Macchiato vs Cortado: A Battle of Espresso Delights

Macchiato vs Cortado

When it comes to choosing your morning caffeine fix, the options seem endless. However, two espresso-based beverages have been steadily gaining popularity: the Macchiato and the Cortado. Both beverages present a unique blend of espresso and milk, but each carries its distinct taste and charm. In this article, we’ll delve into the nuances of these beverages, helping you understand their characteristics and differences. So, if you’re contemplating whether to order a Macchiato or a Cortado for your next coffee break, keep reading!

Macchiato vs Cortado

The Macchiato

Let’s start with the star of the Italian coffee culture, the Macchiato. The name translates to “marked” in Italian, referring to the dollop of milk foam that marks the surface of this beverage. This simple yet delicious drink is made by adding a small amount of steamed milk and velvety milk foam to a shot of espresso. The result is a bittersweet and creamy coffee that’s satisfying to the palate.



The Macchiato originated in Italy, but it wasn’t always so popular. In its early days, the beverage was served as a pure shot of espresso with a small amount of milk foam on top. However, over time, baristas started adding more milk to create a creamier and smoother beverage. Today, the Macchiato is enjoyed worldwide in various forms, from traditional to modern interpretations.

Serving Size

Traditionally, a Macchiato consists of a single shot of espresso with approximately 1-2 teaspoons of steamed milk and foam. However, some coffee shops offer double shots or larger sizes to cater to different preferences.


With its equal balance of espresso and steamed milk, the Macchiato boasts a bold yet smooth flavor. The rich taste of espresso is complemented by the sweetness and creaminess of the milk foam, creating a perfect harmony for your taste buds.

The Cortado

The Cortado may not be as famous as the Macchiato, but it’s equally delicious and a favorite among coffee aficionados. In Spanish, “Cortado” means cut, indicating the cut of espresso with milk in this beverage. Made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk, the Cortado offers a lighter alternative to the Macchiato.



The origins of the Cortado can be traced back to Spain and Portugal, where it was initially consumed as a morning beverage. It gained widespread popularity when Spanish immigrants introduced it to Latin American countries like Cuba and Argentina. Today, the Cortado is enjoyed globally in coffee shops and at home.

Serving Size

Like the Macchiato, the standard serving size for a Cortado is a single shot of espresso with equal parts steamed milk. However, some variations may use more milk for a creamier and milder taste.


The Cortado’s unique selling proposition is its smoothness and balance of flavors. The espresso’s robustness is perfectly complemented by the steamed milk’s sweetness, creating a velvety texture that lingers on your palate.

Also read about: Cortado vs Cappuccino

Macchiato vs Cortado: The Differences

macchiato vs cortado

Now that we’ve explored the individual characteristics of these beverages, let’s see how they differ:

  • Milk to Espresso Ratio: While both beverages use equal parts espresso, the Macchiato has a larger amount of milk and foam compared to the Cortado.
  • Serving Size: The Macchiato is traditionally served as a single shot with 1-2 teaspoons of milk, while the Cortado is served in a larger cup with equal amounts of espresso and milk.
  • Taste: The Macchiato has a bolder taste due to its higher concentration of espresso, while the Cortado offers a smoother and lighter flavor.

Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between a Macchiato or a Cortado ultimately depends on your taste preferences. If you prefer a stronger and bolder coffee, the Macchiato is right up your alley. On the other hand, if you enjoy a milder and smoother taste, go for the Cortado. However, keep in mind that both beverages offer unique blends of espresso and milk that are sure to satisfy any coffee lover’s cravings. So, why not try both and see which one wins you over?

How do Macchiatos and Cortados Compare to Other Espresso-Based Drinks?

Just as red wines range from light-bodied to full-bodied, espresso-based drinks span a spectrum of strengths and flavors. Let’s see how our contenders, the Macchiato and the Cortado, stand against other popular espresso beverages.

Macchiato vs Cappuccino

A cappuccino is another famed Italian creation, traditionally composed of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The Macchiato, with its smaller milk content, provides a bolder espresso taste than the cappuccino. If you enjoy drinks with a higher milk-to-espresso ratio and a fluffy cap of foam, a cappuccino would be a good choice. However, if you prefer a stronger espresso flavor with a hint of milk, a Macchiato is a better fit.

Macchiato vs Latte

The Latte is perhaps the creamiest of all espresso-based drinks, typically composed of a shot of espresso and three parts steamed milk, topped with a small amount of milk foam. In comparison, the Macchiato, with its richer espresso character and lesser milk content, offers a more intense coffee experience than a latte. If you enjoy a more milky and less robust coffee flavor, you might prefer a Latte over a Macchiato.

Cortado vs Flat White

Originating from Australia and New Zealand, the Flat White is similar to a Cortado, with a ratio of one part espresso to two parts steamed milk. However, a Flat White is typically served in a smaller cup with a thinner layer of micro-foam, resulting in a richer, stronger coffee flavor than a Cortado. If you like your coffee with a balanced espresso to milk ratio but prefer a stronger coffee flavor, a Flat White could be your go-to drink.

Cortado vs Americano

An Americano is simply a shot or two of espresso diluted with hot water. This results in a drink that retains the strong espresso flavor but has a larger volume, closer to that of drip coffee. The Cortado, with its equal parts of espresso and milk, provides a creamier and smoother taste. If you prefer a drink that’s closer to a traditional coffee experience, an Americano would be more suitable. However, if you enjoy the balance of milk and espresso, a Cortado might be your preferred choice.

In summary, both Macchiatos and Cortados offer unique experiences in the world of espresso-based drinks. Your choice would depend on your preference for milk-to-espresso ratios and the intensity of coffee flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I make a Macchiato or Cortado at home?

Absolutely! Making a Macchiato or Cortado requires minimal equipment. With an espresso maker, some milk, and a little practice, you can create your own coffee shop experience at home.

2. Is a Cortado the same as a Flat White?

While they are similar, a Cortado and a Flat White are not the same. A Flat White typically has a higher milk-to-espresso ratio, resulting in a creamier beverage, while a Cortado is equal parts espresso and milk.

3. Which has more caffeine – a Macchiato or a Cortado?

The caffeine content depends more on the amount and type of coffee used rather than the specific drink. However, as both Macchiato and Cortado typically use the same amount of espresso, the caffeine content is generally similar.

4. Are there any variations of Macchiato and Cortado?

Yes, there are various interpretations of these drinks. For example, a Long Macchiato uses double espresso shots, while a Gibraltar is a popular version of the Cortado served in a special Gibraltar glass.

5. Are Macchiatos and Cortados suitable for lactose-intolerant individuals?

This depends on your sensitivity to lactose. Most coffee shops offer lactose-free or plant-based milk alternatives, making it possible for lactose-intolerant individuals to enjoy these drinks. However, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider.


In conclusion, the Macchiato and the Cortado are two delightful espresso-based beverages that offer a mix of boldness and smoothness. While they may share some similarities, each has its distinct characteristics that make them unique. So next time you’re at a coffee shop, don’t hesitate to try a Macchiato or Cortado and discover your new favorite drink. Happy sipping!

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