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 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 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 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 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 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: Amount of coffee used: Amount of milk used: Number of calories:
Cappuccino 1 oz (30 ml) espresso 2 oz (60 ml) whole milk 34 calories
Latte 1 oz (30 ml) espresso 6 oz (180 ml) 2% fat milk or whole milk 95 and 102 calories
Macchiato 2 oz (60 ml) espresso 2 oz (60 ml) whole milk 34 calories

As you can see from the table above, it’s all about the combination of milk and espresso that make these drink 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, 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.

Which is better: cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato

All three of these drinks are coffee-based but can be made with different milk, foam, and espresso ratios. 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 will be best.
  • Are you a fan of less coffee and more milk? Then it would be best if you went with a latte.
  • If you like stronger coffee, a macchiato will be best for your taste buds.

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


This coffee comparison was great to write. I know there isn’t that much difference in coffees, but there are still some different things.

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

If you’re interested in learning more about the difference in coffees, I suggest checking out the articles I’ve listed below. These coffee comparisons will help you decide which coffee suits you best.

Which coffee out of the three do you prefer? Let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you have any other questions regarding coffee, you can also contact me directly by pressing the “Contact Me” button at the top!

More coffee comparisons


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