Cappuccino VS Macchiato (What Are Their Differences?)

Cappuccino and macchiato both have espresso as their base. But a macchiato has a splash of steamed milk while a cappuccino has equal amounts of milk.

With more than half of the world relying on caffeine every day. It’s hard to decide which kind of coffee you want to drink for the rest of your life. Some people only enjoy strong black coffee and they gulp it down without any hesitation. Whereas some people want to chow down sweet and milky coffee.

Cappuccino and macchiato are great examples of these two varying coffee types. A macchiato is a strong espresso and a cappuccino is sweet and milky.

This makes them quite opposite of each other. So, which one is better?

Let’s break it down and find out!

What’s The Big Difference Between Cappuccino and Macchiato?

Both drinks are espresso-based and contain steamed milk. But a macchiato has merely a dollop of steamed milk or milk foam, meanwhile, a cappuccino is equal parts espresso and equal parts steamed milk.

Most types of coffee start out with espresso being the base. The same is the case with a macchiato and a cappuccino. They both are espresso-based. But then what is so different about both of these coffees?

Both of these instant pick-me-ups have some great nutrients for your body. There is a huge difference between these two coffees.  A macchiato is for those who love a very strong cuppa.

In a double shot of espresso, only a splash or dollop of steamed milk or milk foam is added. This is done so that the poured espresso can shine through and the steamed milk or milk foam cuts the harshness of the espresso.

Traditionally, macchiatos are not stirred to mix the espresso and milk, they’re sipped directly. You can take a closer look at the contents of a macchiato in my other article.

A cappuccino is for those who enjoy a subtle flavor of coffee with milk. For making a cappuccino, equal amounts of espresso shot and full-fat steamed milk are added to the cup. Then this is topped with equal amounts of milk foam.

Both of these coffees are great on their own and cater to people with opposite preferences.

Here is a summarized table.

Steamed MilkYesA Tad Bit
Milk FoamYesA Tad Bit
Flavor ProfileSubtle and SweetIntense and Strong

Is Cappuccino Stronger Than Macchiato?

A macchiato is much stronger than a cappuccino. The espresso in a cappuccino gets diluted by the steamed milk, but a macchiato only has a dollop of steamed milk or milk foam, which affects the espresso.

As we all know by now that espresso is by far the most active and strong form of coffee ever. The reason is how it is brewed. The coffee compounds are concentrated and jam-packed in an espresso.

That’s the sole reason espresso is not drunk in a tall mug. It is only consumed in a 1 oz shot. Also, because of this, it is used as a base for almost all kinds of coffee. A macchiato and cappuccino both have double shots of espresso.

But when making a cappuccino, the espresso shot gets diluted by the sheer volume of steamed milk and milk foam added to the espresso shot.

This naturally decreases the strong and potent espresso strength. And when making a macchiato, only a dollop or splash or steamed milk or milk foam is added to the shot of espresso which doesn’t even get stirred to make it a homogeneous mix.

The sharpness and harshness of the espresso are very vivid thus making a macchiato much stronger than a cappuccino. Another factor to take note of here is that a macchiato is not stirred at all before sipping.

This makes the flavor of the espresso most noteworthy, thus resulting in a stronger cup of coffee.

Healthier Option In The Long Run: Cappuccino Or Macchiato?

Both coffees if drunk in moderation are not bad. But I believe a macchiato is a healthier option than a cappuccino in the long run.

Coffee is drunk daily among the masses. Studies show that on average Americans drink about 3 cups of 9 oz daily. That’s about 62 percent of Americans every day. That’s huge, right? With that being said, if coffee is consumed in such high volumes daily it should be healthy? Well, it’s healthy overall.

But if you consume it in excessive amounts it can be harmful.

A macchiato and a cappuccino both aren’t that bad for your health. But if we talk about regular use, a macchiato is better. Why? Because it doesn’t contain any sugar and the diary present is less than a tablespoon.

a cup of cappuccino

Diary and sugar, are sneaky little things that manage to get into everything and ruin our health without us even being aware of it.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, daily sugar consumption should not exceed 12 teaspoons. And cappuccino has about ½ teaspoon of sugar per ounce. So, drinking three 9 oz cups daily is exactly 12 teaspoons. But if you add additional syrups or enjoy a donut or brownie, you are in big trouble.

