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Coffee shops are a coffee lover’s dream. You can get coffee, coffee with syrup, a macchiato, latte…coffee in so many variations. But how to choose between a macchiato vs latte?
Which is the best of both? Here are two of the most popular types of coffee drinks that you’ll find at any shop.
In this article, I will compare and contrast a macchiato and latte and talk about their differences in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content.
What Is A Macchiato?
A macchiato is an espresso with a little bit of foam artfully poured on top. It is always served in a small cup (usually espresso).
A macchiato has the same caffeine level as an espresso.
A macchiato simply means “marked” in Italian, referring to the mark left on the cup from pouring the milk.
For a macchiato, espresso is poured into a cup and topped with just a little bit of foam.
The foam can be done in one of two ways.
Either the barista pours warm milk over the espresso grounds under the espresso machine’s steamer wand, or they use a foamer to spray micro-foam on top of the drink.
If you prefer your coffee black or on the sweeter side, this will be your choice since it isn’t heavily sweetened.
Depending on what you’re in the mood for, you might prefer either one over the other.
To understand what the difference is, let’s take a look at what goes into each one.
What Ingredients Make Up A Macchiato?
There are two basic ingredients that you will find in a macchiato: espresso and milk.
While baristas can play around with the preparation of these ingredients, the basic components will be the same for all macchiatos.
The main ingredient is espresso.
The espresso is made by brewing finely ground coffee beans under pressure.
Espresso is normally made with Arabica coffee beans but can include Robusta as well.
The milk component of the macchiato is also pretty straightforward.
It’s just steamed milk poured or sprayed on top.
Some places use non-fat milk, while others may use soy or almond milk instead of regular milk if that’s your preference.
What Does The Macchiato Taste Like?
A macchiato is a full-bodied shot of espresso with a little bit of light foam.
It is very concentrated and should have a strong flavor while being not too sweet.
Since the macchiato is basically a shot of espresso, it packs a whole bunch of caffeine.
What Is A Latte?
Now let’s take a look at the other star of the show: the latte.
A latte is a type of coffee drink, made with espresso and steamed milk, that can be served in a variety of ways.
The latte is basically 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, and a little bit foamed milk.
Most people think of the latte as something that is much milkier and less concentrated than the macchiato, but this really depends on how much espresso you like.
If you order two shots (or double-shot) of espresso in your latte, then it will be very concentrated.
What Ingredients Make Up The Latte?
The ingredients for the latte are quite simple. Espresso, steamed milk, and foam are all you need to make a delicious latte.
Again, espresso is the main component.
Creamier lattes, like those you might order at Starbucks, use less espresso (one shot to two shots).
But if you like your espresso strong and intense, then ask to use more grounds in your latte.
The steamed milk is usually made with whole milk or 2% milk that’s scalded (heated) until warm.
However, you can also get lattes that contain skim milk or soy milk.
Foam is the last thing you will find in your latte.
It’s just a light coating on top of the drink that adds some visual texture and an extra layer of flavor.
What Does The Latte Taste Like?
A latte is normally made by pouring steamed milk over an espresso.
If the drink is made with more than one shot of espresso, then it can be very strong.
Tastewise, the latte is described as a full-bodied drink with a sweet aftertaste.
It will have a less concentrated taste in comparison to the macchiato, but many people may find that it’s very smooth and reminds them of warm chocolate milk.
In general, both drinks are delicious, but if you’re looking for one that is “milkier” then you’ll need to go for the latte.
Since it is predominantly steamed milk, the latte does not have as much caffeine as the macchiato.
A single cup of coffee prepared this way normally has about half the amount of caffeine as an espresso (or 1/2-shot).
Macchiato vs Latte – The Main Differences
Macchiato vs latte, in one word: drink size.
The way you make either one will vary, but the main difference in terms of size is that a latte is usually served in a larger cup (usually ranging from 12 to 16 ounces).
It is not uncommon for people to ask for their latte to be made “bigger” or with more milk.
Milk To Espresso Ratio
The second main difference in macchiato vs latte drink is the amount of milk involved.
Since a latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, the espresso will be the main component and the milk will only play a secondary role.
As I told you earlier, the latte is essentially 1/3 espresso and 2/3 milk whereas the macchiato is essentially a shot of espresso with a little bit of milk foam on top.
The caffeine level is another important difference you should be aware of.
As for how much caffeine is in a macchiato vs latte, it can vary and is dependent on several factors.
It all comes down to the type of espresso used (including the amount of grounds), how much foam is added (amount and type), and also the number of shots.
However, an average macchiato will have about the same amount of caffeine as a regular espresso (1/2-shot).
If you get double shots in your latte, then it will have about the same caffeine level as an Americano (1-shot).
Bottom line: you can still get more or equal amounts of caffeine in your latte than your macchiato.
Lastly, the last main difference between macchiato vs latte is taste.
While both drinks can be served hot or cold, most people will choose to drink their latte hot.
If you want a drink that is more milky than concentrated, then a latte should satisfy your needs.
Also, lattes are often made with flavored syrups and powders, which makes them taste sweeter than an average macchiato.
On the other hand, macchiatos often contain very little milk and almost no sugar (or sweetness at all).
So if you prefer your coffee black or on the sweeter side, this will be your choice since it isn’t heavily sweetened.
Macchiato vs Latte – Calorie Content
A macchiato is said to have around 50 calories, while a latte can have up to 230.
If you get more milk in your latte, then the calories will go up accordingly.
It’s also important to keep in mind that these numbers are just estimates.
The calories found in both drinks can vary depending on the type of milk and espresso used, not to mention the size of your cup.
Macchiato vs Latte – Which One Should You Drink?
I would say that a macchiato is better suited for people who prefer strong coffee drinks and a latte is suitable for those who love a more milky drink with a minimal amount of caffeine.
Both drinks are delicious and can satisfy your sweet tooth while also providing some energy from the espresso.
In addition, getting a latte every time you visit Starbucks will get boring pretty quickly.
So instead of ordering the same drink over and over again, try customizing your latte or macchiato with different ingredients to get a new and delicious taste every time.
Final Thoughts About Macchiato vs Latte
If you’re just ordering your first macchiato, there is no need to worry because the barista will help you out.
They will ask you if you prefer light or dark roast, as well as how much sugar, if any, would like in the coffee as well as how many shots of espresso should be added to your cup.
If you’re just getting started, then try both and see which one you like more.
If it’s a macchiato that you prefer, then by all means order it.
A good barista will always prepare your drink as you’d like.
But if you order a latte and find that the taste isn’t as good as the macchiato, I would either start ordering them with 1/2 shot of espresso.
Or you try and become familiar with non-fat milk so you can enjoy latte shots at home as well as out of the house!
So which of these two drinks should you go for? Let me know in the comments!