All You Need To Know About Macchiato And Cappuccino Difference

All You Need To Know About Macchiato And Cappuccino Difference

Last updated on October 27th, 2023 at 16:42

Learning and understanding the macchiato and cappuccino difference will help you to decide which one is best for you, which you will enjoy most, the most suitable one.

This article is not aimed at telling you which one is best or directly outlining the differences between these two very different coffee beverages. Instead, I will talk about everything that you need to know about the two drinks.

By the time you have finished reading, you will know just how different a macchiato and cappuccino are.

Keep reading to find out all about these two drinks.

Macchiato And Cappuccino Difference – What Is A Macchiato?

The word Macchiato means stained or marked in the Italian Language. The word and name is in reference to the tiny amount of foamed milk, literally only a splash on top of the single espresso shot.

It is often known as a caffé macchiato and more commonly an espresso macchiato, and in Portugal, you might need to request a café pingado but in most countries and languages the Italian word macchiato has been adopted and is widely used for this rich, dark coffee with just a dash of milk.

What Is A Macchiato
A Macchiato

Read: Latte Macchiato Vs Caramel Macchiato

The History Of The Macchiato

The name of this coffee beverage has its roots in Italy, a country known for its great coffee and coffee culture. The name and coffee dates back to the 1980s when it was used to describe a shot of espresso with a tiny dash or splash of milk.

Even though there is no set specific recipe set out for this drink, coffee lovers and coffee experts agree that the original macchiato is a well-pulled shot of espresso and a dash of milk with tiny amount of milk foam added.

Variations Of A Macchiato

Thanks to the explosion of coffee culture and third wave of coffee, there are a number of macchiato variations and macchiato-like coffee drinks.

Some variations are based around the ratio of espresso to milk, others with the use of flavored syrups. And others, well, the amount of espresso used, for example a double shot macchiato is simply a macchiato with a double espresso shot and the same little splash of milk.

Espresso Macchiato

This is very, very, very close to what an original macchiato is but is made with more focus on the shot of espresso than the milk, and even less emphasis put here and a tiny drop of milk is used, and no milk foam is added.

Caramel Macchiato

A caramel macchiato is a macchiato with vanilla syrup in the base with the espresso shot of vanilla syrup in the bottom of the glass with the espresso shot poured over it and then the splash of milk and layer of foam topping which is served with a very familiar caramel syrup in a crosshatch design.

A Caramel Macchiato
A Caramel Macchiato

Read: Café macchiato recipe

Latte Macchiato

This is a macchiato with more milk. It is as the name suggests a milky macchiato with steamed milk added to the espresso shot with it then being topped with microfoam.

Iced Macchiato

A macchiato with ice. The only difference between this and a regular macchiato is there is no milk foam added, and it is obviously served as an iced drink.

Zebra Macchiato

An menu or “secret menu” drink at Starbucks. It is Macchiato made with a mix of both dark and white chocolate, hence the name Zebra Macchiato.

Iced Marble Mocha Macchiato

This is white mocha at the bottom of your cup of coffee and then an espresso shot served on top.

As you can see some of these variations of a macchiato are far removed and stretched from what an original macchiato is.

How Does A Macchiato Taste?

A macchiato is literally all espresso; there is a more prominent coffee flavor than most other coffee drinks with the obvious exception of an espresso and ristretto. It tastes great with the touch of milky creaminess.

If you don’t like the taste of an espresso, you will not enjoy a macchiato.

Conversely, speaking if other coffee drinks are too milky for your liking then you will likely enjoy a good macchiato.

What Roast Is Best For A Macchiato?

For a real good tasty macchiato a medium-dark to a dark roast will work very well. This level of roast is dark enough to produce a rich thick crema on top of the espresso shot and since the vast majority of the drink is an espresso shot.

You might get away with a medium roast, if you can get reasonable creama from the coffee beans. The crema is due to the coffee oils mitigating their way to the exterior of the beans and their freshness.

This is what makes medium-dark and a dark roast better.

Coffee Roast For Macchiato
A Medium-Roast Is The Best Roast

Read: What is a macchiato?

What Kind Of Milk Is Best For A Macchiato?

It is not a big deal what type of milk you use for making your macchiato since there is only a tiny amount used, really only a dash.

