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Macchiato vs Cappuccino

You’ve probably heard of macchiato and cappuccino if you enjoy coffee. Both of these espresso-based beverages are common selections in coffee shops all around the world. But how do the two differ from one another? In this article, we’ll compare macchiato and cappuccino in detail, looking at their histories, methods of preparation, flavor profiles, and service patterns.

Cappuccino coffee in a beautiful glass on the table favorite cup of coffee concept.

Both the macchiato and the cappuccino have their roots in Italy, where coffee lovers have long savored them.

The cappuccino is created with equal amounts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, as opposed to the macchiato, which consists of a shot of espresso and a little amount of frothed milk.

These two drinks have different preparation processes, which yields diverse flavor characteristics.

Some people love the robust, intense flavor of a macchiato, whereas others prefer the creamy, smooth flavor of a cappuccino.

Knowing the distinctions between a macchiato and a cappuccino will help you decide which beverage to choose, whether you’re a connoisseur of coffee or just a casual drinker.

In the sections that follow, we’ll go more deeply into the histories, techniques of making, flavor characteristics, and presentation of these two well-known espresso-based beverages.

Key Takeaways

  • Macchiato and cappuccino are two popular espresso-based drinks that originated in Italy.
  • Macchiato is a shot of espresso with a small amount of frothed milk, while cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk.
  • The preparation methods for these two drinks result in distinct taste profiles, with macchiato being bold and strong, and cappuccino being creamy and smooth.

Origins of Macchiato

Those of you who enjoy coffee are certainly familiar with the macchiato.

glasses of latte macchiato coffee on a wooden background

However, do you know where it came from? Macchiato, an espresso shot with a thin layer of milk foam on top, is an Italian term that means “stained” or “spotted.”

The original macchiato coffee was made in Italy in the early 1900s, which is where it got its start.

Espresso was already a well-liked beverage in Italy at the time, and people started experimenting with adding milk to it. This testing led to the creation of the macchiato.

A shot of espresso is combined with a small bit of milk foam to create the classic macchiato.

Typically, the milk foam is spooned on top of the espresso, leaving a “spot” or “stain” on the beverage.

The espresso and milk foam are not combined, giving the beverage a layered appearance.

The latte macchiato and the caramel macchiato are two examples of the several macchiato varieties.

Steamed milk and an espresso shot are combined to create the latte macchiato, which is finished off with a thin layer of milk foam.

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The ingredients for the caramel macchiato are a shot of espresso, steamed milk, a little bit of caramel sauce, vanilla syrup, and milk foam. Caramel sauce is drizzled on top.

Overall, the macchiato is a popular coffee drink in cafes all around the world since it is straightforward but tasty.

Origins of Cappuccino

Popular coffee beverage cappuccino has Italian roots. The drink is named after the Capuchin friars, who wore hooded robes that mimicked the shape of the coffee cup.

Cup of cappuccino coffee on wooden table

The word “cappuccino” is derived from the Italian word “cappuccio,” which means “hood.”

Italy is where the cappuccino was initially developed in the early 1900s.

Espresso and hot milk were combined to make it, and frothed milk was then added on top.

The beverage was offered in cafes all around Italy and was a favorite among Italian laborers.

Cappuccino became famous throughout Europe, eventually making its way to America. The cappuccino is one of the most widely consumed coffee beverages today.

Latte and macchiato are two more coffee beverages that are frequently confused with cappuccino. But these drinks differ significantly from one another.

Latte is made with more steamed milk and less frothed milk than cappuccino, which is made with equal proportions espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk.

In contrast, a macchiato is made with a shot of espresso and a little frothed milk.

In conclusion, cappuccino is a well-known coffee beverage that has Italian roots.

It is produced by mixing espresso with equal parts steamed milk and frothed milk and is called after the Capuchin friars.

Preparation Methods

When it comes to ingredients, proportions, and techniques of preparation, macchiatos and cappuccinos are two coffee drinks that are different from one another.

glass of hot caramel macchiato coffee on wooden table background.

The following information will explain how each drink is made:

Macchiato

A single shot of espresso with a thin layer of foamed milk is what makes up a macchiato.

The name “macchiato,” which means “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, is given to the espresso by adding a dollop or a small bit of milk. How to make a macchiato is as follows:

  1. Pull a single shot of espresso into a demitasse cup.
  2. Steam a small amount of milk until it has a velvety texture, with a small amount of foam.
  3. Spoon a dollop of the milk foam onto the espresso shot, creating a small “spot” or “stain” on top.

Cappuccino

Espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam are all combined to make a cappuccino.

The beverage bears the name of the Capuchin friars, whose dark-brown hooded robes matched the color of the coffee. How to prepare a cappuccino is as follows:

  1. Pull a double shot of espresso into a cappuccino cup.
  2. Steam milk until it has a velvety texture, with a significant amount of foam.
  3. Pour the steamed milk over the espresso shot, filling the cup about halfway.
  4. Spoon the milk foam on top of the milk, creating a thick layer.
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Overall, a macchiato is easier to make than a cappuccino and uses less milk.

