If you’re in the market for a small cup of coffee, you may come across two options – macchiato and piccolo. This can be confusing if you’re not aware of the difference between these two types of coffee.

Quick Answer: What is the difference between a macchiato and a piccolo?

The main difference between a macchiato and a piccolo is that a piccolo has more milk while a macchiato has less. A piccolo is made with espresso and steamed milk, while a macchiato is made with espresso and a milk foam topping.

Macchiato vs. Piccolo: How Do These Small Coffees Differ?

This article will help you decide which one you should order when you’re on the go or in line at your favorite coffee shop.

What are the differences between a macchiato vs. piccolo?

Small coffees may seem one and the same, but they do have a few key differences. Knowing the difference between these two coffee drinks will ensure you order the correct coffee.

Below, I’ve made an overview of all the differences between these espresso-based drinks:

Espresso?Yes, two espresso shotsYes, one espresso shot
Milk?Yes, 1 ounce (30 ml)Yes, 2 or 3 ounces (60 or 90 ml)
Flavor notesEspresso- forward and intense flavorMild and well-balanced flavor
Caffeine content136mg of caffeine68mg of caffeine
Calories per serving5 to 18 calories10 to 36 calories

Now that you know the main differences between macchiato and piccolo, let’s go into detail about how these drinks are made and their differences.

What is a macchiato, and how is it made?

A macchiato is an espresso with a small amount of steamed milk, typically no more than 1 ounce (30 ml). The milk is poured over the espresso so that a layer of foam forms on top.

Homemade macchiato coffee.

The name comes from the Italian word for “stained” because the addition of milk “stains” the coffee with a layer of white foam.

This small coffee is made with a 2:1 espresso-to-milk ratio. It has two espresso shots and just 1 ounce of milk added.

If you’re interested in learning more about this drink, you can check out the complete macchiato recipe here. (Or check out the iced macchiato here!)

What is a piccolo coffee, and how is it made?

A piccolo coffee is a small espresso typically served in a demitasse cup. It is made by pulling a short shot of espresso and adding a small amount of steamed milk to it. The resulting drink should be about 3 ounces in size.

Piccolo latte.

Piccolo coffee, or piccolo latte, is a smaller version of a regular-sized latte. That’s why it’s also made in the same way that a latte is made.

The coffee is made with a 1:2 or 1:3 espresso-to-milk ratio, depending on the strength level that you prefer.

The milk is steamed separately in order to achieve a thick, creamy consistency. The resulting coffee has a strong espresso flavor and a creamy texture.

You can check out this complete piccolo recipe if you want to try your hand at making this small latte at home.

What is the flavor difference between a macchiato and a piccolo?

There is a very subtle difference in flavor between a macchiato and a piccolo. A piccolo has a slightly stronger chocolate flavor, while a macchiato has a more intense coffee flavor.

The flavor difference is especially noticeable while tasting them side-by-side. Because the macchiato is made with a double espresso shot, the flavor is more intense and has an espresso-forward taste.

Brewing espresso shots.

On the other hand, a piccolo coffee uses double or even triple the amount of milk and just one espresso shot.

The taste is more milk-forward, making it more subtle, balanced, and smooth.

What is the difference in caffeine between a macchiato and a piccolo?

The caffeine difference between a macchiato and a piccolo is that a macchiato contains more caffeine. A macchiato has a double shot of espresso, while a piccolo only has a single shot.

  • One espresso shot has 68mg of caffeine. That means that a piccolo has 68mg of caffeine per serving.
  • As a macchiato is made with a double espresso shot, it has 136mg of caffeine per serving. (source)

If you love to start the day with a big caffeine boost, a macchiato might be the better drink for you.

Is there a difference in calories between these drinks?

There is a difference in calories between these drinks. Because the piccolo coffee uses more milk than the macchiato, it’ll be higher in calories.

In the table below, I’ve listed a few popular kinds of milk and milk alternatives with the number of calories for both drinks:

The milk used:Calories in a macchiato:Calories in a piccolo:
Whole milk18 calories36 calories
2% fat milk15 calories30 calories
Non-fat milk13 calories26 calories
Almond milk5 calories10 calories
Oat milk15 calories30 calories
Soy milk12 calories24 calories

As you can see from the table above, you can lower the calories in both drinks by using low-fat milk instead of whole milk.

I’ve calculated the calories by using 1 ounce (30 ml) for the macchiato and 2 ounces (60 ml) of milk for the piccolo.

If you prefer making a more milk-forward piccolo, you’ll also increase the calories in your drink slightly.

Which is better, a macchiato or piccolo?

Is a macchiato better than a piccolo coffee? In my opinion, it depends on your preference.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, as it all depends on personal preference.

Some people might prefer a macchiato because of its stronger coffee flavor, while others might prefer a piccolo because it has a lighter and more subtle flavor.

Macchiato vs. piccolo comparison side by side.
Macchiato on the left. Piccolo on the right

Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to decide which drink they like better. If you’re unsure which might be the better pick for you, I recommend the following:

  • If you love to drink espresso coffee, you’ll also love the more intense flavor that the macchiato has. The small amount of milk makes for a smoother flavor.
  • The piccolo has a slightly milder flavor and is less dense than a macchiato. If you love to drink a latte, you’ll also love this smaller version.

If you like a strong coffee with less milk and foam, then go for the macchiato. But if you prefer a lighter coffee with more milk and foam, the piccolo is definitely the way to go!

Personally, I like both drinks equally as much. There’s just something about the easy-to-make piccolo with its smooth flavor. I keep coming back to this drink because it’s just so good.

The macchiato is the perfect drink to start the day, in my opinion, as you’ll get a nice boost from the caffeine, and it has a robust flavor that is just perfect.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the macchiato and piccolo 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!


So, there you have it – the differences between a macchiato and piccolo coffee.

I hope this article has helped clear things up for you and that you’ll be able to order your perfect coffee with confidence from now on!

Although these coffees use the same ingredients, the preparation method and how they are served make them vastly different in every aspect.

If you want to check out some delicious coffee recipes, you can have a look below!

Coffee recipes to try

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