What is the difference between Latte and Macchiato?


latte vs macchiato

Have you ever go into a coffee shop, look at the broad menu in the wall, and feel overwhelmed? With dozens and dozens of drinks to choose from, it is hard to pick what you want to try. Sometimes, you think you know this drink, but when you see and taste it, it is a totally different drink. In this post, I will help you to understand two of the most popular coffee drink in the espresso world, which is Caffe Latte and Macchiato as well as the differences between them.

What is Caffe Latte?

Caffe Latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks around the world. It is a coffee made from espresso and steamed milk. Originated from Italy, it is called Caffè Latte with Caffè means Coffee and Latte means milk. Depend on each establishment, the ratio of coffee versus milk may vary, but generally, a higher amount of milk versus espresso is used. That is why the milk flavor is quite dominant in Caffe Latte, compared with other drinks like Cappuccino.

Caffe Latte has a beautiful layer of milk foam on top. Barista takes this as a canvas for them to showcase their artistic skills. You can often see the image of a heart, a fern, or a swan on top of a cup of Caffe Latte. Latte art is an interesting topic by itself. In Seoul, Korea, one of the most instagrammable coffee places, has latte art in the form of cute cartoon characters with different colors and expressions. 

Variation of Caffe Latte?

As a famous drink, Caffe Latte does have different variations. They can be Mocha Latte with add on chocolate syrup or Chai Latte that use masala chai (an Indian spiced tea) instead of espresso. Flavoring syrup can be added to a Caffè latte for different flavors like Vanilla Latte, Caramel Latte, or Hazelnut Latte. In the colder autumn and winter month, Mocha Latte and Pumpkin Spice Latte are famous. It captured the changing of the season, with aroma and flavor that warm you up. 

What is Macchiato

Macchiato or Caffè Macchiato is a coffee drink with espresso and a small amount of frothed milk foam on top. Many consider Macchiato as a cross between a cappuccino and an espresso. Traditional or espresso Macchiato often has two shots of espresso and only a dollop of milk foam. Some places add one to two tablespoons of milk to the drink as well, but most rely on milk foam solely. 

Macchiato means “stained” or “marked” in Italian, describing the little foamed milk on top of the dark espresso. It is suitable for people who would like a bit of milk for add-on flavor. But they still want to taste the rich espresso and do not want the drink to be as milky as a cup of Cappuccino. Nowadays, we can find a variety of Macchiato in a coffee shop. Barista and coffee company regularly came up with different flavor combinations and techniques to give Macchiato a fresh new coat. 

Variation of Macchiato

In Italy and Europe, you can order Caffe Macchiato and get what you want without a problem. But from coffee chains in the United States, unless you specifically order a classic or espresso macchiato, what you get will likely be a Latte Macchiato. 

Different from Macchiato, a latte macchiato has three layers, milk in the bottom, then espresso, and a top layer of milk foam. It is often served on tall glasses, look beautiful because of the different layers. Make sure to give it a stir to enjoy the full flavor. 

Another significant Macchiato variation is Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato. Developed by Hannah Su and her team in 1996, Caramel Macchiato was a huge hit and then became a menu stable.

In the drink, milk, vanilla syrup, and ice are marked once with espresso, then again with caramel sauce in a crosshatch, double-circle pattern. Starbucks also developed Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato and Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato. 

A new take on the celebrated Macchiato is Cloud Macchiato with fluffy whipped milk foam that created quite a buzz when it released. 

Latte vs. Macchiato

Even though both drinks use espresso and milk, the difference between Latte and Macchiato lies in how it is mixed and served. Caffe latte is made with espresso and steamed milk with a layer of foam on top. While Caffe Macchiato has a layer of espresso and only milk foam on top. The proportion of milk in a Latte is much more than in a Macchiato, hence gives its a mild, slightly sweeter flavor. 

In America, most people get confused between Latte and Macchiato is because they are used to Latte Macchiato from Starbucks, which has a similar texture to Latte.

Nevertheless, both Latte and Macchiato are beloved drinks among many coffee drinkers. Barista around the world also come up with interesting variations to satisfy different taste buds and even dietary requirements. Understanding the differences between them make it easier to choose what to drink and may make your trip to the coffee shop a bit more enjoyable. 


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