Have you been confused about the differences between these three popular espresso-based coffee beverages and which one is best for you? Not sure if there’s a difference at all?

In this guide to cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato, I’ll discuss why there are different versions of these coffee drinks, the ingredients involved, and how to make the perfect one every time.

Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato

The cappuccino, latte, and macchiato are all popular drinks served at cafés and coffee shops worldwide.

These three espresso drinks are pretty different from each other, but they all share a common theme.

They are all hot beverages that contain milk. However, there are some differences that you should know about before visiting a café or coffee shop:

  • A cappuccino uses 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk.
  • A latte is made using 1/3 espresso at the bottom, and the rest is milk. Roughly 50% is steamed milk, and a layer of foamed milk makes up for the rest of the coffee.
  • A macchiato is made from 50% espresso and 50% steamed milk.

As you can see from the ratios I’ve listed above, all three coffees use the same ingredients but are layered differently.

The difference in layering is what makes these coffees so different in taste and looks. If you put the coffees next to each other, you can see the difference in layers:

"Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato differences explained."

Let me tell you about the difference between milk and coffee, and after that, I’ll get into the calories and caffeine content as well. I’ll finish this article with a recommendation of which coffee is right for you.

What milk is used to make these coffees?

You can make milk-based coffees with any milk that you prefer. However, there is a difference in texture, depending on the milk you’re using. I like to use the following milk:

  • A cappuccino uses whole milk.
  • A latte uses 2% fat milk or whole milk.
  • A macchiato uses whole milk.

As you can see, most of the time, whole milk is used to produce these three coffees.

Whole milk gives off the fullest and rich flavor, and this is why it’s most commonly used to make these coffees.

However, 2% fat milk or nonfat milk is an excellent choice as well. Lower fat milk foams up much better and holds its fluff while you keep drinking your cup of coffee.

"Steamed and foamed milk."

For this reason, I like to switch between 2% fat milk and whole milk when I make my lattes. The extra-thick milk foam makes for such a great drinking experience.

All three coffees can also be made using milk alternatives. A few popular options are:

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk

These milk alternatives make for a much different tasting experience and are super delicious. I’ve made many recipes with all the milk alternatives mentioned above, and they turned out great.

The only thing is that they don’t foam as well as cow’s milk, but the flavor of these milk alternatives makes up for this big time.

If you’re interested in trying a few coffee recipes with a milk alternative, you can check them out below:

What coffee is used in these coffee recipes?

All three coffees use a strong espresso as the basis. The espresso coffee is usually made with an espresso machine.

When at home, you can either use an espresso machine if you have one or use a Moka pot or Aeropress to produce the espresso:

"AeroPress and Moka pot ready to make a fresh espresso."

There is a difference in the amount of coffee used between these coffees:

  • A cappuccino uses one shot of espresso.
  • A latte uses one shot of espresso.
  • A macchiato uses two shots of espresso.

Both a cappuccino and latte use just one shot of espresso, and the rest of the coffee is made up of milk. A macchiato, on the other hand, uses two espresso shots as the basis.

As I’ve said initially, a macchiato is made from 50% espresso and 50% steamed milk. Most of the time, two espresso shots and about 2 oz (ca. 60 g) of steamed milk are added.

This number can change depending on the amount of coffee used. You can also make a macchiato with just one shot of coffee and use less steamed milk as well. As long as you keep the ratio the same, you’ll make a fantastic macchiato.

Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato calorie difference

To know the difference in calories of these coffees, we’ll have to look at the amount of milk used.

Black coffee has virtually no calories, so it’s all about the amount of milk used that makes up for the calories in these coffees. Have a look at the table below to see how these coffees are build up and how many calories are in them:

Coffee name:Amount of coffee used:Amount of milk used:Number of calories:
Cappuccino1 oz (30 ml) espresso2 oz (60 ml) whole milk34 calories
Latte1 oz (30 ml) espresso6 oz (180 ml) 2% fat milk or whole milk95 and 102 calories
Macchiato2 oz (60 ml) espresso2 oz (60 ml) whole milk34 calories

As you can see from the table above, it’s all about the combination of milk and espresso that make these drinks so different. A latte has much more milk added, which also translates into a higher calorie count.

The listed calories are without any use of sweeteners. If you start adding a bit of sugar or a flavorful syrup – like chocolate syrup, the calories will go up.

Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato caffeine difference

There is a slight difference in caffeine depending on which coffee you pick. Because a macchiato uses an extra shot of espresso, it will have more caffeine. Down below, you can see how much caffeine all three coffees have:

  • A cappuccino has 68 mg of caffeine.
  • A latte has 68 mg of caffeine.
  • A macchiato has 136 mg of caffeine. (source)

As you can see, the cappuccino and latte have the same amount of caffeine because both coffees use the same amount of espresso.

Because a macchiato uses a double shot of espresso, the caffeine content is also doubled.

Quick facts about these espresso-based drinks

  • The origin of the latte, cappuccino, and macchiato is all in Italy (Europe).
  • The name cappuccino comes from a group of monks called the Capuchin friars. The color of cappuccinos is similar to the color of their robes, so the Italians derived the word cappuccino from Capuchin.
  • The word latte comes from the Italian word caffellatte, which means coffee and milk when you translate it to English.
  • Latte art is the pattern created by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso.
  • All three of these drinks are espresso-based but can be made with different milk, foam, and espresso ratios.

Which is better: Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato

So, which one is the best one for you?

Let’s take a closer look at their distinct strengths and weaknesses to help you decide which one will suit your tastes best.

I recommend the following if you cannot choose between these great coffees:

  • If you like a very balanced coffee drinking experience, ordering a cappuccino from your local barista (or Starbucks) will be best.
  • Are you a fan of less coffee and more milk? Then it would be best if you went with a latte. (Maybe you will even get some latte art!)
  • If you like stronger coffee, a macchiato will be best for your taste buds.

Don’t forget that different versions of your favorite coffee recipes exist! For example, do you know the difference between a wet and dry cappuccino?

And don’t forget that you can also change it up to the iced version! For example, the iced cappuccino, iced latte, and iced macchiato.

After reading through the article and my recommendation above, I think that you can choose which coffee fits you best.

"Cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato."
From left to right: cappuccino, latte, macchiato.

However, if you want to experience some fantastic coffee, I highly recommend ordering and tasting all coffees. (Don’t forget to smell the coffee flavor as well!)

This way, you get the best experience, and you’ll never have to ask yourself if you’ll like it.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the cappuccino, latte, and macchiato compare to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!


This comparison was great to write!

The bottom line is that there isn’t that much difference in these coffees, but there are still some different things that are nice to know for most people!

However minor these differences are, they make for a much different drinking experience that you either love them or not.

Want to upgrade your experience? Why not try these chocolate-covered espresso beans!

And if you’re looking for something else for your morning or afternoon coffee, why not make a regular iced coffee, an Americano, or a Long Black? Or maybe even a Frappuccino!

If you have any other questions regarding coffee, you can also contact me directly by pressing the “Contact Me” button at the top!

Coffee recipes to try

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