The coffee world is littered with terms, jargon, and descriptors that can be a bit confusing if you’re not a coffee guru.

Two common drinks that may be confused are the caramel macchiato vs. caramel latte. But what is the difference between them?

The main difference is that the caramel macchiato is sweetened with vanilla syrup and uses less milk. They both have caramel, espresso, and milk, as well as milk foam.

There are several terms used to describe the drink you order, and even the smallest details can differ from place to place. But which should you drink? Let’s delve into it.

What is the difference between a caramel macchiato and a caramel latte?

It’s easy to get confused by the differences between a caramel macchiato and a caramel latte. Both beverages use espresso as their base, both are topped with a deep layer of frothed milk, and both use caramel sauce.

The difference comes with the syrup. A caramel macchiato is made by mixing coffee with a little bit of vanilla syrup, while a caramel latte only uses caramel sauce as a sweetener.

Have a look below for all the key differences that make these drinks so different from each other:

Comparison: Caramel macchiato: Caramel latte:
Espresso coffee? Single espresso shot Single espresso shot
Milk used Milk of choice Milk of choice
How much milk? 1/2 cup (0.12 l) 3/4 cup (0.18 l)
Caramel use Caramel drizzle on top Mixed in with coffee
Additional sweetener Added vanilla syrup No additional sweetener
Taste notes Espresso-forward and slightly sweet taste Creamy and rich taste

Now that you know what sets these coffees apart, it’s time to go in-depth and see which might be the better pick for you.

What is a caramel macchiato?

A caramel macchiato is a coffee drink that is made from espresso and steamed milk, with added vanilla syrup. It is usually served with a layer of foam on top and finished with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Homemade caramel macchiato coffee.

It’s smaller than a caramel latte with some added sweetness from the vanilla syrup.

If you’d like to try your hand at making a caramel macchiato yourself, you can check out this complete recipe.

What is a caramel latte?

A caramel latte is a coffee drink that contains espresso coffee, steamed and frothed milk, and caramel sauce. The espresso and milk are combined, and then the caramel syrup is mixed in.

A homemade caramel latte, ready to drink.

The caramel latte has a different texture than the caramel macchiato as it uses more milk, and the milk is foamed more, creating the latte layers we all know and love.

You can easily froth milk at home using various techniques. A latte is all about the different milk techniques, so if you’re interested in learning about six different ways to froth milk at home, you can check it out here.

You can also check out this complete recipe for a caramel latte if you’re interested in making one at home.

What coffee roast is best used for these drinks?

The best coffee roast to make a caramel macchiato and caramel latte is a medium roast. A light roast will be too light, while a dark roast will be too strong for these drinks.

The medium roast will give you a coffee with milder flavor notes that will allow the flavors of the caramel to shine through and will provide a bit more depth.

Medium roasted coffee beans.

If you’re looking for some great coffee beans, you can check out this guide for some of my recommendations that work perfectly with both coffees.

How do you make the best espresso at home?

You make the best espresso by starting with fresh, quality whole beans that have been roasted within the past two weeks. Grind them yourself immediately before brewing for the best flavor.

There are many ways to make espresso at home using different coffee brewers and machines. Have a look below for some options:

  • Espresso machine
  • AeroPress
  • Moka pot
  • Nespresso or Keurig machine

The espresso machine will make the best espresso coffee, but it can be quite expensive. Instead, you could also use a Moka pot or AeroPress to prepare your espresso-like coffee.

Flavorwise, these coffee brewers will come close to espresso coffee made with an espresso machine.

Brewing espresso shots.

They’ll produce some robust coffee that works perfectly in these kinds of recipes where strong espresso coffee is needed.

If you’d like to learn more about these coffee brewers, you can check out my beginner’s guide to brewing coffee.

Another great option is using your Nespresso or Keurig machine to brew some espresso coffee.

The great thing about these coffee machines is that you can make great-tasting coffee in just a few seconds without going through much trouble.

I recommend sticking with your favorite espresso pod, preferably with a robust flavor, so your caramel macchiato and caramel latte are well-balanced.

Which has more calories, a caramel macchiato or caramel latte?

The caramel latte has more calories. A caramel macchiato is made of espresso and steamed milk with a caramel sauce drizzled on top and flavored with vanilla syrup.

On the other hand, a latte is composed of espresso and steamed milk with a nice layer of foam, and it doesn’t have any syrups added.

The number of calories can change depending on the type of milk that is used. You can use any milk you prefer the most if you’re at home.

This can be dairy milk, but also your favorite non-dairy milk will work perfectly fine.

Milk in a jar.

I prefer using whole milk for most hot coffee drinks, which will result in a higher calorie count.

My homemade recipe of a caramel macchiato contains 108 calories, while the caramel latte has 199 calories per serving.

Which is better? A caramel macchiato or caramel latte?

The answer to this question really depends on personal preference. Some people may prefer the stronger flavor of a caramel macchiato, while others may prefer the creamier texture of a caramel latte.

Caramel macchiato vs. caramel latte.
Caramel macchiato on the left. Caramel latte on the right

If you are not quite sure which might be the better pick, the following might help you:

  • Caramel macchiato has a slightly sweeter flavor because of the vanilla syrup added. It also has a more robust espresso-forward flavor.
  • The caramel latte is creamier because more milk is used, which dilutes the coffee flavor. It has a more milk-forward flavor with a touch of caramel.

I hope this has helped you to pick between two quite similar drinks. Remember that either drink is a delicious way to enjoy a sweet treat!

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve gone in-depth about all the differences between two very similar drinks and which drink might suit you better.

So, what’s the verdict? Are you a caramel macchiato lover or a caramel latte fan?

I’m definitely team macchiato all the way, but that might just be because I love anything with a more espresso-forward taste.

I hope this article has helped clear up any confusion about these two coffee drinks.

If you’d like to learn more about the difference in coffees, you can check out some more coffee comparisons below!

More coffee comparisons

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