Macchiato Vs Cortado: Two Lesser Known Espresso Drinks

By Shabbir
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Macchiato vs Cortado: both are espresso based drinks, so why all the fancy names?

There are so many different types of coffees. But regardless of why you’re drinking, the fundamental reasons are the taste, smell, and it should make you happy and alert in the morning. And for many coffee lovers, they have a particular coffee shop order that’s perhaps a latte or a piccolo.

But what about macchiatos and cortados?

What is a Macchiato

The macchiato is a form of Italian coffee that has been in existence from the turn of the 20th Century [1]. It’s an espresso that is layered off with foamed milk dashed directly into the cup. Espresso, as you already know, is the name of a more concentrated, intense coffee that also has its origin in Italy.

Espresso is typically easy to make if you have a good espresso machine. It also brews very quickly. A typical espresso shot is usually brewed with 14 to 15 eight grams of ground coffee.

Macchiato, which also means “marked”, is simply an espresso shot that has been marked with a dollop of foamed milk. The quantity of milk is very little, so it will be much stronger than a cappuccino.

Macchiatos are served in a small cup, no larger than 3 to 4 ounces.

So if you prefer coffee that is milky but still on the intense end of the spectrum, consider trying a macchiato.

What is a Cortado

From Italy, let’s venture over to Spain to learn about the Cortado.

The Cortado gets its name from a Spanish cortar known as ‘Tallat’ in Catalan and ‘noisette’ in France. Like the macchiato, a cortado is also an espresso with a small amount of milk to help reduce the acidity of the coffee. The standard ratio is 1:1, but others prefer the 1:2 rate.

In Cuba, Cortado is known as a Cortadito. Here it is served in a special kind of glass that features metal ring bases and wire handles. Cortado is mostly enjoyed in the evening, in coffee dates, and relaxing after a long day of the hustle and bustle.

Cortado also has other variations such as the Cortado condensada, Cortado leche y leche, or Cortado bombon. An espresso that has condensed milk and the latter being an espresso with condensed milk and cream on top.

Difference between a Macchiato and Cortado


The first difference is the ratio of mixing the milk and coffee.

A Cortado requires the coffee to milk ratio to be equal or for there to be slightly more milk than the espresso. Whereas the Macchiato needs only a spoonful of foamed milk for it to be perfect. Also, a macchiato is enjoyed by anyone who finds an espresso too acidic but also wants to stay away from having too much milk in their coffee.

When to drink

Secondly, the times for drinking or enjoying the drinks also vary. A Macchiato is often referred to as a morning drink. Many Italians cannot drink any milky drink after a full stomach; that’s why they prefer it in the morning. Plus, the presence of the espresso in the Macchiato is a stimulant and provides a nice jolt of caffeine in the morning.

The Cortado is an evening drink meant to soothe your nerves and stir up a conversation as you drink. The Cortado shot is served with a single shot of espresso, whereas the macchiato can be served with a single or double shot.


Cortado is best served in a 150-200 ml glass, and the milk is usually steamed, whereas the Macchiato has more foam and is a small latte. It’s much easier to confuse a Cortado with a less-foamy cappuccino than the espresso macchiato.


As mentioned previously, what defines a coffee is the taste and its smell. And for this to be achieved, then it’s necessary for the brewer to source quality coffee seeds, ensure that they get stored in the right conditions.

The important part is roasting the beans. Roasting them under different conditions brings out different flavors. Also, the country of origin also brings out a difference in the taste of the coffee.

Lastly, the equipment that is used in the brewing of coffee will also aid you in bringing out the type of coffee that you want. Sourcing and selecting a good coffee machine can be hard, especially if there are not many local stores who carry them.

Once these two variables are fixed, the difference between a cortado and macchiato in terms of taste will be due to the difference in the amount of milk used.

For you to enjoy quality coffee, you must have the most beautiful coffee products in the market. Having this will go a long way to ensure that the cup of coffee you’re partaking is excellent in all sense. From sourcing coffee beans to brewing, coffee making is an art in itself, and only those who truly appreciate this form of art will experience its full splendor.


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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.