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What’s the Difference Between a Cappuccino and a Macchiato?

What’s the Difference Between a Cappuccino and a Macchiato?

Concise Response

While both cappuccino and macchiato originate from Italian coffee traditions, they have distinct differences. A cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. In contrast, a macchiato is primarily an espresso “stained” or “marked” with just a small amount of milk.

Digging Deeper: Exploring the World of Coffee

The Legacy of Italian Coffee

Italy’s coffee culture is renowned globally. This culture has blessed us with iconic beverages that have become staples in cafes worldwide. Both the cappuccino and the macchiato are testaments to Italy’s coffee mastery, but their preparation and taste profiles differ remarkably.

The Cappuccino: Balance in a Cup

A cappuccino is about harmony. It blends three components in equal measure to produce a drink that’s rich yet smooth, offering a balanced taste and texture.

“In a cappuccino, the espresso provides the robust base, the steamed milk delivers creaminess, and the frothy milk foam adds a light and airy touch.”

Components of a Cappuccino

  1. Espresso: The strong and intense foundation.
  2. Steamed Milk: Adds a velvety creaminess and dilutes the strong espresso flavour.
  3. Frothed Milk: Sits on top, insulating the drink and providing a delightful textural contrast.

The Macchiato: Simplicity is Key

Macchiato, which translates to “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, lives up to its name. It’s an espresso-forward drink with just a touch of milk, ensuring the boldness of the coffee shines through.

“In a macchiato, the milk’s role isn’t to balance but to soften the edges, providing a slight relief from the espresso’s intensity.”

Types of Macchiato

  • Espresso Macchiato: This is the traditional form, where a shot of espresso is “stained” with a dollop of frothed milk.
  • Latte Macchiato: This variant starts with steamed milk, and then the espresso is added, “staining” the milk. It’s milkier than the espresso macchiato but less so than a latte or cappuccino.

Comparing the Two: A Snapshot

BeveragePrimary IngredientMilk RatioTexture
CappuccinoEspressoEqual parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothCreamy with a frothy top
MacchiatoEspressoMinimal milk, primarily an espresso drinkStrong with a slight softness from milk

Which One’s For You?

Deciding between a cappuccino and a macchiato often boils down to personal preferences. If you favour a strong coffee punch with just a hint of milk, the macchiato is your pick. However, if you’re after a creamier, balanced coffee experience, the cappuccino might be more up your alley.


Both the cappuccino and macchiato are celebrated members of the vast coffee family. Understanding their nuances not only enriches your coffee knowledge but also enhances your daily coffee ritual. Whether you enjoy the boldness of a macchiato or the harmony of a cappuccino, both beverages offer a taste of Italy’s storied coffee heritage.