espresso macchiato

Are you an espresso lover who wants to know the key differences between two popular macchiato drinks - espresso macchiato and latte macchiato? In this ultimate guide, we're breaking down the milk, espresso, and foam used, the brewing methods, and the taste profiles of these two drinks. Get ready to discover which one will be your new favorite for a bold and creamy coffee experience!

Espresso Macchiato Vs. Latte Macchiato

Definition and Origin

Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato are two distinct coffee beverages that originated in Italy, known for their unique methods of preparation and flavor profiles. The term "macchiato" means "marked" or "stained" in Italian, which refers to the way these drinks are made - by "marking" or "staining" one component with the other.

An Espresso Macchiato is a small coffee drink that consists mostly of espresso, with a small amount of steamed milk and foam added to it. It is traditionally served in a tiny cup, similar to a shot glass, and it offers a strong, bold taste that is characteristic of espresso, softened slightly by the addition of milk and foam.

On the other hand, a Latte Macchiato is a much larger beverage with a milder coffee flavor. It contains a substantial quantity of steamed milk and foam, topped with one or two shots of espresso, depending on the desired strength. This preparation process results in a layered appearance, with the espresso sitting on top of the milk and foam.

Key Differences

There are a few fundamental differences between Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato:

  • Size and Composition: Espresso Macchiato is smaller in size and has a higher proportion of espresso to milk, resulting in a stronger coffee taste. Latte Macchiato, however, is larger and contains more steamed milk and foam, providing a creamier and milder flavor.
  • Preparation: In Espresso Macchiato, the espresso is the primary component "marked" or "stained" by a small amount of milk and foam. In contrast, Latte Macchiato reverses this process, with the milk and foam forming the main element "marked" by the espresso on top.
  • Milk Type: While many coffee shops use 2% milk for most of their drinks, some establishments, like Starbucks, opt for whole milk in their Latte Macchiatos. This may result in a slightly creamier texture.

Overall, Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato offer different experiences for coffee enthusiasts, catering to various preferences depending on whether a stronger or milder coffee flavor is desired. Despite their common Italian origin and the similarity in their names, these two beverages showcase the diversity and versatility of coffee preparations.

Ingredients and Preparation

Espresso Macchiato

The Espresso Macchiato is a bold coffee drink primarily consisting of espresso, with a small amount of steamed milk and milk foam. To prepare an Espresso Macchiato, start by pulling a shot of espresso using an espresso machine. Next, steam a small amount of milk to create a microfoam. Pour the steamed milk and microfoam onto the espresso shot, forming a subtle layer on top. The primary ingredients for an Espresso Macchiato are:

  • Espresso (1 shot)
  • Steamed milk (small amount)
  • Milk foam (small amount)

The layering of the milk foam on top of the espresso creates a visually appealing presentation while adding a touch of creaminess to the strong, bold flavor of the espresso.

Latte Macchiato

A Latte Macchiato is a creamier coffee drink that mainly consists of steamed milk, marked with a shot of espresso. The preparation process for a Latte Macchiato differs from that of an Espresso Macchiato. To begin, steam a larger amount of milk to create a blend of steamed milk and microfoam. Pour this mixture into a tall glass or cup, and then carefully add the shot of espresso on top, creating a distinct layered effect. The main ingredients of a Latte Macchiato include:

  • Steamed milk (3/4 of the cup)
  • Espresso (1/4 of the cup)
  • Microfoam (a thin layer)

The layered appearance of the Latte Macchiato not only provides an aesthetically pleasing presentation, but it also allows the drinker to experience the gradual merging of the creamy steamed milk with the bolder flavor of the espresso.

In summary, both the Espresso Macchiato and the Latte Macchiato are prepared using espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. However, the Espresso Macchiato is a stronger, bolder coffee drink that uses more espresso and less milk, while the Latte Macchiato is creamier due to its higher milk content and layered presentation. The preparation methods also differ, with the Espresso Macchiato featuring a dollop of milk on top and the Latte Macchiato being marked with espresso.

Flavor and Texture

Espresso Macchiato

The Espresso Macchiato offers a rich, bold flavor that primarily consists of espresso, with a small amount of steamed milk and foam added to cut through the bitterness. The taste profile leans towards the bitter and robust side, making it an ideal choice for those who enjoy a strong, intense coffee experience. The texture of an Espresso Macchiato can be described as slightly creamy, with the steamed milk and foam providing just enough smoothness to balance out the sharpness of the espresso.

