Macchiato Vs Cortado - What Are And Their Differences

Macchiato Vs Cortado – What Are And Their Differences

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 20:43

Let’s talk about a Macchiato Vs Cortado, what they are and how they are different in terms of taste, composition, the type of milk used, which is stronger and which has the most calories.

Keep reading for the details on both of these tasty coffee drinks.

Macchiato Vs Cortado

Let’s talk about these two distinct coffee drinks, their differences, which should be clear just how different they are when you finish reading the descriptions of each drink.

Let’s get to it!


A macchiato, pronounced Mah-Key-Ah-Toe, is an Italian coffee beverage that is made with a shot of espresso and the highest ratio of espresso to milk that any other coffee drink has. Only a dash, to be more accurate, a stain of milk is used. Typically, Italian baristas use only a teaspoon of steamed milk.

The name of the drink translates to stain, hence why only a stain of milk is used.

Milk after meals, any time after midday is a big no in Italy, which is what this drink was born out of, a cheeky dash of milk in an otherwise strong tasting shot of espresso, it takes the edge off of what is a strong black coffee.


Read: Cortado Vs Flat white


A cortado, pronounced Kor-Tah-Doe, is a coffee beverage that you will find in every Spanish coffee house and many more across Latin America in countries like Cuba, where the drink is every so slightly different. Often in Cuba a cortado is made with sugar pre-mixed into the beverage as it is getting made or with condensed milk to mask the taste of the particularly strong coffee.

While you will see some great coffee blogs and websites describe it as a single espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk. With all respects, having lived in Spain for 12 years of my life and worked in a few coffee shops I can tell you that a Spanish cortado coffee is made with a double espresso and the same amount of steamed milk.

Trust me, it is one of my favorite Spanish brews, and one I have made thousands of times, every single time it is a double espresso with the same amount of steamed milk. The milk to coffee ratio is 1:1.

To be more precise, the type of milk is steamed but not frothed, and thus is texturized milk.

The drink is one of the most popular in Spanish coffee culture alongside a café con leche, which is slightly different from a latte. I’d go as far as saying that since the drink has its origins in the Basque Country, that it is the national coffee drink.

The name cortado translates to short. Literally, cortado translates directly to cut, from the Spanish verb cortar, meaning to cut. In the context that it is used short is more accurate as this is exactly what the drink is, a short coffee.

In Catalonia, the drink in the local Catalan language is Tallat, which is a direct translation of cortado.


Read: Cortado Vs Latte

Macchiato Vs Cortado – How Are They Different?

The difference between these two drinks is a lot more than the ratio of coffee to milk. The two drinks taste completely different, also the type of milk used in both drinks are different.

The dash of milk used is steamed milk and often a dollop of frothy milk while a cortado when made correctly is made, it is made with texturized milk, that is steamed milk with no froth for a much smoother taste.

Which Is Stronger, A Macchiato Or Cortado?

In terms of flavor, a macchiato has a much more prominent and dominant taste of espresso than a cortado does. While both have espresso coffee as their base, a significantly lower amount of milk in a macchiato (5ml Vs 60 ml) means the bold taste of espresso comes through in a more profound manner.

A cortado is much more balanced with a coffee taste that is very different, milkier and very similar to the taste of a cappuccino coffee base without the milk foam.

In terms of caffeine, a cortado is much stronger. The reason is simple: a macchiato is made with a single espresso shot while a cortado is brewed with two shots of espresso.

What About The Calories Count Between A Macchiato And A Cortado?

If you are on a diet, the drink to avoid between these two beverages is the Spanish brew, the cortado. Due to using much more milk it is higher in fat, sugar and calories than a macchiato because of the lactose and the fat in the milk.

A macchiato is very low in calories and sugar due to having only a dash of milk added to the espresso shot.

To be honest, outside of the drinks that you get at Starbucks, where a macchiato can be loaded with calories due to the flavored syrup used.

A straight espresso macchiato from your favorite coffee bar will have very few calories. A caramel macchiato from Starbucks can range from 120 to 310 calories depending on the drink size.

The amount of calories in a flavored gourmet macchiato varies depending on the flavoring and type of milk used be it oat milk, almond milk, whole fat milk, skim milk, soy milk or coconut milk.

Frequently Asked Questions About Macchiato Vs Cortado

A macchiato and a cortado are very different drinks. The main difference is the amount of milk used in each of the two beverages. A macchiato, an Italian classic coffee drink, has just a dash of foamed milk. Typically, a macchiato only has a teaspoon of milk added while a cortado has a milk to coffee ratio of 1:1 – milk and coffee are used in equal amounts.

The type of milk used is different as a cortado makes use of steamed milk which produces a smoother taste while a macchiato uses frothy milk.

Is A Cortado The Same As A Flat White?

No, while these drinks may look very similar, they are very different. One of the key differences is the type of coffee used to make the drinks. A flat white gets its stronger taste due to the coffee used being a ristretto while the cortado is made using an espresso shot.

Also, a cortado is much smaller. The two beverages use a different type of milk, a flat white is made with textured milk, (frothed milk) milk while a cortado is made with steamed milk.

A macchiato has a stronger and more dominant taste of coffee than a flat white due to only having a dash of milk used. Typically, a macchiato has 75 mg of caffeine.

A flat white is made with double ristretto, a more focused shot of espresso, with a coffee to water ratio of 1:1 and has a higher amount of caffeine with 130 mg of caffeine and thus is stronger in terms of the caffeine kick.

A Cortado is a Spanish coffee beverage that originated in the Basque Country and enjoyed all over the country and known as a tallat in Catalonia, which literally translates from the Catalan language to cortado!

It’s a small coffee drink served traditionally in a 4-ounce Gibraltar glass and is equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The equal ratio of milk and coffee gives a balanced flavor.

Is Cortado Stronger Than Macchiato?

Due to a macchiato having only a little dash of milk, it has a more prominent and stronger taste of coffee. In terms of caffeine due to a cortado being traditionally served as a double shot of espresso and an equal amount of milk, has more caffeine. I’ve worked in many coffee shops in my 12+ years in Spain, and it is always served this way in Catalunya. 

Is A Cortado Same As Café Con Leche?

No, even though a cortado looks a lot like a mini café con leche, a popular Spanish coffee beverage, both drinks are different. 

A café con leche is made with scalded milk and a coffee to milk ratio of 1:2, using twice as much milk as coffee, where as a cortado has an equal amount of coffee and milk and uses steamed milk and not scalded milk. 

Final Thoughts – Macchiato Vs Cortado

If you have read this far you know all about a Macchiato Vs Cortado, what they are and just how very different these two coffee drinks are. 

Have you tried both? I double dare you to! And when you do, join our cool coffee community and tell us which of the two you prefer. Find us on Facebook/Meta. 

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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