Macchiato Vs Latte – Difference Between These Popular Coffee Drinks


Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].

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Staring up at the menu, you find yourself going back and forth between all the options. What is it that you’re in the mood for this time? What do you want? And then your eyes glide offer to something you hadn’t seen before—the Macchiato.

What is a Macchiato? And how is it different from a Latte? They are the most popular coffee drinks worldwide but confuse many coffee drinkers. Continue reading below to get the answers to those vital questions!

What Is A Macchiato?

A Macchiato can be made in two different ways using the same two ingredients. When learning about these coffee drinks, it is essential to remember that the definition of the word Macchiato is to “mark” or “stain” when used in its Italian etymology. This information will help you remember which type of Macchiato is which as you continue on in the article. 

We also explained everything about Macchiato in another guide, including the definition and recipes.

Espresso Macchiato


Espresso Macchiato (Or cafe macchiato) is the most common type you will receive in most coffee shops when ordering a traditional Macchiato. When you get an espresso version, you get the espresso placed in the glass first, followed by a small dollop of milk. 

As it relates to the definition, the espresso is stained or marked by milk. You will see more of the espresso than the steamed milk in the final drink product. 

Latte Macchiato


A Latte Macchiato consists mostly steamed milk and often comes in a larger size than just an espresso shot. While the espresso Macchiato has the espresso first, the Latte version has milk followed by the espresso. This coffee drink often comes served in a tall glass, and because of the way it is mixed, it has three different layers.

Going back to the definition above, the Latte Macchiato is milk that is marked or stained by the espresso. In this combination, you will see more milk than espresso.

What Is A Caffe Latte?


While the full name of the drink is Caffè latte, most people refer to it simply as a Latte. It simply means ‘Coffee milk’ in Italian. This milk coffee drink is standard on coffee menus everywhere and often comes in various flavors. Additionally, it is referred to in many different ways throughout the world, which has the literal translation of coffee with milk.

To make a Caffe Latte, also known as just a Latte, you start with a shot of espresso and add in a substantial amount of steamed milk, ending with a film of foam at the top. This milk-based espresso drink has expanded to include mocha, a classic Latte with hot chocolate included. Additionally, there is a Chai Latte, which includes brewed chai tea in the milk. 

Ordering from a coffee shop gives you many options for customization. You can make the seasonal favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte in the fall or the Peppermint Mocha Latte in the winter. Additionally, some coffee shops have their own take on the drink and include options such as a Lavender Latte or a White Chocolate Mocha. At some famous coffee chains, such as Starbucks, you can also add extra whipped cream, cocoa powder, vanilla or chocolate syrup and many other flavors to a regular latte. Check out our best Starbucks drinks for more inspiration.

You can also make the drink iced, as well as hot. Some coffee houses may even offer a frozen option. Through customizing your order, you can choose to add extra espresso shots or even have the espresso be decaffeinated. There are many different options available to you. 

The Caffe Latte is the drink you most commonly see with latte art. Latte art is where the barista takes the foam on top of the frothed milk and makes a design. Most commonly, you will get a heart, leaf, or tree, but other simple designs are also done.

Difference Between Macchiato And Latte

While the Macchiato, Latte Macchiato, and Latte are very similar and have many elements in common, a few components allow you to differentiate between them. 


All three coffee drinks consist of the same ingredients. Each brings espresso and milk to the beverage. The difference is the specific combination in which they are created.

The Macchiato starts with an espresso base and adds a thin layer of milk froth on top. When making a Latte Macchiato, the reverse is the combination. You first add a large amount of frothed milk and pour the espresso in the middle of the milk, creating three separate layers. 

The Latte comprises milk and espresso, but the espresso is the base. You can add many different flavors and customizations to create unique drink types.

Milk Content

Each of the three drink types comes with a different level of milk. As it pertains to the Espresso Macchiato, you will find that the beverage contains very little milk and is mostly espresso.

On the flip side, the Latte Macchiato is mostly milk. Instead of a small glass, the Latte Macchiato is served in a large cup. A majority of the vessel consists of frothed milk and foam with a shot of espresso added after the milk.

When making a latte, you will see relatively less milk than the Latte Macchiato. However, it has more coffee and a more equal distribution of espresso and milk than the Macchiato.

However, they can use any type of milk, including almond milk, oat milk, whole milk, low-fat milk.

