Macchiato vs. Latte: Taste, Quality, How to Make
With the loose interpretation of classic drinks that many coffee drinkers and stakeholders like coffee chains have continued to advance over the years, it is slowly becoming harder to even tell apart espresso-based beverages that are almost worlds apart.
And this is why many coffee drinkers tend to have difficulties picking between certain brews like macchiato and lattes.
While most people that take either of the two or both already have certain preferences, the many coffee lovers that cannot even tell them apart will have a hard time choosing.
But, this is what this piece is all about, as we compare the two in detail to allow any coffee lover to pick between these two classic beverages with ease.
Place of Origin
Standard Brew Size
1 espresso shot, little milk, foamed milk is optional
1 or 2 espresso shot, steamed milk and foamed milk
How it is Made
Pull 1 shot of espresso and add a small amount of steamed milk at the center
Pull 1-2 espresso shot, add lots of steamed milk and finish with foamed milk
Delicate and more balanced
Rich and bold
Creamy and balanced
Macchiato vs. Latte
If you are the kind of coffee drinker that is always in a dilemma on what to order when on the coffee shop or always finds it impossible to pick between macchiato and latte, understanding the following points will ensure you have an easier time deciding.
1. An Overview of the Beverages
Like most other coffee-based beverages, both macchiato and lattes originate from Italy, and although they are from different periods in history, they are now some of the most widely drunk coffee beverages.
The macchiato is a relatively more recent concoction when compared to the latte, but its popularity has been on a steady rise over the years. And given that it is a stronger brew with more espresso and less milk it is often considered a more masculine drink as it is stronger.
This brew is also popularly referred to as café macchiato which when translated from Italian means marked coffee, and it is essentially just espresso with a little foamed milk at the top.
Traditionally, when making a macchiato, you have to pour the milk in one spot, and this is what gives it its characteristic white spot at the center.
While still at the macchiato it is also with knowing that there is also another variation, the latte macchiato that is made by pouring a single shot of espresso over steamed milk. With a latte macchiato, you will get a beverage that is darker at the top and lighter at the bottom and with more milk.
Italians have been making lattes for more than a century now which makes it one of the oldest coffee-based brews. And since its adoption by different societies across the globe, there have been a few adjustments to the original recipe.
Latte or cafe latte as it is fondly known in Italy refers to coffee made with milk. In traditional Italian society, the beverage was made by brewing coffee in Moka pot and then pouring hot milk over it.
Historically, there is no evidence of latte being made and sold in commercial establishments like coffee shops. And so it is believed that the latte as it is known today may have originated in the Italian-inspired cafes in the American West Coast in the 1980s.
2. How it is Made
Knowing how to make the two coffee beverages is always the most important piece of the puzzle. Even if you know which one you prefer you cannot enjoy it from the comfort of your home if you do not know how to mix it up perfectly.
How to Make Macchiato
Given the name, a macchiato might seem like a very complicated beverage, but you will be surprised at just how easy it is to mix it up. And all it takes is the following simple steps.
Step 1: Pull 1 shot of espresso into a tall, clear glass
Step 2: Give it a quick stir (optional for those that hate bitter tasting coffee)
Step 3: Add a little steamed milk at the center
Step 4: You can also add a small layer of microfoam to allow espresso taste to shine
How to Make a Latte
Lattes have been around longer than the macchiato, and so they are generally more common. Making them is also quite straightforward, and it will involve the following steps.
Step 1: Extract 1 or 2 shots of espresso in a glass or tumbler
Step 2: Add 6-8 oz of steamed milk
Step 3: Put a layer of foamed milk (around 1 cm)
Step 4: Finish with some latte art
Read More: 10 Best Latte Machines
3. Beverage Strength
Despite a typical cup of macchiato having only one shot of espresso, it will be much stronger than a latte which can have as much as two.
The stronger brew stems from the fact that the macchiato has not been greatly diluted with milk which is not the case with lattes.
While lattes have more espresso than a standard macchiato, steamed milk occupies the largest part of the beverage ratio, and hence you end up with a milder or more diluted brew. But, despite being a less strong beverage, latte offers the advantage of being more balanced.
4. How the Foam Differs
Since both beverages have milk they also have some foam type. But given the huge difference in the quantity of milk, and how it is poured the foam quantity and appearance will also differ.
For espresso, you will get more foam and although it is still a fraction of what you would get in a cappuccino it is still way more than what is in a macchiato.
Read More: Cappuccino vs. Latte
The creamy foam on latte has also brought out the artistry in baristas because a typical latte cup will also include lovely designs made from the creamy microfoam.
With a macchiato, on the other hand, you will probably never see one that comes with a heart design at the top as there is no creamy microfoam to work with. A typical cup will only have a dot given the small amount of foam.
5. Serving Your Beverage Correctly
Lattes are famously known for having some very appealing art at the top. If you get one made by a pro barista it can have some very fancy designs but the heart is the most common one.
However, serving a latte will entail more than just giving it an artistic touch as you also need to serve it in the correct cup.
In most places across the USA, it is served in a ceramic cup which is the same way it would be served in an Italian home. However, baristas in places like Australia and New Zealand seem to prefer to serve their lattes in a glass tumbler.
When it comes to the macchiato, some people will still serve it in a small ceramic cup, the proper way to serve it is with a tall, clear glass. Given that coffee is a more visual experience, serving a macchiato in a clear glass will allow the distinct layers to be more clearly seen.
6. Mixing Technique
Despite both macchiato and latte only having two ingredients, they will involve a very specific technique when adding one ingredient to the other.
The mixing technique for latte entails pouring the steamed milk in a widened, circular motion over a double shot of espresso to get a unanimous blend.
With a macchiato, on the other hand, you add a small amount of milk at the center of the single short of espresso slowly to create a beautifully layered beverage.
7. Flavor of the Resulting Brew
When you take the first sip, a typical macchiato will have a bold flavor which is perfect when you need a kick in the morning or in the middle of a boring day. The overall flavor of the beverage is also rich and bold because there is little milk in it.
However, given the fact that the macchiato has more espresso and little milk, it is also crucial to ensure that you use good beans because failure to do so can mean you will end up with an overly bitter brew that might be undrinkable.
For a cup of latte, the first sip is delicate and more balanced and the beverage will be generally creamy and more balanced. The presence of a lot of steamed milk in the concoction dilutes the espresso and makes it milder and almost sweeter.
Which is Better?
Picking between a macchiato and latte is a more straightforward process given that the coffee-based beverages are quite different, and your choice depends on the kind of coffee you are in the mood for.
If you are the kind of coffee drinker that is always on the mood for something strong or want something that is just half a step away from a regular shot of espresso, go for a macchiato.
A latte, on the other hand, is perfect for the individual that likes milk-based coffee or those that are fond of dairy and prefer something creamy and milder. But, it is important to note that with a latte, you will not get that typical espresso kick.