Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato - The Battle Of The Brew!

Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato – The Battle Of The Brew!

Last updated on October 27th, 2023 at 16:35

It is the battle of the Brew – Latte Macchiato vs Caramel Macchiato!

This article is dedicated to these two gourmet coffee classics and aiming not to tell you which one to choose as all of our tastes and preferences are different.

The aim, goal and objective of this article is to help you and inform you about both drinks, what they are and how they are different, what type of coffee roast and which milk goes best with them and the options for customization you have.

Keep reading to be fully informed about both these tasty coffee beverages.

Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato – What Is A Caramel Macchiato?

A caramel macchiato is a gourmet coffee drink made with an espresso shot and steamed milk with a shot of vanilla syrup placed at the bottom of the cup of coffee, the espresso on top, steam milk is added with a nice layer of foam and decorated with a crosshatch drizzle of caramel sauce.

It is notably smaller than a caramel latte and is a sweet tasting drink that is very easy to make at home.

It is an original Starbucks creation dating to 1996 as a drink to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary. It was created at the Starbucks HQ by Hannah Su, the then head of product development, and her small team. Initially it was supposed to be only a limited menu feature, but due to drinks popularity it became a permanent feature.

What Is A Caramel Macchiato
A Caramel Macchiato

Read: Macchiato and cappuccino difference

How Does A Caramel Macchiato Taste?

A caramel macchiato tastes like a sweet coffee with milk, with a pleasant creamy taste from the milk and the caramel together and hints of vanilla and coffee.

It has a great mouthfeel but is notably sweet. The sweetness can be toned down by reducing the amount of vanilla syrup and caramel.

What Coffee Roast Is Best For A Caramel Macchiato?

The best coffee roast for a caramel macchiato is a medium-dark or dark roast. Some coffee lovers and experts like to use a medium roast, but this will produce a milder flavor with much less of a body.

It, a medium roast, is a good roast for a caramel macchiato but not quite the best due to being a little light to cut through the milk.

A Medium-dark will give you more of a coffee taste and is dark and deep enough of a roast to cut through the creamy milk and still have some flavors of the origins and is my top choice for this beverage.

Dark roasts are great too, but depending on how deep and how dark you may have too much of a coffee flavor coming through the milk.

Light roasts, are, as the name suggests, just too light to cut through the creaminess of the milk.

Choose wisely and use great beans. Specialty grade and single origin are much better than regular coffee beans for this drink.

What Coffee Roast Is Best For A Caramel Macchiato
A medium-dark or dark roast works best

Read: What is a macchiato?

What Kind Of Milk Is Best For A Caramel Macchiato?

At Starbucks and most gourmet coffee shops use 2% reduced fat milk to make this beverage. Which is best is subjective as it depends on the individual.


I prefer whole milk. A degree of fat and reasonable protein content is required for making quality milk foam.

Can I Customize My Caramel Macchiato?

Yes, absolutely you can customize your caramel macchiato. It is one of the fun, and great parts of coffee is experimenting in the quest to find the ultimate coffee and improve the flavor as per your own “gusto” (taste, likes).

There are a few obvious personalizations you can make; here are a few ideas.

Try Different Kinds Of Milk

Most coffee shops, including Starbucks, use 2 percent milk. Changing the milk can dramatically alter the outcome of your drink.

Here are some milk choices you can consider:

  • Skim Milk: A great choice that reduces the calorie count and reduces your fat intake. The taste doesn’t change when you use skim milk.
  • Breve: A rich milk choice, also known as half-and-half milk, and makes your beverage rather decadent.
  • Whole Milk: Similar to breve (half-and-half milk) gives a rich flavor to your drink.
  • Coconut Milk: Adds the great flavor of coconut milk but may need a bit more oil (coconut fat) to make foam.
  • Almond Milk: Like coconut milk, adds a great flavor but can be difficult to foam.
  • Non-dairy Milk: Also great choices with soy being a popular one and when vanilla flavored goes very well in a caramel macchiato, and it makes great foam.

Keep it in mind that steaming plant and nut based milks may need a bit more practice to steam them perfectly. One thing is sure the type of milk that you use will alter how your beverage ends up.

The Type Of Milk Changes How Your Coffee Will Taste

Make It With Ristretto Shots

Not every espresso machine has the ability to make a ristretto shot. The coffee to water ratio for a ristretto is different to that of an espresso.

