The Creamy Trio Latte vs Cappuccino vs Macchiato Compared

Written by: Georgina El Morshdy

latte vs cappuccino vs macchiato

Are you a coffee lover who enjoys indulging in creamy and frothy espresso-based drinks?

If so, you've likely come across the popular choices of latte, cappuccino, and macchiato. But do you know the differences between these three beloved beverages?

From milk to espresso ratios to flavor profiles, each drink offers a unique experience. Join us as we explore the preparation methods, origins, and ideal choices for your taste preferences.

Let's dive into the world of lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos!

Read: The Coffee Fortune Teller What Your Favorite Brew Says About You

What Is A Latte?

A Latte is a popular Italian coffee beverage that combines espresso with steamed milk and a layer of frothy milk foam.

Originating in Italy, the latte is a staple in traditional Italian coffee culture where it is enjoyed throughout the day. The preparation process involves pulling a shot of espresso and gently adding steamed milk to create a creamy and well-balanced flavor profile. The final touch of frothy milk foam not only adds a delightful aesthetic but also enhances the overall texture of this beloved milk-based beverage. Latte art has become a creative form of expression for baristas worldwide, showcasing intricate designs on the surface of lattes, making each cup a work of art.

What Is A Cappuccino?

A Cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee drink that consists of equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.

The espresso in a cappuccino forms the base of the drink, providing a strong and rich flavor profile that sets it apart from other espresso beverages.

The steamed milk, which is heated and texturized to create a velvety consistency, complements the espresso, balancing its intensity.

The final touch of milk foam adds a light and airy element to the cappuccino, contributing to its signature frothy top.

Originating in Italy, the cappuccino has become a beloved classic in the world of coffee, with variations in foam thickness and garnishes offering a personalized touch to this iconic beverage.

What Is A Macchiato?

A Macchiato is an espresso-based coffee drink that consists of a shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk.

It is renowned for its strong espresso flavor that shines through despite the addition of a touch of steamed milk. This drink has firmly rooted Italian origins, tracing back to the traditional coffee culture in Italy.

The preparation method involves carefully layering the espresso shots with just a hint of creamy, frothy milk, creating a beautifully balanced and sophisticated beverage. A true macchiato is a testament to the artistry of espresso-making, where the rich and intense flavor of the coffee is the star of the show even in this delicately layered drink.

What Are The Differences Between A Latte, Cappuccino, And Macchiato?

difference between latte, cappuccino and macchiato

When compared, Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato differ in their espresso-to-milk ratio, foam consistency, taste, and overall texture.

A latte typically has a higher milk-to-espresso ratio, resulting in a creamier and smoother texture. The milk in a latte is steamed to create a velvety microfoam that adds a subtle sweetness.

In contrast, a cappuccino has a thicker foam layer due to equal parts of steamed milk, milk froth, and espresso, offering a delicate balance of coffee and froth.

Meanwhile, a macchiato is characterized by a minimal amount of milk, serving as a bold espresso with just a hint of milk froth for a bolder flavor profile.

Milk To Espresso Ratio

The milk-to-espresso ratio varies significantly among Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato, with latte having more milk, cappuccino having equal parts, and macchiato containing just a dash of steamed milk.

In a classic Latte, the standard milk-to-espresso ratio is around 3:1, resulting in a creamy and smooth texture. On the other hand, a Cappuccino typically maintains a 1:1 ratio of milk to espresso, creating a bold coffee flavor with a frothy top layer. Macchiatos, known for their minimal milk content, have a ratio closer to 4:1 espresso to milk, lending a strong espresso taste with a subtle hint of steamed milk. These varying proportions play a vital role in defining the overall taste and consistency of each espresso-based drink.

Read: A Basic Guide To Common Espresso And Milk Drinks

Foam Consistency

Foam consistency is a key factor that distinguishes Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato, with the latte having minimal foam, cappuccino featuring thick foam, and macchiato typically having no froth.

The foam thickness greatly impacts the overall texture and mouthfeel of each beverage. In a latte, the minimal foam allows the creamy richness of the milk to shine, creating a smooth and velvety drink.

Conversely, the thick foam in a cappuccino adds a luxurious and frothy element, enhancing the espresso's bold flavors with its airy texture. As for the macchiato, its lack of froth ensures a more intense coffee flavor experience, with the espresso crema prominently showcased in each sip.

Serving Size

The serving sizes of Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato can vary significantly, with lattes being larger and macchiatos being more concentrated and smaller in volume.

The difference in serving sizes plays a crucial role in the overall beverage menu experience. A Latte, with its larger volume, provides a more creamy and milky taste that is enjoyable for those who prefer a milder coffee flavor. On the other hand, a Macchiato, being smaller and more concentrated, offers a bold and intense espresso taste, perfect for those who appreciate a strong coffee punch. These variations in volume not only impact the flavor profile but also influence the duration of enjoyment and satisfaction derived from each espresso drink.


