Cappuccino Vs. Latte Vs. Macchiato: Which Is Best For You?

Last Updated on March 15, 2024 by brewthatcoffee

Coffee is a lucrative industry that promotes direct trading and enriches countless lives. Initially, coffee was called ‘Qahhwat al-bun,’ translating from Arabic to ‘wine of the bean.’ Today, coffee has many variations, including cappuccino, latte, and macchiato.

There are many desirable coffee drinks, including cappuccino, latte, and macchiato, with the latte being one of the bestselling and preferred coffee variations. The primary difference between these three drinks is the milk content. Latte has the highest milk content, making it sweeter and less bitter.

This article explains the difference between cappuccino, latte, and macchiato- flavor, taste, texture, and content. Also, each coffee type has a small origin story that traces back to when these brews were first invented. Fashioned for every coffee enthusiast, brew up your favorite cup and enjoy!

Cappuccino Vs Latte Vs Macchiato

The milk content is the primary difference between cappuccino, latte, and macchiato. The difference in taste and texture isn’t readily discernable. The main ingredients in all three drinks are espresso and steamed milk. These drinks are different variants of the two components. The espresso content in all three drink variants can be increased by one, two, and even three shots.

Espresso is a highly condensed form of black coffee. It’s made by pressurized steam forced through ground coffee beans. It’s Italian in origin and translates to pressed out. It’s served as a shot and has an intense bitter taste. The caffeine content is exceptionally high and is considered an energizing boost or kick. Espresso is ideal for milky drinks as its concentrated amount allows for varied mixtures.  

Coffee’s origin story is centuries old, and its culture and craft have an authentic heritage. Coffee was initially prepared in an Ottoman manner, in which Eastern influences of mainland Europe were unavoidable. Coffee’s history is connected with Europe’s- the tides of Islam’s invasion, retreat, conquest, and defeat over successive generations.  

The Ottoman style is like today’s Turkish-styled coffee. This manner of preparing coffee brings fine coffee ground beans to a boil and adds sugar or a citrus element like orange or lemon. It’s simple, strong, and zesty. Also, it guarantees desired results. The coffee filaments remain in the cup.

Throughout European history and coffee appreciation, citizens discovered that filtering their coffee beans effectively drew out the flavor and enhanced their drinking experience. Toward the end of the 1700s, French and British nationals set the trend of filtering beans.

Filtering coffee beans were favored over the Ottoman style of boiling ground beans. People preferred not to consume small coffee particles. It was during this time, during the late 1700s, of refining the methods of coffee preparation that cappuccino became a part of coffee’s heritage.

What Is A Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is considered a more luxurious form of coffee. Essentially, a cappuccino is an espresso combined with steamed milk. Originally, cappuccino was a delectable coffee, cream, and sugar brew appreciated in Italy and her European neighbors for centuries.

In Vienna, in the late 1700s, coffee houses added Kapuziner to their regular menu. Kapuziner was advertised as coffee with cream and sweetened with sugar. In addition, in the 1850s, various spice options enhanced one’s coffee preference and experience.

The name cappuccino comes from Kapuziner, referencing the brown color of the drink and the Viennese friar’s robes. These friars were called Capuchins or Kapuzins. This is the beginning of today’s frequently enjoyed cappuccino.

Cappuccino’s origin story signifies coffee’s rich legacy and its character of celebrating community and communal ritual engagement. Coffee has had revered connotations throughout history. Today, the associated coffee lifestyle is one of sustainability, community development, embracing diversity, and enriching culture.

Although secular, these contemporary associations of coffee, goodwill, economic-societal savoir-faire, craft, and high art mimic those found centuries ago. Coffee’s sustained legacy will continue to promote quality of life through haute cuisine.

What’s In A Cappuccino?

Creating the perfect cup of cappuccino is easy and always enjoyable. Firstly, this article explores the ingredients and exciting optional additions. Following that, the calories, sugars, and caffeine content. Finally, we’ll describe the flavor of cappuccino and what to expect from each sip.


Basically, a cup of cappuccino is a combination of coffee espresso, steamed milk, and cream or foam topping. A conventional Italian cappuccino contains a single or double espresso shot, with two successive layers of steamed and frothed milk in equal proportions. Frequently, coffeehouse patrons request a layer of additional cream.

The foam in a cup of cappuccino prevents excess heat from escaping.

Traditionally, cappuccinos are enjoyed early in the day due to the relatively high-fat content in the cream. Breakfasts, pastries, biscotti, and fruit complement cappuccino early in the morning or later during brunch. It’s an excellent staple for the morning, with a higher-than-usual caffeine content and enough calories to sustain you throughout the day.

