Macchiato vs Cortado: Whats the Differences?

A macchiato is an espresso coffee beverage that consists of a pulled/extracted espresso topped with a dash or spot of a smooth milk foam floating on top.

Is also referred to as café macchiato or espresso macchiato


Macchiato is basically believed to have been originated from Italy.

 The word macchiato is an Italian word which means marked or stained and therefore a skillful prepared macchiato will have a distinct mark or stained frothed milk in the middles of a dark brown concentrated persistent colored crema called espresso.

Macchiato was majorly created/prepared by professional baristas to distinguish it from the regular plain espresso with that constituting some quantities of milk.

A macchiato is also said to resemble the Portuguese version of a coffee beverage called “café pingado” which is defined as a coffee with a drop. This means that the espresso should be marked only with a stain and not the espresso being overwhelmed by milk in it.

Ingredients of a macchiato

  • Fresh Cold milk
  • Filtered water
  • Dark roasted coffee beans or ground

Equipment’s of making a macchiato

  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder(should be a well calibrated grinder)
  • Milk steaming jar
  • Espresso cup (should be U/egg shaped from the inside to maintain the thickness of espresso) or demitasse glass.

Procedure in preparing a macchiato

Grind your roasted dark espresso beans (7 grams for single shot and 14 grams for double shot)

Pull/extract your shot of espresso in an espresso cup for about 20 seconds to 30 seconds to achieve the required standard quantity and quality of espresso.

Using a steaming jar, steam a small amount of cold milk by inserting the steaming/frothing wand of the espresso machine.

Pour/spoon your steamed-frothed milk into the espresso cup by making a sot/mark on top of espresso.

Taste of a macchiato

An espresso macchiato will always produce a bitter, rich, bold espresso flavor.

The small amount of milk added to the espresso helps to improve any subtle notes present in the ground coffee pulled unlike the plain shot of espresso which will produce a slightly less back end bitterness.

Milk content in a macchiato

A macchiato has a milk content ratio of (90% espresso, 10% milk) as a macchiato is a combination of a shot of espresso and a dollop/splash of milk.

This can also be interpreted as 2: 1 espresso to milk ratio as the intension is not the espresso being overwhelmed by milk.

Caffeine content in a macchiato

Espresso Macchiato having a small quantity of milk added it has a much stronger flavor than other coffees.

The coffee flavor and caffeine content will still remain clear close to that of straight espresso as milk added has no or very minimal impact. It contains an average of 100 mg per shot.

Sugar content in a macchiato

By adding a splash of milk and milk foam into an espresso it reduces the bitter flavors to become less harsh. Also, the milk improves notes like chocolate to become more pleasant.

Generally macchiato has 0 (zero) grams sugar But milk will always have a key role in making the drink exhibit some sense of bitter sweet taste.

Serving of a macchiato

Espresso macchiato is served in a ceramic demitasse cups.

What is a Cortado?

Cortado is an espresso coffee beverage that constitutes equal amount of steamed milk and extracted espresso

Cortado is more similar to a less foamy cappuccino than an espresso macchiato.


Cortado is known to have originated from Spain. It is also popular in Portugal and Latin.

Cortado comes from a Spanish word ‘cortar’ which means to Cut.

By cutting refers to milk slicing through the acidity of the espresso.

Cortado contains little to no foam, which is the main characteristic of more Spanish beverages.

Ingredients of a Cortado

  • Fresh cold milk
  • Dark roasted coffee beans or ground
  • Filtered water

Equipment’s of making a Cortado

  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder(which should be well calibrated)
  • Milk steaming jar (pitcher)
  • Gibraltar glass

Procedure in preparing a Cortado.

  • Grind your roasted dark espresso beans (7 grams for single shot and 14 grams for double shot)
  • Pull/extract your espresso in a Gibraltar glass for about 20 seconds to 30 seconds to achieve the standard quality and quantity.
  • While espresso is extracting, steam your milk
  • Make sure there isn’t any foam. Milk should be only a little hot to the touch.
  • Slowly pour your heated milk gently to cut through the espresso and fill to the brim. Enjoy!

Taste of a Cortado

Cortado is a coffee beverage with personality.

In it, it portrays a unique taste in terms of balance. It is soft and strong at the same time as you will find the strong taste of espresso and at the same time that of smooth and silky taste of milk.

Milk content in a Cortado

The ratio of a Cortado is served in a proportionate amount of milk to coffee in the ratio of 1:1. This ratio leaves cortado a well-balanced coffee and strong at the same time with outstanding distinct characteristics compared to other coffees.

Caffeine content in a cortado

Since a cortado has a double shot of espresso, definitely there will be more content of caffeine. A double pulled shot of espresso will contain about 60 mg to 185 mg of caffeine

Sugar content in a cortado

With the amount of milk content added to the espresso, it impacts the true nature of espresso in terms of sweetness besides the milk being used to reduce the acidity.

Cortado will have sugar contents of up to 1.3 grams.

Serving of a cortado

Cortado should always be served in a 150 ml to 200 ml glass and the milk should always be steamed milk in a glass called Gibraltar glass.

Similarities Between Macchiato and Cortado

  1. Both constitute an espresso as a universal base
  2. They both contain milk content as either milk foam (macchiato) or steamed milk (cortado)
  3. Both use the same ingredients.
  4. They are both are prepared using an espresso machine to achieve the desired quality/standard coffee.

TIP: An espresso machine will always make a better tool or equipment when it comes to producing balanced flavors, tastes, acidity, and body of coffee prepared.

Difference between a Macchiato vs Cortado

Has less amounts of milk as only a dash of milk froth is addedHas more amounts of milk that changes the color and temperature of the drink
Uses foamed milkUses steamed milk
Espresso to milk ratio 1:2Espresso to milk ratio 1:1
Served in a demitasse glassServed in a Gibraltar glass
Uses a single shotUses a double shot
Originates from ItalyOriginates from Spain and most parts of Portugal and Italy.
Has more acidityHas reduced acidity due to milk content added
On size it’s 1.5 OzOn size it’s 4 Oz

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