Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato: 3 Incredible Essential Distinctions

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato:

Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato: The latte, cappuccino, and macchiato are distinct espresso-based beverages that often confuse even seasoned coffee enthusiasts. Navigating a specialty coffee shop menu can be daunting with all the Italian drink names. Understanding these three popular choices will help you make an informed decision next time you’re at a café.

Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato

What Is A Latte?

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk, topped with a thin layer of milk foam. The name “caffè latte” translates to “coffee with milk” in Italian, though the drink itself originated in America. Designed to cater to those seeking a less intense cappuccino, a latte typically has a 1:6 espresso-to-milk ratio and can be made with either a single or double shot of espresso. The result is a large beverage with a mild coffee flavor and velvety texture, usually served in an 8 to 12-ounce glass.

North American vs. Italian Lattes

In Italy, “caffè latte” often refers to a home-‘brewed drink made with Mocha pot coffee and warm milk, not frothed. In cafés, you’ll get the espresso-based version if you specify “caffè latte.” However, ordering “latte” alone will get you a glass of milk. In North America, a latte is the espresso-and-milk drink we know, but variations abound, including sweetened and flavored versions like Chai Latte and Matcha Latte.

What Is A Cappuccino?

A cappuccino combines espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. It is one of the most popular coffee drinks globally. A traditional Italian cappuccino contains equal parts of these three components and is served in a 5 or 6-ounce mug. The drink has a robust coffee flavor and a balanced texture between creamy and airy. While it can be made with a single or double shot of espresso, the double shot is more common in modern cafés.

North American vs. Italian Lattes

In North America, cappuccinos are often larger and may feature latte art, although traditionalists argue this disrupts the authentic texture. In Europe, cappuccinos may be topped with whipped cream and dusted with cinnamon or cocoa powder. You can also customize a cappuccino’s milk-to-foam ratio: a “wet” cappuccino has more steamed milk, while a “dry” cappuccino has more milk foam.

What Is A Macchiato?

A macchiato is a simple drink consisting of an espresso shot “marked” with a dollop of frothed milk. The term “macchiato” means “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, referring to the mark of milk on the espresso. It’s a small drink, usually no more than 3 ounces, meant to be sipped quickly. The macchiato highlights the espresso’s flavor, with just a touch of milk to soften the edge.

Latte Macchiato

A latte macchiato is the reverse of a traditional macchiato. It features a tall glass of hot milk “stained” with one or two shots of espresso poured on top, offering a creamy texture and mild coffee flavor similar to a latte.

Key Differences: Cappuccino, Latte, and Macchiato

Although all three drinks use espresso and milk, their differences lie in the milk’s type and quantity, resulting in unique tastes and textures.

Ratio and Texture

– Cappuccino: 1:1:1 (1 part espresso, 1 part steamed milk, 1 part frothed milk). It has a strong coffee flavor and a creamy, airy texture, served in a smaller 5 or 6-ounce cup.
– Latte: 1:6 (1 part espresso to 6 parts steamed milk with a thin foam layer). It has a mild coffee flavor and velvety texture, served in a larger 8 to 12-ounce glass.
– Macchiato: 1:0.5 (1 part espresso to a small amount of frothed milk). It has the strongest coffee flavor and a dense texture, served in a small demitasse.

Flavor and Caffeine Content

The macchiato has the most robust coffee flavor due to its minimal milk content. The cappuccino offers a balanced coffee and milk experience, while the latte is the sweetest and milkiest. All three drinks have the same caffeine content, assuming they use the same amount of espresso. A single shot contains 40-60 mg of caffeine, and a double shot has 80-120 mg.

Taste Preferences

– Macchiato: For those who prioritize the pure taste of espresso.
– Latte: For those who enjoy a sweeter, milkier beverage with a smooth texture.
– Cappuccino: For those who appreciate a balanced blend of bold coffee flavor and creamy milk.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the differences between cappuccino, latte, and macchiato empowers you to choose the right coffee drink for your taste preferences. Whether you prefer the intense flavor of a macchiato, the creamy balance of a cappuccino, or the mild sweetness of a latte, each offers a distinct coffee experience worth exploring.