Despite its noticeable bitterness, the Espresso Macchiato also contains subtle caramel and sweet notes, resulting from the espresso's natural flavors. This combination of bold, bitter, and sweet elements creates a unique and satisfying flavor profile that appeals to coffee enthusiasts who prefer a more intense taste.

Latte Macchiato

On the other hand, the Latte Macchiato predominantly features a creamy, milky taste, which is formed by combining steamed milk, espresso, and a layer of microfoam. The milk-to-coffee ratio of a Latte Macchiato is typically higher than that of an Espresso Macchiato, with two parts milk to one part coffee (2:1). As a result, the Latte Macchiato has a mellower flavor, with less emphasis on the bitterness and more on the sweetness of the drink.

The texture of a Latte Macchiato is notably smoother and creamier than its Espresso Macchiato counterpart, thanks to the larger proportion of milk and microfoam. These factors all contribute to the Latte Macchiato's rich and velvety mouthfeel, making it a popular option for those who prefer a milder and more comforting coffee experience.

  • Espresso Macchiato:

    • Flavor: bold, bitter, hint of sweetness
    • Texture: slightly creamy
    • Key features: predominantly espresso, small amount of steamed milk and foam
  • Latte Macchiato:

    • Flavor: creamy, milky, mellow sweetness
    • Texture: smooth, velvety
    • Key features: predominantly steamed milk, one part espresso, layer of microfoam

In summary, the Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato differ significantly in terms of flavor and texture. The Espresso Macchiato presents a more intense, bitter taste, while the Latte Macchiato offers a creamier, sweeter experience. Both drinks cater to different preferences, so choosing between the two ultimately depends on an individual's taste profile and desired coffee experience. For those truly passionate about coffee and aiming to replicate these beverages in a commercial setting or to provide top-tier coffee to customers, considering a high-quality machine is crucial. You might want to purchase a commercial espresso machine to achieve the best results. These machines are specifically designed to meet the demands of businesses and ensure consistent, exquisite coffee every time.

Variations and Popular Drinks

Starbucks Offerings

Starbucks offers a variety of macchiato options for those looking to try these popular coffee drinks. The Caramel Macchiato, for instance, is a favorite for those with a sweet tooth, as it layers vanilla syrup, steamed milk, espresso, and caramel sauce. The Cloud Macchiato provides a unique twist on the traditional coffee experience, as it features a cloud-like foam made with egg whites and milk, atop an espresso and flavored syrup base.

In addition to their macchiato selections, Starbucks also offers the Cortado - a drink comprised of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. This creates a smoother and sweeter taste compared to the traditional espresso macchiato, making it a popular choice for those exploring different options within the coffee spectrum.

Other Coffee Shop Choices

For those patronizing local or specialty coffee shops, many alternatives can be found on their menus. The Cafe Macchiato, also known as an Espresso Macchiato, provides a strong coffee base with just a dollop of milk or foam to lessen the bitterness. Alternatively, the Latte Macchiato consists predominantly of steamed milk, with espresso added on top to give it a creamier consistency and flavor.

Some other popular coffee drinks to consider include the Americano, Flat White, and Mocha. The Americano is a mixture of espresso and hot water, often served with a splash of milk, while the Flat White, originating from Australia, combines espresso with steamed milk and results in a velvety texture. The Mocha offers a scrumptious mixture of espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate, providing a dessert-like coffee experience.

Coffee Drink Ingredients Origin
Caramel Macchiato Vanilla syrup, steamed milk, espresso, caramel sauce Coffee Shop
Cloud Macchiato Cloud foam made with egg whites and milk, espresso, flavored syrup Starbucks
Cortado Equal parts espresso and steamed milk Coffee Shop
Cafe Macchiato Espresso with a dollop of milk or foam Coffee Shop
Latte Macchiato Steamed milk, marked with espresso Coffee Shop
Americano Espresso, hot water, optional splash of milk Coffee Shop
Flat White Espresso, steamed milk Australia
Mocha Espresso, steamed milk, chocolate Coffee Shop

In summary, the Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato provide unique variations of a coffee base with milk, while other popular coffee drinks, such as the Cortado, Americano, Flat White, and Mocha, offer different textures and flavors to suit individual preferences.

Nutrition and Health Aspects

When considering the nutritional aspects of espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos, it's important to understand the differences in their composition. An espresso macchiato is primarily espresso, marked with a small amount of steamed milk and foam. In contrast, a latte macchiato consists mainly of steamed milk, marked with espresso.


