The Great Debate: Macchiato vs Latte – Which Will Leave You Buzzing with Joy?

The big difference between the two drinks is the milk-to-espresso ratio. Macchiatos have a lot less milk than lattes, even if the amount of espresso is the same.
macchiato vs latte

The macchiato vs latte debate has always been hot. Both camps are fiercely loyal to their drink. But did you know there are a couple of versions of “Macchiatos”?

There’s the Latte Macchiato which is pretty similar to a latte, and there is an Espresso Macchiato which is quite different.

In this article, we’ll go over the latter, the Espresso Macchiato, and how it’s different from a Latte.

A Macchiato, or “Espresso Macchiato,” consists of espresso shots with a small amount of steamed milk and foam added. A latte is also made with espresso but comes with a much different proportion of steamed milk. 

The main difference between the two drinks is the amount of milk used. A macchiato has less milk and is more potent and more concentrated in flavor. A latte, on the other hand, has more milk and is creamier and smoother in texture.

Having worked in multiple coffee shops, each of them made Macchiatos slightly different. But there are core characteristics that make up what an espresso macchiato is. 

I’ll help you along and provide an in-depth comparison between the macchiato vs latte—including their key differences and how you can customize them to your liking.

What is a Macchiato?

Let’s start with this by looking into the specific traits of Macchiatos. A macchiato, which means “marked” or “stained” in Italian, is made by adding a small amount of steamed milk and foam to a shot of espresso. Many think that it got its start in Italy, and that’s probably true enough.

But there are two types of macchiatos: Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato.

Macchiato vs Latte
An espresso macchiato.

The Espresso Macchiato is what we’ve just described above—a shot of espresso with a marking of steamed milk.

Macchiato vs Latte
A latte macchiato.

The Latte Macchiato, on the other hand, is made with steamed milk and a small amount of espresso added on top.

Both use the word macchiato in their names since both are technically marked with the lesser ingredient. With a latte macchiato, the espresso is poured on top and colors a part of the foam.

When making an Espresso Macchiato, the proportion of espresso to steamed milk is 2 to 1.

So, for 2 shots of espresso (around 2oz), the correct proportion of steamed or frothed milk will be around 1oz (or thereabouts, you’re adding the steamed milk to taste).

Defining the Latte

A latte is made with a shot (or two) of espresso and steamed milk, with the top of the beverage having a nice microfoam layer. If you want more details, I encourage you to see our other articles on what a latte is or how to make a latte.

Macchiato vs Latte

Lattes require the same two tools to make macchiatos. First, if making it yourself, you’ll need a way to pull espresso shots. For that, you need an espresso machine. Many of those come with a milk steamer.

If not, they can be purchased separately, or you can try a milk frother. A frother makes thicker foam, whereas milk steamers can quickly produce microfoam.

If I were to make a 16oz latte, the steamed milk and foam would be about 14oz of that.

Macchiato vs Latte: Similarities and Differences

Macchiato vs Latte

To get a good side-by-side comparison of the macchiato vs latte, let’s look at their similarities and differences.


  • Both macchiatos and lattes are espresso-based drinks.
  • They both incorporate steamed milk and foam.
  • They can both take sugar and spices to change the flavor subtly.
  • Both can use alternate milk if that is preferred.
  • The taste of your espresso has a significant effect on the taste of both.

Key Differences:

  • A macchiato has less milk, resulting in a more potent and concentrated espresso flavor.
  • A latte has more milk, giving it a creamier and smoother texture.
  • Espresso macchiatos have espresso as the base, while latte macchiatos have steamed milk as the base.
  • Macchiatos are smaller drinks overall (around ~3-4oz), whereas lattes come in sizes from 8 to 20oz.
  • Lattes tend to get more customizations, especially with syrups and flavorings.
# of Espresso Shots1 or 2 shots1 or 2 shots
Amount of Milk~1oz~8-20oz
Can Substitute Milk✔️ Yes✔️ Yes
Can Add Flavors✔️ Yes✔️ Yes
Approx. Calories~15 (for 3oz)~190 (for 12oz)

TL;DR – Macchiato vs Latte

Macchiatos and lattes are delicious coffee drinks. When you’re deciding between a macchiato vs latte, go for a macchiato if you prefer a strong, bold coffee flavor. If you prefer a creamier and smoother texture, go for a latte.

Honestly, give them both a shot sometime.

As I’ve started to get more conscious about calorie intake, I’ve found myself gravitating toward macchiatos more and more. They’re just as delicious as lattes, but I get to enjoy a little less milk, which is a good thing for my calorie intake.

Macchiato vs Latte – FAQs

What is a Cortado, and How Is It Different From a Macchiato?

A cortado is an espresso-based drink with an equal amount of steamed milk, resulting in a balanced flavor. It differs from a macchiato because it has more milk and a harmonious blend of espresso and milk.

What is the Difference Between a Flat White and a Latte?

A flat white typically uses richer milk, more microfoam, and a shorter shot of espresso as compared to a latte. Learn more about the differences between a flat white and a latte here.

What is the Difference Between a Latte and a Mocha?

Mocha is an espresso-based drink with chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and a small foam layer. The addition of chocolate syrup is the main difference between a latte and a mocha, giving the mocha a sweet and indulgent flavor. Some cafes even use chocolate milk for their mochas but this is fairly rare.

Can I Make a Macchiato or Latte without an Espresso Machine?

Using alternative brewing methods like a Moka pot, AeroPress, or a solid French Press, you can make a macchiato or latte without an espresso machine. Remember that the flavor and texture may differ from those made with an espresso machine.

How Can I Make a Non-Dairy Macchiato or Latte?

To make a non-dairy macchiato or latte, substitute the milk with your preferred non-dairy milk, almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk. The texture of the milk’s foam may change depending on the type of non-dairy milk used.

How Can I Make a Flavored Macchiato or Latte?

To make a flavored macchiato or latte, add flavored syrups or sauces, like caramel, vanilla, or hazelnut, to your drink. Add the desired syrup or spice to the cup before pouring the espresso and steamed milk to ensure it is mixed in all the way.

Can I Get a Macchiato with Flavored Syrup?

Yes, you can! Many coffee shops out there offer add-on flavorings and syrups for a small extra fee. If you’re making your macchiato at home, experiment to your heart’s content.
pour over vs drip coffee
can espresso be decaf
what is a flat white and how to make one
which brewing method takes the longest
Wet vs. Dry Cappuccino

1 thought on “The Great Debate: Macchiato vs Latte – Which Will Leave You Buzzing with Joy?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this insightful post! Your depth of knowledge and unique perspective really shines through. I particularly enjoyed how you presented the information – it was both engaging and informative. Looking forward to reading more of your work!


Leave a Comment