Want to Know the Difference Between A Latte and Macchiato?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 16th, 2022

Have you entered a coffee shop, glanced through the broad menu on the wall, and felt overwhelmed? With tons of drinks to pick from, it isn’t easy to choose what you want to try.

You think you are familiar with this drink occasionally, but it turns out to be different when you see and taste it. This post will help you learn about two of the most famous coffee drinks in the espresso world: the Caffe Latte and Macchiato, and their contrasts.


What is Caffe Latte?

person making latte art

Caffe Latte is perhaps one of the most popular coffee drinks globally. It is a coffee prepared from espresso and steamed milk. Started in Italy, it is called Caffè Latte, with the Caffè meaning coffee and Latte meaning milk.

Depending on each business, the proportion of coffee versus milk may differ, but commonly, a higher quantity of milk to espresso is used. This is why the milk flavor dominates in Caffe Latte, contrasting with other drinks like cappuccino.

Caffe Latte has a fine coat of milk foam on top. Bartenders use this as a canvas for them to exhibit their aesthetic skills. You can usually see the image of a fern, a heart, or a swan on top of a cup of Caffe Latte.

Latte art is an intriguing subject by itself. Seoul, Korea, one of the most beautiful coffee places, have latte art in charming cartoon characters with several colors and expressions. 

Variation of Caffe Latte?

As a well-known drink, Caffe Latte has many variations. They can be Mocha Latte with chocolate syrup on top or Chai Latte with an Indian spiced tea called masala chai instead of espresso.

Flavoring syrup like Caramel Latte, Vanilla Latte, or Hazelnut Latte can be added to a Caffè latte for different flavors. Pumpkin Spice Latte and Mocha Latte are popular in the chilly fall and winter months. It grabs the changing of the season with fragrance and flavor that warms you up. 

What is Macchiato?


The Caffè Macchiato is a coffee drink with a small amount of frothed milk foam on top and espresso. Many coffee lovers view Macchiato as a bridge between an espresso and Cappuccino. Espresso or traditional Macchiato usually has only a dollop of milk foam and two espresso shots. Some areas put one to two tablespoons of milk into the drink, but many rely on milk foam solely. 

Macchiato means “marked” or “stained” in Italian, explaining the little foamed milk above the dark espresso. It fits for people who would like a touch of milk for add-on flavor but still fancy a taste of the rich espresso and do not want the drink to be as milky as a mug of Cappuccino.

Nowadays, we can find different kinds of Macchiato in a coffee shops. Coffee companies and baristas always come up with different flavor mixtures and techniques to give Macchiato a cool new coat. 

Variation in Macchiato

You can request Caffe Macchiato in Italy and most parts of Europe and get what you want without a problem. But in the United States, except if you order an espresso or classic Macchiato, what you get will most likely be a Latte Macchiato. 

Unlike Macchiato, a latte macchiato comprises three layers: milk at the bottom, espresso at the middle, and a top layer of milk foam.

It is usually served in tall glasses and looks pretty because of the different layers. Just make sure you give it a stir to enjoy the full flavor. 

Another notable Macchiato variety is Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato. Made by Hannah Su and her team in 1996, the Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato was a tremendous hit and afterward became a menu item.

In the drink, vanilla syrup, milk, and ice are marked for the first time with espresso, with caramel sauce in a double-circle crosshatched pattern. Starbucks also put together the Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato and Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato. 

An extra shot on the renowned Macchiato is Cloud Macchiato with fluffy whipped milk foam that generated quite an uproar when it was released. 

Macchiato vs. Latte

Even though both drinks contain espresso and milk, Macchiato and Latte’s difference lies in mixed and served. Caffe latte is prepared with espresso and steamed milk with a layer of foam on top. While Caffe Macchiato contains a layer of espresso and only milk foam on top. The milk in a Latte is significantly more than in a Macchiato, giving it a slightly sweeter, mild flavor. 

In America, most people are usually unsure whether to pick between the Macchiato or the Latte because they are more familiar with the Latte Macchiato from Starbucks, which tastes Latte.

Is a macchiato stronger than a latte?

It is noticeably different from a cafe latte because in a latte macchiato, espresso is added to milk, and in a caffe latte, milk is added to the espresso. It can be misinterpreted as a cappuccino, but even with identical ingredients, the macchiato has a deeper, more aromatic flavor.


Notwithstanding, both Macchiato and Latte are favorite drinks for many coffee drinkers. Barista has also come up with intriguing variations to satisfy different taste buds and even dietary needs worldwide. Recognizing their variations makes it easier to pick what to drink and makes your trip to the coffee shop a little more pleasurable. 

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Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.