Caloric content varies in these beverages due to their differing ratios of ingredients. Espresso macchiatos, being mostly espresso, typically have a lower calorie count, ranging from 10-20 calories per serving. On the other hand, latte macchiatos contain more steamed milk, resulting in a higher calorie count, usually between 100-130 calories per serving.

Protein, Fat, and Sugar

The primary source of protein, fat, and sugar in both espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos comes from the milk used in the preparation. The protein and fat content depend on the type of milk used (e.g., whole, skim, or plant-based), with whole milk steamed providing more fat and protein than skim milk options. Sugar content also depends on the type of milk and any added sweeteners.

Caffeine Content and Ratios

Caffeine content is an essential factor when comparing espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos. As espresso macchiatos contain more espresso than their latte counterparts, they often have a higher caffeine content. Espresso macchiatos typically have around 85 mg of caffeine per 2-ounce (60 ml) serving. Latte macchiatos, in comparison, can vary in caffeine content depending on the number of espresso shots used.

Comparing with Cappuccinos

Cappuccinos are another popular espresso-based beverage, composed of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. When considering nutrition and health aspects, a 16-ounce cappuccino contains approximately 173 mg of caffeine. The caloric content, protein, fat, and sugar depend on the milk used and any additional flavorings.

In summary, the nutritional aspects of espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos differ mainly in their caloric content and caffeine levels. The choice between the two can be made based on personal preferences for bolder or creamier flavors, as well as desired caffeine and calorie intake.

Dairy and Sweetener Alternatives

Espresso macchiato and latte macchiato, though sharing similarities, have distinct tastes primarily achieved through the differing ratios of espresso and steamed milk. For those looking to explore various flavors or cater to dietary restrictions, a variety of dairy substitutes fit nicely into both espresso and latte macchiato.

One popular option for both drinks is almond milk, which provides a delicate nutty flavor and complements the bold taste of espresso. It froths well and creates a rich texture without overwhelming the coffee experience. Those who prefer a subtler taste might opt for oat milk, which doesn't impart a strong flavor and has a creaminess that closely mimics cow's milk. Oat milk also steams and froths nicely for a satisfying latte macchiato.

Another alternative for those looking to mirror the creaminess of dairy is coconut milk. It can offer a faint tropical hint to the coffee drinks while also catering to dairy-free or vegan consumers. Skim milk can be a suitable choice for individuals aiming for a lower fat and calorie option while still enjoying the taste and texture of dairy milk.

When it comes to sweeteners, several options exist to complement the dairy substitutes and enhance the macchiato experience. Vanilla syrup is a classic choice, adding a smooth sweetness that balances well with the strong espresso. Chocolate in the form of powder or syrup can create a tempting mocha-like flavor, pairing effortlessly with almond or coconut milk. Cocoa powder is another option for chocolate enthusiasts who prefer less sugar, while cinnamon adds warmth and a slight spice to the drink.

Finally, the finishing touch atop a latte macchiato often involves whipped cream or foam. Dairy-free whipped cream options are available for those using non-dairy milk alternatives. Alternatively, the foam created from frothing almond, oat, or coconut milk can also provide a satisfying and visually appealing final layer.

In summary, espresso macchiato and latte macchiato drinkers can experiment with various dairy alternatives and sweeteners to suit their taste preferences and dietary needs. Almond, oat, and coconut milk are popular choices, each offering unique flavors and consistencies. Sweeteners like vanilla syrup, chocolate, cocoa, and cinnamon can enhance the drink, while dairy-free whipped cream or milk foam provide the final touch.

Espresso-Based Drinks Comparison


Cappuccino is a popular espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Italy. It is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, offering a harmonious balance of flavors and textures. Cappuccinos often have a rich, bold espresso flavor that is complemented by the creaminess and sweetness of the milk. The milk foam adds a light, airy element to the beverage, rounding out the overall experience.

Flat White

The Flat White, originating from Australia and New Zealand, is another popular espresso-based drink favored for its velvety texture and strong coffee flavor. Typically, a flat white consists of a double shot of espresso combined with steamed milk, resulting in a more robust flavor profile and strength compared to a cappuccino. The steamed milk has a smooth, silky texture, which creates a creamy mouthfeel and highlights the nuances of the espresso without overpowering it.


The Americano is a classic espresso-based drink that is both simple and bold. It consists of a shot (or two) of espresso, topped with hot water, which dilutes the intensity of the espresso and creates a longer-lasting beverage. The coffee flavor remains strong and prominent, as there is no milk added in an Americano. This drink allows the espresso's crema (a thin layer of foam on top of the shot) to be retained, providing a rich flavor and texture to the beverage.


