A cappuccino with intricate floral art in the milk foam. Try one at coffee shop in San Marcos

Cappuccino, Latte, Macchiato: What’s the Difference?


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Many of us enjoy the occasional trip to a coffee shop to get a cup of coffee that is above average, and a change from what we make at home. Walking into a coffee shop to make a decision can sometimes feel a little overwhelming with all the choices. Unless you are a coffee aficionado, making a choice between a latte, macchiato, or cappuccino can sometimes be a shot in the dark. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to understand the difference between the three so that you can make a coffee choice that is the perfect fit for you!


Cappuccinos are one of the most popular coffee-based drinks out there. The cappuccino is a descendant of kapuziner, an Austrian coffee. A cappuccino contains espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam or froth. Theoretically, the proportions of espresso to steamed milk to milk foam is supposed to be 1:1:1, but some people believe that less espresso is used at times. It is the ratio of the ingredients that differentiate the cappuccino from the latte.

A good cappuccino should have three distinct layers of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth.

A cappuccino has a strong flavor, with just a hint of creaminess. This flavor comes from how the drink is prepared. First, the espresso is poured, forming the base of the cappuccino. The steamed milk is poured in next. It is important to withhold the milk froth at this point. As soon as the milk is done being poured in, the stiff froth is released. A good cappuccino should have three distinct layers of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. A lot of times there is a light dusting of chocolate flakes or cinnamon put on top of the foam.


The latte is another popular coffee-based drink. Lattes are also called Caffe Lattes, which means “coffee with milk” in Italian. Of course, Italy is where lattes come from. A latte has the same ingredients as the cappuccino, but in a 1:4:1 ratio. A latte has a double shot of espresso, six to eight ounces of steamed milk, and a one-centimeter thick layer of milk foam. Lattes have a smooth texture and a mild flavor. A latte is a bit more like drinking milky coffee, as the ingredients are mixed together more than in a cappuccino.

It is the latte that is often used for the coffee art in milk foam we all have seen before. In Europe, lattes are considered a breakfast beverage. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that lattes gained popularity within the United States.


The macchiato, or caffé macchiato, differs from the latte and cappuccino because it only uses espresso and milk froth. The word macchiato means “stained milk”. This is because the espresso stains the milk. Macchiatos often have a bolder flavor than a latte or a cappuccino. To make a macchiato, 60ml of espresso is used and then a dot of milk foam is added on top. The goal of the macchiato is to allow the flavor of the espresso to really pop.

The word macchiato means “stained milk”. This is because the espresso stains the milk.

If you would like to try a taste of one of these delicious coffee beverages yourself, drop by Mochas & Javas at any of our San Marcos, TX locations, or come through our Drive Thru in Frisco, TX, if you are passing through the area.

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