latte macchiato

Latte vs Macchiato: The Basics

Latte Definition and Preparation

A latte is a popular coffee beverage that combines espresso with steamed milk and a layer of microfoam on top. It generally has a milder flavor compared to other espresso-based drinks, as it contains more milk. To prepare a latte, a barista first pours an espresso shot and then adds steamed milk, typically at a milk-to-coffee ratio of 2:1. The drink is then finished with a thin layer of microfoam on top, giving it a creamy texture and a smooth appearance.

In terms of caffeine content, a single (small) latte typically contains around 63 mg of caffeine, while a double (large) latte may have around 125 mg of caffeine. This is due to the fact that the milk in the latte does not contain any caffeine, so the overall caffeine content is dependent on the amount of espresso used.

Macchiato Definition and Preparation

On the other hand, a macchiato is a stronger coffee beverage that also features espresso and milk but in different proportions. The word "macchiato" means "spotted" in Italian, which refers to the signature spot of milk on the top of the drink. In a traditional macchiato, the milk-to-coffee ratio is 1:2, making it a more potent drink compared to a latte, with a bolder smell and taste of coffee.

To make a macchiato, a barista pours a shot of espresso and then adds a small amount of steamed milk directly on top, leaving a spot of milk visible. This results in a drink that has a higher caffeine concentration than a latte. For example, a 2-ounce (60-gram) serving of macchiato contains approximately 85 grams of caffeine.

In summary, when comparing lattes and macchiatos, it's crucial to consider their defining characteristics, preparation methods, and caffeine content. Lattes are milder drinks with a higher milk-to-coffee ratio, while macchiatos are stronger and bolder beverages with more concentrated espresso.

Ingredients and Ratios

Espresso to Milk Ratio in Lattes and Macchiatos

When comparing lattes and macchiatos, a significant factor to consider is the espresso to milk ratio. This ratio determines the strength of the coffee flavor as well as the amount of caffeine in the beverage. Lattes typically have a 2:1 ratio of milk to espresso, meaning that there are two parts milk for every one part espresso. This results in a less strong coffee flavor and a lower caffeine content.

On the other hand, traditional macchiatos have a 1:2 ratio of milk to espresso, with only a small dollop of foamed or steamed milk on top of the espresso. This creates a stronger coffee taste and a higher caffeine content. For example, a 16-ounce (480-gram) latte or cappuccino contains about 173 mg of caffeine, while a 2-ounce (60-gram) macchiato has approximately 85 mg of caffeine.

Milk Foam and Frothed Milk

Another key difference between these beverages is the milk preparation. Lattes use steamed milk, which gives the drink a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Steamed milk is heated and slightly frothed using a steam wand, creating a velvety texture. In addition to the steamed milk, lattes also have a layer of microfoam on top. Microfoam is formed by incorporating small amounts of air into the milk during the steaming process, which creates a silky smooth texture.

In contrast, macchiatos typically use foamed milk, which is milk that has been vigorously frothed using a steam wand or other device. The process introduces air into the milk, creating a light, airy texture. This foam is then added on top of the espresso in a macchiato, forming a small cap to contrast with the stronger coffee flavor.

In summary, lattes and macchiatos differ primarily in their espresso to milk ratios and the way the milk is prepared. Lattes have a higher milk content and use a combination of steamed milk and microfoam, while macchiatos have a lower milk content and use foamed milk. These differences result in contrasting caffeine contents, flavor profiles, and textures.

Caffeine Content Comparison

When comparing the caffeine content of lattes and macchiatos, it is essential to focus on their primary ingredient: the espresso. Both drinks are made with one or more espresso shots, which influence their final caffeine levels.

A single shot of espresso typically contains around 63 mg of caffeine. Lattes, known for their larger size, often use more milk than macchiatos. However, since milk doesn't have any caffeine, the main determinant of caffeine content remains the number of espresso shots used. In a single (small) latte with one shot of espresso, you'll find approximately 63 mg of caffeine. For a double (large) latte made with two shots of espresso, the caffeine content increases to 125 mg.