The Italians have made serving cappuccino a fine art. In Italy, cappuccino is presented in a pre-heated, bowl-like, porcelain cup. Porcelain is ideal for conserving heat. Generally, the more established coffeehouses serve cappuccino in five- to six-ounce cups. Fast food chains follow a uniform international standard and use disposable cups.

There are a handful of inventive ways to stir up a piping-hot cup of cappuccino- lightly sprinkle cinnamon spice over the foam or dip in a cinnamon stick. Try sprinkling Flaky chocolate shavings over the cream, or drop a Flaky half stick on the cup. Add a hint of vanilla extract and whip it up with the foam.

Also, an array of coffee syrups is available in local stores and online, like Torani syrups. Tease a tiny splash of hazelnut, vanilla bean, caramel, or chocolate into your creamy cappuccino mixture- or maybe darker notes for more decadent coffee blends.

Calories, Carbs, Caffeine

Here is the carbohydrate, caffeine, and calorie content in a cappuccino cup:

  • Caffeine– 154 mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce cup (High)
  • Calories– 97 calories in a 12-ounce mug and 130 calories in a 16-ounce cup
  • Carbs– 13 g
  • Total Fat– 5g
  • Protein– 8g

An interesting cappuccino fact– due to the higher milk/calcium content, cappuccino is a stable drink for many Italian children. This is true for milky tea in India and other parts of the world.


Typically, a quality cup of cappuccino will be made from arabica beans sourced from the higher altitudes of the coffee belt in Central and South America. Arabica is a more delicate coffee cherry than robusta found in Ethiopia, which yields a more bitter brew. Yet, high-quality coffee can also be multi-sourced and contain both arabica and robusta.

Arabica produces a full-spectrum flavor profile. The full-spectrum flavor is an indication of premium coffee, and it implies flavor notes and suggestions beyond the dominant bitter taste. For example, coffee cherries contain natural sugars, especially those of the more fragile arabica coffee bush. Once the cherries are roasted, the sugars caramelize, giving each cup a more nuanced silhouette.  

Therefore, a superb cup of cappuccino translates fine, discerning aromatic flavor notes and hints. Each sip embraces the sensations and enriches the coffee experience. Milk is typically heated with a frothing wand. These introduce air into the mix, creating light, fluffy milk bubbles. A layer of cream is a scrumptious indulgence that should be enjoyed at least once a week.

What Is A Latte?

A latte, formally known as a caffè latte, is a classic coffee drink that is a permanent feature on many menus worldwide. Like the cappuccino, its influence is predominantly Italian-borne. Also, the essence of a latte is a combination of steamed milk and espresso.    

Caffè latte is Italian for coffee milk. This milk-dominant coffee drink was first recorded by American novelist William Dean Howells. In Howells’ “Italian Journeys”  he mentioned caffè e latte. Today there are approximately one million cups of latte sold over two years. These high sales records indicate that lattes are the preferred coffee variant globally.

One of the reasons why lattes are so popular is that it subdues coffee’s bitter taste. Also, there’s a silky, lush quality to a latte that’s hard to refuse. Compared to cappuccino and macchiato, lattes are slightly sweeter, lighter, and frothier.

A latte isn’t presented in distinct layers. Instead, it’s mixed, and the color is seen through the characteristic tall transparent glass it’s often served in. This enticing coffee treat is a tawny hue rich in calcium and coffee nutrients.  

Both cappuccino and lattes are renowned for their creative foam topping designs. Social media has reproduced countless images of inventive, clever coffee cream patterns. Globally, skilled baristas are getting increasingly creative with the ingenious application of steamed milk into discernable pictures.

Coffee culture exceeds typical trends. It’s an ever-developing legacy that represents desire and its actualization. It makes sense that most coffee variations have Italian roots. It mirrors Italy’s rich heritage and artistic endeavors.   

What’s In A Latte?

Generally, preparing a latte takes about five to ten minutes. Firstly, we’ll look at the ingredients of a latte and how it’s prepared. Then the carb, calorie, and caffeine content. Following that, we’ll discuss the flavor.


As with a cappuccino, an excellent latte brew begins with premium arabica beans sourced from sustainable coffee farms (certified direct trading) along the tropic of Cancer. The espresso beans must be ground finely and packed securely in the coffee machine.

Crema is a coffee-laced foam that is the natural result of espresso. So, when preparing your latte, be aware that espresso, if pulled for too long, will begin to blond (turn white). Discussed more fully below, a brownish foam will crescent the drink when pouring steamed milk over the espresso.  

Steaming milk is an essential part of latte preparation. Firstly, there’s a difference between steaming milk and frothing milk. Heating milk does more than transform milk’s fundamental chemical component, taste, and structure.

The difference lies in the amount of air introduced to the heating process. Frothing milk entails significantly more air introduced while heating it to produce a light, airy texture. Heat and air promise voluminous, bubbly, and creamy milk. It’s better to froth before you pour the steamed milk. To ensure you don’t waste the latte’s heat.  

