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Macchiato VS Latte: What’s The Difference

macchiato vs latte - the differences explained

Looking at all of the available options at your favorite coffee shop, you might get confused and overwhelmed in a macchiato vs latte match-up about which coffee drink to order. As they pretty much look all the same. Even a coffee connoisseur may find it a bit confusing.

While figuring out the difference between macchiato vs latte, the main thing to note is the ratio of espresso to milk: A macchiato is simply espresso with a tiny dollop of foamed or steamed milk on top. On the other hand, a latte consists of espresso and steamed milk or cream only to give a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.  

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the similarities and key features of macchiatos and lattes. So that next time you visit a java shop, you feel confident ordering your drink.

What Is A Macchiato?

Sixth most popular coffee In America - Macchiato

Macchiato is an Italian word, which means “marked” or “stained”,  as it is an espresso drink “marked” with a tiny dollop of frothed milk on top,  which helps offset the strong caffeine hit. It results in a bitter, strong, and earthy drink followed by a touch of creaminess. Macchiato is made with 2/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk.

Macchiato is the middle ground between a bitter, strong espresso and a milk-heavy cappuccino. It offers a more intense flavor than a cappuccino but is not as strong as a full espresso shot.

Since just a small amount of milk is added to prepare a macchiato, it has a much stronger flavor than other milk beverages. It’s a smaller drink compared to a latte, with a standard serving of just 1 1/4 ounces (37 ml).

All in all, if you’re looking for a powerful caffeine flavor followed by a milky texture to balance the flavor, Macchiato is the one for you! 

Origin Story

Macchiato was first created in Italy during the eighties by baristas to distinguish a straight espresso from one that includes a drop of milk. It originally came into being as an option to sneak espresso in the afternoon.

There are countless variations of macchiato available worldwide, and each differs from one another based on the ratio of espresso to milk used. For instance, in Australia, you can order a long macchiato (a double-shot espresso drink with a dash of milk). In Starbucks, a caramel macchiato is served, which is a beverage consisting of steamed milk with a little espresso, topped with caramel syrup.

Variations Of Macchiato

According to coffee experts, there are two varieties of macchiatos: espresso and latte macchiato. Both drinks are made with either cold or hot milk and espresso.

Starbucks offers a caramel macchiato, which is basically a miniature latte made of steamed milk with some espresso added to it, and topped with caramel syrup or flavoring. 

Espresso Macchiato

Espresso Macchiato, also known as Caffe macchiato, is its original form. It is simply an espresso with a dollop of frothed milk. It is prepared by brewing either a single or a double shot of espresso directly into your mug. Then add a very small amount of steamed milk into the espresso, followed by a dollop of milk foam on top of the drink.

what is a macchiato - cup of caffeine

Latte Macchiato

This is basically the inverse of Espresso Macchiato.

What sets a latte apart from the latte espresso is its preparation, though they have the same ingredients. In a latte, the espresso is added to the cup first and steamed milk is poured into it after. 

First, the steamy milk is poured into the cup, leaving a bit of space at the top to pour the espresso. Brew a shot of espresso and pour it slowly into the center of the cup.

latte machiato image pixabay - cup of caffeine

Caffeine contents In A Macchiato

A single (small) macchiatos typically contain about 63 mg of caffeine on average, while double (large) ones contain about 125 mg.

What Is A Latte?

latte art: how to make latte at home the heart

The Italian form “caffè e latte” means “coffee and milk”. A latte is a classic coffee that is prepared with a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and topped off with foam. The foam texture is what gives the latte its distinct look and mouthfeel. If you remove the foam from the latte, it will be called a flat white. The proportion of ingredients to prepare a latte is 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, and a small, thin layer of milk foam that’s about 1 cm thick

The great thing about lattes is that they are highly customizable. You can add different flavors to a latte such as mocha, vanilla, caramel, or other syrups, and even other milk alternatives like soy, almond, oat, or coconut.

Origin Story

So, what’s the origin of this classic coffee beverage? People have been mixing coffee and milk for centuries. So, it’s hard to pinpoint who actually invented it. Milk coffee hit the peak of popularity across Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though the commercial latte is an American invention. The “Caffe e latte” term was first time used by William Dean Howells in 1867 in his essay titled “Italian Journeys”. Latte is originally not a part of Italian café culture. Ordering a “latte” in an Italian cafe will get you a glass of hot or cold milk. 

In Italy, a caffe latte is almost always prepared as a breakfast drink at home. The drink is brewed with a Moka pot and then poured into a cup containing heated milk. They don’t bother adding the milk foam.

Linguistically, “latte” is a shortened version of the Italian word “caffe latte”. In other countries, the silky beverage is commonly referred to as “café au lait” (French), “Milchkaffee” (German), and “cafe con Leche” (Spanish), which translates to “coffee with milk”. 

There is also an aesthetic difference between a latte vs macchiato; the latte art. It includes pouring steamed milk methodically into espresso to create interesting flourish designs such as flowers, leaves, heart shapes, and more. In the 1980s, baristas began to enjoy brewing lattes and creating latte art to top the drinks, which is now a common practice. The World Latte Art Championship, an international competition for latte art, is held annually among baristas to show their creative latte art skills. 

As time has passed, the latte has evolved, but the fundamentals of coffee and milk remain the same.

Learn more –> How To Steam Milk For A Latte?

Caffeine contents In A Latte

Best coffee Scoop - Cup Of Caffeine

As the milk does not contain any caffeine, both macchiato and latte drinks contain the same amount of caffeine per serving as espresso. However, a latte is a much larger drink with a lot more milk in it.

Single (small) lattes typically contain about 63 mg of caffeine on average, while double (large) ones contain about 125 mg. A double shot latte will provide you with an extra caffeine boost in the morning. 

The Bottom Line

latte cup becoming empty - cup of caffeine

There you have it! Differences In Your Favorite Coffee Drinks, Macchiato vs. Latte!

So which one should you go for in the macchiato vs. latte debate? Well, it all comes down to your personal taste and preferences. All in all, if you’re looking for a powerful caffeine flavor followed by a milky texture to balance the flavor, a Macchiato is the one for you! Lattes are a great choice for those who don’t want anything strong or bold and are after thick, creamy milk and rich, robust espresso.

Happy caffeinating!

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