What's The Difference Between a Macchiato & Latte?

6 min read FEB 24, 2023

Italians might have been the ones to expand the world's horizons regarding coffee, but their knowledge of fine espresso drinks makes them stand out. Both macchiato and latte were born in Italy, offering a unique taste and experience that can't be replicated anywhere else. A macchiato is all about classic Italian espresso with a dash of milk foam. At the same time, lattes are highly customizable beverages that pair creamier milk options with everything from syrups to spices. Ultimately, it comes down to preference – but either way, you're sure to escape on an unforgettable flavor trip as you explore the depths of Italian coffee culture!

What is a Latte?

A latte is a simple but delicious combination of coffee and milk. It begins by combining fresh espresso shots with steamed milk, often finished with a layer of foam. With lattes, there are many possibilities to personalize the drink since many different flavors can be added. They even became more popular due to this, as everyone wants to create their unique taste. Nowadays, you can easily make your latte right at home with the help of special machines designed just for this purpose.

What is a Macchiato?

The macchiato is a popular Italian coffee beverage that traces its origins back to the gods of coffee – the Italians. It is beloved for its bold espresso flavor and delightful simplicity. True, authentic macchiato does not involve any sugary syrups or sauces, as it is intended to spotlight the espresso rather than mask its flavor. This drink contains a very small amount of steamed milk with some foam on top – just enough to give it some extra texture and relief from the strong coffee flavor. Generally speaking, an espresso macchiato will range between two and four ounces in size but packs a powerful punch in each sip.

But what exactly does "macchiato" mean? In Italian, it translates directly to "stained" or "marked," – referring to the marking of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk. This briefly describes both what the drink looks like and how it has been enjoyed for centuries by coffee lovers across Italy. By adding just a tiny touch of steamed milk without overpowering the robust espresso taste, they can truly appreciate all this beverage has to offer.

Though traditionally quite simple in nature, modern takes on this classic drink often include more than just a drop of steamed milk and some foam on top. From lightly sweetened versions to variations flavored with warm spices or fragrant cinnamon sticks, there are countless ways one can enjoy a macchiato these days. No matter your preference, however, one thing remains constant: an authentic macchiato is designed to highlight the rich flavors of an excellent espresso and not overwhelm them with excessive sugar or syrups.

Middle Ground: Latte Macchiato

The Latte Macchiato is a truly unique and special drink, creating an entirely different experience than the latte or the macchiato. Unlike a latte, this drink does not have mostly espresso but instead has mostly steamed milk. The method of making this drink is highly intricate and requires more time than a typical latte or macchiato.

To make a Latte Macchiato, the barista must first steam a large amount of milk. Then they will pull espresso shots as usual. However, for this drink, they are slowly poured over the steamed milk instead of mixing into it quickly, like with a latte. This pouring action creates layers of espresso and steamed milk throughout the cup and gives the Latte Macchiato its distinct look and taste. These layers are what make this beverage stand out from both lattes and macchiatos and create an overall unique flavor profile that can't be achieved any other way.

Macchiato vs. Latte: The Final Word

When it comes to making the perfect espresso-based coffee drink, two popular choices are the macchiato and the latte. The macchiato contains espresso and a small amount of steamed milk topped with foam. Generally, it is 2 to 4 ounces in size and has a strong espresso flavor combined with light creaminess. In comparison, lattes have much more steamed milk than macchiatos and are also topped with microfoam. Typically, they consist of 8 to 16 ounces of liquid and have an intense creamy taste tempered by a hint of espresso.

When deciding which one to order, it is important to consider your tastes and what you're in the mood for. The macchiato is likely your best choice if you want something bolder with a deep espresso flavor. On the other hand, if you favor something creamier or want to add spices like caramel or peppermint, then you should opt for a latte instead. Ultimately, both drinks provide their own unique flavor profiles: one that contains intense flavors from espresso balanced by lightness from steamed milk; and one that offers smooth creaminess backed up by gentle notes of espresso.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a macchiato?

A macchiato is an espresso-based coffee drink containing espresso and a small amount of steamed milk topped with foam. It has a strong espresso flavor combined with light creaminess and typically consists of 2 to 4 ounces of liquid.

Is a latte stronger than a macchiato?

Yes, it is. Lattes contain more steamed milk than macchiatos, so they are generally much smoother and creamier in taste with just hints of espresso. They also tend to be larger in size (8 to 16 ounces), whereas the macchiato only has 2 to 4 ounces of liquid.

What is a Latte Macchiato?

A latte macchiato is a unique espresso-based drink that combines the flavors of both lattes and macchiatos into one beverage. It requires more time to make than either of its two counterparts, as it involves pouring espresso shots slowly over steamed milk instead of mixing it quickly, like with a latte. This creates layers of espresso and steamed milk throughout the cup and gives the Latte Macchiato its distinct look and taste.

How can I customize my macchiato?

There are numerous ways you can customize your macchiato to perfectly suit your tastes. For instance, you can add flavors such as syrups or spices, choose between whole and low-fat milk, or go for a decaffeinated version if you prefer. You can also opt for non-dairy substitutes such as almond milk or soy milk instead of regular cow's milk. Whichever way you decide to customize it, the macchiato will still have its signature espresso-based flavor with just a hint of creaminess.

What is the difference between a macchiato and a latte?

The main difference between a macchiato and a latte is the amount of steamed milk used in each drink. Macchiatos have less steamed milk than lattes, resulting in a stronger espresso flavor with light creaminess. Lattes, on the other hand, have more steamed milk, making them smoother and creamier with just hints of espresso. In terms of size, macchiatos are usually 2 to 4 ounces, while lattes usually range from 8 to 16 ounces. A Latte Macchiato is also available, combining both drinks into one unique beverage with its distinct look and flavor.

Can I make a macchiato or latte at home?

Yes, you can make either a macchiato or a latte from the comfort of your own home. All you need is an espresso machine, some quality coffee beans, and either whole milk or non-dairy substitutes such as almond milk or soy milk. You will then have to follow the instructions for making either drink, depending on which one you want. If in doubt, there are plenty of helpful tutorials available online that will guide you through the entire process step by step.

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