The best type in my opinion is a full fat milk as it works much better than the low-fat milks and makes better quality microfoam for that little amount that you add.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Macchiato?

A small to medium macchiato has approximately 80 mg of caffeine while a large macchiato has 120 milligrams of caffeine and is well below the FDA’s recommended daily maximum amount.

How Many Calories Are In A Macchiato?

The great news here, particularly if you are on a diet and calorie counting, there are only 13 calories in a macchiato.

What Is A Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a classic milk-based espresso drink that is made with an espresso shot and steamed milk foam. There are variations of this coffee drinkers favorite that use cream, non-dairy milk. whipped cream and flavor with chocolate powder or cinnamon.

There is literally not a coffee shop in the world that doesn’t serve a cappuccino.

The name of this popular beverage comes from the Roman Catholic Capuchin monks as the coffee is said to resemble the robes that were worn by the monks. Most coffee lovers falsely attribute this milky coffee drink to Italy but rather surprisingly it dates back to 18th century Vienna, where it first appeared on café menus.

The dusting of chocolate or chocolate shavings added on top originates from Vienna and their tradition of adding ground spices.

In Italy, a cappuccino is only a breakfast drink, something that is not observed elsewhere.

What Is A Cappuccino
A Cappuccino With Cookies

Variations Of A Cappuccino

There are a few variations of this popular drink, with each coffee shop and can also vary from barista to barista.

Here are the most popular different types of cappuccinos.

  • Wet Cappuccino: Also known as a light cappuccino or a cappuccino chiaro. This beverage differs from a traditional cappuccino as it has more hot milk and less milk foam. It is very much like a latte with more foam on top.
  • Dry Cappuccino: Also known as a dark cappuccino or a cappuccino scurro has less milk than other types of cappuccino – except a bone dry cappuccino. Less steamed milk is used, typically half as much with more microfoam layered on top of the coffee. Due to less milk being used, there is a more prominent taste from the espresso and is generally darker in color than a traditional cappuccino.
  • Bone Dry Cappuccino: Similar to a dry cappuccino (above), with the main difference that this variation is made with no milk at all and only milk foam spooned on top of an espresso.
  • Iced Cappuccino: Also known as a cappuccino freddo is a summer time version of traditional cappuccino. The real and more authentic version has cold milk and milk froth added. The American version has iced added, and if lucky, coffee shop and barista depending, it will have whipped cream on top.
  • Flavored Cappuccions: This is a cappuccino flavored with coffee syrup with an almost infinite range of flavors available like raspberry, Irish cream, vanilla, caramel, raspberry, peppermint, chocolate and cinnamon are popular choices. It is common for some kind of sauce or syrup to be drizzled on top of the foam and even a little latte art.
An Iced Cappuccino
An Iced Cappuccino

What Does A Cappuccino Taste Like?

A perfectly made cappuccino has a great taste and texture. The sweetness and silky texture of the steamed milk and the bold coffee flavor from the espresso shot comes through with nice but not too creamy enjoyment.

It is an easy and very common drink to make. If you don’t like what you have been served, simply try another coffee shop.

What Type Of Roast Is Best For A Cappuccino?

Due to the milk and need for a good strong coffee flavor to cut through it, a good strong dark roast is perfect for a cappuccino.

By far the best roast is a dark roast. With lighter and lower fat milks you may get away with using a medium dark roast but most certainly not a medium or a light roast as these roast profiles are far too light in flavor to cut past the creaminess of the milk and will result in a taste that is far too milky.

Which Type Of Milk Is Best For A Cappuccino?

For the best results, and an authentic cappuccino with a rich velvet, silk like texture whole milk is best. Whole milk will give the consistency that you are looking for and is much better for making the foam.

It is of course possible to use heavy cream like the original version from Vienna, and low fat cream if you so wish to.

In my experience, plant-based and nut-based milks don’t work so well with this particular drink.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Cappuccino?

A typical 16 ounce (480 ml) serving of this popular coffee beverage has an average of 175 mg of caffeine.

An average is the best that can be taken as there are a number of variables that affect the caffeine content, particularly how many shots of espresso and the coffee beans used.

How Many Calories Are In A Cappuccino?

