macchiato vs cappuccino

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Macchiato vs cappuccino? Not really a debate here but more a matter of preference.

In this article, I will be demystifying the very question you were asking by providing an explanation of the different brewing methods and ingredients that lead to these two variations in taste.

You may have been wondering what’s the difference between macchiato and cappuccino, or if the following terms are interchangeable?

Well, let’s get started!

Macchiato vs Cappuccino – A Quick Overview

First, we’ll take a close look at both drinks.

What Is A Macchiato?

A macchiato is typically an espresso shot, served in an espresso cup and topped with a dollop of foam. The shot is usually served with a small knob of finely ground milk foam on top.

What Is A Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is almost the same as a macchiato, except for the fact that between the espresso and the foam, lies a layer of lightly frothed milk.

The addition of this layer provides for a slightly richer tasting drink, which is why the cappuccino is said to be more popular than the macchiato.

Macchiato vs Cappuccino – What’s The Difference?

Basically, a macchiato is an espresso coffee with steamed milk only whereas a cappuccino is made of an espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk

What’s crucial to the success of a cappuccino is the ratio. The same goes for a macchiato.

A cappuccino is a shot of espresso – a double espresso, sometimes a single.

The espresso is then topped with a layer of foam and then an equal amount of hot steamed milk.

So the ratio here would be 1/3 espresso shot, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foamed milk.

Simply put, each part that makes the drink is served equally into the cup.

But in the case of the macchiato, the espresso shot is only topped with steamed milk and no foam.

Macchiato vs Cappuccino – Caffeine Content Variation

Remember that caffeine content varies widely based on a few factors:

Whether you are drinking a macchiato or cappuccino – with the macchiato having less caffeine content than the cappuccino.

  • The time of day when you’re drinking coffee, with caffeine levels usually higher in the afternoon than in the morning.
  • The size of your cup, with smaller cups containing less caffeine than large cups.
  • The type of bean that is used, with arabica containing more caffeine than robusta.
  • The grind size of your espresso.
  • The temperature of the espresso.
  • How the coffee is made – with certain factors increasing or decreasing the caffeine content.

With that in mind, you should know that your cup of macchiato and cappuccino might differ.

For instance, if you don’t use the same coffee grounds for the espresso you will use to prepare your macchiato and the cappuccino.

I hope you get the picture.

But as a general rule, a macchiato and a cappuccino will more or less have the same caffeine content.

Remember that if you’re making each cup (macchiato and cappuccino) with a single shot of espresso or a double espresso shot, both cups (macchiato and cappuccino) will hold the same amount of caffeine.

The only difference is the steamed milk in the cappuccino which won’t lower the caffeine content in your macchiato.

How To Make a Perfect Cappuccino At Home

What you’ll need:


  • Warm your cup (fill it up with hot water and let it sit for a few mins)
  • Turn on your espresso machine, fill the water reservoir and let it heat
  • When your water is ready, place your coffee grounds in the coffee filter and let it pour the shot into your espresso cup
  • Pour your milk into your milk pitcher and steam for around 5-6 seconds.
  • In another milk pitcher, froth your milk to make the foam
  • Swirl your milk before pouring it into the espresso (to release some air)
  • Pour milk onto your espresso shot as gently as possible
  • Lastly, add the foamed milk on top
  • Enjoy!

How To Make a Perfect Macchiato

What you’ll need:


  • Warm your cup (fill it up with hot water and let it sit for a few mins)
  • Turn on your espresso machine, fill the water reservoir and let it heat
  • When your water is ready, place your coffee grounds in the coffee filter and let it pour the shot in your espresso cup
  • Take a spoon to stir gently so you don’t get a first bitter sip (my personal preference)
  • Froth your milk for a few seconds until it gets a bit of texture
  • When done, pour around 1-2 ounces of that foamed milk on top of the espresso.
  • Enjoy!

Quick Tips For Preparing The Best Espresso At Home

  1. Grind your coffee beans before brewing. Using a burr grinder creates a much more consistent grind, resulting in a better espresso.
  2. Don’t over-fill your coffee portafilter – keeping your grounds wet will give you a more consistent extraction, resulting in a better-tasting shot.
  3. Make sure to use good quality water and good quality coffee beans.
  4. Heat the milk for a cappuccino before adding it to your espresso shot, which will give you a richer taste.
  5. Use the right coffee-to-water ratio (for example, if you’re using 20g of grounds in an 80g basket, add 40g of water). This will guarantee that your espresso is strong enough.
  6. Don’t fill your cups more than halfway, with the exception of the ristretto (due to its small volume). This will ensure the best espresso. Be consistent – that’s the key to making consistently good-tasting coffee.
  7. Clean your espresso machine often – this will keep your brewing consistent and taste better every time you use it.
  8. Don’t grind your beans much before brewing – ground coffee quickly loses aroma and flavor if you let it sit for too long.
  9. Store coffee in an airtight container, away from direct light.
  10. Use filtering baskets to store used coffee grounds – filtering baskets will prolong the life of your used coffee grounds.
  11. Don’t rush the process – try taking around 22 seconds for each shot of espresso, which is what most high-end commercial espresso machines are designed to make since it’s closer to the ideal extraction time for great espresso shots.
  12. Don’t keep your beans in the freezer – storing them at room temperature is better because freezing them will cause condensation when it thaws out, which can cause rusting.

Final Thoughts on Macchiato vs Cappuccino

Needless to say, if you’re wondering which one you should choose, the answer is both!

While a cappuccino might be a bit more complex for those who are new to the art of making it, a macchiato provides a great deal for those who have been enjoying espresso shots at home.

Although they might have different references and meanings, both of these drinks will deliver on their promises of providing rich and delicious flavors.

Now you have no more excuses for not being able to make good espressos at home.

So, off to your coffee machine now!

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