Macchiato vs. Cappuccino (Key Differences And Recipe)

A cup of coffee
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Macchiato vs. cappuccino- both drinks are espresso-based and appear similar but have some critical differences.

There are no differences in taste, appearance, or ingredients, so why do they have different names? Are both of these drinks the same? Technically, no. However, most people don’t bother to distinguish between them since they’re fundamentally the same.

You’re not going to get confused between a cappuccino and a macchiato next time you drink coffee, as we describe their differences in this article. You can tell them apart despite their similarities by subtle but straightforward distinctions.

Macchiatos are espresso drinks with a thin layer of steamed milk, while cappuccinos contain equal parts of milk and foam. But in this blog below, let us learn the detailed overviews and critical differences between macchiato vs. cappuccino.


What is a Cappuccino? 


A cappuccino is made with an espresso shot and topped with heated milk and milk froth. The espresso used to make cappuccino is primarily strong and intense, brewed in an espresso machine with coffee beans.

The first cappuccinos appeared in Italy in the 18th century. The name originates from capuchin monks, as it is reminiscent of their hooded cloaks. It is a strict breakfast drink in the country.

In current times, cappuccino is a very popular beverage around the world. It is like other espresso drinks, though it is less energetic than an espresso shot.

In a traditional cappuccino, when the coffee is skillfully poured so that a circle of white is perfectly surrounded by a darker ring of coffee, it is called a monk’s head.

 cup of cappuccino coffee

How is it made?

Coffee drinks typically contain three main ingredients: steamed milk, milk foam, and espresso. As the name suggests, the milk foam is simply steamed milk that has been whipped to add some air.

Hence, there is no secret formula for a successful cappuccino besides equal ratios.

A double espresso shot is poured into a cup of milk and topped with heated foamed milk, all in a ratio of 1:1:1. For added sweetness; cappuccinos are usually capped with chocolate sprinkles or other flavored toppings.


There are three primary cappuccino variations apart from the traditional Italian cappuccino coffee.

  • Dry cappuccino:  This coffee has more milk foam, less espresso, and steamed milk. Due to more milky foam, the dry cappuccino stays warm for an extended period. A dry cappuccino has a strong flavor and appears darker in color due to less hot milk quantity.
  • Wet cappuccino: Unlike the dry cappuccino, the wet one contains more steamed milk, with no or less milk foam on top. For this reason, the wet cappuccino is also called a latte because of its milky nature.
  • Bone dry cappuccino: Similar to a dry cappuccino, except it has no hot milk but only an espresso shot and milk foam on top.
Cappuccino making
Rich creamy tasteSensitive to milk temperature
CustomizableHigh-calorie count
Balanced drinkcan be too foamy
VersatileUnsuitable for those with lactose intolerance

What is a Macchiato?


Italians originated macchiatos, a strong coffee drink. This coffee drink is made with an espresso shot, topped with steaming milk, and a small or no amount of foam. Macchiato is an Italian word that means “stained” or “spotted” and describes how the milk and foam stain the coffee.

It is easy to confuse a macchiato with a cappuccino because they contain the same ingredients – sort of. Macchiatos, however, have much less or no foamed milk, and the espresso-to-steamed milk ratio is much higher than that of a cappuccino.

Macchiato (also known as caffe macchiato) is relatively new to the world of coffee; it is thought to date back to the 1980s.

macchiato coffee

How is it made? 

A macchiato has no specific recipe, so you’ll find different styles at coffee shops.

The most general recipe includes a tiny amount of milk foam poured over less steamed milk and an espresso shot.

Some people use hardly any milk and only add a little dash of steamed milk. Standard macchiatos do not have a defined amount of milk, unlike cappuccinos.

The amount of milk you add mostly depends on your taste. To put it simply, a macchiato is a less milky coffee than cappuccinos.


