latte and macchiato

Greetings, coffee aficionados! Are you interested in understanding the key differences between two classic coffee drinks - macchiato and latte? In this in-depth comparison, we'll be examining the milk, espresso, and foam used, the brewing methods, and the taste profiles of these two drinks. Get ready to become an expert in coffee choices and discover your new favorite coffee experience!

Macchiato and Latte Basics

Origin and History of Macchiato

The macchiato, originating in Italy, is a classic coffee beverage that pays homage to the bold flavors of espresso. The word "macchiato" translates to "stained" or "spotted" in Italian, referring to the small mark of foamed or steamed milk added to the espresso. The macchiato was developed as a way for coffee enthusiasts to enjoy a strong espresso flavor without the harshness, providing a perfect balance in every sip.

Origin and History of Latte

The latte, another popular Italian coffee creation, has its roots in enjoying a creamier and smoother coffee experience. The term "latte" means "milk" in Italian, and it is evident in the beverage's composition, where the main focus is on the generous amount of steamed milk or cream blended with espresso. Unlike the macchiato, which emphasizes the rich taste of espresso, the latte offers a more delicate and balanced flavor, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer a milder coffee drink.

Both the macchiato and latte share similarities in their key ingredients of espresso and steamed milk, but their differences lie in the ratio of these components:

  • Macchiato: A higher ratio of espresso to milk (1:2).
  • Latte: A larger proportion of milk to espresso (2:1).

These ratios determine the distinct taste and texture profiles of these Italian coffee classics. The macchiato's high concentration of espresso brings out the rich and robust coffee flavor, while the latte's creamier makeup creates a soft and velvety mouthfeel.

In summary, the macchiato and latte have unique origins and compositions that cater to varying taste preferences. The macchiato is a coffee-lover's delight, emphasizing the boldness of the espresso, while the latte offers a soothing blend of espresso and milk, perfect for those who prefer a more delicate and creamy alternative.

Key Differences

Ingredients and Components

A Macchiato is an espresso-based beverage where a small amount of steamed milk is added to the espresso. The milk-to-coffee ratio in a traditional macchiato is 1:2. In comparison, a Latte combines espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of microfoam. A typical latte has a 2:1 milk-to-coffee ratio.

Flavor Profile

Macchiatos are generally more espresso-forward, highlighting the coffee's flavors, while lattes have a more balanced taste because of the higher milk content. This balance allows for flavor add-ins to be mixed seamlessly in lattes, making them a versatile and popular coffee beverage.

Texture and Feel

The texture of a macchiato is thinner, with the espresso dominating the overall feel. On the other hand, a latte has a creamier texture due to the additional milk and microfoam layer. This creaminess contributes to the smooth flavor profile and offers a pleasant mouthfeel, making lattes easier to enjoy for coffee newcomers. If you're a café owner or coffee enthusiast aiming to craft these beverages with precision, it's essential to have the right equipment. To get that authentic taste and texture, considering an upgrade to a Professional espresso maker for sale could be an excellent investment in your coffee journey.

Caffeine Content

When it comes to caffeine content, a 16-ounce latte contains around 173 mg of caffeine, similar to a cappuccino. However, a macchiato has considerably less caffeine, with about 85 mg in a 2-ounce serving. This difference is important for those looking to manage their caffeine intake throughout the day.

In summary, the key differences between a macchiato and latte lie in their ingredients and proportions, flavor profiles, textures, and caffeine content. Macchiatos are espresso-forward, with a thinner texture and less caffeine, while lattes are creamier and more balanced, thanks to the higher milk content and microfoam layer.

Common Variations and Popular Recipes

Starbucks Offerings

Starbucks, a global coffeehouse chain, offers a variety of macchiatos and lattes. For macchiatos, they serve both the traditional Espresso Macchiato, made of an espresso shot "stained" with a small amount of milk or milk foam, and their signature caramel macchiato, which consists of steamed milk, vanilla syrup, and caramel drizzle atop two shots of espresso. The latter has become quite popular for its balance of sweetness and coffee flavor.