Therefore, this clearly illustrates that it can harm you if you consume too much of it. Similarly, dairy products can be harmful as well if you consume excessive amounts.

Dairy is classified as one of the top contributors to diseases such as Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Heart disease, according to the Physicians Committee.

I’ve made a table below stating the nutritional facts of each coffee per 8 oz cup.

Protein4 g2.7 g
Fats3.9 g1.8 g
Sugar6.4 g6.2 g
Sodium50 mg50 mg
Carbohydrate5.8 g3 g

Which Has More Caffeine?

Regardless of the fact that they both have espresso as the base, they do have different caffeine levels. There is about 80 mg of caffeine in a cappuccino and about 128 mg of caffeine in a macchiato.

Espresso is one of many concentrated forms of coffee. Since they are tightly packed and very hot water is running through them, coffee components like caffeine become very active and potent in this way.

As a result, it should not be consumed in large quantities. The majority of coffee varieties start with espresso. As a consequence, you might assume that every coffee made with espresso contains significant amounts of caffeine. But it doesn’t. What goes into making espresso may affect how much caffeine it contains.

An 8 oz cup of a cappuccino contains 80 mg of caffeine. As opposed to a macchiato, which has 128 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz cup. Wow! Don’t overdo it, though. The recommended daily dose for caffeine is 400 mg by the FDA.

One more thing, caffeine overdose can have the following adverse effects if consumed excessively:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Jitteriness
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration

Watch this video to learn more about caffeine intake.

great quality and very informative

Difference in Taste

They taste very different because both are made differently. A macchiato is strong and harsh in taste, although Starbucks does have a caramel version. A cappuccino, on the other hand, is milky and has a milder flavor. Plus a cappuccino has many flavors like vanilla, caramel, hazelnut to name a few. 

Macchiato in its classic form is espresso is topped with a splash of steamed milk or foam. This when added to hot espresso, lets the espresso shine through because it doesn’t get stirred.

Therefore, it’s a strong and power-packed cup of coffee. It does taste bitter and is quite strong with hints of acidity. But people love it who prefer straight-up coffees and no sweetness. But Starbucks has also introduced a caramel macchiato which is much sweeter than the traditional one.

Though it contains a strong espresso flavor the harshness and bitterness are cut down with the added milk, vanilla syrup, and caramel syrup topping.

They add vanilla syrup first in the cup, then the steamed milk and the milk foam. After this, they top it off with a double shot of espresso and a drizzle of caramel syrup. Perfect for those who want a sweetened macchiato.

pouring a splash of milk in espresso

Whereas a cappuccino is different from it. The base of a cappuccino is espresso. Then equal amounts of steamed milk and milk foam are added to the exact same amount of espresso shot.

This gives the cappuccino a bold and sweet coffee taste with a frothy and silky mouthfeel. It is an excellent choice for anyone who does not enjoy a very strong cup of coffee and likes the flavor and mild sweetness of dairy.

You will also find endless amounts of flavors for a cappuccino that suits everyone’s taste buds.

Popular flavors include:

  • Caramel
  • Cinnamon
  • Hazelnut
  • Peppermint
  • Raspberry
  • Toffee Nut
  • Vanilla

Final Thoughts

A cappuccino and a macchiato both have gained a massive amount of popularity in the last decade. Though they have the same base, the ways these two are prepared are very different.

A macchiato only has a dollop of steamed milk and an espresso shot which doesn’t get stirred. People who enjoy power-packed coffee early in the morning, rave about drinking this coffee. It is strong and has a sweeter taste than an Americano.

But a cappuccino is totally different. It has the same amount of all three ingredients that are espresso, milk, and foam. This gives it a strong yet milder taste with added sweetness from the dairy. 

But in the long run, I think a macchiato is better because there is no sugar and barely any dairy. As we all know, excessive sugar and dairy can cause damages to our bodies. A macchiato also has a very high level of caffeine. Remember to not overdose on caffeine and drink it responsibly.

Other Articles

Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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