In contrast, macchiatos are smaller in size and usually made with a single espresso shot. The macchiato-like latte has around 63 mg of caffeine. However, the traditional macchiato contains less milk and is often served in a 2-ounce (60-gram) cup, resulting in roughly 85 mg of caffeine per serving. The difference in caffeine levels between a latte and a macchiato stems from the differing quantities of espresso shots used.

Caffeine content can be summarized as follows:

Drink Size Espresso Shots Caffeine Content (mg)
Latte Single 1 63
Latte Double 2 125
Macchiato Traditional 1 85
Macchiato Like Latte 1 63

It's essential to remember that the caffeine content in coffee beverages may vary based on factors such as espresso bean type and brewing method. As such, the numbers mentioned earlier should be treated as estimates, serving as a reference when making decisions between a latte and a macchiato.

Taste and Texture Differences

Flavor Profiles

When it comes to taste, lattes and macchiatos have distinct flavor profiles. A latte is characterized by its smooth, creamy taste, mainly due to the higher quantity of steamed milk mixed with espresso. On the other hand, a macchiato maintains a stronger, more intense coffee flavor, as it consists of espresso with just a dollop of foam or steamed milk.

Coffee Strength

The coffee strength in lattes and macchiatos differs due to the varying amount of espresso used. In a latte, the milk-to-coffee ratio leans towards two parts milk and one part coffee (2:1). This results in a milder coffee taste. Contrarily, a macchiato usually features a 1:2 milk-to-coffee ratio, making for a more robust coffee presence. This also leads to a higher caffeine content in macchiatos, with an average of around 136mg per serving, while lattes have approximately 68mg. However, caffeine levels can fluctuate based on drink size and coffee types used.

Milk Consistency

The milk consistency also sets lattes and macchiatos apart. In a latte, the steamed milk is more abundant, creating a velvety texture throughout the beverage. Furthermore, a thin layer of microfoam tops the latte, adding a subtle lightness. A macchiato, conversely, has a minimal amount of milk or foam, which serves to accentuate the espresso's flavors.

In summary, lattes and macchiatos exhibit unique taste and texture qualities due to variations in flavor profiles, coffee strength, and milk consistency. To reiterate, lattes feature a creamier, milder coffee taste, while macchiatos offer a more intense and robust coffee experience. If you're passionate about exploring these differences in a business setting or for a cafe venture, then owning a quality espresso machine is pivotal. By opting to buy a commercial grade espresso maker, you ensure that every cup you serve mirrors the authentic taste and richness these beverages are known for. Whether you're a budding cafe owner or a seasoned professional, the right equipment makes all the difference.


Popular Variations and Recipes

Latte Macchiato

A Latte Macchiato is a variation of the traditional latte, where the order of ingredients is different. It consists of steamed milk first, followed by milk foam, and finally topped with a shot of espresso. This arrangement leaves a "mark" in the milk foam, which is where the name "Latte Macchiato" comes from. Due to the larger amount of milk compared to a regular macchiato, it has a milder taste.


A classic cappuccino is composed of one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third frothy milk foam. It has a robust flavor, owing to the equal portions of espresso and milk used. A 16-ounce cappuccino has around 173 mg of caffeine. The quality of the milk foam determines the ideal cappuccino and is often garnished with a dusting of cocoa powder or cinnamon.

Flat White

Originating from Australia and New Zealand, the Flat White is a popular espresso-based drink that is similar to a latte or cappuccino, but with a smoother and creamier texture. It contains a double shot of espresso paired with steamed milk, resulting in a velvety and balanced coffee experience. The absence of milk foam distinguishes it from a cappuccino or latte.

Iced Latte

An Iced Latte is a refreshing, cold alternative to the warm latte. It consists of a shot of espresso poured over ice and topped with cold milk, resulting in a chilled coffee beverage that is perfect for a hot day. Like the hot latte, a 16-ounce iced latte contains roughly 173 mg of caffeine, providing a blend of cool refreshment and a caffeine kick during warm weather.

