Cortado vs Macchiato: What Coffee Lovers Need To Know 2024

Both cortado and macchiato are staples in Italian and Spanish coffee culture. While both begin with a strong base of espresso, subtle differences in their composition give each a distinct character, hence the comparison Cortado vs Macchiato.

A cortado hails from Spain and embraces balance. It smartly marries equal parts espresso and steamed milk to mellow the intense espresso while maintaining its robust essence.

On the other hand, the Italian macchiato, which means “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, traditionally features a shot of espresso with just a spot of frothed milk. This keeps the macchiato a stronger-tasting beverage with a bold coffee flavor that espresso enthusiasts appreciate.

But there’s more to them than meets the eye! We’ve researched the topic of Cortado vs Macchiato and have compared the two drinks for you.

Quick Comparison:
Cortado vs Macchiato

Short Explanation: The Cortado

 Acortado with a heart-shaped latte art in a clear glass on a wooden surface, highlighted by warm lighting.
by Pinterest

cortado is a coffee drink that you might enjoy if you appreciate the bold flavor of espresso tempered with a touch of milk. Originating from Spain, where its name means “to cut,” the cortado uses steamed milk to cut through the espresso, resulting in a mellower taste.

The milk in a cortado isn’t frothy or textured as much as in other coffee drinks; it’s simply there to soften the espresso’s intensity.

Your cortado will typically be made with 1 shot of espresso and an equal part of steamed milk. Here’s a simple breakdown:

Remember, there’s no foam art on top or any extras. What you’re getting is a straightforward, balanced cup where the strong coffee flavor and the creaminess of the milk coexist harmoniously.

Short Explanation: The Macchiato

 A macchiato served in a double-walled glass on a wooden coaster, with a glass of water and a spoon in the background.
by Pinterest

macchiato is a coffee drink you might enjoy if you prefer a prominent espresso flavor with just a hint of milkiness. This beverage’s name, “macchiato,” originates from the Italian word macchiare, meaning “to stain” or “to mark.”

In essence, a macchiato consists of one or two shots of rich espresso (typically 2 oz or 4 oz) and a small “mark” of frothed milk on top.

Think of a macchiato as an espresso-based drink primarily, with just a touch of froth to mellow the intense coffee flavor slightly.

Key Differences

FlavorA blend of rich, bold espresso with a moderate level of sweetness and a touch of acidity, creating a well-rounded flavor.A Strong, concentrated espresso taste, often with pronounced bitterness and a slight sweetness from the milk foam.
StrengthMilder than a macchiato due to equal parts espresso and steamed milk.Bolder and more intense with minimal milk dilution.
TextureSmooth and creamy, but not as light as milk foam.A marked contrast between the dense, creamy froth on top and the robust, liquid espresso beneath.
AppearanceAppears as a uniform blend, often with a light caramel color from the mixture of espresso and milk.A distinctive layering effect with a dark espresso base and a small dome of white, frothy milk on top.

Different Serving Styles


 A cortado coffee in a clear glass cup on a wooden table, with a soft-focus background.
by Pinterest

The presentation is straightforward; the transparency of the Gibraltar glass showcases the layers of espresso and milk. The art in a cortado is subtle due to the reduced amount of milk, focusing on the integration rather than complex patterns.

  • Gibraltar Glass: A Cortado is typically served in a clear, thick-walled 4.5 to 5.5-ounce glass.


 A macchiato in a clear glass with a spoon on a saucer, and an almond cookie in the background.
by Pinterest

Authentic macchiatos rarely feature latte art, but some baristas might add a simple heart or dot with the milk foam. It’s served in a small glass or espresso cup, and the focus is on the contrast between the dark espresso and the mark of milk.

  • Demitasse Cup: A small, typically 2-3 ounce cup, perfect for the macchiato’s size.
  • Spoon: Useful for adding just the right amount of foam on top.

💡This might interest you as well:

Explore our blog post on the Upside Down Macchiato.

FAQ – Cortado vs Macchiato

Is A cortado stronger than a macchiato?

A macchiato typically offers a stronger flavor compared to a cortado. It has a higher ratio of espresso to milk, often just a dollop of foam, highlighting the coffee’s intensity. A cortado balances the espresso with an equal part of steamed milk, making it milder.

Is a cortado the same as a flat white?

No, a cortado isn’t the same as a flat white. Although both incorporate espresso and steamed milk, a flat white has more milk and microfoam than a cortado, which means it’s creamier and has a different texture and taste.

What’s the difference between a piccolo and a macchiato?

A piccolo latte, or simply piccolo, is similar to a macchiato in that both are espresso-based with a small amount of milk. However, a piccolo is usually served with slightly more steamed milk than a macchiato, which traditionally has just a dash of foam on top.

Is a piccolo a cortado?

No, they are different drinks. A piccolo latte is made with a single shot of espresso topped with steamed milk. It is served in a smaller 3-4 oz cup and focuses on the espresso’s flavor. Meanwhile, a cortado also uses a shot of espresso but has a 1:1 ratio with steamed milk. This makes it slightly larger and less concentrated.

If you liked our blog post on the topic “Cortado vs Macchiato”, don’t forget to leave us a comment down and share your thoughts on this topic.

Share this blog post
Avatar photo

Wadim Urbanowitsch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *