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Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato

What’s the difference?

Even for the biggest coffee connoisseur, understanding how popular drinks differ can be confusing. This article reviews the key differences and similarities between cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos.

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Last updated on January 12, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on January 9, 2023.

A latte, cappuccino, and macchiato are all made with espresso. The difference lies in the amount of added steamed or foamed milk, as well as the amount of caffeine in each drink.

Even for the most excellent coffee connoisseur, understanding how popular drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos differ in ingredients, caffeine content, and nutritional value can be confusing.

This article examines key differences and similarities between cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos.

How they’re made

One of the key differences between these three caffeinated beverages is how they are made.

Cappuccino

A cappuccino is a popular coffee drink made by topping a shot of espresso with steamed milk and foam.

It contains equal parts and comprises about 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk.

This gives the final product a creamy, rich, smooth taste and texture.

Latte

The term “café latte” literally translates to “coffee milk.”

Although there is no standard recipe for making a latte, it generally involves adding steamed milk to a single shot of espresso.

In some cases, it’s also topped with a light layer of foam, and sugars or sweeteners may also be mixed in.

Compared with the other beverages, lattes have a mild, slightly sweet flavor compared to the other beverages, as they contain a greater proportion of steamed milk.

Macchiato

Traditionally, the macchiato combines an espresso shot with a small milk splash.

However, many other variations are available, including the latte macchiato, which is made by adding a shot of espresso to a glass of hot milk.

Because macchiato is usually made using just a tiny amount of milk, it has a much stronger flavor than other coffee drinks.

It’s also much smaller than other drinks, with a standard serving clocking in at just 1 1/4 ounces (37 ml).

Summary: Cappuccinos are made using equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, while lattes involve adding steamed milk to espresso. Meanwhile, macchiatos are made by adding a splash of milk to a shot of espresso.

Caffeine contents

All three beverages contain similar amounts of caffeine per serving.

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Cappuccinos and lattes, for example, are each made using a shot of espresso and thus contain the same amount of caffeine.

A medium 16-ounce (475-ml) cappuccino and medium 16-ounce (475-ml) latte contain about 173 mg of caffeine.

Meanwhile, a 2-ounce (60-ml) macchiato has about half as much caffeine, with just over 85 mg per serving.

Summary: Cappuccinos and lattes each contain around 173 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce (480-gram) serving, while macchiatos contain just 85 grams of caffeine in a 2-ounce (60-gram) serving.

Nutritional value

Cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes contain varying amounts of milk and foam, which can alter their respective nutritional profiles quite a bit.

Their nutrient contents are further influenced by the type of milk used and if any sugar or sweeteners are added.

Lattes contain the most milk and are the highest in calories, fat, and protein.

Cappuccinos contain a bit less milk but still provide a good amount of calories, protein, and fat in each serving.

On the other hand, macchiatos contain only a splash of milk and are significantly lower in calories, fat, and protein.

Here’s a comparison of the three drinks:

16-ounce (475-ml) latte

16-ounce (475-ml) cappuccino

2-ounce (60-ml) macchiato

Summary: Lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos contain varying amounts of calories, carbs, protein, and fat.

Summary

Cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos are all made differently, giving them unique taste and texture.

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Because they each contain different ingredients, they also vary in terms of caffeine content and nutritional value.

Therefore, whichever drink you order on your next trip to the coffee shop comes down to your personal taste and preferences.

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