Americano Vs Macchiato - The Most Detailed Comparison!

Americano Vs Macchiato – The Most Detailed Comparison!

Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 13:25

If you are looking for a detailed Americano Vs Macchiato comparison, this is the article that you are looking for as I get down and get to the nitty-gritty details of both coffee beverages.

By the time you have finished reading this article you will know everything that you need to know about both these drinks and as a bonus, all about a latte macchiato as well.

Why did I include a latte macchiato in this article?

Keep reading to find out!

Americano Vs Macchiato – An Overview

To give you a great and easy-to-understand overview of these two drinks, let’s have a quick look at what is in each of these two popular coffee drinks:

  • Caffe Americano: An espresso-based drink usually made with one or two shots of espresso; at Starbucks it can be as much as 4. Traditionally, hot water in an equal amount is added. At Starbucks, the hot water can be added in a ratio of 1:5 to 1:7 and not the traditional 1:1.
  • Macchiato: An espresso shot with a tiny dash of steamed milk. Some coffee shops will add a dollop of milk foam.
  • Latte Macchiato: A layered drink made with a double espresso and steamed milk and a lot of milk foam. The espresso to milk ratio is 1:1.5, the espresso to milk foam ratio is 1:15 also.

As a bonus I added latte macchiato to avoid confusion and to give a better understanding of what it is and how it differs both from a traditional macchiato and an Americano.

When European readers think of a macchiato they will be picturing an espresso macchiato in their minds while an American reader will visualize a latte macchiato.

The main and obvious difference between an Americano and a traditional espresso macchiato is that an espresso macchiato contains a small splash of steamed milk, usually only a teaspoon while an Americano has hot water added to it.

While there is no set amount of water used in a caffe Americano, traditionally a ratio of espresso to water is 1:1, as mentioned earlier this varies at Starbucks, who oddly seem to follow no set ratio.

In terms of flavor, an Americano is stronger than a latte macchiato but not as strong as an espresso macchiato.

An Americano is bold, strong and bitter and tastes as it should, like watery espresso. An espresso macchiato is strong, bold and bitter with rough edges of the bitterness and acidity toned down by that little dash of milk.

A latte macchiato, on the other hand, is a gourmet coffee experience. The three individual components of the milk foam, milk and espresso are supposed to be layered and enjoyed as you sip and get all three in your mouth with each sip.

Americano Vs Macchiato
A Caffé Americano

Read: Flat white vs Macchiato

What Is A Caffe Americano?

A caffé Americano, also known as café Americano or simply just “Americano” is a coffee drink that is made by diluting an espresso with hot water or cold water for an iced Americano which gives it a very similar appearance to a brewed coffee but with a different flavor.

The number of shots varies, with most coffee shops serving a single shot of espresso as standard and leaving to the client’s request if they want more, like a double Americano.

The amount of hot water, traditionally, is added in a 1:1 ratio of espresso to hot water. Most coffee shops serve the espresso shot in a cup with a small jug of hot water for the client to add the water themselves to the taste and strength that they desire.

At Starbucks, the hot water is added for you with the amount of hot water varying from 1:5 to 1:7 depending on the drink size ordered.

The Origins Of Caffe Americano

The humble black coffee, that is a Caffé Americano, originates in Italy. It was the coffee created by US soldiers stationed in the country during World War 2.

While being more accustomed to filter coffee and enjoying black coffee, they found the local espresso didn’t quite hit the spot for them.

The espresso was too strong, too bold and too small. To recreate a brewed coffee, the american soldiers added hot water. The only people ordering the drink were Americans and thus the name stuck – caffé Americano, which translates to American coffee.

The Origins Of Caffe Americano
We Have The US Soldiers In WW2 To Thank For Caffe Americano

What Is A Macchiato?

A caffé macchiato, also known as an espresso macchiato, Italian macchiato and a traditional macchiato. For Portuguese speakers, café pingado is an espresso based coffee drink that is dominated by the shot with only a splash of steamed milk added.

Typically, a barista will only add a teaspoon of steamed milk. The drink originates in Italy with the name meaning stained. Which is exactly what the drink is, a stain of milk in a shot of espresso.

The History Of A Macchiato

A macchiato dates back to post-war 1950s Italy. Seeped in deep culinary traditions, and milk after midday being a frowned on made a latte and a cappuccino a big no! To take the edges off of a strong and bold espresso hardworking Italians came up with adding just a dash of milk to an espresso to take off the rough edges of the acidity and bitterness.

The drink toned down an espresso and gave the smart and hardworking Italians the caffeine kick that they were seeking without breaking the “no milk after midday” rule in a significant way.