In addition to the classic Caffe Latte, Starbucks serves a range of flavored lattes that incorporate different syrups and toppings. Examples include the popular pumpkin spice latte, chai latte, and matcha green tea latte. These drinks often feature more milk than espresso and tend to have a creamier taste, with the espresso flavors softened by the added milk and flavorings.

Other Coffee Shops

At non-Starbucks coffee shops, one might also find various styles of macchiatos and lattes. These may include:

  • Cortado: This drink blends equal parts espresso and steamed milk, making it similar to a macchiato but with slightly more milk. It helps to soften the espresso taste without overwhelming it.

  • Flat White: Similar to a cortado but with a slightly larger ratio of milk to espresso, this drink has roots in Australia and New Zealand. It typically features a microfoam milk texture which results in a smooth and velvety mouthfeel.

  • Mocha: A combination of espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate syrup, this drink offers a fusion of coffee and hot chocolate flavors, blurring the line between a latte and a dessert beverage.

  • Dirty Chai Latte: Adding a shot of espresso to the traditional chai latte, this drink is for those who enjoy the spicy flavor of chai tea but also want the added kick of caffeine.

Each establishment may have its own signature drinks, but the basic ingredients of macchiatos and lattes usually remain consistent. Espresso is the foundation of these beverages, with variations in milk quantity and texture providing the balance and richness that distinguish them from each other. Additional flavorings or syrups then allow for further customization and creativity in crafting unique coffee experiences.

Nutritional Information


Comparing macchiato and latte, there is a difference in calorie content. One fluid ounce of macchiato contains approximately 5 calories. In contrast, a similar serving size of latte will have around 8 calories. The higher calorie count in lattes can be attributed to the larger proportion of steamed milk present in this type of coffee drink.

Fat Content

The fat content in these beverages also varies, albeit not significantly. A macchiato has 0.28 grams of fat per fluid ounce, while a latte contains 0.34 grams of fat in the same serving size. This difference can be explained by the increased presence of steamed milk and milk foam in lattes compared to macchiatos.

Protein Content

When it comes to protein content, lattes have a more notable advantage over macchiatos. A fluid ounce of latte contains 0.55 grams of protein, more than double the amount found in a macchiato at 0.26 grams per fluid ounce. This is largely due to the greater quantity of milk used in latte preparation, which raises the protein content of the beverage.

To summarize, here is a comparison table of macchiato and latte nutritional values per fluid ounce:

Nutrient Macchiato Latte
Calories 5 8
Fat (g) 0.28 0.34
Protein (g) 0.26 0.55

The differences between macchiatos and lattes primarily lie in their calorie, fat, and protein content. These differences are influenced by the composition and proportions of espresso and steamed milk in each drink. Lattes have more calories and a higher protein content due to the increased volume of milk used in their preparation, while macchiatos are typically lower in calories and fat, offering a stronger coffee flavor with just a hint of milk.

Customizing Your Drink

Selecting Milk Preferences

When it comes to customizing your macchiato or latte, the type of milk you choose plays a significant role in the overall taste and texture of your coffee. Both drinks contain espresso and steamed milk, but the milk-to-coffee ratio and the amount of foam differ, which impacts the flavor profile.

For a macchiato, the milk-to-coffee ratio is typically 1:2, while a latte consists of two parts milk and one part coffee (2:1). The types of milk available for these coffee drinks are often diverse, and choosing a specific type allows for a more unique experience. Common milk preferences include whole milk, skim milk, and lactose-free options such as soy, almond, or oat milk.

The type of milk you select can affect the level of creaminess and frothiness in your drink. For example, whole milk tends to create a richer and creamier taste, whereas skim milk results in a lighter texture. Non-dairy milk options, such as almond or oat milk, may result in a slightly different taste and texture, depending on the brand and the specific milk alternative used.

Incorporating Sweeteners

Another way to customize your macchiato or latte is by incorporating sweeteners. Both beverages can be enhanced with a variety of sweeteners, ranging from classic granulated sugar to flavored syrups and natural alternatives.

