Macchiato vs Cappuccino – Do You Know the Differences?

Macchiato vs Cappuccino – Do You Know the Differences?

Ever wondered what differentiates a macchiato and a cappuccino?

When it comes to types of espresso based drinks, there are those who wish to experience the full force of the shots and avoid masking the flavor that may be too powerful for others. 

Then there is the type who prefer a mellower coffee experience.

No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, either a macchiato or a cappuccino is sure to please your coffee craving. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Macchiato vs Cappuccino – A Quick Comparison :

Macchiato is made up of one or two espresso shots topped with a dollop of steamed milk.

Cappuccino is a creamy drink where steamed milk and foam are layered on top of espresso shots.

Origins of Macchiato

Espresso Macchiato in A Small White Cup

Macchiato means marked or stained in Italian. 

The word accurately describes how the drink is made: a bit of steamed milk is added to espresso, essentially staining the shots.

The macchiato which also goes by the names Caffé Macchiato and Espresso Macchiato, is considered an Italian invention. 

Origins of Cappuccino

A Cup of Cappuccino

The cappuccino first arrived on the coffee scene in America during the 1980s. 

However, it was invented a little earlier in Europe. It was known as the Cappuccini in Italy when the use of an espresso machine was still a novel idea. 

These early cappuccinos featured whipped cream and chocolate shavings, resembling a mocha more than the capps we think of today. The espresso drink that we recognize as a cappuccino first came to life after World War II. 

At this point in time, baristas had learned how to produce excellent foam and high-quality shots, which resulted in the cappuccino we know today.

Read More : Flat White vs Cappuccino – How Different are They? 

The Espresso is Dominant in A Macchiato

Espresso Macchiato Composition Explained

A traditional macchiato is served in a small glass, allowing the espresso to remain dominant. 

Instead of diluting the shots with milk, only a dollop of milk is permitted to ensure that the espresso remains the star.

When a macchiato is prepared, the shots are poured into a cup before the barista places the foam gently on top. Because there is little room left in the cup once the shots have been poured, great precision is required to avoid spilling.

This becomes especially challenging when the barista endeavors to create latte art with the small amount of milk permitted a macchiato. However, with practice, it’s still possible to make a Rosetta or heart on top.

Barista Tip : The macchiato is not for those who are sensitive to the strong taste of espresso.

The Milk Foam is Central to A Cappuccino

Cappuccino Composition Explained

Cappuccinos place a great deal more emphasis on the foam at the top. The foam forms cap or hood that covers the steamed milk and espresso beneath it.

A cappuccino is made up of 1/3 foam, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 espresso shots.

The cappuccino is still a relatively small drink in order to maintain the ratios, and is served in a 6oz cup. The foam is the most identifiable part of a cappuccino and, when prepared correctly, should weigh less than a latte.

Why is this, you might ask?

A latte is mostly steamed milk. 

A cappuccino, on the other hand contains equal portions of milk and airy foam which makes the drink lighter overall since there is less of the densest ingredient.

Read More : Latte vs Cappuccino – The 2 Most Common Coffee Compared

An experienced barista will be able to tell if a cappuccino was made correctly simply by testing the weight. If it’s too heavy, it likely wasn’t crowned with enough of its signature foam.

Apart from the traditional make-up of a cappuccino, there are two cappuccino variations for you to explore if you would like to customize your experience further.

Dry and wet Cappuccino.

Read More : Dry vs Wet Cappuccino – What’s the Difference?

Dry Cappuccino has More Foam

Bone Dry Cappuccino

If you order your cappuccino dry, you will receive a drink that has more foam than steamed milk. The drink as a whole will be thick enough that you’ll need to drink the greater part of it using a spoon.

A dry cappuccino should be substantially lighter than a wet cappuccino or a latte due to the fact that airy bubbles claim a large portion of the cup. If you want even more foam and lesser steamed milk, there is an option for a bone dry cappuccino.

The dry cappuccino is suited to those who are huge fans of foam.

Wet Cappuccino has More Steamed Milk

Cappuccino by Little Sparrow in Melbourne

If you order a wet cappuccino in a coffee shop, you’ll be getting a drink made as previously described, featuring foam, steamed milk, and espresso. 

However, the composition it skewed towards more steamed milk and less foam, making it wet. Sometimes, ordering a large cappuccino will also result in a wet cappuccino with more steamed milk being added.

The wet cappuccino is suited for those who want a weaker espresso shot.

A Macchiato is Best Drank Alongside A Sweet Dessert

A macchiato is bold due to the miniscule amount of milk added yet it’s best paired with a treat of equal strength.

Though it has been said that opposites attract, this is not generally the case when it comes to finding a partner for a drink made up almost entirely of espresso.

A dessert made with bittersweet chocolate is one suggested accompaniment as the dark taste is more than capable of standing up to the espresso.

Fruit options are also suggested, though it’s best to go with the boldest ones possible so that they do not become completely lost in the powerful taste of espresso.

Give Cappuccino with Ice Cream A Try!

Since a cappuccino is a much mellower drink, a lighter-tasting accompaniment is recommended. Ice cream is a great choice. 

However, since both ice cream and cappuccinos are smooth in texture, you might want to add a little crunch like cookies or a homemade crumble to this pairing in order to make the flavors easier to differentiate.

If ice cream is not your thing, try a cinnamon coffee cake! 

Mostly white flour with just a dash of sweetness and spice from the sugar and cinnamon suits this drink perfectly.

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About Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee is a former barista who discovered the power of coffee while maintaining a rigorous dance and writing schedule. She trained as a barista in the third-wave coffee industry, receiving in-depth instruction about how to assemble traditional espresso drinks and perfecting her latte art skills.