There are many different types of coffee drinks out there, but two of the most popular are the iced macchiato and latte.
And if you’ve been to a coffee shop recently, you’ve probably seen both on the menu.
So, what’s the difference between these two drinks? How are they made? What ingredients are used? And which one should you order?
Keep reading to find out!
This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos courtesy of Canva.
What is a macchiato?
A macchiato is a coffee drink made with an espresso shot and milk.
Translated from the original Italian, macchiato means “marked,” a reference to the staining that occurs when introducing milk foam to espresso.
There are two basic variations of the macchiato.
The first is an espresso macchiato, and the second is a latte macchiato.
Although both types of macchiato have espresso, the espresso macchiato contains much less milk than the latte macchiato.
An espresso macchiato is a shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk with perhaps a bit of foam.
This type of espresso drink is considered a traditional macchiato.
A traditional espresso macchiato has a very strong espresso flavor with just a hint of milk.
It typically doesn’t include any extra sweeteners or syrups.
An espresso macchiato is only around 40 ml, so it is excellent if you don’t want a large coffee drink but need a bit of caffeine kick.
In contrast to the espresso macchiato, the latte macchiato contains a higher ratio of milk.
This espresso coffee drink often contains a double shot of espresso and milk that has been both steamed and frothed.
Many coffee shops also add a shot of flavor, such as vanilla, caramel, or chocolate syrup, to the drink. Sometimes the drink is also topped with whipped cream.
A latte macchiato that has been made accurately will have 3 layers. The first layer will be the hot milk, the second will be the espresso, and the third will be the foam.
The total volume of this drink will be larger than an espresso macchiato due to the greater amount of milk.
Aside from the total volume, the latte macchiato differs from the espresso macchiato in that it typically contains added sweetener and flavoring.
Starbucks has popularized the macchiato with its introduction of the iced caramel macchiato.
One of its more popular coffee drinks, the caramel macchiato, contains a couple shots of espresso, low-fat milk, and vanilla syrup. The iced drink is topped off with a caramel drizzle.
A latte macchiato will still have the bold flavors of espresso but with a creamier finish.
What about an iced macchiato?
An iced macchiato is considered a latte macchiato, thanks to the higher milk content.
Although you could technically make an iced espresso macchiato, the flavor will not be as nuanced, even to the point of bitterness.
Iced macchiatos contain cold milk that has often been frothed to give the drink more body and substance.
Aside from milk and espresso, this coffee beverage also contains ice cubes and flavoring such as caramel syrup.
What is a latte?
A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.
It is similar to a macchiato in that the essential ingredients are the same. But the major differences between the two are in how they are constructed.
The word “latte” means “milk” in Italian, but in America, it generally refers to a drink containing espresso and milk.
In Italy, a “caffè latte” is a breakfast drink consisting of milk and espresso.
A latte can be made with any type of milk. Skim milk will make the latte less rich and contain fewer calories.
If you want a more decadent drink, then whole milk is the way to go.
Vegan options include the addition of almond, soy, or oat milk instead of dairy-based milk.
And if you’re lactose-intolerant, several brands of lactose-free milk are now available in stores. Several brands make a variety of milk fat options ranging from whole to skim.
Lattes also usually have some sort of flavoring added to them. This can be anything from a shot of white mocha or caramel sauce to cocoa powder or cinnamon.
What are the key differences between an iced macchiato and an iced latte?
Although iced macchiatos and lattes contain the same essential ingredients, there are a few subtle differences between the two different drinks.
The amount of caffeine in a drink depends upon how much espresso it contains.
A single shot of espresso contains around 64 mg of caffeine.
A standard-size drink from your favorite coffee shop generally includes 2 shots of espresso, so you’re looking at about 128 mg of caffeine.
If an iced latte and an iced macchiato have the same number of shots, they will contain the same amount of caffeine.
It’s also possible to buy decaf espresso, which has a similar flavor but only around 8 mg of caffeine per shot.
Decaf espresso is an excellent option if you love the taste of coffee but don’t want to be awake all night long.
A hot macchiato has the least volume of any drink discussed in this post.
As it consists of a shot of espresso with a dollop of milk, the total volume of this drink is less than 40 ml.
Even with a double shot of espresso, the total drink volume would only be around 60-70 ml.
Drink volumes for an iced latte macchiato and iced latte are similar, depending upon how much milk is added.
A typical medium coffee shop drink contains around 480 ml.
The espresso macchiato has a stronger coffee flavor than the latte macchiato or a latte.
Extra sweetener or flavoring is not typically added to this classic espresso beverage.
The flavor of an iced macchiato is similar to an iced latte because each contains a lot of milk compared to the espresso macchiato.
