What’s the Difference Between a Cortado and a Macchiato? | A Curious Answer

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Coffee lovers, have you ever experienced the unexpected joy of stumbling across a new type of coffee drink? The vast selection of options overwhelms anyone, and knowing the difference between each cup can make it easier to know which one you might like. If you’ve ever been curious about the little details that set apart a cortado from a macchiato – or why some drinks are served with steamy milk while others get lots of foam – then today’s blog post is perfect for your taste buds!

We will explore what sets these coffee beverages apart so that when it comes time to order, you’ll have all the answers. Prepare for an afternoon adventure brimming with quality caffeine and satisfying knowledge. Let’s jump in what’s the difference between a cortado and a macchiato?

What Is The Cortado?

A Cup Of Cortado
Get Well-Balanced Taste With Cortado

A cortado is a Spanish drink composed of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It lacks the frothy foam of other drinks, like cappuccinos or lattes, so it usually comes served in a shot glass rather than in a cup or mug. Some people like to make their cortados with whole or 2% milk, but others prefer skimmed milk or non-dairy alternatives for a lighter flavor. Cream is also an option, although it’s not used as frequently as other types of milk.

The word “cortado” originates from Spanish, meaning “cut.” 1 This term aptly describes the preparation method of this delightful coffee beverage, as a small amount of milk is precisely added to the espresso, resulting in a harmonious blend. The cortado’s texture is reminiscent of both cappuccino and latte, exhibiting a velvety smoothness. However, what sets it apart is the careful balance between airiness and flavor, allowing the rich taste of both coffee and milk to shine through.

What Is A Macchiato?

A Cup Of Macchiato
Get Start The Day With Macchiato

A macchiato, also known as an espresso macchiato or latte macchiato, is a coffee beverage composed of either a single shot or double shot of espresso and topped with foamed milk. The name originated from the Italian word “macchiare,” which means “to stain.” Macchiatos are usually served in a tall glass, as the added foam allows for a more generous serving size.

Macchiatos are similar to lattes in that they both contain espresso and steamed milk, with the difference being the amount of each ingredient used. The ratio between espresso and steamed milk is much higher in macchiatos than in lattes. As a result, macchiatos have a more intense flavor and are less creamy than lattes. Additionally, macchiatos typically don’t contain any additional flavoring or syrups like regular lattes do, allowing for the bold flavors of espresso and milk to shine through.

What’s The Difference Between A Cortado And A Macchiato?

A cortado and a macchiato differ in their preparation methods, flavor profiles, and serving sizes.

Preparation Methods

Cortados, a delightful coffee beverage, are expertly crafted by delicately blending a small amount of perfectly steamed milk with rich espresso shots. This carefully balanced method ensures that the exquisite flavor of the espresso remains at the forefront while also infusing a gentle creaminess and a hint of sweetness from the milk. The result is a harmonious and satisfying drink that tantalizes the taste buds with each sip.

On the other hand, macchiatos are expertly crafted by adding steamed milk on top of one or two shots of rich, aromatic espresso. The milk is carefully whipped until it reaches a light and frothy consistency, creating a delightful texture that perfectly complements the bold flavors of the espresso. This process results in a macchiato that is visually appealing and offers a luxuriously creamy experience, setting it apart from traditional latte macchiatos.

Profile Flavors

The flavor profiles of cortado and macchiato differ significantly due to the way in which they are prepared. Cortados features a unique balance between the sweet, creamy notes of steamed milk and the intense aromas of espresso. This subtle blend creates a floral and nutty aroma, making it an ideal coffee beverage for those who enjoy a milder coffee taste.

On the other hand, macchiatos boast a more robust flavor profile due to the addition of steamed foam milk that is carefully whipped until it reaches a light and frothy consistency. This process enhances the flavor of the espresso shots by adding an extra layer of richness and sweetness, making it a perfect choice for those who prefer a stronger coffee taste. In addition, the unique texture of the foam adds an unexpected and delightful experience to the overall drink.

Size Of Serving

The size of the serving is also an essential factor to consider when choosing between a cortado and a macchiato. Cortados are typically served in smaller cups, making them perfect for those who prefer to enjoy a shorter coffee break. On the other hand, macchiatos are usually served in larger cups, allowing customers to savor their drinks for longer periods of time.

In detail, the cortados are typically served in demitasses, which contain between 4-6 ounces of liquid. This makes them the perfect option for those who want a quick coffee fix without having to worry about overindulging in caffeine. On the other hand, macchiatos are usually served in larger cups, such as cappuccino mugs, that range from 6-8 ounces of liquid. These larger servings allow customers to enjoy a more extended coffee break and savor the unique flavor of the espresso shots.

Cold Or Hot

When deciding between a cortado and a macchiato, another important factor to consider is whether you prefer your espresso drinks cold or hot. Cortados, typically served warm, offer a delightful experience as you savor the intended flavor of the coffee blend. On the other hand, macchiatos provide the flexibility of being enjoyed either iced or hot, allowing you to choose the perfect flavor profile that suits your preferences. So, whether you’re in the mood for a cozy warm sip or a refreshing chilled indulgence, both options have got you covered!

How Many Calories And Caffeine In A Cup Of Cortado And A Macchiato?

