Flat White vs Macchiato: The Key Differences

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In the world of coffee, two popular espresso-based drinks often steal the spotlight: the Flat White and the Macchiato.

While they may seem similar at first glance, there are subtle yet significant differences that set them apart.

The main difference between a Flat White and a Macchiato is their milk content and texture.

A Flat White has steamed milk with microfoam, offering a smoother, creamier texture, while a Macchiato has a small amount of frothy or steamed milk, resulting in a bolder coffee flavor with a hint of milk.

In this post, we’ll dive into the key distinctions between these two beloved coffee beverages to help you make an informed choice next time you’re at the café.

Here’s a simple table in markdown format comparing key aspects of the Flat White and Macchiato:

AspectFlat WhiteMacchiato
Espresso ShotsTypically 2Typically 2
MilkSteamed with microfoamSmall amount, frothed/steamed
TextureCreamy, velvetyBold, espresso-forward with a hint of milk
Flavor ProfileBalanced, with espresso dominanceStrong espresso flavor with a touch of milk
Caffeine ContentAround 130mgAround 130mg
Calorie CountVaries, 170-155 caloriesUsually around 5 calories
Ideal ForCreamy coffee loversEspresso enthusiasts

What Is A Flat White?

A flat white is a coffee delight born in Australia during the 1980s.

It’s a unique espresso-based drink that strikes a balance between a robust espresso and a milky latte.

What makes it special? Well, it’s made with espresso and something called “microfoam,” which is essentially steamed milk with tiny, fine bubbles that give it a smooth, glossy texture.

This microfoam is the secret sauce that sets it apart.

In terms of size, a flat white is smaller than a latte, so you’re getting a more concentrated coffee experience.

The espresso takes the lead here, supported by the velvety milk.

It’s a bit like a latte but with a stronger coffee punch.

The milk is steamed, not frothed, which maintains that velvety texture and shiny finish.

Compared to its larger and paler cousin, the latte, a flat white is darker in color and has a richer espresso flavor.

So, if you’re after a coffee that’s all about that espresso goodness with a touch of creamy luxury, the flat white might just be your new favorite.

You can find it not only in its Aussie homeland but also in the UK, the US, New Zealand, and many more places around the world.


  • Rich and creamy
  • Higher caffeine content than lattes
  • Moderate milk content
  • Balanced espresso strength


  • Somewhat challenging to prepare
  • May not provide substantial satiety
  • Less foam compared to other options

What Is A Macchiato?

A macchiato, a delightful coffee creation, brings together a shot of espresso and a touch of frothy milk.

The name “macchiato” hails from Italian, meaning “stained” or “spotted,” alluding to the tiny milk addition that transforms your espresso.

Now, there are two main players in the macchiato game: the espresso macchiato and the latte or tall macchiato.

Espresso macchiato involves introducing a bit of frothy milk into your espresso shot.

On the other hand, the latte or tall macchiato opts for layering hot milk and frothy milk on top of that same espresso shot.

But wait, there’s more! The world of macchiatos boasts various flavors like hazelnut and creme brulee, offering something for every palate.

Here’s the catch, though: the exact macchiato recipe can vary from one café to another.

So, when you’re craving a macchiato, it’s always a good idea to chat with the friendly barista and find out how they craft their version.


  • Intense espresso flavor
  • Creamy texture
  • Higher caffeine content compared to regular coffee
  • Balanced strength due to small milk addition


  • Layered flavors, not fully blended
  • Potentially too robust for some, despite milk addition

Flat White vs Macchiato: Appearance

The Flat White is a coffee combo of espresso and microform.

Microfoam is like steamed milk with tiny bubbles, giving it that glossy, velvety vibe.

The key here is a thin layer of this microfoam, which earns it the name “flat” white. It’s not as frothy as a cappuccino, you see.

The Macchiato is usually an espresso with just a hint of milk.

Just a small amount of frothy or steamed milk is added to espresso, often just a few drops.

They call it “marked” or “spotted” because the milk blends in with the espresso in a unique way.

You’ll spot a thick, dense milk foam blob right in the middle. It’s all about that layered, blended, and bold vibe.

So, when it comes to these two, it’s all about the milk game.

Flat White goes for a velvety whisper, while Macchiato likes to make a bold statement with a milk foam dollop in the espresso center.

Flat White vs Macchiato: Flavor

Let’s talk about flavor, shall we?

When it comes to the Flat White and the Macchiato, they’re like cousins from the same coffee family, but with distinct personalities.

When it comes to the Flat White, picture a rich coffee flavor that’s bold and concentrated, like a latte’s stronger, cooler sibling.

It’s got more coffee kick and less milky fluff compared to a latte.

Think smooth, not overly creamy like a cappuccino.

When it comes to the Macchiato, it’s a bit like espresso’s wild side, tamed by a hint of milk.

It’s a layered creation with just a touch of milk, mostly steamed with a tad bit of foam.

You’ll spot a visible mark, hence the name (“macchiato” means “stained” in Italian).

Unlike its cousins, it usually rocks just one espresso shot, while lattes flaunt two.

Here’s the kicker: the Macchiato doesn’t blend its milk with the espresso.

