Macchiato Vs Cappuccino – Differences And Similarities

Last Updated on: 25th August 2023, 07:39 pm

You stroll into a coffee shop, eager to get your caffeine fix for the day. You peruse the menu and spot two popular options: macchiato and cappuccino. Both have their fans, but you’re unsure which one to choose.

What are the main differences between these two drinks? And what should you know before placing your order?

First, it’s important to note that macchiato and cappuccino share some similarities. They’re both espresso-based drinks that typically include steamed milk. However, some key differences in ingredients, preparation, and taste set them apart.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into macchiatos vs. cappuccinos so you can make an informed decision next time you hit up your local coffee joint.

What Are The Main Differences Between Cappuccino And Macchiato

Let’s break it down and find out what separates a cappuccino from a macchiato.

First, the main difference between these two popular coffee drinks is their preparation. A cappuccino is made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, while a macchiato is made with a shot of espresso and just a dollop of frothed milk on top.

Another major difference between the two is the volume of the drink. A cappuccino is usually served in a larger mug or cup than a macchiato in smaller cups or demitasse.

The size difference directly relates to the amount of milk used – since cappuccinos have more milk than macchiatos, they are typically served in larger cups.

Overall, these differences make for distinct flavor profiles. While cappuccinos are creamier and sweeter due to their higher milk content, macchiatos are stronger and more intense thanks to their concentrated espresso shot.

Cappuccino And Macchiato Ingredients

Like a chef selecting the perfect ingredients for a dish, each espresso-based drink has its own unique blend of milk and espresso.

Regarding cappuccino, the traditional recipe calls for equal parts espresso, steamed, and frothed milk. The quality of ingredients is also important – high-quality espresso beans are needed to create the rich flavor that cappuccinos are known for. Additionally, some variations may include flavored syrups such as hazelnut or mocha.

On the other hand, macchiato is made with just a shot of espresso and a dollop of steamed milk on top. This minimalist approach allows the boldness of the espresso to shine through while still adding a hint of creamy texture from the steamed milk. For those who prefer less milk in their coffee drinks but still crave that touch of sweetness, macchiato is an excellent choice.

Whether you prefer cappuccino’s balanced blend or macchiato’s simplicity, both drinks require expertly crafted shots of espresso as their foundation.

Cappuccino And Macchiato Preparation

To prepare your perfect cappuccino or macchiato, you first need to grind and tamp your espresso beans to ensure a consistent flavor and texture.

For a cappuccino, you’ll need to steam and froth milk until it reaches a velvety texture with microfoam bubbles. The milk should be poured into the espresso shot at 1:1:1 (espresso:milk: milk foam). To achieve that signature layered effect, pour the milk from a height for the bottom layer, then pour the foam on top.

On the other hand, for a macchiato, you will only need to add steamed milk and foam as an accent or ‘mark ‘ on top of your espresso shot. This is done by adding just a small amount of steamed milk and not mixing it with the espresso. To enhance its taste, you can also choose flavors like caramel or vanilla syrup.

It’s important to note that macchiatos are smaller than cappuccinos or lattes and are typically served in demitasse cups. Knowing how each drink is prepared can help you appreciate their unique characteristics when ordering at your favorite coffee shop.

Cappuccino And Macchiato Taste

As a coffee lover, you may find that cappuccinos and macchiatos are like two different personalities – one bold and creamy, the other subtle and nuanced in flavor. While both drinks are made with espresso and milk, the difference lies in their preparation. Cappuccinos have equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, while macchiatos have a shot of espresso with just a dollop of steamed milk.

Regarding taste, cappuccinos are richer since they contain more milk and foam. The foam also adds a velvety texture to the drink, which is why many people enjoy sipping it. On the other hand, macchiatos offer a bolder taste as there is less milk used in its preparation. The espresso flavors are front and center in this drink, making it ideal for those who prefer their coffee strong. If you want something sweet or flavored, add syrups such as caramel or vanilla to your drinks at Starbucks or opt for an espresso latte or cafe mocha instead!

Espresso Shot(s)12
Milk AmountDollop/Small AmountEqual Parts Steamed Milk
Foam AmountEqual Parts Foam

Variations and Customizations Of Cappuccino And Macchiato

You’re in luck because you can make endless variations and customizations to your cappuccino or macchiato that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy. Here are some variations of these classic coffee drinks that you can try:

Cappuccino Variations:

  • Mocha Cappuccino: Add chocolate syrup or powder to give a rich flavor.
  • Irish Cream Cappuccino: Mix Irish cream syrup into your cappuccino for a sweet, creamy taste.

Macchiato Variations:

  • Caramel Macchiato: Add caramel sauce and vanilla syrup for a sweet, smooth flavor.
  • Hazelnut Macchiato: Mix hazelnut syrup into your macchiato for a nutty, delicious taste.

In addition to these variations, you can customize your coffee drink’s size and strength. For example, if you prefer a stronger taste, ask for an extra shot of espresso in your cappuccino or macchiato. You can also request different types of milk, such as almond or soy milk, instead of regular milk.

With all these options, you’ll never get bored of drinking cappuccinos and macchiatos!


So, there you have it. You now know the main differences and similarities between cappuccino and macchiato.

While both beverages are made with espresso shots and milk, the way they are prepared and served sets them apart.

Cappuccino is a classic Italian drink that has been enjoyed for decades worldwide. It’s rich, creamy, and indulgent. On the other hand, macchiato is a bolder, more intense drink that packs a punch.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to variations and customizations of these two drinks! You can make these drinks your own, from flavored syrups to different types of milk (such as almonds or oats).

Whether you prefer a traditional cappuccino or an adventurous macchiato with added caramel sauce, there’s something for everyone.

In conclusion, understanding the nuances between cappuccino and macchiato will impress your barista and enhance your coffee-drinking experience. So go ahead and order one (or both!) of these delicious beverages next time you need a caffeine fix. Your taste buds will thank you!

Mike Shaw

Mike is a fervent aficionado of all things coffee. His journey has taken him from the verdant coffee farms of South America to the vibrant coffeehouses of Europe and many places in between. Over the years, he's delved deep into the intricate tapestry of coffee, savoring, brewing, and analyzing myriad varieties. For Mike, coffee transcends its role as a morning energizer; it's a world waiting to be explored and cherished.