Café au Lait

Café au Lait, also known as Milchkaffee, is a traditional French coffee drink made by combining brewed coffee and hot milk. It differs from a latte since it uses brewed coffee instead of espresso, resulting in a milder taste. The ratio between coffee and milk is usually 50:50, creating a creamy and smooth beverage ideal for those who enjoy a delicate flavor.

In sum, these popular variations cater to a wide range of coffee preferences, with options ranging from the intense Latte Macchiato to the milder Café au Lait. Armed with the knowledge of their unique characteristics, coffee enthusiasts can make a well-informed choice based on their flavor and caffeine requirements.

Nutritional Information and Serving Sizes

Calorie and Fat Content

Lattes and macchiatos both contain espresso and milk but differ in the serving sizes, milk-to-espresso ratio, and preparation method. Lattes typically have more milk, which results in higher calorie and fat content. A 16-ounce (480-gram) latte contains about 190 calories, 7 grams of total fat, and 4.5 grams of saturated fat1. On the other hand, a 2-ounce (60-gram) macchiato has a much smaller serving size and only 85 grams of caffeine, resulting in lower calorie and fat content2.

Protein and Type of Milk

Lattes and macchiatos can be made with different types of milk, affecting the protein content and nutritional value. A grande (16 fl oz) latte made with standard 2% milk contains approximately 13 grams of protein1. Macchiatos have a higher espresso-to-milk ratio, so their protein content is relatively lower compared to lattes.

Different milk options available include:

  • Skim milk: lower in calories and fat but still rich in protein.
  • Coconut milk: low in protein and higher in fat; adds a distinct flavor to the beverage.
  • Almond milk: lower in calories and fat compared to regular milk, but also lower in protein.

Sweeteners and Syrups

Adding flavored syrups and sweeteners can alter the nutritional content and taste of both lattes and macchiatos. The calorie, carbohydrate, and sugar content will increase with the addition of syrups and sweeteners. Some popular syrup flavors include:

  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Caramel
  • Mocha

It's essential to keep in mind that choosing a sugar-free syrup or natural sweetener, such as stevia or honey, can reduce the calorie content while still providing flavor to the beverage.

In summary, lattes and macchiatos offer different nutritional values, serving sizes, and flavor options. Knowing this information can help coffee lovers make informed decisions when choosing their preferred coffee beverages and customizing them to fit their nutritional preferences.


  1. Caffè Latte - Starbucks Coffee Company"" 2

  2. Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato — What's the Difference?""

Popular Coffee Shop Offerings

Starbucks Latte and Macchiato Options

Starbucks, a leading coffee chain, offers various latte and macchiato options for its customers. Both of these beverages feature espresso, but they're prepared differently, leading to distinct taste profiles and caffeine levels.

A latte is a classic coffee drink made with steamed milk and a single shot of espresso, which creates a smooth and creamy beverage. A typical 16-ounce Starbucks latte contains about 150mg of caffeine. The caffeine content comes solely from the espresso, as the milk doesn't add any additional caffeine.

In comparison, a macchiato is an espresso-based drink with a small amount of steamed milk or milk froth, resulting in a stronger and bolder flavor. Starbucks offers different macchiato variations, including the popular Caramel Macchiato. A 16-ounce Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks also contains 150mg of caffeine. Although macchiatos usually have higher caffeine content due to the extra espresso shot, the flavored latte and macchiato at Starbucks have the same caffeine levels.

Here's a comparison of these two Starbucks drinks:

Drink Size (fluid ounces) Caffeine Content (mg)
Latte 16 150
Caramel Macchiato 16 150

It's essential to note that the caffeine content can vary depending on factors such as the size of the drink, the type of coffee used, and whether additional espresso shots are added. Single (small) lattes typically contain about 63 mg of caffeine on average, while double (large) ones contain about 125 mg.

In summary, Starbucks offers a variety of latte and macchiato options for customers, each providing different flavors and experiences.