It requires a more concentrated 1:1 coffee to water ratio than a 1:1.5 or 1:2 that of an espresso. As a result, a ristretto is more concentrated and stronger and has a more prominent taste nutty taste which goes fantastically well with a caramel macchiato and the light, caramel-vanilla taste.


if your espresso machine has the ability to make a ristretto, try it!

Try Different Syrup Flavors And Types

Technically and strictly speaking, by altering the syrup flavors and types used you will no longer have a caramel macchiato.

Since bottles of coffee syrup are easy to come by and are fairly cheap, and you can easily make your own. You can stick with the usual caramel syrup and the vanilla, or you can use them together both in the coffee and when making the crosshatch decoration on top.

To keep it strictly as a caramel macchiato you could get exquisite and switch the vanilla syrup for French vanilla.

What works well for me on occasions is switching from vanilla to hazelnut.

For a healthy choice, you can have a look on Amazon for Torani sugar free syrups and cut down on the amount of sugar that is in this coffee beverage and make your caramel macchiato with sugar-free coffee syrup.

Torani Sugar Fee Syrups
Torani Sugar Free Syrups

Ask For Extra Drizzle

A particular customization and a very easy one to make is what many coffee lovers consider as the best part of the tasty beverage is to request extra drizzle.

One particular technique is to have the lining of your coffee cup lined with the caramel sauce / syrup before the milk is added and the crosshatch design is made.

Have An Iced Caramel Macchiato

Caramel macchiato is also a drink that you can enjoy during the summer months as an iced drink. You can simply request an iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks or make it at home.

Simply put the vanilla shot in your mug, add your ice and then brew your espresso shot on top of it. Then add your cold milk, scoop on the foam and add the caramel drizzle.

Iced Caramel Macchiato
An Iced Caramel Macchiato

Request Or Make An Upside Down Caramel Macchiato

A nice difference to your regular drink is to request or make an upside down version. This version requires you to put your caramel drizzle / shot in first and have your shots brewed on top of the caramel syrup. Then your splash of milk and make a crosshatch design with vanilla syrup.

How Many Calories Are In A Caramel Macchiato?

There are 290 calories in a 24 Oz (720 ml) serving of an iced caramel swirl macchiato from Dunkin’ Donuts.

A Starbucks venti Caramel macchiato has 350 calories in a 24 ounce (720 ml) serving.

A large McCafe caramel macchiato from McDonald’s has 400 calories.

Due to the calorie content, it is a good idea to enjoy a smaller serving of this drink.

What Is A Latte Macchiato?

A latte macchiato is a popular coffee drink; the name in Italian is in reference to the marked or stained milk, which is in reference to the espresso stain on the milk in the coffee beverage.

It is also a play on the term “espresso macchiato”, which is a shot of espresso with milk or cream.

It can be described as a glass of steamed milk with a little stain of espresso. It is by all means an inverted or upside down espresso macchiato where the focus is on the glass of milk (steamed milk) than the actual coffee.

It is a layered drink with the milk at the bottom, a layer of espresso and milk foam topping. It is weaker than a regular latte due to being mostly milk and quite a milky coffee drink with a shot of espresso added.

Usually it is made with a full-fat whole milk and thus has a richer and creamier taste. An iced latte macchiato does not have the foam added.

What Is A Latte Macchiato
A Latte Macchiato

How Does A Latte Macchiato Taste?

It tastes like coffee, a coffee that tastes like it has a lot of milk. It is a drink that has a creamy and rather pleasant thick mouthfeel.

The coffee in this beverage has a relatively strong presence of coffee, of course, this due to the very nature of the shot of espresso.

 Where Did The Latte Macchiato Originate?

There is no exact known origin or particular creator of this coffee drink. It is believed that the espresso macchiato was invented by Italians in the 1980s as a way and means of identifying and naming an espresso that has only a tiny bit of milk.

The latte macchiato would have only come around only after the original macchiato and probably quickly after and in Italy too.

A latte macchiato should not be confused with a caramel macchiato. A Latte macchiato does not contain any caramel.

A Latte Macchiato
A Beautiful Latte Macchiato

What Coffee Roast Is Best For A Latte Macchiato?

Due to the milk content and needing to cut through the creaminess of it, medium-dark and dark roasts are the best options for a latte macchiato.

These two roast profiles have a light acidity and full body, and strong coffee taste that will cut through the milk. I prefer a medium dark roast as they have more of the flavors of the origins when using specialty grade coffee beans.

Medium roast and light roasts are just not enough for this coffee drink.

What Kind Of Milk Is Best For A Latte Macchiato?

The best kind of milk to use for a latte macchiato is full-fat milk. These work better than lighter, low-fat milk. Seek out a high-quality whole milk for this beverage.