Some popular sweetener options include:

  • Granulated sugar or sugar substitutes
  • Honey
  • Agave syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Flavored syrups like caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, or chocolate

The choice of sweetener greatly impacts the overall flavor of your coffee, so it's essential to select a sweetener that complements your chosen milk and the strength of the espresso. Sweeteners can also be added in different amounts, allowing further customization based on your preferred level of sweetness.

In conclusion, creating a delightful and personalized macchiato or latte is primarily about finding the right balance between milk type and sweeteners. Whether you opt for a rich and indulgent experience or a lighter option with a hint of sweetness, the key is to experiment and discover your perfect macchiato or latte combination.

Latte vs. Macchiato for Various Coffee Lovers

For Coffee Connoisseurs

Coffee connoisseurs often seek to distinguish between different coffee beverages based on factors such as taste, milk-to-coffee ratio, and the preparation process. When comparing a latte and a macchiato, these differences become more apparent.

A latte, which is short for caffè latte, consists of a balanced mix of espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of microfoam. It typically has a 2:1 milk-to-coffee ratio, giving it a creamy mouthfeel and a mild taste. Lattes offer coffee enthusiasts a rich, smooth flavor that's perfect for those who prefer a more moderate coffee experience.

On the other hand, a macchiato is mostly espresso with just a small amount of steamed or foamed milk. Its milk-to-coffee ratio is 1:2, delivering a bolder taste for those who seek a more concentrated coffee experience. The small amount of milk added to the espresso helps to enhance its natural flavors without diluting them too much.

For Casual Coffee Drinkers

For those who are looking for a quick pick-me-up or an enjoyable coffee break without diving into the complexities of coffee flavors and ratios, a latte or a macchiato can still be satisfying options.

For people who prefer a milder, creamier taste, a latte can be an ideal choice. It offers a perfect balance between the strong espresso and the smooth steamed milk, giving it a pleasing texture and flavor that appeals to many casual coffee drinkers.

Alternatively, casual coffee drinkers interested in a bolder coffee experience might opt for a macchiato. With its higher concentration of espresso, this beverage provides a more intense flavor that still has hints of creaminess thanks to the addition of a small amount of milk.

In summary, whether someone is a coffee connoisseur or a casual coffee drinker, both lattes and macchiatos can offer unique and enjoyable experiences. These beverages cater to personal taste preferences, ranging from mild and creamy lattes to bold and concentrated macchiatos.

Final Thoughts from Baristas

Baristas take pride in their skills and are constantly seeking perfection in crafting their coffee drinks. For those who may not be familiar with the differences between macchiato and latte, understanding these key factors can enhance one's appreciation for these popular beverages.

First, let us dive into the core characteristics of each drink. A macchiato is essentially an espresso with a small touch of steamed milk or froth, leaving it with a strong, bold flavor. In contrast, a latte (also known as caffè latte) is created by adding steamed milk to an espresso and topped with a layer of frothed milk. This results in a creamier, milder taste compared to the bold macchiato.

When it comes to the overall appearance, a latte is characterized by its larger size and layers of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. On the other hand, a macchiato showcases a smaller composition with a more distinct layer of steamed milk or froth resting atop the espresso.

Baristas note the importance of the milk-to-espresso ratio. In a latte, the amount of milk is typically greater, resulting in its creamy texture and taste. A macchiato, however, has a higher espresso-to-milk ratio, making it a more potent and robust option for those who want a stronger coffee experience.

Another consideration in the macchiato vs. latte debate lies in the presentation of these drinks. Many baristas employ their artistic talents to create latte art on the frothy surface of the beverage. In contrast, the smaller size and cleaner appearance of a macchiato tend to limit the opportunity for complex designs. Nonetheless, an experienced barista can still create a visually appealing macchiato with a well-placed dollop of froth.

In conclusion, both macchiatos and lattes offer unique coffee experiences. Baristas emphasize the importance of technique, presentation, and balance to create these beverages. Ultimately, the choice between a macchiato and a latte depends on personal preference, with some individuals enjoying the bold flavors of a macchiato and others preferring the creamier and milder taste profile of a latte.

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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