An espresso macchiato is visually different from a latte because it includes 3 separate layers.
The milk will be on the bottom while the espresso layer makes up the middle. Foamed milk is added to the top to finish off the drink.
A latte will appear more uniform because the espresso is mixed into the milk.
Either drink can be made with unique toppings such as whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, or cinnamon.
For an extra special treat, check out this 2-ingredient Dutch Bros Soft Top recipe!
The number of calories in a shot of espresso is very minimal.
Hence, the calorie content for most drinks comes from the milk and flavor add-ins such as syrups and sugar. And the caloric content of milk can vary slightly as well.
Non-dairy milk offers a slightly different calorie profile than dairy milk. Still, it does not always contain the same amount of calcium.
And although foam itself doesn’t add to the caloric content of a drink, dairy milk with a higher fat content froths much better than non-fat versions.
In other words, if you love more foam in your coffee drinks, don’t buy anything less than 2%.
Recipe for an Iced Macchiato
Now that we’ve broken down the differences between an iced latte and macchiato let’s get brewing!
For an iced macchiato, you’ll need 1-2 shots of espresso (depending upon your drink size and taste) that has cooled, 1 cup of milk, ice cubes, and flavoring of your choice.
Because this drink has 3 layers and is quite pretty, it’s fun to use a clear glass.
A mason jar is always a great option for this drink, but use whatever glass you have at home.
Start by foaming the milk. If you don’t have a beverage frother, you can simply use a hand mixer to froth the milk to your taste.
Once frothed, pour the milk into a glass that has been filled partway with ice cubes.
Remember that the bottom layer of an iced macchiato is liquid milk so try to reserve the foamed part for the top.
Now it’s time to add the flavor syrup and give it a stir.
Next up is the espresso. This is followed by the foam you saved when you frothed the milk.
Lastly, finish with the topping of your choice. For an extra fancy finish, drizzle with chocolate or caramel syrup. You can also dust it with cocoa or cinnamon.
This drink is also fantastic without any extra added flavor, especially if you use high-quality espresso.
Recipe for an Iced Latte
For an iced latte, pull 1-2 shots of espresso depending on your drink size and how much espresso flavor you prefer in your drinks.
For iced drinks, you’ll want to let the espresso cool before adding it. Otherwise, your drink will end up lukewarm with a slightly diluted taste.
You’ll also need 1 cup of milk, ice cubes, and flavoring if you want an iced caramel or mocha.
You’ll again want to foam the milk for this drink, but you don’t need to reserve the foam for the top.
A latte traditionally has less foam than a cappuccino, and the drink is evenly mixed throughout.
Fill your glass halfway with ice cubes and pour over the frothed milk. Add the flavor syrup. Mix in the espresso and give it a good stir.
Finish with the topping and embellishments of your choice, and enjoy!
Remember that if you don’t like the bland flavor when your ice melts, you can make coffee ice cubes.
It’s a nice little touch that preserves your drink right up until the last sip!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make an iced macchiato or latte at home if you don’t have an espresso machine?
Absolutely! You can buy espresso shots if you have a Nespresso or Keurig machine.
Otherwise, a Moka pot or Aeropress are other great options.
You can also sub out cold brew for the espresso as it’s typically brewed more strongly than regular drip coffee and needs dilution.
What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?
The ingredients are the same, but a cappuccino has much more foam than a latte.
Both are usually sweetened with caramel, chocolate, vanilla, or a combination of other flavors.
Should I get a latte or macchiato if I love strong coffee flavor?
An espresso macchiato has the most robust coffee flavor as it’s mostly espresso with a hint of milk.
A latte and macchiato both contain a mix of espresso and milk, so either is a good option if you like slightly less coffee flavor in your drink.
Iced macchiatos and lattes are delicious coffee drinks that can be enjoyed year-round.
While they have some key differences, such as the amount of milk used and the type of milk used, they also have some similarities, like the fact that they both contain espresso and can be flavored with a variety of syrups.
Whether you prefer an iced macchiato or an iced latte, you can’t go wrong with either of these refreshing drinks. Cheers!
Please help me grow the blog by re-pinning or sharing it with a friend! And if you loved this post, check out a few of our other posts! Thanks, and happy sipping!
- How to Make the Caramelizer from Dutch Bros
- Salted Brown Butter Topping Starbucks: How to Make a Copycat Recipe for the Pistacchio Latte
- Uncovering the Iced Cortado: You Next Summer Obsession
- How to Make the Best Iced Flat White at Home
- The Best Way to Make Decaf Cold Brew
- Iced Americano vs Iced Coffee: Everything You Need to Know to Create Them at Home