This type of milk has the perfect balance of sugar, fats and proteins to make a top quality microfoam.

Can I Customize My Latte Macchiato?

Yes, of course you can customize your latte macchiato. This is one of the best and better aspects of coffee – you can experiment, get creative and fine the ultimate coffee drink.

Here are some options you can consider.

Use Alternative Sugars And Sweeteners

It never at all fails to surprise me just how much changing the type of sugar or sweetener used can and will change how a cup of coffee tastes.

Instead of white sugar, try brown sugar, coconut sugar, stevia, or various types of honey for a dramatic change in how your beverage tastes.

Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar Is Great For A Caramel Like taste

Try Different Kinds Of Milk

Similar to sugar, the milk that you use in your milk based espresso drinks can and will alter how the final outcome of your coffee is.

There is a wide range of different milks that you can try. Coconut milk works very well and quite magnificently when combined with either brown sugar or coconut sugar.

Soy milk, half-and-half cream, full cream (heavy cream), almond milk and all different types of plant and nut based milks work well too, very well.

Cream, bring around a very rich, thick creamy taste! Nice.

Be sure to put in the practice of frothing and steaming different types of milk.

How Many Calories Are In A Latte Macchiato?

There are 290 calories in a Starbucks Latte Macchiato Venti (20 Oz – 600 ml), 120 at the Latte Macchiato at Dunkin’ Donuts (16 Oz (480 ml) and 260 at McDonald’s (16 Oz).

Definitely a coffee that contains calories.

Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato – Which Is Better?

This, at the very heart of it, is something that is subjective and of course is something where a lot of personal preference comes into play.

If you like a stronger taste of a sweet coffee with a mix of flavors designed to be enjoyed individually, then a caramel macchiato is the drink that you will enjoy more.


if you like and enjoy creamier and milkier tasting coffee drinks that are not so sweet, a latte macchiato will be the beverage that meets your needs and taste preferences.

For me, I’m a sucker for caramel macchiato – as it meets and hits the spot for my sweet tooth. I am prone to an occasional latte macchiato with coconut milk; it’s a tasty delightful treat!

Frequently Asked Questions About Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato

Is Starbucks Caramel Macchiato A Latte?

No, a caramel macchiato and a latte are two distinctly different drinks. A caramel macchiato is a not-too-sweet vanilla latte that is topped with caramel, to use layman’s terms in describing it. The macchiato is due to the espresso being layered on top of your milk. A latte is the opposite where the milk is layered on top of the espresso shot.

The caramel macchiato is the sweetest coffee at Starbucks and is usually one of the sweetest drinks from coffee shops as they have 44 grams of sugar in them from the caramel sauce and vanilla syrup.

Why Is A Caramel Macchiato Not Mixed?

A caramel macchiato drink is one coffee drink that you should not mix and is not designed to be mixed.

This popular coffee drink, usually from specialty coffee shops and is made with a little vanilla syrup to start with, and then your milk is added and then a shot of espresso is added. It is topped with the familiar crosshatched design of caramel drizzle.

The individual components of the beverage are designed to be sipped and enjoyed in order; mixing or shaking your caramel macchiato defeats the whole purpose of this drink.

A latte macchiato contains vanilla syrup and has a lot more steamed milk. A shot of espresso is topped up with microfoam on top whereas an espresso macchiato has vanilla syrup, a shot of espresso and is only topped with only a splash of frothed milk.

Why Does Starbucks Call It A Caramel Macchiato?

Starbucks calls a caramel macchiato because that is what the name of the drink is and is very descriptive of it. It is, by all means, a macchiato with caramel. The drink is an original Starbucks creation.

No, Aa Macchiato is a fun and enjoyable drink that is not designed to be shaken or stirred (sorry no James Bond stuff here). The beverage and the different layers are supposed to be enjoyed as they are sipped and enjoyed in order, one by one.

Is A Macchiato Just An Upside Down Latte?

No, these are distinctly different coffee drinks. An upside-down latte would be missing the vanilla syrup and is not layered like a macchiato is. 

Is Caramel Macchiato Bitter?

Starbucks caramel macchiato is sweet, not bitter. The sweetness comes from the milk sugars and the caramel sauce and vanilla syrup.

Final Thoughts – Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato

So, which is it for you in the little bre battle of latte macchiato Vs Caramel macchiato? Did you try any of the customizations and personalize the drinks?

If you did – tell us how you personalize it?

Join our online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and let us all know and take part in the discussion – delight us with your own customization of the drink that you made.

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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