Latte vs. Cappucino vs. Macchiato: Similarities, Differences, and Which One You Should Order

Kirkland Gee
July 14, 2023

When most people think of coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is a standard black coffee. However, there are many different types of coffee drinks that can be enjoyed depending on your preference. In this post, we're going to compare and contrast three of the most popular coffee drinks: macchiatos, lattes, and cappuccinos. I will explain the similarities and differences between these drinks, as well as which one you should order depending on what you're looking for.

What is a Latte?

A latte is a coffee drink that is made with espresso and steamed milk. Typically, you pull a shot of espresso into a mug or glass, and then the milk is poured on top to create beautiful Latte art. This is a really special thing, made by blending perfectly micro-foamed milk with rich, velvety espresso to create contrasting designs such as hearts, tulips, or rosettas.

A latte is typically somewhere between 8-16 ounces depending on the cafe, but it will (almost) always be larger than a cappuccino or macchiato.

What is a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a coffee drink that is made with espresso, steamed milk, and sometimes additional milk foam. Caps are typically foamier than lattes, using milk that has been more heavily aerated than other coffee drinks.

You'll see cappuccino sizes range anywhere from 6-12 ounces, but these will usually be on the smaller side. In more traditional cafes, you may see some cocoa powder or cinnamon sprinkled on top, but that's much less common in third-wave/specialty shops.

What is a Macchiato?

A traditional macchiato is one of our favorite drinks at Perfect Extraction. It is an extremely strong coffee drink, but it's a little more "drinkable" than just a straight shot for many people.

It's made by adding a small amount of steamed milk to a double shot of espresso. The word macchiato means "stained" or "marked," in Italian, and refers to the dash of milk added to your brown cup of coffee. Macchiatos are usually served in a small demitasse cup.

What About Starbucks Macchiatos?

If you prefer your coffee on the sweeter side, you may have thought about a caramel macchiato from Starbucks when we said the word. This Starbucks drink made with espresso, milk and flavoring (often caramel) has no real correlation to the traditional Italian macchiato. Instead, it's much more akin to an iced latte but made "upside-down" so that the milk and espresso separate into distinct sections in the cup. It's not something we prefer, but if you like it, you do you.

How much caffeine is in a latte, cappuccino, and macchiato?

The amount of caffeine in each of these drinks can vary, but not as much as you might think. In any specialty shop, each of these will feature one double shot of espresso, just with varying amounts of milk.

In general, you can expect anywhere between 50-200 milligrams of caffeine in a shot of espresso. The range is so wide because it depends on so many different factors, including:

  • The coffee you're brewing
  • How that coffee was roasted
  • How much coffee they're dosing in the portafilter when they pull the shot
  • How finely they grind the coffee
  • How long they pull the shot for/how much liquid they get out
  • Etc.

It's basically impossible to know exactly how much caffeine you're getting, but most of them will be close to ~100mg per serving for a double shot.

When Should I Order a Latte?

A latte is perfect for any time of day, but it's especially nice in the morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up. It has just the right amount of caffeine to give you a boost without making you feel jittery or over-caffeinated.

About Perfect Extraction

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