The origins of Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato can be traced back to traditional Italian coffee culture, where each drink has its unique place and significance.

In Italy, coffeehouses served as social hubs where people would gather to interact and enjoy their favorite espresso-based drinks. The art of espresso brewing was perfected in these cafes, leading to the creation of the iconic beverages we know today. Latte, with its creamy texture, became popular among those looking for a milder coffee experience, while cappuccino's frothy milk foam symbolizes the harmony between espresso and milk. Macchiato, meaning 'stained' in Italian, is a simple yet bold espresso 'stained' with a dollop of milk, showcasing the purity of flavors in a small but impactful drink.

How Are They Made?

preparation of latte, cappuccino and macchiato

The preparation of Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato involves specific steps such as brewing espresso, steaming milk, and layering components to create the desired drink.

To start, a well-balanced shot of espresso is crucial as the base for these drinks. Using a high-quality espresso machine, finely ground coffee is tamped down firmly and brewed at the right pressure and temperature to extract bold flavors.

Meanwhile, the milk is carefully frothed or steamed to the ideal velvety texture, ensuring it complements the espresso without overpowering it. The final touch lies in the skilled art of pouring the milk over the espresso, creating distinctive layers that give each drink its unique taste and presentation.

Read: Froth Perfection Mastering the Milk Frother for the Perfect Foam

Latte Preparation

The preparation of a Latte involves extracting espresso shots, steaming milk to a velvety texture, and layering the milk and foam to create a visually appealing drink.

To start, the espresso shots are extracted using a high-quality espresso machine, ensuring a strong and aromatic base for the latte. Simultaneously, milk is steamed using a steam wand to achieve that perfect velvety texture, where microfoam is created by incorporating air into the milk. This frothy milk is then carefully poured into the espresso, taking care to create that distinctive layered effect. The finishing touch of latte art can be added by skillfully pouring or etching designs on the surface, enhancing both the taste and aesthetic appeal of the beverage.

Cappuccino Preparation

Preparing a Cappuccino entails brewing espresso, steaming milk to create frothy microfoam, and pouring it over the espresso to achieve the iconic layered look.

To master the art of creating delicate foam for your cappuccino, start by selecting the freshest milk, usually whole milk for the best foam quality. Begin by filling a steaming pitcher with just the right amount of cold milk, ensuring not to overfill. Heat the milk while positioning the steam wand just below the surface, creating a whirlpool effect that incorporates air evenly for that perfect foam thickness."

Macchiato Preparation

Preparing a Macchiato involves pulling a shot of espresso and adding a dollop of steamed milk, creating a layered look with a strong espresso flavor and a hint of milk.

The key to achieving the perfect macchiato lies in the ratio of the two key components: the rich, intense espresso shot and a minimal amount of milk. By carefully layering the milk on top of the espresso, the contrasting colors create a visually appealing presentation. This layering technique not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also allows the distinct flavors of the espresso to shine through, while the small touch of milk adds a subtle creaminess to the overall experience.

What Are The Flavor Profiles Of Each Drink?

The flavor profiles of Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato vary significantly, with lattes being creamy and mild, cappuccinos rich and bold, and macchiatos intense and espresso-forward.

Each of these drinks offers a unique texture that contributes to the overall sensory experience. Lattes are known for their velvety smoothness, creating a comforting and indulgent feel for coffee lovers.

On the other hand, cappuccinos present a frothy and luxurious texture that complements the robust flavor profile.

Macchiatos, with their strong espresso base topped with a touch of milk, provide a contrast of boldness and subtlety that intrigues the palate.

These distinctions in flavor intensity and texture make each beverage a delightful choice for different preferences.

Latte Flavor Profile

The Latte's flavor profile is characterized by a harmonious blend of mild espresso, velvety steamed milk, and a touch of airy mil froth, creating a smooth and creamy texture.

The rich and robust espresso flavor acts as the anchor of the latte, providing a bold and slightly bitter base that intertwines with the sweet creaminess of the steamed milk. The milk froth adds a lightness and slight airy quality to the beverage, enhancing its overall texture and mouthfeel. Together, these elements create a balanced concoction that appeals to both coffee aficionados and those seeking a comforting, indulgent drink.

Cappuccino Flavor Profile

The Cappuccino boasts a rich flavor profile with strong espresso notes, creamy steamed milk, and a thick layer of velvety foam, creating a bold and indulgent coffee experience.

