What's the difference between Macchiato VS Cortado

Some people perhaps can't tell the two types of coffee apart: Macchiato vs. cortado. What's the difference between Macchiato and cortado? 

In general, you can realize their differences in some aspects, including milk, appearance, taste, volume, calorie, and drinking time. Top Reviews will help you analyze these distinct features in detail. Let's click on this post!

What Is Macchiato? 

Macchiato, also called espresso macchiato, is a coffee beverage with a bit of milk on the top. The word "macchiato," which comes from Italy, means "stained", "spotted," or "marked," but not completely diluted or bleached.

This name is relevant to its decoration. If you have tried this beverage, you have seen a little foamy milk in the form of spots on its top. Enough amount of milk is to make the coffee color lighter and penetrate the smooth and dark surface.

Despite being made mainly from espresso, this coffee brings a more robust flavor with creaminess from spotted milk. Almost all other countries also call this coffee as Macchiato, but Portugal's Macchiato comes with a different name.

If you are traveling to Portugal and seeking a macchiato cup, you should call it "cafe pingado" instead of its original term. 

This type of coffee itself has a wide range of variants. Its popular versions include caffè macchiato, latte macchiato, and espresso macchiato. Their names differ based on the difference in milk.

For instance, espresso has a stain of lightly froth milk while the milk spots the black espresso in the caffè version. If it's a shot of latte macchiato, the espresso stains unblended white milk.

When it comes to the history of this coffee, this is still a controversial issue. Many experts suppose this drink first appeared in the 1980s.

Also, it doesn't have any certain recipe, so it is always difficult to determine whether it is Macchiato or not. 

That's why this beverage is diverse in different cultures worldwide, depending on the ratio of milk and espresso. 

For example, Macchiato in Starbucks contains steamed milk with espresso and caramel sweets on the top. This variant seems different from the original version, but it is still regarded as macchiato coffee. 


What Is Cortado? 

Cortado is a hot coffee drink that contains espresso and warm milk in a 1:1 ratio.

Its name "cortado" comes from the Spanish verb "cortar, which means "to cut". It got its name because the milk cuts through the coffee to tone down the acid content when brewing.

After being born in Basque, Spain, this drink gradually gained its reputation in other regions like Galicia, northern Portugal, and Cuba. And then, it continued to spread and grow worldwide and become the drink you see today.

Unlike other coffee, its brewing method and structure are simple, balancing steamed foamed milk and espresso. Especially, it is only served in a fixed small size in glass cups, so you can't order another size in all coffee shops. 

Some people are confused between this beverage and other types, such as flat white or Macchiato.

Like other Spanish drinks, it contains very little or no foam on the top. This feature enables milk to go through and blend with espresso more smoothly.

For this reason, you will feel a bolder taste, like a perfect combination of robust espresso and light steamed milk. However, it has several variants like café con Leche condensada, cortado bombón, or cortado condensada.


What's The Difference Between Macchiato And Cortado? 

Waiting no longer! Let's compare and contrast the differences between the two beverages right now!


The ratio of milk to espresso in a cortado is 1:1, which requires a balanced ratio, or the milk component can be a bit more. Macchiato requires less, only about one tablespoon more foam to retain its distinctive taste.



Telling the two coffees is not as difficult as you think. Macchiato possesses a darker color with a splash of foamed milk in the middle of the cup when it comes to appearance. On the other hand, cortado has less foam on the top with a lighter color.


The espresso beans are an important factor affecting coffee taste. The Macchiato flavor is much stronger with a little sweetness from the foam. 

By contrast, a cortado is lighter. When enjoying, you can easily feel the notes of creaminess and silkiness combined with sweetness. 


While Macchiato comes with two options, including a 2 oz shot or a 4 oz shot, its counterpart has only one size with a portion of 4.5 oz. 

Coffee volume


It is a piece of sad news for those loving cortado as it contains more calories than a macchiato. In particular, a macchiato shot holds about ten calories in a 4oz shot. Meanwhile, cortado carries about 15 calories in the same volume. 

Drinking Time

Macchiato is a morning beverage, but cortado is ideal for drinking in the evening. 

Drinking time

Here is the summary table so that you can check their differences quickly: 

Features Macchiato Cordato
Milk less more
Appearance darker lighter
Taste stronger lighter and creamier
Volume 2 oz shot or a 4 oz shot 4.5 oz shot
Calorie fewer calories more calories
Drinking time in the morning in the evening

How To Make Macchiato? 

If you want to make a cup of Macchiato in the morning at home, follow the step-by-step instructions below: 

Step 1: Prepare necessary ingredients and materials

Before making coffee, make sure all the following things are ready to use: 

  • Espresso beans

  • Milk

  • Water

  • A cup

  • A coffee grinder

  • Steamer

  • An espresso machine

The flavor of a cup of Macchiato lies in the quality of espresso beans and the coffee makers. Hence, you should purchase the best ingredients and items before officially making coffee. 

Step 2: Grind espresso beans

Depending on the strong level you want, measure the desired amount of espresso beans. Then, put them into a coffee grinder and crush finely. If the grinder is unavailable, you can buy ground beans from the stores. 

Step 3: Make coffee

Pour and tamp the grounds into the portafilter. 

Next, fill the grounds into the inner bin and use fingers to spread them evenly.

Put the portafilter back and lock it properly. 

Place a cup right below the portafilter and add the water to turn the espresso shot. Wait approximately 30 seconds to get the shot fully extracted. 

After that, distribute the layer of crema by stirring the espresso. 

Step 4: Make steamed milk.

Pour milk into a metal container. Install the steam rod, hold the metal container at an angle of 45 degrees, and set the temperature at 140०F. Start steaming. 

Step 5: Pour the steamed milk into the coffee.

Once finished, pour it into the espresso and scoop a layer of foam on top.

Step 6: Enjoy your beverage.

You can top it with extra garnish like cinnamon grounds or add sugar. 


If you want to learn more about making macchiato, let’s watch this video:

Source Youtube HowcastFoodDrink Howcast

Can you make cortado at home? Yes! The guide is here. 

Step 1: Prepare necessary ingredients and pieces of equipment

  • Espresso beans

  • Milk

  • Steamer

  • Coffee grinder

  • Espresso machine

Step 2: Grind the espresso beans.

Select the best beans to get the best coffee cup. Then, use the grinder to mill until it's finely ground. 

Step 3: Make the coffee.

Pour the grounds into the portafilter, tamp them evenly and then pull two shots of espresso. Apply the same brewing method mentioned above. 

Step 4: Make steamed milk.

Measure the amount of milk with a 1:1 ratio. Apply the same steaming method as above. 

Step 5: Pour the milk into the coffee.

There is no trick. Gently pour it into the espresso. 

Step 6: Enjoy your drink

In A Nutshell 

This post has finally got to the bottom of your question: What's the difference between Macchiato and cortado? Overall, they are different in milk, appearance, taste, volume, calorie, and drinking time.

Which is better? It depends on your preference! If you like a strong cup, Macchiato is perfect for you. Need a cup to chill in the evening? The go for cortado! 

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