Deciphering the menu at your local coffee shop can be a bit challenging.

Even for the biggest coffee connoisseur, understanding how popular drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos differ in terms of ingredients, caffeine content, and nutritional value can be confusing.

This article takes a closer look at some of the key differences and similarities between cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos.

How they’re made

One of the key differences between these three caffeinated beverages is how they are made.

Cappuccino

A cappuccino is a popular coffee drink that’s made by topping a shot of espresso with steamed milk and milk foam.

Typically, it contains equal parts of each and is made up of about 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk.

This gives the final product a creamy, rich, and smooth taste and texture.

Latte

The term “café latte” literally translates to “coffee milk.”

Although there is no standard recipe for making a latte, it generally involves adding steamed milk to a single shot of espresso.

In some cases, it’s also topped with a light layer of foam, and sugars or sweeteners may be mixed in as well.

Compared with the other beverages, lattes have a more mild, slightly sweet flavor, as they contain a greater proportion of steamed milk.

Macchiato

Traditionally, the macchiato is made by combining a shot of espresso with a small splash of milk.

However, many other variations are available, including the latte macchiato, which is made by adding a shot of espresso to a glass of hot milk.

Because the macchiato is usually made using just a small amount of milk, it has a much stronger flavor than other coffee drinks.

It’s also much smaller than other drinks, with a standard serving clocking in at just 1 1/4 ounces (37 ml).

Summary

Cappuccinos are made using equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, while lattes involve adding steamed milk to an espresso. Meanwhile, macchiatos are made by adding a splash of milk to a shot of espresso.

Caffeine contents

All three beverages contain similar amounts of caffeine per serving.

Cappuccinos and lattes, for example, are each made using a shot of espresso and thus contain the same amount of caffeine.

In fact, a medium 16-ounce (475-ml) cappuccino and medium 16-ounce (475-ml) latte each contain about 173 mg of caffeine (1, 2).

Meanwhile, a 2-ounce (60-ml) macchiato has about half as much caffeine, with just over 85 mg per serving (3).

Summary

Cappuccinos and lattes each contain around 173 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce (480-gram) serving, while macchiatos contain just 85 grams of caffeine in a 2-ounce (60-gram) serving.

Nutritional value

Cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes contain varying amounts of milk and foam, which can alter their respective nutritional profiles quite a bit.

Their nutrient contents are further influenced by the type of milk used, as well as if any sugar or sweeteners are added.

Lattes contain the most milk and are the highest in calories, fat, and protein.

Cappuccinos contain a bit less milk, but still provide a good amount of calories, protein, and fat in each serving.

On the other hand, macchiatos contain only a splash of milk and are significantly lower in calories, fat, and protein.

Here’s a comparison of the three drinks (1, 2, 3):

Type of drinkCaloriesProteinTotal fatCarbs
16-ounce (475-ml) latte20613 grams8 grams20.5 grams
16-ounce (475-ml) cappuccino1308 grams5 grams13 grams
2-ounce (60-ml) macchiato130.7 grams0.5 grams1.6 grams
Summary

Lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos each contain varying amounts of calories, carbs, protein, and fat.

The bottom line

Cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos are all made differently, which gives them their own unique taste and texture.

Because they each contain a different set of ingredients, they also vary in terms of caffeine content and nutritional value.

Therefore, whichever drink you decide to order on your next trip to the coffee shop all comes down to your personal taste and preferences.