Coffee Brewing

Macchiato vs Cappuccino: Which Should You Choose?

Written by

Erica Cervenkova

Coffee Holli Top Pick

Macchiato vs Cappuccino


When you don’t feel like drinking espresso, there are many espresso milk combo drinks to try. 

However, deciding on the specific one can be daunting since they have the same ingredients and look almost the same.

This post compares two of the most common espresso-based drinks, macchiato, and cappuccino. At the end of the article, you will know the ins and out of these two drinks, including the differences in preparation, taste, and serving.

Before getting too deep, let’s start with the definitions. 

What is a Macchiato

First off:

Macchiato is an Italian word that translates to marked, stained, or spotted in English

In the context of coffee, macchiato, which is also called espresso macchiato and Caffè macchiato, is espresso-based milk containing a shot of espresso and a small amount of frothed or steamed milk. 

These adjectives are used to explain that only a lit bit of milk is added.

Over time, the traditional macchiato recipe has changed. 

That’s why you will find other types of macchiatos like Hazelnut Macchiato, Caramel Macchiato, and Cloud Macchiato among others.  

How to make Machiatto

Brew 1 or 2 shots of espresso. 1 shot of espresso will require about 7 grams of ground coffee. 

Then steam about 200ml of whole milk using a steam wand or milk frother.

Pour the espresso into the espresso cup and add the steamed milk.

It’s that simple.

What is a Cappuccino


Cappuccino and latte are the most popular espresso-based drink prepared with espresso and steamed milk. 

Typically, cappuccino is prepared with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 steamed milk foam on top. 

Basically, an equal amount of each. Most cappuccino recipes use 1 or 2 espresso shots. 

There is also a specific way to make a Certified Italian Cappuccino.

The Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano, stipulates that a Certified Italian Cappuccino should be prepared with 25 ml espresso and 100 ml steam-foamed milk. The milk should be fresh cow milk and have 3.2% minimum protein content and 3.5 % minimum fats. 

The 100 ml of cold milk (3-5°C) is steamed until it achieves a volume of approximately 125 ml and a temperature of approximately 55°C.  

A Certified Italian Cappuccino is served in a 160ml white feldspathic china cup full to the brim with a dome-shaped top.

How to make Certified Italian Espresso according to Istituto Nazionale Espresso

Macchiato vs Cappuccino: Comparison Table

OriginAustria and Italy Italy
PopularityThe most popular espresso drink in the worldMost popular in Europe
Ingredients 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 steam milk foamA shot of espresso and a splash of milk
Amount of espresso 1 or 2 shots 1 shot
Amount of milkEqual to the amount of espresso Just a splash of steamed milk
Foam Equal to the amount of espressoNo foam
Ground coffee used in making espresso 7-9 grams for 1 shot 7-9 grams for 1 shot 14-16 grams for 2 shots
Serving 160ml Cappuccino Mug3 oz. Glass Espresso Cup
Taste Creamy, a lit bit sweet, and espresso tasteA strong espresso flavor since only a small amount of milk is added
Types Wet and DryHazelnut MacchiatoCreme Brulee MacchiatoCloud MacchiatoIced Macchiato
Calories contentHigherLower
Fat content HigherLower
Serving TemperatureHotHot
Best time In the morning Afternoon


Macchiato and cappuccino are similar but different espresso-based drinks. Cappuccino is prepared with an equal amount of espresso, steamed milk, and steamed milk foam. Macchiato is prepared with 1 shot of espresso and a dash of steamed milk. Cappuccino is sweeter and has a less strong espresso taste because it has more milk. Macchiato has a stronger and more intense coffee flavor

Frequently Asked Questions About Macchiato vs Cappuccino

What is the difference between cappuccino and macchiato?

The major difference between macchiato and cappuccino is in the amount of milk used in preparation. Cappuccino is made using an equal amount of espresso, steamed milk, and foam milk. On the other hand, a macchiato is made by adding a splash of milk to espresso.

To make cappuccino from 1 shot of espresso, add 30 ml of steamed milk and an equal layer of foamed milk.

If you are making macchiato from 1 shot of espresso, add a splash of milk. This can be anywhere between 10ml and 20ml.

A cappuccino prepared with 1 shot of espresso and a macchiato prepared with 1 shot of espresso have the same caffeine content but the cappuccino has more calories, sugar, proteins, and carbs.

The amount of cappuccino prepared from 1 shot of espresso is higher than the amount of macchiato prepared from 1 shot. In cappuccino, you add an equal amount of milk as the espresso and only a splash of milk in a macchiato.

Is macchiato stronger than cappuccino?

Yes. A serving of macchiato prepared with 1 shot of espresso will have a stronger and more intense coffee flavor than a serving of cappuccino prepared from 1 shot of espresso. While both have the same amount of espresso, macchiato has less milk so it’s more concentrated than the cappuccino serving. 

What has more espresso cappuccino or macchiato?

Both cappuccino and macchiato have the same amount of espresso. A standard serving of both drinks is made using 1 shot of espresso, which is roughly 30ml. Cappuccino is also prepared using 2 shots of espresso, unlike macchiato which is typically prepared with 1 shot of espresso. 

Is a macchiato or cappuccino sweeter?

Cappuccino has a softer and sweeter taste because it contains more steamed milk than a macchiato. When milk is heated and steamed the lactose content melts adding a sweet taste. The human tongue is also more sensitive to sweetness when things are hot.

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.


Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00