The calories and caffeine content of cortado and macchiato can vary depending on the serving size, the coffee blend used, and the type of milk or cream added. Generally speaking, a cup of cortado typically contains around 70 – 100 calories and about 60 mg of caffeine. A macchiato will usually contain slightly more calories at around 90 – 140 and about 70 mg of caffeine.

If you are seeking a lower-calorie alternative, both cortado and macchiato can be prepared using skimmed milk or almond milk. By opting for these lighter milk options, the calorie count will decrease accordingly while still maintaining a similar level of caffeine content that largely depends on the specific coffee blend utilized. This allows for a more personalized and health-conscious choice when enjoying these delightful beverages.

Verdict: What Is The Right Choice For You?

When it comes to choosing between a cortado and a macchiato, it ultimately boils down to personal preference. For those who savor their espresso drinks piping hot, the cortado presents itself as an excellent choice. With its beautifully balanced flavor profile and a touch of creamy texture, it truly delights the taste buds. On the other hand, macchiatos offer the flexibility of being enjoyed either cold or hot, making it a versatile option that adapts to your mood or the season.

Furthermore, let’s delve deeper into the flavor profiles of these two delightful beverages. The cortado boasts a well-rounded taste that harmonizes perfectly with its indulgent creamy texture. It provides a smooth and satisfying experience that will leave you craving more. In contrast, the macchiato is known for its intense and bold espresso flavor, delivering a robust punch with every sip. The difference in flavors between the two is a delightful exploration for the discerning coffee enthusiast.

Calorie-conscious coffee lovers will also appreciate the fact that cortados generally contain fewer calories compared to macchiatos. If you are mindful of your calorie intake, this could be an essential factor to consider when making your selection.

Tips To Have A Great Cup Of Cortado

An excellent cortado starts with high-quality espresso and perfectly steamed milk. To enjoy the best cortado, follow these tips:

  1. Quality Espresso: Choose beans that are fresh and high-quality. The espresso should have a rich, full-bodied flavor that matches the milk.
  2. Proper Ratios: A cortado should have equal parts of espresso and steamed milk. This ensures that the cortado has a balanced taste, neither strong nor weak.
  3. Steamed Milk: The milk should be steamed to around 150°F (65°C). This creates a rich, creamy texture that complements the espresso perfectly.
  4. Serving: Cortados are typically served in a glass with a metal ring and a metal saucer, showcasing the beautiful layers of espresso and milk. However, a small ceramic cup will also do the job.
  5. Enjoy it Fresh: The beauty of a cortado lies in its freshness. Sip it as soon as it’s made to experience the harmonious interplay of its flavors at their best.


Is Cortado Stronger Than Macchiato?

No, the cortado is not stronger than the macchiato. The main difference between these two espresso drinks lies in their flavor profile. While the macchiato has a more intense and bold espresso flavor, the cortado has a milder taste with notes of sweetness and creaminess from the steamed milk.

Is Cortado A Flat White?

No, a cortado is not a flat white drink. While both drinks have equal parts of espresso and steamed milk, they have different flavor profiles. The flat white is smoother and has more foam, resulting in a lighter, creamier finish than the cortado.

Is Cortado A Latte?

No, a cortado is not a latte. The main difference lies in the ratio of espresso and milk used for each drink. A latte typically contains more milk than espresso, resulting in a milder flavor. On the other hand, cortados have an equal ratio of espresso and steamed milk creating a more robust and bolder taste.

Can Cortado Make You Feel Awake?

Yes, cortado can make you feel more awake and alert due to the caffeine content in espresso. Espresso is made with a higher concentration of coffee beans than other coffee drinks, producing more caffeine per ounce. Therefore, drinking a cortado can give you the energy boost needed to start your day or stay focused throughout the afternoon.

Can You Make Macchiato From Cortado?

Yes, you can make a macchiato from cortado by adding more espresso. A macchiato contains double the amount of espresso compared to a cortado, resulting in a more robust and more intense flavor. To make one from a cortado, simply add an additional shot of espresso to the cup. Be sure to give it time for the flavors to blend together before drinking.

Does Cortado Taste Strong?

Cortado has a bolder flavor profile than other espresso drinks, but it could be stronger to the taste. The addition of steamed milk adds sweetness and creaminess to balance out the intensity of the espresso. As a result, you get a smooth drink with hints of chocolate and nutty undertones. If you’re looking for a stronger taste, you may want to opt for the double-shot cortado instead. It contains twice the amount of espresso for a robust flavor experience.

Can You Add Sugar To Cortado?

Yes, sugar can be added to cortado, depending on your preference. Since it already has milk and espresso in it, cortado has a milder flavor than other espresso drinks. Therefore, you can add sugar to enhance the sweetness of the drink. Alternatively, you can use other natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar instead.


To conclude, what’s the difference between a cortado and a macchiato? A cortado is an espresso-based beverage that consists of equal parts of espresso and steamed milk. On the other hand, a macchiato contains double the amount of espresso compared to a cortado, resulting in a more robust flavor profile. Depending on your preference, both drinks can be enjoyed with or without sugar. Whichever you choose, you’ll surely get a unique and flavorful espresso experience.

  1. The meaning of “cortado” is “cut”

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