Latte Macchiato

It is worth making a light Segway and talking about a latte macchiato as it is a very popular type of macchiato and is what many people think of when they think of a macchiato.

A latte macchiato is a layered drink made of a double or triple shot of espresso depending on the drink size, steamed milk and foamed milk froth. The amount of milk used in total expressed as an espresso to milk ratio is 1:3.

However, half the total milk content is foamed milk froth and thus the ratios of all parts as an espresso to milk ratio is 1:1.5 with the espresso to milk froth ratio being 1:1.5.

The milk is steamed and frothed with the espresso shots being poured through the milk to create a layered effect.

Latte Macchiato
A Latte Macchiato

Read: Latte Vs Mocha

Caramel Macchiato

A caramel macchiato is the most popular macchiato sold at Starbucks and is an original Starbucks creation which was invented to mark their 25th anniversary.

It’s a flavored latte macchiato which is easily identifiable with the crosshatch design of the syrup on top of the beverage.

It’s made with vanilla and caramel for an absolutely great tasting coffee.

Americano Vs Macchiato The Key Differences

Let’s get to the key differences between these two beverages, caffé Americano and a macchiato.

The Grind Size

When comparing two drinks and thinking about making them at home, it is important to consider the grind size.

There is no difference in the grind size of each of these beverages as the base is the same coffee, shots of espresso. The ideal grind size is an even and consistent fine grind of 200 microns.

The Milk Ratio And Type

An Americano contains no milk. I have seen and been requested many times to make an Americano with steamed milk, however, this is an Americano misto, a different coffee beverage altogether.

For the record, the type of milk used in an Americano misto is whole fat milk with a total coffee to milk ratio of 1:1.

An espresso macchiato has no particular set espresso to milk ratio as only a splash is required. 1:0.1.66 assuming a 1 Oz (30 ml) espresso and a teaspoon of milk.

Traditionally, whole fat milk is used.

A latte macchiato is made with whole milk and steamed milk using an espresso to milk ratio of 1:1.5 as the double shot of espresso is 2 ounces (60 ml) with 90 ml (3 oz) of steamed milk. Approximately 90 ml (3 oz) of milk foam is added.

A latte macchiato can be made upon request with any type of milk, with oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk being popular choices.

The Milk Ratio And Type
The Milk Ratio Is Different or Each Drink

The Aroma

The aroma of an Americano is only a touch stronger than an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato due to the latter two being subdued by the steamed milk and foam.

The aromas from the macchiatos are milder and sweeter due to the milk and milk sugars.

The Flavor

An Americano is stronger and bolder in taste than a regular macchiato, but only slightly so.

Both a caffé Americano and a regular macchiato are stronger than a latte macchiato, which is milder and a great experience due to being layered.

Is A Macchiato Stronger Than An Americano?

A traditional macchiato is notably stronger than a caffé Americano due to 84% of the drink being made of espresso.

Even if an Americano is made with a double espresso shot, due to the water ratio it will still have a weaker flavor.

The weakest of the drinks, to mention it, is the latte macchiato due to the high milk ratio which tones down the strength of the coffee flavor due to the sweetness of the milk sugars and its creaminess.

Which Is Better, An Americano Or Macchiato?

There is no particular “this is better” due to everyone’s own coffee taste and preference being different. It’s very subjective.

If you like a strong black coffee an Americano will be the better choice for you, but if you love the dominant and bold taste of an espresso a traditional macchiato will be the better choice for you.

If you are the kind of coffee lover that enjoys milk in their coffee, a latte macchiato is the obvious choice; it is the one that you will enjoy better than the others.

Americano Vs Macchiato – Caffeine Content

How much caffeine is in each of these three drink sizes depends on the size of the drink that you have ordered. For most sizes a caffé Americano has more caffeine, for the smaller, short 8 oz (240 ml) a latte macchiato has more caffeine.

Check the table for details.

Drink Size  Espresso Macchiato* Latte Macchiato Caffé Americano
Short 8 Oz (240 ml). 75 mg. Single Shot. 150 mg 75 mg
Tall 12 Oz (360 ml). 150 mg. Double shot. 150 mg 150 mg
Grande 16 Oz (480 ml). 225 mg 225 mg
Venti 20 Oz (600 ml). 225 mg. 300 mg.

*An espresso macchiato single shot is 1 oz (30 ml) and a double shot is 2 oz (60 ml) and does not conform to the standard drink sizes as stated.