The Mocha, sometimes referred to as a Caffè Mocha, is a delightful espresso-based drink that incorporates a touch of chocolate, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a sweeter coffee experience. Typically, the mocha is made with a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a chocolate syrup or cocoa. The combination of the rich coffee flavor and the sweetness of the chocolate creates a balanced, indulgent drink that can be enjoyed throughout the day.

In summary:

Drink Espresso Milk Foam Water Chocolate
Cappuccino 1 part 1 part 1 part - -
Flat White 2 shots steamed - - -
Americano 1-2 shots - - hot -
Mocha 1 shot steamed - - syrup/cocoa

When exploring espresso-based drinks, it is important to understand the different components and variations in their preparation. Each drink has a unique flavor profile, strength, and texture that caters to varying preferences and occasions.

Coffee Beans and Roasting Techniques

When discussing espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos, it's important to consider the coffee beans and roasting techniques used, as they greatly influence the taste and overall experience of these beverages. The flavor profile of a coffee bean depends on various factors, such as the type of bean, its origin, and the roasting process employed.

There are multiple roasts that can be classified into categories such as light, medium, and dark. Light roasts are more acidic and tend to have fruity or floral notes, while medium roasts exhibit more of a balance between acidity, sweetness, and body. On the other hand, dark roasts showcase bolder, more robust flavors with lower acidity levels.

To highlight the key characteristics of roasts and their influence on espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos, the following points should be noted:

  • Light Roasts: These roasts produce bright and delicate flavors, which might not stand up to the boldness of espresso macchiato or the richness of latte macchiato. Light roasts are more suitable for manual brewing methods that emphasize delicate flavors.

  • Medium Roasts: With a balanced body and sweetness, medium roasts work well with both espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos. The bean's origin might add subtle flavor nuances that complement the milk and foam in these drinks.

  • Dark Roasts: The bold, smoky flavors of dark roasts can withstand the espresso used in macchiatos, providing a contrast to the sweetness of steamed milk and foam. However, these flavors might overpower a latte macchiato's more milk-centric profile.

The concentration of flavors in a coffee bean is also significant when discussing espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos. An espresso macchiato contains a strong coffee essence marked by a small amount of steamed milk and foam. In comparison, a latte macchiato prioritizes the milk, with just a splash of espresso. Both of these beverages benefit from the concentrated flavors derived from the beans and roasting methods used.

In conclusion, selecting the right beans and roasting techniques is essential when creating distinct espresso macchiatos and latte macchiatos. Knowing the specific characteristics of each roast and understanding how the concentration of flavors affects these drinks will help to achieve a satisfying and balanced result.

Customizing Your Macchiato

When it comes to macchiato variations, personal preferences play a significant role in customizing the ideal espresso macchiato or latte macchiato. Both are similar in that they combine espresso and milk, but the proportions and presentation differ.

For espresso macchiato, the drink is served in a small demitasse cup and consists mostly of espresso. It is "marked" with a small amount of steamed milk and foam, providing a rich, bold taste. The demitasse cup allows for the perfect balance of espresso and milk, as well as an opportunity for latte art. Coffee enthusiasts who prefer a stronger coffee-to-milk ratio often choose espresso macchiatos.

In contrast, latte macchiato is served in a larger espresso cup, and the predominant ingredient is steamed milk. This drink begins with milk and then is topped with espresso, resulting in a creamier and milder coffee flavor. Due to the larger cup size, the latte macchiato often features intricate latte art, enhancing the presentation.

Customization options for both versions include the choice between an iced macchiato or a hot one. An iced macchiato offers a refreshing alternative, especially during warm weather, while still preserving the distinct layers of espresso and milk.

Another way to personalize macchiatos is by adding flavored syrups like caramel, vanilla, or hazelnut. These flavored options turn the traditional espresso or latte macchiato into delightful dessert-like beverages. Some coffee shops also offer variations like the "upside-down latte," where the order of the ingredients is reversed to create a unique texture and flavor experience.

In Germany, a similar drink called Milchkaffee (milk coffee) consists of equal parts coffee and steamed milk with froth, combining the smoothness of a latte with the boldness of an espresso macchiato. This is another option for those who enjoy a balanced coffee and milk taste.

In summary, customizing your macchiato to suit your preferences can encompass variations in serving size, temperature, flavorings, and even international adaptations, such as the Milchkaffee. Experimenting with these options helps you find the perfect macchiato that caters to your taste buds.

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Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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