Caramel Macchiato Vs. Vanilla Latte: Which One Is For Me?

Are you a lover of sweet coffee? Get to know the differences between caramel macchiato vs. vanilla latte.

Caramel macchiato vs. Vanilla latte
Caramel macchiato vs. Vanilla latte

If you have a sweet tooth, two drinks compete for your attention; a caramel macchiato vs. vanilla latte. 

To understand each one better, we’ll look into their short histories, what makes them great coffee blends, and who loves drinking them. 

What Is Caramel Macchiato And Vanilla Latte?

Macchiato is an Italian word that translates to “spotted” or “stained.” A macchiato is a “spotted” beverage because the foamed milk gives it a dotted appearance. 

Caramel macchiatos are typically served hot, but you can get an iced version. They are not too sweet, as every cup only has a drizzle of caramel at the top.

The caramel macchiato came to Starbucks in 1996, made by a team member for the company’s 25th anniversary. It debuted as a limited-time item but later became a staple on the menu, further increasing its popularity.

The word latte translates to “milk” in Italian. Traditionally, lattes are light and sweet. Lattes share a milk base with the French café au lait and Spanish café con leche. Today, a traditional cup of vanilla latte is a hot drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a dash of vanilla syrup.

What Do Caramel Macchiato And Vanilla Latte Have In Common?

The ingredients used in caramel macchiato and vanilla latte are very similar. The only difference is the caramel drizzle in the caramel macchiato.

Because the two drinks are similar, many people use one as an alternative to the other if one isn’t available. Thanks to its caramel drizzle, the caramel macchiato provides a slightly sweeter version of the vanilla latte.

However, if you ever get tired of tasting the same ingredients formed in different drinks, consider trying something new, like the refreshing taste of Japanese iced coffee.

Caramel Macchiato vs. Vanilla Latte: The Differences

Caramel MacchiatoVanilla Latte
Caramel macchiato contains caramel drizzle, espresso shots, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup.Vanilla latte only consists of espresso, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup.
The order of ingredients in a caramel macchiato is vanilla pumps, steamed milk, shots of espresso, and lastly, caramel drizzle.Ingredients in vanilla latte are poured as follows: vanilla pumps, espresso shots, and steamed milk.
Starbucks caramel macchiato can have 3-4 pumps of vanilla syrup.Starbucks vanilla lattes can have 3-6 pumps of vanilla syrup.
A macchiato features three layers: warm milk, espresso shot, and milk foam with caramel drizzle.When poured, a latte presents two layers: espresso mixed with milk and milk foam on top.
You can use the caramel drizzle to make patterns on top of the drink.You can put latte art on this drink. 

What’s Better About Caramel Macchiato?

The strength of a caramel macchiato lies in its caramel drizzle. Since the caramel is more concentrated and thicker, it can cut through the bitterness of the espresso shot well. The caramel also balanced well with the vanilla in the drink.

a cup of caramel macchiato
Caramel macchiato

 It’s also stronger than lattes and provides bolder flavors. 

The average small or medium macchiato drink can have 80mg of caffeine. Lattes have more milk added and come as a larger serving, so macchiatos have more caffeine per serving.

What’s Better About Vanilla Latte?

Vanilla latte is a great morning coffee option. It has just enough caffeine to get you ready for the day and milk to cut down the espresso shot’s bitterness. The vanilla also adds flavoring that isn’t too sweet or overwhelming for a morning drink.

woman drinking vanilla latte
Vanilla latte is a great morning coffee

A vanilla latte features a subtle and natural sweetness; it is more flavor-forward than a macchiato.

You can also get more by way of volume with a latte versus a macchiato while keeping the caffeine content the same. A small or medium-sized vanilla latte drink can have 80mg of caffeine but have more volume.

Who Should Get A Caramel Macchiato (And Why)?

Get a caramel macchiato if you prefer a drink with caramel. It can sometimes take longer to make, but if you like the taste and how it looks, it’s worth it. 

It’s also a better choice if you want a pick-me-up, thanks to the sweet caramel and caffeine content. 

You might also enjoy our explainer on Vienna coffee if you like sweet coffee. 

Who Should Get A Vanilla Latte (And Why)?

A vanilla latte is an iconic drink. While everybody has different preferences, a vanilla latte can easily fit most people’s tastes.

Its simple recipe is its strength. Because making a vanilla latte takes only a short while, you can jump into line at a local café and not worry about spending too much time waiting for your order.


  • Maria Caballero

    Writer and coffee lover, Maria Caballero, is fond of visiting new cafes and trying current trends involving caffeine. She shares amusing experiences to fellow coffee enthusiasts who wants to explore the world of coffee.