3 Key Differences Between a Macchiato And an Americano

Americano and macchiato both originated in Italy, and they are delicious espresso-based drinks that you can enjoy in a café or at home if you own an espresso machine. However, that is where the similarities cease as they are very different beverages.

Americano shares some similarities with filter coffee but with a more distinctive flavor because of espresso. Americano is stronger than macchiato; however, macchiatos are much smaller than americanos and contain steamed milk.

While most of us are familiar with Americano, we know how it’s made and its health benefits. Macchiato is not as well known, and in this article, we will look at more differences between the two drinks and the benefits of each one.

What Is The Origin Of Americano?

The Americano became a widely popular coffee drink due to the US military in World War II. American soldiers were used to the drip coffee they drank at home, so they were dissatisfied with the espresso served in Italy at that time.

So they decided to mix Italian espresso with hot water, not realizing they had created a new drink and revolutionized the coffee world.

While nobody can verify this story, it is plausible and coincides with the period when Americanos became popular.

What Is The Origin Of Macchiato?

In Italian, “macchiato” translates to “stained” or “marked.” The macchiato is espresso-based, topped with a little steamed or foamed milk. Macchiato is not as strong as espresso or as weak as cappuccino, making it a happy medium.

Macchiato comes from Italy, just like the Americano. It stems from baristas showing waiters the difference between an espresso and an espresso with a bit of milk in it.

This is how the latter came to be “marked” by the addition of milk. While the cappuccino originated as a morning coffee, the macchiato is traditionally a drink for the afternoon.

Which Is stronger Americano Or Macchiato?

Americano coffee is more potent than macchiato coffee as it is made by steeping espresso in hot water for a shorter period. A macchiato is made with one or two shots of ground espresso, half-and-half, and milk mixed in between cups.

Macchiato coffee has a higher espresso concentration, and it tastes more like espresso, so that it can be bitter and less sweet than other milk-based drinks.

What Kind Of Coffee Is Macchiato?

The usual macchiato is made with two shots of ground espresso, half-and-half, milk with some foam or steamed milk on top, and it is served in a small cup.

The macchiato flavor is generally medium to strong. Macchiatos taste very much like espresso. The higher the quality of the beans you use, the better the flavor.

Macchiato uses a finer grind size than many other coffee beverages because it is a shot of espresso. The water temperature must be about 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 82.2 degrees Celsius.

There isn’t a definite amount of milk to add to a macchiato, but many recipes call for one or two ounces of steamed milk per espresso shot. Steaming milk is an art form and a topic of its own, but it needs that velvety macrofoam.

Can Macchiato Be Served Hot And Cold?

Traditionally, macchiatos are served hot. Starbucks cold caramel macchiatos are often a big hit and a welcome refreshing drink in the summer.

However, chains like Starbucks don’t always stick to the old ways of making coffee drinks, and you can get a cold macchiato.

If you hope to experience the Starbucks Iced Caramel Macchiato at home, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to make. You will also save money. Consider the following easy Iced Caramel Macchiato recipe:




The way to make this iced caramel macchiato is to layer the ingredients in the Starbucks style. Begin by putting some vanilla syrup in the bottom of your cup.

Next, add ice so that the cup is half full. Gradually pour the milk over the ice, adding more ice so that your cup is almost full.

Next, pour two espresso shots over the ice and drizzle caramel sauce all over the top. The layers will merge quickly, so swirl them together and enjoy.

Are Macchiatos Sweet?

Traditional Italian macchiatos are not sweet. The sweetness largely depends on how they are made. Traditional macchiatos don’t have syrup in them, so they will be a lot less sweet unless they are sweetened in some way.

Certain coffee shop chains like Starbucks will often add sweeteners and syrups to their macchiatos. These chains know what their customers like, so demand is the driving force behind these untraditional drinks.

If you were to stick to the traditional way of making macchiato, the only two ingredients are espresso and milk, which won’t result in a very sweet.

Can I Stir A Macchiato?

This is one of those frequent queries about macchiatos, but whether a macchiato should be stirred or not is a matter of your personal taste. However, traditionally you should not stir this beverage.

Macchiatos are about the experience of tasting the foam first, then the milk, followed by the espresso. Drinks like lattes are blended anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you stir them.

However, you should taste macchiatos in multiple flavors rather than one. There are two types of macchiatos: espresso macchiato and latte macchiato.

Espresso macchiato is the original beverage, and you should not stir that. Let’s discuss the two macchiatos in more detail:

Espresso Macchiato

An espresso macchiato is, as previously discussed, an espresso marked or stained by frothed milk, which is poured on top of the shot followed by foam.

Typically, there isn’t much milk. Most recipes call for a 2:1 espresso to milk ratio, sometimes even less milk, depending on how you prefer it to taste.

Latte Macchiato

A latte macchiato is made in reverse to an espresso macchiato. You add steamed milk first, followed by a single shot of espresso. This drink looks very different from an espresso macchiato as the coffee shot is added lastly.

Are Macchiatos Healthy?

Undoubtedly, any freshly brewed coffee is healthy for you. Likewise, the traditional Italian macchiato is healthy.

Some people may find the addition of milk to make it less healthy than espresso, but whole milk is a healthy fat; not that there is much of it in this drink.

The macchiato you get in Starbucks, and other coffee chains are likely to be less virtuous than a traditional macchiato with the addition of sweeteners and syrups.

However, if you cannot resist a caramel hit, a sweet macchiato is perhaps one of the least decadent options on the drinks menu at Starbucks.

The macchiato Starbucks version contains less than 250 calories and has less fat than its other drinks. However, you may not want to add any more sugar.

What Makes Macchiato So Expensive?

If you buy a double-tall caramel macchiato, then yes, it will be expensive. In the US, tall coffee drinks come with one shot, and if you add another shot, that adds an extra 80 cents.

Then you must factor in the milk, the cost of espresso, caramel sauce, and vanilla syrup, and naturally, that will increase the price.

Consider the following macchiato prices at Starbucks according to size. They do cost a fair amount:


  • Caramel Macchiato – Tall – $3.75
  • Caramel Macchiato -Grande-$4.45
  • Caramel Macchiato-Venti – $4.75

When Should You Drink A Macchiato?

It is best to drink a macchiato in the middle of the day; while it’s not as intense as espresso because of the addition of milk, cappuccino is a favorite for the morning.

Not everyone can handle the intensity of espresso, so the milk and espresso combination is an excellent choice to start your day.

The macchiato originated to incorporate espresso drinking in the afternoon, and it offers coffee lovers a safe balance between espressos and cappuccinos.

The dynamic and milkiness of the cappuccino makes it ideal for a pick-me-up in the morning, while the slightly tempered macchiato is best suited as a mid-day reviver.

Can I drink Macchiato At Night?

Conventional wisdom will tell you that drinking coffee at night is not the best idea as it could adversely affect the quality of your sleep.

However, one study from Stanford University reveals that there is hope for night owls.

Their findings suggest that drinking caffeine in the evening has adverse effects only for those who wake up early. However, it doesn’t affect those staying up late and sleeping in.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see from this article, there are some significant differences between Americano coffee and Macchiato coffee. Americanos are a stronger drink, while macchiatos are more subdued because of the milk content.

Americano is a better beverage option for the morning than a macchiato as it is a stronger drink, and it will give you that much-needed pick-me-up in the morning.

However, a macchiato is always good to get you out of that slump in the afternoon if that’s what you need.

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