Latte Macchiato Vs. Cappuccino: What Are The Differences?

The differences between latte macchiato and cappuccino lie in the pouring techniques, ingredients, and ratio. Read this latte macchiato vs. cappuccino guide to find out more.

Latte Macchiato vs. Cappuccino
Image Taken from and Edited in Canva

When you see a glass of whole milk, a frothing wand, a cup, and a shot of espresso on the table, you know you can make at least five different drinks from the same ingredients. So, when it comes to latte macchiato vs. cappuccino, which is right for you?

What Are Latte Macchiato And Cappuccino?

Think of a latte macchiato as a traditional macchiato but upside down. A latte macchiato has three beautiful layers. There is a portion of frothed milk on the bottom of the glass, then a much smaller amount of rich and aromatic espresso is carefully poured into the center of the milk. 

Cappuccino is a classic Italian beverage that’s traditionally served as a breakfast drink. A cappuccino is coated with a layer of espresso on the bottom before steamed milk, and a thick, velvety layer of foam goes in. You can give it one or two espresso shots, depending on which recipe you’re following.

What Do Latte Macchiato And Cappuccino Have In Common?

Both latte macchiatos and cappuccinos are made of steamed milk and espresso that deliver a rich, smooth, and creamy base with a distinctive hint of coffee. Both can be served either hot or cold.

To create the best latte macchiato and cappuccino, whole milk is the best type of milk to pull out the most velvety and rich base of the drink with the right balance of proteins and fats.

pouring milk froth in a cup
Both latte macchiatos and cappuccinos are made of steamed milk and espresso

Latte Macchiato Vs. Cappuccino: The Differences

Latte Macchiato Cappuccino
Served in tall glass. Served in a cup with a unique pattern on top.
Has foam on top, espresso in the middle, and milk underneath. Features a foam circle in the middle of the drink with a dark coffee base surrounding a wide-rimmed cup.
When drinking, the espresso marking will kick in your palate first unless you stir. When drinking, you will experience the stiff milk foam first.
Has a 1:10 ratio of espresso to milk foam. The result has a more dominant milky taste and a rich, yet subtle hint of espresso in the drink. One-third of the cappuccino is steamed milk, one-third is frothed milk, and the other one-third is espresso – all are made equally.
Baristas usually garnish latte macchiato with brown sugar, mint, chocolate chips, honey, or chocolate flakes. Baristas usually serve cappuccino as is to preserve the foam circle on top or sprinkle it with chocolate.
The right way to drink latte macchiato is to stir the drink well before drinking. Stirring before sipping is optional.

What’s Better About Latte Macchiato?

Think latte macchiato as whole milk and extra espresso shot. Making a perfect glass of latte macchiato only requires the right ratio of espresso to milk and the right order of each ingredient when you add them into the glass. There is nothing to do with the pouring technique like what you experience with a cappuccino.

You might also be interested in our short macchiato explainer.

What’s Better About Cappuccino?

A well-made cup of cappuccino goes by a perfect balance between steamed milk, frothed milk, and espresso. However, you will experience a much stronger flavor profile of espresso due to the ratio, and it’s not out masked by steamed milk as what you see from a latte macchiato.

Cappuccino is the perfect balance between steamed milk, frothed milk, and espresso

Who Should Go for Latte Macchiato (And Why)?

The sheer beauty of the drink comes from the subtle espresso flavor. A latte macchiato contains a limited amount of caffeine – so it’s better for those with a lower caffeine tolerance and mild flavor preferences. 

Due to the strict ratio of espresso to steamed milk, latte macchiato is a flavor-forward drink that gives you a full-bodied flavor on your throat while the bitterness is cut just slightly.

You might also be interested in our caramel macchiato vs. vanilla latte guide.

Who Should Go for Cappuccino (And Why)?

Cappuccino is an espresso-forward drink, so it is not for the weak of the heart. However, this distinctive flavor is also a perfect wake-me-up drink in the morning, as long as you are not on a strict diet to curb your caffeine intake.

If you drink cappuccino in the morning, the lactose and fat content of the milk will boost your energy and get you through the day, while the strong espresso wakes you up.


  • Oanh Nguyen

    Born and raised by a traditional mama-barista, Oanh is a typical Viet coffee aficionado who would spend her entire precious Sunday showing you how to categorize coffee beans just by the looks and smells. She enjoys writing about everything drinks-related while sipping her favorite rosebud tea. Find Oanh on LinkedIn.