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What is the difference between a latte and a macchiato?


Understanding the Difference Between a Latte and a Macchiato

At first glance, a latte and a macchiato might look like nearly identical coffee drinks. However, aficionados of the coffee world know that their differences, both subtle and overt, are vast. From their preparation methods to the amount of milk used, lattes and macchiatos offer distinct experiences for coffee enthusiasts. Here, we delve into what sets these two beverages apart, in terms of flavour, texture, and popularity, particularly among the UK audience.


Latte and Macchiato: A Brief Introduction

To understand the contrasts, we first need to understand their individual characteristics:

  • Latte: Derived from the Italian phrase “caffè latte,” which means “milk coffee,” a latte is a creamy blend of espresso and steamed milk. This popular beverage often features a thin layer of microfoam on the top.
  • Macchiato: Originating from the Italian word for “stained” or “spotted,” a macchiato is essentially an espresso “stained” or “marked” with just a dash of frothy milk. This drink is more potent and offers a stronger coffee taste than a latte.

Preparation Techniques

“A great coffee is a symphony of well-harmonised ingredients.”

While both drinks contain espresso and milk, their preparation techniques differ significantly:

  1. Latte: Generally made with one or two shots of espresso topped with steamed milk, followed by a small amount of foam. The high milk-to-coffee ratio gives it a creamy consistency.
  2. Macchiato: Prepared by pouring a shot of espresso and then adding just a small amount of milk or foam, resulting in a more potent coffee flavour.

Which Tastes Better: Latte or Macchiato?

Taste, as they say, is subjective. What might be the elixir of life for one could be just another beverage for another. However, there are certain taste profiles inherent to these drinks:

  • Latte: Due to its higher milk content, a latte offers a milder and creamier taste. The coffee flavour is present but subdued by the milk, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer a less intense coffee experience.
  • Macchiato: As it has minimal milk, the macchiato is for those who appreciate the robust flavour of espresso. The milk merely softens the espresso’s edges without overpowering its strong character.

Which has More Milk: Latte or Macchiato?

The difference in milk content is arguably the most defining characteristic between the two.

BeverageEspresso ContentMilk Content
Latte1-2 shotsSubstantially more (typically in a 3:1 ratio of milk to espresso)
Macchiato1-2 shotsJust a dash (merely to stain the espresso)

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a latte and a macchiato often comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a creamy, milk-forward coffee drink, the latte is your best bet. However, if you want a bolder espresso taste with just a touch of milk, opt for the macchiato.

Regardless of your choice, the UK’s rich café culture ensures that both beverages are crafted with utmost precision and passion. Whether you’re in a quaint coffee shop in London or a bustling café in Birmingham, your taste buds are in for a treat.