Preparing Lattes and Macchiatos at Home

Espresso Machine Essentials

To prepare high-quality lattes and macchiatos at home, start by investing in a reliable espresso machine. An espresso machine should have the ability to produce consistent pressure and heat while brewing coffee. When it comes to lattes and macchiatos, the espresso serves as the base for both drinks. A latte typically has a higher milk-to-coffee ratio (2:1) compared to a macchiato which has a milk-to-coffee ratio of 1:2. Both drinks require a good espresso base to bring out the best flavors.

Perfecting Milk Frothing

Milk frothing is a crucial skill for preparing both lattes and macchiatos. The difference in these drinks lies in the milk-to-coffee ratio and milk consistency. For lattes, the objective is to create velvety steamed milk with only a small layer of microfoam on top. In contrast, a traditional macchiato has a small amount of steamed milk with a dollop of froth to create the signature "stain."

To perfect milk frothing:

  1. Begin with fresh, cold milk for the best results.
  2. Use a steam wand or automatic frother to heat and froth the milk.
  3. Pay attention to the milk's temperature, aiming for around 150°F (65°C).
  4. Practice swirling the milk to create a smooth, even consistency.

Customizing Flavors and Preferences

Once you've mastered the espresso machine and milk frothing techniques, you can personalize your lattes and macchiatos according to your preferences. Here are some ways to customize your drinks:

  • Flavored syrups: Add a touch of sweetness and flavor to your lattes and macchiatos with flavored syrups such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut.
  • Whipped cream: As an extra indulgence, top your latte or macchiato with a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Adjusting milk-to-coffee ratio: Tweak the milk-to-coffee ratio to suit your taste buds. Add more milk to your latte for a creamier beverage or make your macchiato stronger with a lesser milk-to-coffee ratio.
  • Alternative milk: For lactose-free or vegan options, experiment with alternative milk options like soy, almond, oat, or coconut milk.

By investing in a quality espresso machine, perfecting milk frothing techniques, and exploring ways to customize flavors and preferences, you can prepare delicious lattes and macchiatos at home that cater to your unique taste.

Barista Tips and Techniques

When it comes to crafting the perfect latte or macchiato, there are several techniques that baristas should be aware of, from understanding the ideal proportions of espresso and milk to artfully pouring the milk.

Firstly, the main difference between a latte and a macchiato is the ratio of espresso to milk. A latte has a higher proportion of milk (2 to 1) than a macchiato, which has more espresso (also in a 2 to 1 ratio) than steamed milk. Lattes are generally served in larger cups, while macchiatos are smaller and have a stronger espresso flavor due to the espresso-to-milk ratio.

Caffeine levels are another important consideration for baristas when preparing these drinks. On average, a single (small) latte contains around 63 mg of caffeine, while a double (large) latte contains about 125 mg. As macchiatos have a lower milk content, they also have more caffeine per volume. A 2-ounce (60-ml) macchiato, for instance, has just over 85 mg of caffeine per serving.

Baristas should be aware of several techniques to create the perfect latte or macchiato:

  1. Espresso extraction: Mastering the art of espresso extraction is crucial, as it sets the foundation for both drinks. Baristas should practice consistently timed shots and grind adjustments, as the quality of the espresso will dramatically influence the final taste.

  2. Milk steaming: To achieve a smooth and creamy texture, steaming the milk correctly is a key skill. Baristas should aim for a temperature of 150°F-160°F (65°C-70°C) and avoid overheating the milk. Creating microfoam is essential in achieving an appealing texture.

  3. Milk pouring: For both lattes and macchiatos, pouring the frothed milk in a controlled and precise manner is vital. For a latte, pouring the milk slowly into the espresso will mix them evenly. In contrast, a macchiato requires a careful spooning of the milk onto the espresso, ensuring a more distinct separation.

  4. Latte art: Though not essential, latte art can enhance the visual appeal of the drink. It is achieved when pouring the milk in a way that creates patterns or designs. Baristas should practice various pouring techniques to create stunning latte art.

By mastering these techniques, baristas can ensure their customers enjoy a skillfully crafted and delicious latte or macchiato, tailored to their caffeine preferences.

Latte information
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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