Coffee Brewing

Flat White Vs Macchiato – How Do These Espresso Drinks Differ?

Written by

Erica Cervenkova

Coffee Holli Top Pick

Flat White Vs Macchiato


Can you tell a Flat White from a Macchiato? If you cannot, don’t fret, this post is for you.


Espresso drinks are hard to master. Not only are they many but there are a lot of nuances that are hard to decipher

This post examines an espresso drink with a contested history, a Flat White, and the smallest espresso drink, the Macchiato.

With this information, it will instantly become easy to order these drinks and also prepare them at home.

Having said that, let’s get started.

Flat White Vs Macchiato – What’s the Difference?

A Flat White is an espresso drink prepared with 1/3 espresso and 2/3 velvety steamed milk while a Macchiato contains 1 or 2 shots of espresso and a dollop of steamed milk. Flat white’s signature feature is the silky micro foamed milk, while a Macchiato stands out for having very little milk.

To make it easier, below is a simple-to-digest comparison table of these two drinks.

Flat WhiteMacchiato
OriginAustralia 🇦🇺 / New Zealand 🇳🇿Italy 🇮🇹
Ratios1/3 espresso and 2/3 milk2 shots of espresso shots stained with steamed milk.
The number of espresso shots1-22
Serving size5-6 Oz3 Oz
Caffeine content63-126 mg126 mg
TasteStrong espresso flavor. Smooth texture.Strong espresso flavor

5 Key Differences Between Flat White Vs Macchiato

1. Origin


Up to date, it’s not yet clear whether Flat White originated in Australia or New Zealand. But one fact we are sure of is that the drink did come from Down Under in the 1980s.

One origin theory claims that a section of coffee drinkers did not love the stiff foam on top of Cappuccinos.

As a result, they started ordering Cappuccinos but without the dry foam – (A Cappuccino with a flat top)

Another theory claims the Flat White was an accidental discovery when a barista steamed low-fat milk that failed to foam ending up with a Flat White.

And you know what?

Any of the two theories could be true but it’s a fact that a Flat White is an antipodean invention.

When it comes to Macchiato, the drink originated in Italy. This is confirmed by the Italian name (Macchiato) which means spotted or marked.

According to scholars, the marking was initially a way to distinguish an espresso drink containing milk, and one without.

2. Ingredients


Both Flat White and Macchiato are made with the same ingredients; shots of espresso and milk. However, the amounts and preparations process is different.

A Macchiato contains one or two shots of espresso topped with a dollop of steamed milk, making it the smallest and strongest espresso-based drink.

Unlike with the other espresso drinks, the amount of milk to use is not specified. However, the milk must be less than the amount of espresso.

Apart from the classic espresso Macchiato, you will also find other Macchiato drinks that are not related to espresso Macchiato. For instance, Starbucks US serves five different types of hot and cold Macchiatos.

On the other hand:

A Flat white contains 1/3 espresso and 2/3 velvety steamed milk. If you have noticed, this is the same ratio as a latte. But is a Flat White a small latte? No, A Flat White is worlds apart from a Cappuccino, Latte, and Macchiato.


The unique feature of a Flat White is how the milk is prepared. The milk is carefully stretched to achieve a silky texture similar to that of latex paint.

The velvety milk is then poured into the espresso but not spooned like when preparing a Cappuccino.

3. Taste


A Flat White contains more steamed milk than a Macchiato. In fact, a Macchiato contains the least amount of steamed milk among the other espresso drinks.

Since only a few spoonfuls of steamed milk are added, a Macchiato remains strong almost like a shot of espresso. The drink has an intense and bold espresso taste. 

This makes it ideal for calorie-conscious coffee lovers and those who love strong coffee drinks.

When it comes to Flat White, the drink has the smoothest texture from the micro-foamed milk. It also has a strong espresso taste but not like a Macchiato.

Flat white makes a great drink for people who are not a fan of the airy foamy milk found one some espresso drinks.

4. Serving

The standard serving of a Flat White is 5-6 Oz. This makes the Flat White smaller than a latte, which is served in 8 to 20 Oz sizes.

However, it’s not uncommon to find larger Flat White servings. For instance, Starbucks offers Flat White from 8 Oz to 20 Oz. Starbucks also uses ristretto shots, which are stronger and sweeter than regular espresso shots.

The standard serving of espresso Macchiato ranges between 2 Oz and 3 0z when it has two shots.

5. Nutritional value

Since Flat White and Macchiato contain the same number of shots (1-2 shots) they have the same amount of caffeine. 63 mg for 1 shot and 126 mg for 2 shots.

The major difference is the calories. Since a Flat White contains more steamed milk than a Macchiato, it has more calories.

The standard Flat White contains 4 ounces of micro foamed milk, while a Macchiato contains only a dollop of milk. This makes a Macchiato a great option for calorie-conscious drinkers.


While a standard serving of both Flat White and Macchiato contains 2 shots of espresso, the drinks are worlds apart when it comes to preparation and taste.

Here is a recap of how these two espresso drinks compare:

  • The Flat White was invented Down Under, while the Macchiato came to us from Italy.
  • A Flat White contains 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk
  • Macchiatos have 2 shots of espresso and a dollop of steamed milk.
  • A Flat White has more steamed milk than a Macchiato
  • The standard serving of Macchiato is 3 – 4Oz and 5-6 Oz for Flat White
  • A Flat white has more calories than a Macchiato.
  • A Macchiato has an intense espresso flavor
  • A Flat White has a smooth texture and a strong expresso flavor.

And that is it for the differences between a Flat White and a Macchiato.

I hope this guide has answered all the questions you had about these two espresso drinks. If you have a question or contribution regarding this topic, please drop them in the comment section down below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much caffeine is in a Flat White?

A Flat White containing a double espresso shot, has 126 mg of caffeine.

How much caffeine is in a Macchiato?

The standard serving of Macchiato containing 2 shots of espresso contains 126 mg of caffeine.

Is a Flat White stronger than a Macchiato?

No, a Macchiato is stronger than a Flat White. A Macchiato contains just a dollop of steamed milk, making it one of the strongest espresso drinks after espresso.

Is a Flat White a Macchiato?

No, a Flat White is not the same as a Macchiato. When making a Macchiato you only add just a few spoonfuls of steamed milk. Flat white has one part of espresso and two parts of luscious microfoam.

What’s the difference between a latte Macchiato and a Flat White?

A latte Macchiato is steamed whole milk marked with espresso, while Flat White is 1/3 espresso and 2/3 velvety steamed whole milk.

Erica Cervenkova
Coffee Connoisseur, SCA Member

As a coffee connoisseur and member of the Specialty Coffee Association, I am dedicated to understanding the sustainability of coffee pods and the impact it has on the environment. My expertise lies in the realm of capsule coffee machines, from the likes of Keurig and Nespresso to other well-known US brands. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping others make informed decisions about their coffee choices. Whether you're a coffee enthusiast or just looking for a new way to enjoy your morning cup, I'm here to help.


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