The average 16 Oz serving of cappuccino has 160 calories. This amount will vary depending on the sweetener used and the type of milk, whole fat, low fat or cream.

Which Is Stronger: Macchiato Or Cappuccino?

In terms of flavor, there is no doubt that a macchiato has the stronger and bolder flavor due to the tiny amount of milk used.

When it comes to the caffeine content, undoubtedly a cup of cappuccino has more caffeine by far, almost twice as much.

Cappuccino Vs Macchiato – Which Is Best?

Which one of these two coffee drinks is best for you or which one you have personal preference for will depend on your own tastes and how you like your coffee.

Coffee is a very personal thing and can be personalized to fit your needs.

If you enjoy a milky coffee with a silky rich velvet like mouthfeel, a cappuccino is what you will prefer and be best for you.

If you have a personal preference and a love for strong coffee, then by far a macchiato will be the best option between the two.

If you are in a rush and short on time and want a quick coffee, then a macchiato is easier and quicker to make as it is a shot of coffee and a dash of milk.

The Bottom Line – Macchiato And Cappuccino Difference

These two coffee drinks are very different, in many ways, with very little similaries to them other than a shot of espresso.

Cappuccino: A shot of espresso with twice as much milk and foam added as per the official way of making it in Italy with ratios of 1:2:2 with twice as much steamed milk as coffee and an equal amount of milk foam as there is steamed milk.

Outside of Italy, it is equal ratios of all components in a 1:1:1 ratio of coffee, steamed milk and milk foam. It is all about the ratios of coffee to the steamed milk and microfoam.

Macchiato: A good strong shot of coffee with just a dash of milk, typically 90% coffee and only 10% milk.

Frequently Asked Questions About Macchiato And Cappuccino Difference

Is Macchiato Stronger Than Coffee?

Due to a macchiato being made with a tiny amount of milk, usually only a splash, it has a notably stronger flavor than most other coffee beverages; the only notable exemptions are a straight shot of espresso or a Ristretto.

It is up to you. It’s your own personal choice to add sugar or not to a Macchiato.

With all coffee drinks, including espresso drinks, it is far better to add simple syrup than sugar as it gives a better and more even distribution of sweetness. Regardless of which sweetener you use, be it sugar, simple syrup, honey, stevia or whatever, it is best that it is added to the bottom of your cup of coffee prior to brewing.

Tell your barista to do so when you order your drink.

No, you are not supposed to stir a macchiato. You can stir it if you want to but when you do so mix the ingredients and have all the flavors blended. A macchiato is designed to be enjoyed in layers with them coming together in your mouth.

There is only a slight sweetness to this espresso coffee beverage. The touch of sweetness comes from the dash of steamed milk. A Macchiato has only a touch of creaminess.

Not a lot! A traditional and typical macchiato has only about one or two teaspoons of steamed milk and a little milk foam added to the shot of espresso.

Is A Macchiato Stronger Than A Cappuccino?

Between these two drinks, a macchiato and a cappuccino, it is a macchiato that has the stronger flavor due to only a dash of milk used in the construction of the beverage while a cappuccino has an equal amount of milk and espresso.

What’s The Difference Between A Cappuccino And A Macchiato And An Espresso?

To understand the difference between a cappuccino, a macchiato and an espresso is best demonstrated by comparing how each of the drinks are constructed.

  • Macchiato: A shot of espresso with a splash of milk, typically only a teaspoon.
  • A Cappuccino: a milk based espresso beverage with a frothy milk foam topping. Made with a shot of espresso, and steamed milk and milk foam in a ratio of 1:1:1.
  • An Espresso: A shot of strong black coffee made with a coffee to milk ratio of 1:2.

Which Is Stronger Latte Or Cappuccino Or Macchiato?

A macchiato has a more prominent and dominant taste of espresso than a cappuccino due to much less milk being used to make the drink.

Final Thoughts – Macchiato And Cappuccino Difference

If you have read this far there should be no question at all about the macchiato and cappuccino difference and all about these two rather tasty delights and which one is most suited to you.

Personally I never really stick with the same coffee for too long and like to chop and change and even with the variations of each drink.

That is something to have fun trying, don’t just dismiss one or the other until you have tried some of the variations and personalized it for your own taste preferences.

Join our online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and introduce yourself, perhaps with great images and details 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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