Macchiato vs Latte: A Barista Explains the Difference

 Last Updated April 18, 2022

Macchiato vs latte - do you know the difference between these two drinks? If not, don't worry as you're not alone. In this post I'll give a barista's explanation on the differences between a macchiato and latte. I'll also show you how to make them and suggest when it's best to order these drinks.

Macchiato vs latte

Macchiato on the left and latte on the right. Made with my espresso machine.

Difference between a macchiato and latte

First, let's start with the macchiato. A macchiato is made by adding a small amount of steamed milk to a shot of espresso. The milk should be added until it forms a layer on top of the espresso and creates a "stain" or "mark" (macchia in Italian). For a short macchiato, I use a tea spoon to scoop a small dash of microfoam on top. The small amount of microfoam helps to take the "edge" of the espresso, making it an easier drink to put down.

Now let's move on to the latte. A latte is made by adding steamed milk to espresso and then topping it off with layer of micro-foam. This results in a much creamier drink than a macchiato thanks to its milk. Making latte art is also popularly done with lattes, which create designs like a heart or swan on the coffee.

So, when should you order a macchiato or a latte? If you want a strong coffee that you can drink quickly with less edge than a straight espresso, go for a macchiato. If you're looking for a creamy, Starbucks-style drink, then order a latte. Enjoy!

Let's define what we mean by a "macchiato"

There are actually a couple ways to make a macchiato: a short macchiato and a long macchiato. The difference between the two are described below.

What is a short macchiato?

A short macchiato is the traditional macchiato. It is made by combining one shot of coffee (30ml) with a small dollop of steamed milk placed on top of the espresso.

When making a short mach I use a tea spoon to get the correct amount of foamed milk in the cup. It is made in a small demitasse cup.

Short Macchiato

A short espresso macchiato. One shot of espresso and a stain of milk.

What is a long macchiato?

A long macchiato is simply a double shot of espresso (60ml) made in a cup with a larger spoon of steamed milk placed on top of the coffee. Basically, you double the recipe of s short macchiato!

When I make a long mach, I use a table spoon to scoop in my milk as this gives you the perfect amount of milk foam. You can use whatever type of cup you want for a long macchiato, but I like using a either a glass tumbler or mug cup.

In terms of taste, it tastes just like a short macchiato just with a higher caffeine content. So if you're extra tired, or just want a larger drink, then this is a good one to order.

Long Macchiato

A long macchiato is simply a double shot of espresso with a dollop of milk.

How is a cafe latte made?

We've written a good guide on how to make a good latte here. So we will keep the description here on the shorter side. Basically, all you need to do is extract one shot of espresso into your cup, steam up some milk, then combine the two! You'll end up with a milky coffee drink that's easy to drink.

latte in a cup

A cafe latte is a 30ml of espresso topped up with steamed milk and 1cm of micro foam. It's a popular coffee shop drink.

Latte vs macchiato summary of difference

Below are the key differences between a cafe latte and cafe macchiato:

  • A macchiato is a stronger tasting drink compared to a latte. Even though they both have the same amount of espresso, a macchiato tastes much stronger as it is not as diluted as the latte.
  • A espresso macchiato only has a small dollop of milk, while a caffè latte makes up two thirds of the beverage. This means that a caffè latte taste much more creamy thanks to its combination of milk and espresso.
  • A macchiato will have a layer of foam on top of the espresso. If you have a clear glass, you should be able to see distinct layers of milk and foam.
  • A macchiato is perfect if you want a quick espresso shot with the edge slightly taken off thanks to the combination of m
  • A latte is better if you want a drink that lasts longer and is easier to drink.

So there you have it! We hope we have answered your questions about the differences between a latte and macchiato. So no more getting confused when you visit coffee shops.

If you have any further questions, please make sure to leave a comment below. If not, make sure to check out our other coffee comparison posts such as:


About The Author 

Ivan Bez

Ivan is the founder of Latte Art Guide and a barista with 7+ years of experience. He loves coffee and aims to help people improve their coffee making skills.


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