Americano Vs Macchiato – The Calorie Count

The amount of calories varies in these drinks from as little as 5 calories to a whopping 310 per serving depending on the drink and the size ordered.

clearly an Americano has fewer calories for all drink sizes. If you are watching your figure, the best option is a caffe Americano coffee.

Drink Size Espresso Macchiato* Latte Macchiato Caffé Americano
Short 8 Oz (240 ml). 10 calories. 120 calories 5 calories
Tall 12 Oz (360 ml). 15 calories. 190 calories 10 calories
Grande 16 Oz (480 ml). 250 calories 15 calories
Venti 20 Oz (600 ml). 310 calories 15 calories.

*An espresso macchiato does not conform to the standard drink sizes. A single shot is 1 oz (30 ml) and a double shot is 2 oz (60 ml).

Americano Vs Macchiato – Variations And Customizations

There are few, if any, customizations that you can make with a caffé Americano. It’s a black coffee and is supposed to be enjoyed that way with no milk or sugar added.

Adding steamed milk makes it an Americano misto and thus this cannot be considered as a variation of customization.

The only customizations are which syrup to add for flavoring it be it simple syrup, brown sugar simple syrup, vanilla syrup and so on.

The most popular “variation” is an iced Americano, which is the same drink made with cold water and ice.

An espresso macchiato cannot be varied. Made with cream and a larger amount it becomes an espresso con panna.

A latte macchiato can be customized to whatever suits you with various alternative milks and flavored syrups used with caramel macchiato being a popular choice as is a mocha macchiato.

Frequently Asked Questions About Americano Vs Macchiato

The amount of caffeine in a coffee drink depends largely on volume of the drink and often a drink that is made with more coffee has more caffeine.

Let’s look at the caffeine content of these two espresso based beverages starting with a caffe Americano coffee:

  • Short 8 Oz (240 ml): 75 mg of caffeine.
  • Tall 12 Oz (360 ml): 150 mg of caffeine.
  • Grande 16 Oz (480 ml): 225 mg of caffeine.
  • Venti 20 Oz (600 ml): 300 mg of caffeine.

Now lets look at the caffeine content of an espresso macchiato:

  • Single shot: 75 mg.
  • Double shot: 150 mg.

Clearly there is more caffeine in a café Americano.

What Is A Macchiato Vs Espresso Vs Americano?

These three drinks are each different, let’s have a look at their composition to understand them better:

  • Espresso: A strong coffee drink brewed using a very fine powder grind size and water pressure of 9 bars (130 PSI).
  • Espresso Macchiato: A strong coffee drink composing of a single shot of espresso and a teaspoon of steamed milk.
  • Café Americano: A strong coffee beverage made with a single shot of espresso and hot water.

The three drinks are different and all have a slightly different taste. An espresso is strong, bold and with bitter notes. An espresso macchiato has the rough edge of the bitterness and acidity taken off with the addition of a splash of milk. A café Americano is lighter and thinner due to the addition of hot water.

Is Macchiato The Strongest Coffee?

No, there are many coffee beverages that have a stronger and bolder taste than a macchiato. A ristretto and an espresso are both stronger in taste. There are many other drinks with a greater caffeine kick too.

To its credit, a macchiato is the strongest coffee beverage that contains milk due to the tiny amount of milk used.

A café Americano usually has a more dominant and stronger flavor than a brewed black coffee.

In terms of caffeine, brewed coffee has more caffeine. The caffeine content of a café Americano is as follows:

  • Short 8 Oz (240 ml): 75 mg of caffeine.
  • Tall 12 Oz (360 ml): 150 mg of caffeine.
  • Grande 16 Oz (480 ml): 225 mg of caffeine.
  • Venti 20 Oz (600 ml): 300 mg of caffeine.

Which when compared to brewed coffee:

  • Short 8 Oz (240 ml): 155 mg of caffeine.
  • Tall 12 Oz (360 ml): 235 mg of caffeine.
  • Grande 16 Oz (480 ml): 310 mg of caffeine.
  • Venti 20 Oz (600 ml): 410 mg of caffeine.

A macchiato has a bitter taste with the strong bitter edges of an espresso cooled down with the splash of steamed milk added.

Yes, even though it is unusual for milk to be added to a café Americano it is certainly something that you can do to make the flavor less intense and less bitter. You can also add sugar or honey to.

Final Thoughts – Americano Vs Macchiato

If you have read this far (thanks, appreciated) you know everything about an Americano Vs Macchiato and which of these two drinks is more suited to you and your personal taste and as nice little bonus learned a lot about a latte macchiato and got a greater understanding of the menu at your local coffee shop.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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