Typically, macchiatos come in three different variations in many coffee shops:

  • Iced macchiato: A double-walled glass or tumbler is filled with ice, and milk is poured over it. A marble-like effect is created in the drink when the espresso shot is poured over the top.
  • Latte macchiato: An espresso drink paired with hot milk is known as a latte macchiato. They are also called inverse/reverse macchiatos.
  • Espresso macchiato: This coffee drink differs in that it has textured milk foam poured on top and is served in an espresso cup. An espresso macchiato will likely have latte art.
iced macchiato
Strong espresso flavorStrong bitter flavor, which some people don’t like
CustomizableLimited milk options
Quick and easy to makeSmall serving
Low-calorie countNot suitable for those with lactose intolerance

What is common in a Macchiato and a Cappuccino? 

Before moving to the differences between macchiato and cappuccino, let us learn the similarities these two coffee drinks have.

To be short and quick, the similarity between a cappuccino and a latte macchiato is that they both use steamed milk and espresso to create a rich, smooth, and creamy base with a distinct coffee flavor. Served hot or cold, both are equally delicious.

The best latte macchiato and cappuccino are made with whole milk, which draws out a velvety, rich base of proteins and fat that is just right for creating the best drink.

Macchiato vs. Cappuccino: What are the Differences? 

The following are some main differences between cappuccino vs. macchiato:


Despite the fact that espresso drinks share similar ingredients, their tastes can vary greatly. The ratio of espresso to steamed milk (or milk foam) is usually responsible for this variation in different coffee flavors. 

Starting with a macchiato, this drink has a bold and bitter coffee taste that you can taste through a thin or no layer of milk foam. On the other hand, a cappuccino has a smoother, sweeter, and softer taste, thanks to the equal parts of espresso, froth, and steamed milk mix.

As a macchiato doesn’t contain as much milk as a cappuccino, it has a more robust flavor, so if you like strong coffee drinks, you would be better off with one.

Caffeine Content

There can be a lot of variation in caffeine levels in espresso drinks, and because macchiatos tend to have a more pungent taste, you might assume they are more caffeinated. However, this is not always true.

The caffeine content of a regular macchiato or cappuccino is between 80mg and 120mg. Generally, most espresso drinks are pretty similar to this.

As opposed to cappuccinos, macchiatos are only available in two sizes, with either a single or double shot of espresso. In contrast, a large 16oz cappuccino is available with double or triple espresso shots.

The amount of caffeine in a typical cappuccino is 75-80 milligrams per 8-ounce serving, while the caffeine in a macchiato is about half (35-37 mg).

This means the caffeine content of a cappuccino is much higher than that of a macchiato, even though the latter contains less milk. So, the cappuccino is the perfect coffee for those seeking a caffeine boost.

Coffee cup showing milk content


As discussed earlier, most coffee drinkers often confuse differentiating between a cappuccino and a macchiato since they appear the same.

A cappuccino’s velvety texture results from equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam.

Meanwhile, macchiatos contain less espresso and more steamed milk, thus making them softer and sweeter. Macchiatos have a thin layer of milk foam, while cappuccinos have thick and creamy foam.

But latte macchiatos consist of microfoam that gives the drink its silky and velvety texture, similar to a cappuccino.


The best way to prepare coffee depends on personal taste, so following authentic coffee recipes is always a good idea to make a perfect beverage.

Though making a cappuccino and a macchiato is simple, you need a milk frother and an espresso machine to make these two coffee drinks.

However, when it comes to comparing the brewing method between macchiato and cappuccino, it is more difficult and time-consuming to brew a cappuccino.

A macchiato only needs frothed milk, which can be easily made by whipping milk in advance, but since matching the ratio of coffee to steamed milk can be a little tricky, cappuccinos are slightly harder to prepare.

Ingredient Ratio

The quantities of frothed, steamed, and espresso in these coffee drinks affect their taste and texture.

Moreover, both the drinks are very different in size, and a cappuccino has steamed milk, which is much larger. You can, however, prepare them yourself if you know the actual ingredient ratios.

A cappuccino has three parts: espresso, steamed, and foamed milk, added together in an equal 1:1:1 ratio. In contrast, a traditional macchiato contains only 10% milk foam and 90% espresso. (2:1 ratio)

Cappuccinos are easy to drink because they are 70% milk and 30% espresso. Since macchiatos are newer coffee drinks, they’re made more sparingly. Coffee lovers enjoy its bold flavor because it always focuses on espresso.