It’s like two distinct flavors hanging out in one cup.

So, what’s the deal with these flavors? Well, it’s all about intensity.

Flat Whites offer a nice balance between boldness and a touch of sweetness.

On the other hand, Macchiatos hit you with an espresso punch because they’re espresso-forward, with just a dab of milk.

Flat White vs Macchiato: Coffee Strength

The strength of a coffee drink boils down to three things: espresso-to-milk ratio, foam quantity, and espresso shots.

Let’s break it down.

Macchiato is the espresso rebel.

Made with just a dash of milk, it packs a serious punch in the flavor department.

Plus, it’s petite, usually around 1 1/4 ounces (37 ml).

On the other hand, a Flat White is more of a smooth operator.

It rocks that bold espresso taste, thanks to more coffee-to-milk action.

It’s served in a 5 to 6-oz cup, offering that velvety texture from steamed milk and a hint of microform.

If you’re after a coffee with an extra kick that’ll really wake you up, the clear choice is to order a macchiato!

Flat White vs Macchiato: Preparation

A Flat White starts with a double shot of espresso, where finely ground coffee beans and hot water collide under intense pressure.

This espresso beauty finds its home in a small ceramic cup.

Now, here’s the kicker: steamed milk. It’s not just any milk; it’s been steamed to a specific temperature and texture, creating a velvety microform.

This microfoam is the Flat White’s secret sauce, setting it apart from the latte, which usually flaunts more foam and less steamed milk.

Over in the Macchiato corner, we’ve got a slightly different game plan.

We kick off with a shot of espresso, the real star of the show.

Now, here comes the milk, but it’s not about drenching the espresso; it’s more like a friendly dash.

The milk is warmed until the pitcher feels toasty, and then it’s frothed up to create a light, airy foam.

Some baristas use a spoon to playfully layer it. The goal here?

To keep that bold espresso flavor intact while adding a gentle, sweet kiss of milk.

Flat White vs Macchiato: Calories

A Flat White usually hangs around 170 calories, but here’s the twist – the milk choice matters.

A Flat White with skim milk? About 48 calories. Go for full cream, and it’s around 155 calories.

A Macchiato typically only has around 5 calories.

Why? Well, it uses only a tiny bit of milk, making it one of the calorie champs among coffee drinks.

So, if you’re counting those calories, the Macchiato is the clear winner for a lighter sip.

Flat White vs Macchiato: Caffeine Content

When it comes to caffeine content, both the flat white and the macchiato are on equal grounds.

These espresso-based beverages typically boast two shots of espresso, each contributing about 136 mg of caffeine to your cup.

However, it’s worth noting that the preparation process may introduce slight variations in caffeine levels.

Occasionally, you might encounter versions with a single espresso shot, bringing the caffeine count down to 64 mg, similar to a latte.

In contrast, a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee typically packs between 80-100 mg of caffeine per serving.

So, whether you’re sipping a creamy flat white, a bold macchiato, or a classic cup of joe, your caffeine intake can vary but is all part of the coffee adventure.

Sweetening Your Brew: Ways to Add a Touch of Sweetness

Coffee lovers often find themselves craving a little sweetness in their cups.

While a Flat White and a Macchiato offer distinct flavors, you can always customize your brew to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Here are some popular ways to sweeten your coffee:

Sugar and Syrups

The classic choice, adding sugar to your coffee is a simple way to sweeten it up.

Whether you prefer granulated sugar, brown sugar, or a dash of powdered sugar, this tried-and-true method adds a delightful sweetness.

Additionally, flavored syrups like vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut can elevate your coffee’s taste with a unique twist.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Nature’s sweeteners, honey, and maple syrup bring a natural and nuanced sweetness to your coffee.

Just a drizzle can transform your brew into a warm and comforting treat.

Condensed Milk

Popular in many coffee cultures, condensed milk imparts a creamy sweetness to your cup.

It’s especially delightful in Vietnamese or Thai coffee, offering a rich, indulgent flavor.

Cinnamon and Cocoa

If you’re looking to add depth to your coffee’s sweetness without extra sugar, try a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa powder.

These spices bring a delightful hint of sweetness and warmth to your brew.

Nut Milk

For a dairy-free option, consider almond, coconut, or oat milk.

These alternatives often come in sweetened varieties, which can naturally enhance the sweetness of your coffee while imparting a subtle nutty or coconut flavor.

Sweet Coffee Creamers

Commercial coffee creamers come in various sweet flavors, from vanilla to caramel macchiato.

They provide a convenient and flavorful way to sweeten your coffee without additional sugar.

Choosing Your Cup: Flat White vs Macchiato?

If you crave a harmonious blend of smoothness and rich coffee flavor, the Flat White is your go-to.

It’s perfect for those who appreciate a creamy texture with a subtle sweetness, making it an excellent choice for anyone seeking a well-balanced coffee experience.

For those who prefer their coffee with a bold, espresso-centric kick, the Macchiato is the winner.

It’s tailor-made for those who want a strong coffee flavor with just a hint of milk to enhance its richness.

If you like your coffee to pack a punch, this one’s for you.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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