This classic Italian beverage is renowned for its perfect balance of bitter espresso flavor, sweet milk, and airy foam, making each sip a harmonious fusion of different tastes and textures. The robustness of the espresso cuts through the creamy milk, allowing the bitter-sweet notes to shine. The frothy foam adds a luxurious touch, enhancing the overall drinking experience with its velvety texture and delicate thickness.

Macchiato Flavor Profile

The Macchiato's flavor profile is characterized by a strong espresso taste complemented by a hint of steamed milk, creating a bold and intense coffee experience with a minimalistic approach to texture.

The magic of a Macchiato lies in its ability to spotlight the richness of the espresso, allowing its robust flavor to take center stage. The minimal milk content enhances the pure essence of the coffee, providing a concentrated burst of caffeine and complex undertones. This espresso-forward drink showcases the artistry of layering, where the espresso crema beautifully contrasts the velvety steamed milk, creating a visually appealing and sensorial delight for coffee enthusiasts.

Which One Should You Choose?

choosing between latte, cappuccino and macchiato

When deciding between a Latte, Cappuccino, or Macchiato, consider opting for a Latte if you prefer a creamier texture, a Cappuccino for a bolder espresso taste, and a Macchiato for a stronger coffee flavor with minimal milk.

If you enjoy a velvety smooth beverage with a balanced combination of espresso and steamed milk, then the Latte will satisfy your cravings.

On the other hand, if you prefer a stronger coffee presence where the espresso shines through the frothy milk, the Cappuccino might be your best choice.

For those seeking a straightforward, potent shot of espresso with just a hint of milk to cut through the bitterness, the Macchiato offers a delightful contrast in flavors.

For A Stronger Coffee Flavor

If you seek a stronger coffee flavor, the Macchiato is the ideal choice among Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato, offering a concentrated espresso taste with minimal milk interference.

The bold espresso taste of a Macchiato delivers a powerful caffeine kick that is sure to awaken your senses. The magic lies in the way the intense espresso flavor seamlessly blends with the creamy, velvety texture of the steamed milk, creating a harmonious balance for those who appreciate the robustness of espresso-based drinks. The Macchiato offers a perfect combination of strength and subtlety, making it a go-to option for coffee enthusiasts seeking a truly authentic and invigorating espresso experience.

For A Creamier Texture

If a creamy texture is your priority, opt for a Latte over a Cappuccino or Macchiato, as lattes feature a smooth and velvety milk consistency that enhances the overall drinking experience.

The steamed milk in a latte plays a crucial role in creating that luxurious mouthfeel. When the milk is frothed to perfection, it adds a creamy richness that blends harmoniously with the espresso. This creamy beverage not only delights your taste buds but also provides a comforting and indulgent experience.

Whether you enjoy it as a morning pick-me-up or a soothing afternoon treat, the latte's velvety texture will surely make each sip a moment of decadence.

For A Bolder Espresso Taste

If you crave a bolder espresso taste, consider choosing a Cappuccino over a Latte or Macchiato, as cappuccinos offer a rich and intense coffee profile with a luscious layer of foam.

The espresso-forward nature of a cappuccino intensifies the overall coffee experience, with the creamy foam adding a luxurious texture to each sip. The thick foam layer, made of velvety microfoam, enhances the espresso shot's bold flavors, creating a harmonious balance that appeals to those who enjoy a stronger coffee flavor. The indulgent experience of a perfectly crafted cappuccino lies in the meticulous attention to detail in both the foam consistency and the quality of the espresso shot, ensuring a truly satisfying and flavorful drink.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a latte, cappuccino, and macchiato?

The main difference between these three drinks is the ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk used in each one. A latte has a higher ratio of steamed milk to espresso, while a cappuccino has a equal ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. A macchiato has a higher ratio of espresso to steamed milk and a dollop of frothed milk on top.

Which drink has the strongest coffee flavor?

A macchiato typically has the strongest coffee flavor as it has a higher ratio of espresso to milk. However, this can also depend on the number of shots of espresso used in each drink.

Which drink is the creamiest?

A latte is typically the creamiest of the three drinks as it has a higher ratio of steamed milk to espresso. However, this can also depend on the type of milk used and the steaming technique of the barista.

Can I customize these drinks with different flavors or milk options?

Yes, you can customize all three drinks with different flavors such as vanilla or caramel, and with different milk options such as almond or oat milk. Keep in mind that this may alter the taste and texture of the drink.

Which drink has the most caffeine?

A cappuccino typically has the most caffeine as it has equal parts espresso and steamed milk. However, this can also depend on the number of shots of espresso used in each drink.

What are the origins of these drinks?

The latte originated in Italy in the 17th century, while the cappuccino originated in Italy in the 1930s. The macchiato has roots in both Italy and France, with the Italian version being a shot of espresso with a dollop of milk foam, and the French version being a shot of espresso with a spoonful of steamed milk.