Both coffee drinks are Italian creations. The name macchiato means “marked coffee” which is a nod toward its lower milk content. The latte, or “café latte” in Italian, means “milk coffee”. This is due to its higher content of milk, steamed, and an additional layer of frothed milk on top.
The only milk found in a macchiato is steamed milk. Whereas a latte has a combination of steamed milk and a layer of foamed milk on top. It often comes with a bit of added cream on top too. Macchiatos are more common among the two in Italy. The latte is favoured in France, where it will always be made up of a double shot of espresso.
The macchiato is known as being the stronger drink of the two, as it offers bolder flavours and the caffeine taste is stronger. The macchiato is traditionally made with a single shot of espresso and steamed milk. The traditional ratio is one part milk, to two parts espresso. More recently, macchiatos have been served with sugars and syrups to make them a little sweeter, but this isn’t the traditional way of serving the coffee drink.
The latte contains one espresso shot, steamed milk, and then a layer of milk foam on top. This makes the latte a lot weaker in taste than the macchiato and is best suited to a milky-coffee drinker. Traditionally the ratio of a latte is two parts milk, to one part coffee. If you reduce the amount of foam on a latte, you will effectively have a flat white.
There is a noticeable difference in the size of the two coffee drinks. The macchiato is served in an espresso cup, which is usually around 2-3 oz, as it is a quick, warming drink. Whereas the latte is usually served in tall coffee cups which hold around 240ml, to host the amount of milk the drink contains.
There is a lot of thought that goes into ordering the right drink for you. Especially when it comes to starting your day off the right way, or choosing which coffee to wind down with. However, there isn’t one coffee that is better than the other, it is simply down to personal preference and taste.
Lattes are better to sip on for longer periods of time, as they are served in larger quantities. Whereas the macchiato is a shorter drink, so tends to get colder much more quickly, but is a great choice for a short and sharp refresh.
There you have it. Hopefully, now that you know what the difference between a latte and a macchiato is, you won’t have a momentary panic on your next coffee run. Want to compare more coffees and understand their differences? Why not take a look at our article about the differences between a cortado vs flat white, next?