The difference between a cappuccino and a macchiato is the amount of steamed milk. So, If you like milky coffee, you will love a cappuccino.

cappuccino and macchiato in formation


You can easily spend a fortune in coffee shops without even noticing that the prices are rising every year.

These amazing coffee drinks are relatively inexpensive, but their ingredients and brewing method determine their price.

There is a difference between a cappuccino and a macchiato in price. A macchiato typically costs $2-4, whereas a cappuccino costs $3-6.

Macchiatos are cheaper than cappuccinos because there are fewer ingredients, little preparation time, and smaller serving sizes. Contrary to this, a cappuccino has much more steamed milk, thus costing more.

The price will also vary depending on the coffee shop and the syrups and flavorings you choose.


Caffeine content usually takes the spotlight when choosing between a cappuccino and a macchiato. But the calorie count becomes just as crucial for those mindful of their waistlines. So, which of these two popular coffees is the healthier choice regarding calories?

A standard cappuccino packs roughly 80-100 calories, while a macchiato boasts a slimmer 50-70 calories. Nevertheless, remember that these numbers can shift depending on the drink size and the type of milk used.

For instance, a hefty cappuccino made with whole milk can clock in over 200 calories.

Overall, a macchiato is your best bet to cut down on calories. However, it’s essential to pay attention to the details.

Choosing skim milk or non-dairy milk alternatives can reduce calorie content, while adding flavored syrup, whipped cream, cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, and other sweeteners can quickly stack up the calories.

So next time you’re pondering over your coffee order, remember to factor in the calorie count and make a thoughtful and delicious decision.

Fat Content

When it comes to fat content, a cappuccino slightly edges out a macchiato due to its higher milk volume. However, the difference in fat content is hardly worth noting, and both drinks fall within the low-fat category.

The Takeaway 

A traditional macchiato is a drink for those who appreciate the beauty of subtle espresso flavor. With limited caffeine and a milder taste profile, it’s an excellent choice for people who have a lower caffeine tolerance or prefer a more delicate flavor.

The strict ratio of espresso to steamed milk in a latte macchiato creates a bold taste experience that’s full-bodied and slightly sweet while still cutting the bitterness.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an espresso-forward drink, a cappuccino is the way to go. With a distinct flavor profile, it’s an ideal morning pick-me-up to get your day started, as long as you’re not strictly limiting your caffeine intake.

The lactose and fat content of the milk in a cappuccino can help give you an energy boost to power through the day, while the strong espresso flavor provides the necessary wake-up call.

So which one is your favorite?


Which one is stronger, a cappuccino or a macchiato?

To decide between a macchiato and a cappuccino depends on your definition of strength. A macchiato has more caffeine due to less milk, while a cappuccino has a more robust flavor since the milk doesn’t mask the espresso as much.

What type of milk to use in both drinks?

Whole milk is the ideal choice for making macchiato and cappuccino due to its thick and rich consistency, creating a velvety foam with buttery notes. It helps to achieve the three essential layers of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. While almond milk can be a dairy-free alternative, it creates a lighter, sweeter, and more delicate drink.

Which drink is easier to make at home, a macchiato or a cappuccino?

While most people slightly prefer cappuccinos over macchiatos, macchiatos are much simpler to make at home. The hassle of making milk foam for cappuccinos is a significant deterrent. It may not be an issue if you are okay with the cleanup, but making a macchiato is still the easier option.

Are you supposed to stir a macchiato? 

Your coffee-drinking preferences are entirely up to you, but a macchiato is already mostly mixed due to its preparation, where the milk blends with the espresso. If you add sugar or sweeteners, make sure to stir them in.

Can I steam milk for my cappuccino without an espresso maker? 

Making macchiatos or cappuccinos at home is easier than you might think, and you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment like an espresso machine or steamer wand.

Instead, you can use simple tools like an electric whisk, a stove, a small pot, or a jam jar to froth the milk and add it to your coffee or espresso. You can also use a hand blender for delicate milk bubbles. With these easy methods, you can make a delicious homemade cappuccino or macchiato without breaking the bank.

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