with espresso, and topped with caramel drizzle. The Caramel Macchiato is a sweet, high-calorie beverage that has, unfortunately, changed the expectation of a Macchiato.   

What Is A Latte Macchiato?

The Latte Macchiato takes aspects of both the latte and macchiato and merges them together. The Latte Macchiato is similar to a traditional latte but rather than add the espresso first, you add the steamed milk. The espresso then marks the milk, creating distinct layers. The Latte Macchiato is often served in a tall glass so you can see the layers. The Latte Macchiato has become a popular drink with the rise in super-automatic espresso machines, which do a good job of creating them.

Macchiato vs Latte- In Summary

The Macchiato and Latte are two popular coffee beverages that differ in their preparation, proportions, and taste. 

The Macchiato is primarily an espresso focussed drink that consists of a shot of espresso marked with a small dollop of frothed milk. The drink is served in a small 2-4 oz demitasse. The milk plays a minor part in the drink to cut through the strong espresso and add texture to the beverage. The Macchiato has a strong, concentrated espresso flavor compared to other milk-based coffee drinks.

In comparison, the Latte is a predominantly milk-based drink that consists of shots of espresso mixed with steamed milk and topped with a layer of milk foam. The latte is served in a larger cup around 8-12 ounces. Milk plays a major role in this drink, imparting a creamy mouthfeel and smooth flavor. A Latte is a mellow coffee drink and is often mixed with flavored syrups or even teas.

Finally, to complicate matters there is also the Latte Macchiato, which merges elements from both drinks. The Latte Macchiato is mostly steamed milk, similar to a latte, with a shot of espresso added on top. The espresso then ‘marks’ the milk creating distinct layers.