Brew Method


While the traditional macchiato can only be ordered hot, the latte macchiatos and lattes can be served iced or hot. The difference between the three lies in the process that you utilize when brewing your drink. 

For the Espresso Macchiato, you will first make a single or double-shot using an espresso machine. However, while the shot is being pulled, you will want to start frothing your milk. Once both elements are done, you pour the shot into a small glass and add a small dollop of frothed milk on top.

You will want to brew in the same way for the Latte Macchiato. However, you will add the milk first and your espresso shot. Iced macchiato uses cold milk instead.

Lastly, the cafe Latte is typically made with an espresso shot and foamed milk or just hot milk on top. However, the amount of milk is less than what you will get with the Latte Macchiato. 

Serve Size


Each of the drinks is served in its own way. When you order in a coffee shop like Starbucks, your drink will almost always come in the same type of cup. The only difference will be whether the cup is designed for hot or iced drinks.

However, if you are in a small, independent coffee shop, the serving may differ. For the Espresso Macchiato, you will often receive it in a small glass. At times it will be with a saucer to account for any spills.

The Latte Macchiato is commonly served in a tall cup. They will sometimes be made of glass to allow you to see the different layers after it is made. 

The Latte can be served in a host of different ways depending on where you are when you order it. You can often get them in large bowl-sized cups with a saucer or an oversized coffee cup. 

The Look


People love getting coffee drinks because of the style it comes in. With the evolution of coffee-based beverages, new and creative approaches have come into existence. 

Ordering an Espresso Macchiato will give you a primarily brown drink except for a small amount of white at the very top of the beverage. However, in stark contrast, a Latte Macchiato will give you a predominately white drink with a hint of brown peeping out of the top middle. As the drink settles, you will be able to see three distinct layers. 

Lastly, a latte will give you the look of a predominately white drink as well. However, you will see more of the brown espresso due to the more even distribution between the two ingredients. 


While all three drink options that we outline have essentially the same ingredients, they vary greatly in flavor. When you order an Espresso Macchiato, you will find that it highlights more of the strong espresso flavor but that the milk foam will add a light sweetness to the drink. Due to the higher coffee ratio, the best coffee beans ensure the best possible coffee experience.

For those who order a Latte Macchiato, they will see that it is very milky but is combined with a light coffee flavor. Additionally, you can find it served with syrups in different flavors at places like Starbucks. 

A Latte is more balanced with both the milk and coffee flavor due to the more even distribution of ingredients. Like the Latte Macchiato mentioned above, the Latte can also be flavored with many syrups and even chocolate.

Caffeine Content

The amount of caffeine in any type of coffee-based drink will depend on the circumstances surrounding it. All beverages come in various sizes and with different kinds of beans. These components come with various caffeine levels.

However, the typical amount is represented in the drinks that Starbucks serves [Source], which is as follows:

  • Espresso Macchiato – With a serving size of 1.6 fluid ounces, the drink contains 150mg of caffeine.
  • Caramel Macchiato – This flavored latte option in the 16 fluid ounces size contains 150mg of caffeine.
  • Caffe Latte – The standard Latte at Starbucks, in the 16 fluid ounce option, contains 150mg of caffeine.

Also read: The Strongest Starbucks Coffee


Like caffeine content, any drink’s calorie count will depend on various components. Whether it’s the size, the number of espresso shots, or the flavor additions, the number of calories will differ. 

To give an idea as to calorie count, we will do as we did in the previous sections and outline the typical amount represented in Starbucks drinks. 

  • Espresso Macchiato – With a serving size of 1.6 fluid ounces, the drink contains 15 calories.
  • Caramel Macchiato – In the 16 fluid ounce size, you will get 250 calories.
  • Caffe Latte – In the 16 fluid ounce option, you will get 190 calories.


When you are ordering coffee-style drinks, you can find yourself in a place where you want to try something new, but you’re not exactly sure what you’re getting into if you do. The sheer number of drinks available and the different options they come with can be overwhelming. This feeling is especially so when the drinks contain the same ingredients but in various combinations, such as the Flat white, cappuccino, café au lait, latte, latte macchiato and other coffee drinks.

That is how it is when trying to decipher between the Macchiato and the Latte. Although they look similar on paper, the structure that they have is entirely different, and each comes away with its own unique taste. 

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.