In comparison, steaming milk requires less air. Therefore, the outcome has far fewer bubbles and higher milk content. Ultimately, steamed milk must be silky, with tiny pockets of air and substance enough to pull the espresso into the mix- creating that iconic tawny blend.

Steamed milk should be poured slowly over the espresso. This will result in the espresso crema forming a delicate crown – the hallmark of a properly prepared latte. Gently layer the top frothing, and maybe add a light sprinkle of cinnamon.

Calories, Carb, Caffeine

Here’s the calorie, carbohydrate, and caffeine content in a latte:

An interesting latte fact- National latte day is celebrated on October 7th.


A latte is milkier than a regular cup of coffee. The espresso is characteristically strong and bitter. Yet the milk in a café latte counters the severity of espresso with natural sugars and high-fat content. A latte contains the comforting reassurance of creamy food.

What Is A Macchiato?

Macchiato, also called caffè macchiato, or espresso macchiato has its etymology in Italian. Caffè macchiato translates to “coffee marked” or “coffee stained.” This is a reference to how macchiato is made and appears when served.

A macchiato contains the highest quotient of espresso to the milk of all three coffee variants. It’s made by adding a dash of steamed milk to the espresso. The idea behind a macchiato is that the milk subtly releases the espresso flavor and doesn’t dominate it.

Again, milk has natural sugars that uniquely harness the strong espresso flavor. Usually, a spot of steamed milk is added to two espresso shots and presented in a see-through glass. Sometimes a slightly frothy layer is added over the steamed milk.  

What’s In A Macchiato?

A macchiato is usually an espresso with a splash of steamed milk. As with cappuccino and latte, the best quality coffee is premium ground arabica beans. It’s a small treat to kick-start your day. Other than the basic milk and espresso ingredients, today’s coffeehouses rework macchiato in exciting and fresh ways.


Other than a 2:1 ratio of espresso milk, here are some different popular reworkings of macchiato:

  • Americano Macchiato: This is a regular Americano topped with a dash of steamed milk.
  • Caffè Corretto: This is an alcoholic macchiato that usually uses cognac or grappa.
  • Caffè Macchiato Freddo– This uses iced espresso instead of freshly steamed espresso.
  • Doppio Macchiato: This consists of two espresso shots added to a tall glass of boiling water layered with steamed milk.
  • Marocchino: This macchiato has additional spices and chocolate.

Calories, Carb, Caffeine

Here’s the calorie, carb, and caffeine content in a macchiato:

  • Caffeine– 75 mg to 80mg caffeine in one espresso shot
  • Calories– 13 calories in a two-ounce glass
  • Carbs– 1.6 g in a two-ounce glass
  • Total Fat– 0.5 g in a two-ounce glass
  • Protein– 0.7 g in a two-ounce glass

An interesting macchiato fact- In Portugal, a caffé macchiato is called a café pintado which translates to coffee painted. Another way the Portuguese call a caffé macchiato is café pingado which means coffee with a drop. The Spanish variant of a caffé macchiato is called a cortado ( translates to cut) and has a 1:1 coffee ratio.


A macchiato is a robust bitter swirl. The small, steamed milk topping tempers the bitterness and doesn’t overpower it. Generally, a one-shot macchiato has enough caffeine to energize you throughout the day.

Types Of Milk Used In These Drinks

Plant-based milk substitutes have grown exponentially in the mainstream market. Although dairy milk is typically used, you can request an alternate milk type from most coffeehouses. Also, you can now easily acquire coconut, rice, soy, cashew, and almond milk from your local store.

The difference is slightly noticeable. Plant-based milk has a minimal fat content and doesn’t produce the same creaminess many enjoy. Cashew nut milk has a higher fat content and will offer your coffee drink a creamier substance than rice or soy.

Some prefer almond and cashew nut milk for the additional nutty tones in their coffee brew. The nutty flavor is subtle and can contribute to various inventive flavor concoctions. For example, add a hint of hazelnut Torani syrup to your almond latte for a nuanced sensational coffee delight.

Which One Should You Try?

A true coffee fanatic should try all three at least once. Next time you order your favorite coffee variant, be more discerning of the steamed vs. frothed milk and how it impacts the espresso. Snap a photo of a barista’s artwork for your multimedia platform to share with friends and family.


There are two main ingredients in a cappuccino, latte, and macchiato. The difference lies in the amount of milk used. Also, there’s a difference between steamed and frothed milk. The heated milk keeps the drinks light and airy, subduing coffee’s bitter flavor. All three drinks have Italian roots and have grown in popularity since. Latte is the bestselling of the three.


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World Coffee Day 2020 – Where did our favourite coffee orders come from? – BBC Bitesize

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