A cappuccino is a creamy, frothy beverage with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, as opposed to a macchiato, which is a strong coffee beverage with only a little amount of milk foam.

Taste Profiles

Macchiatos and cappuccinos differ significantly from one another in terms of flavor. What to anticipate from each beverage is as follows:

Cup of cappuccino coffee

Macchiato

A macchiato is a strong espresso beverage with a little milk. Usually, a small amount of foamed milk is put on top of the espresso shot.

The espresso is at the bottom and the milk foam is on top, giving the drink a tiered appearance.

A macchiato has a rich, powerful flavor that is dominated by espresso and enhanced by the creamy texture of the milk foam.

Although the taste of the espresso is overall still rather powerful and robust, the modest amount of milk helps to balance out the bitterness of the coffee.

Cappuccino

Espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam are combined in equal parts to create the milder espresso beverage known as a cappuccino.

Steaming the milk gives it a creamy texture, and adding the foam on top produces a substantial layer of froth.

Compared to a macchiato, a cappuccino has a creamier, smoother flavor with a milder espresso flavor that is offset by the sweetness of the steamed milk.

For those who prefer a milder and less potent coffee flavor, the froth on top gives the beverage a light and airy texture.

Overall, macchiatos and cappuccinos are both delightful espresso-based beverages with distinctive flavor characteristics.

Both beverages will satisfy your hunger for coffee, whether you favor the creamy, smooth taste of a cappuccino or the powerful, intense flavor of a macchiato.

Serving Styles

The serving styles of macchiato and cappuccino each have a distinctive presentation. The many serving types for each beverage are listed below:

Cafe latte macchiato layered coffee in a see through glass coffee cup

Macchiato

A small espresso cup, which normally holds 2-3 ounces of liquid, is used to serve macchiato.

An “stain” or “mark” is made on the espresso by adding a small bit of milk on top after the espresso shot has been drawn.

This explains how the word “macchiato” came to imply “stained” or “marked” in English.

The regular macchiato and the latte macchiato are the two varieties of macchiatos.

The latte macchiato is made with more steamed milk and less espresso than the conventional macchiato, which is made with a single shot of espresso and a dollop of steamed milk on top.

Cappuccino

A larger cup, often holding 6 to 8 ounces of liquid, is used to serve cappuccinos.

Equal amounts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam are used to make the beverage, giving it a layered appearance. T

he espresso is poured first, then the steamed milk, and finally the milk foam is added on top.

The addition of cocoa powder or cinnamon to the top of cappuccinos often adds a touch of sweetness and flavor to the beverage.

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In conclusion, despite the fact that both macchiato and cappuccino are espresso-based drinks, they differ in how they are served.

While cappuccino is served in a bigger cup with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, macchiato is served in a smaller espresso cup with a small amount of milk on top.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cappuccino coffee close up in the making above wooden table

What is a macchiato?

A macchiato is a type of espresso-based coffee that is made with a small amount of steamed milk. The word “macchiato” means “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, which refers to the small amount of milk that is added to the espresso. Macchiatos are typically served in small cups, and they are known for their strong, bold flavor.

What is a cappuccino?

A cappuccino is another type of espresso-based coffee that is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The milk foam is what sets a cappuccino apart from other espresso-based drinks, as it gives the drink a creamy texture and a frothy top. Cappuccinos are typically served in larger cups than macchiatos, and they are often garnished with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon.

What is the difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino?

The main difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino is the amount of milk that is added to each drink. Macchiatos only contain a small amount of steamed milk, which gives them a strong, bold flavor. Cappuccinos, on the other hand, contain equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, which gives them a creamy texture and a frothy top.

Which drink has more caffeine?

Both macchiatos and cappuccinos are made with one shot of espresso, which means that they contain roughly the same amount of caffeine. However, if you want a stronger caffeine kick, you can always ask for a double shot of espresso in your drink.

Which drink is better for beginners?

If you’re new to the world of coffee, a cappuccino might be a better choice for you. The creamy texture and frothy top make it a more approachable drink, and the equal parts of espresso and milk make it a balanced drink that is not too strong or too weak. However, if you prefer a stronger, bolder flavor, a macchiato might be a better choice for you.

Cup of caramel macchiato and tasty pastry on table

Conclusion

Knowing the key distinctions between a macchiato and a cappuccino will enable you to confidently select the beverage that most closely matches your preferences.

Here is a basic summary of the variations:

  • A macchiato is a shot of espresso with a small amount of frothed milk on top, while a cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
  • A macchiato is typically served in a small cup, while a cappuccino is served in a medium-sized cup.
  • A macchiato has a stronger, more concentrated coffee flavor, while a cappuccino has a creamier, more balanced flavor.

Choose a macchiato if you like your coffee with more of a punch. A cappuccino is the best option if you prefer a flavor that is creamier and better balanced.

Remember that these are merely guiding principles. You can always change the amount of milk or espresso in your beverage. Don’t be scared to experiment to find your ideal beverage.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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