Americano vs Macchiato: Do They Really Differ that Much?

By
Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer
Writer
Samanta Fryer is our senior editor and content writer, at CoffeeVibe. Apart from writing and reading, she’s fond of the coffee brewing process and enjoys tasting new coffe read more
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Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks
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Ryan Hendricks is our tester, who puts products through their paces. He used to be a barista and is now a full-time coffee enthusiast. He’s always testing out new gadgets, read more
Last updated: December 26, 2022
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There seems to be an almost endless supply of specialty coffees available to try, though not everyone wants to drink something so over-the-top. If you prefer a simple beverage that still packs a punch, there are two fantastic options to pick from.

When comparing Americano vs macchiato drinks, you’ll notice that they both come in small sizes and are espresso-based, though the additions to the espresso alter their flavor. These give each beverage a unique taste and texture that may have you favoring one over the other.

If you’re unsure which one is right for you, take a look at the following sections, which detail the differences between these two coffee beverages.

Americano Overview

The Americano is believed to have originated in Italy during World War 2 by American soldiers trying to recreate the filtered coffee they were used to drinking at home. The espresso they received wasn’t quite right, so they added hot water to it, creating a new drink that was as close to their home-brewed coffee as they could get.

Americano coffee is quite simple, with no milk added to maintain the flavor of the espresso. It is strong and slightly bitter due to the fine grounds and high pressure used to make it. It has a thicker texture and richer flavor than regular coffee, though you need the right coffee for the best results. A favorite among coffee lovers is Cafe Blason Americano, which is a ground medium roast from Mexico with a fantastic flavor.

How is it made?

Americano vs Macchiato: Do They Really Differ that Much?

The first step to an Americano is making a shot of espresso. You’ll need a decent espresso machine for this. There are a variety of models from several brands, all of which include various features to consider. If you’re unsure what to look for, the best Miele coffee machines are super-automatic models with simple controls, adjustable settings, and varying sizes, so you can find the perfect model to meet your needs.

You’ll also need a larger cup for this drink than what an espresso is usually served in. When your espresso is ready, add hot water. The ratio varies, depending on how strong you want the drink, but two parts water to one part espresso is traditional. You can also add an extra shot of espresso if you want a stronger brew.

Macchiato Overview?

Macchiato means stained or marked in Italian, which is an apt name for this beverage.  Like an Americano, the macchiato is made with espresso, though it replaces the water with milk. Rather than combining the espresso and milk, the drink is layered, with milk on top seeping into the darker beverage below, staining it with white tendrils.

A macchiato has the same concentration as a regular espresso, though the milk foam softens the bitterness, giving the drink a rich flavor and velvety texture. Though originally served hot, macchiatos are often served cold or frozen, so you can make them however you like. You can even purchase your favorite beverage pre-made. The Starbucks Iced Espresso Caramel Macchiato comes in an 8-pack of buttery caramel blends that are easily stored in your fridge.

How is it made?

Americano vs Macchiato: Do They Really Differ that Much?

A macchiato also uses a single shot of espresso. When the espresso is ready, about an ounce of milk is added to the top, though it isn’t mixed in. Most macchiatos use steamed milk or milk foam, though you can use regular milk if needed. Milk foam works best since it sits on top of the espresso, staining it as intended without combining completely.

Macchiato vs Americano

As well as how they are made, there are several differences between a macchiato and an Americano.  Though the espresso base is the same in both options, they vary in ways you may not expect. Trying both is the best way to decide which one is right for you, though you may want to consider the following differences before picking a favorite.

Coffee type

Both Americano and macchiato beverages are made using espresso. This usually means using beans that are roasted longer and at higher temperatures than regular coffee beans. There are special espresso beans available, but you can also use dark roast or even medium roast beans for either of these beverages, though it may change the flavor.

You can also use ground coffee or even coffee pods for quicker brewing, as long as they are quality options. If you’re looking for some of the top coffee types, the best Dominican coffee comes in several roasts, flavors, and types for the perfect results, no matter your tastes.

Coffee quantity

Americano vs Macchiato: Do They Really Differ that Much?

The amount of coffee in the  Americano and macchiato are the same since both of them use a single shot of espresso. For a stronger Americano, you can add a second shot of espresso, though you’ll need a larger cup to hold your drink. Some add a second shot of espresso to their macchiato as well, though again, a larger cup will be needed to leave room for the milk foam.

Though adding extra espresso may seem unhealthy to those trying to limit their coffee intake, doing so isn’t anything to worry about. In fact, there are many health benefits to drinking a few cups of coffee each day. In fact, studies Trusted Source The Nutrition Source Coffee lovers around the world who reach for their favorite morning brew probably aren’t thinking about its health benefits or risks. www.hsph.harvard.edu have shown that drinking coffee reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. So, don’t worry about adding that extra shot now and then.

Making time

Americanos don’t take very long to make since you only need enough time to pull that single shot of espresso and heat the water. If using separate machines for brewing the coffee and heating the water, you can run them at the same time and combine the two ingredients when they’re ready.

You can even speed up the process by using coffee pods for quicker brewing. Reviewers love the best Nespresso capsules for Americano, due to the convenience, rich flavors, and varying intensities. Then you only need to add sweetener if needed and you’re done.

Macchiatos take longer since you need to froth the milk to add on top of the espresso, so more time is needed to prepare your beverage.

Strength

When using a single shot of espresso, the Americano and macchiato have the same strength, though they may not taste like it. The milk in the macchiato gives it a rich, creamy flavor, while the Americano has a bolder taste that seems much stronger.

Added flavors

Americano vs Macchiato: Do They Really Differ that Much?

If you make traditional Americano or macchiato drinks, they have the flavor of the beans you use. Of course, you can also add your favorite flavors if you like. For instance, there are flavored syrups for either of these beverages. You can also try flavored creams to replace the foamed milk in the macchiato to maintain the creaminess while giving it a new taste.

Calorie count

Though both drinks use the same espresso for the base, they don’t have the same calorie count, due to the addition of milk in the macchiato. Depending on the type of milk you use, a macchiato can range from 5 calories with almond milk to 18 calories with whole milk.

An Americano has almost no calories when containing only espresso and hot water. Of course, if you add sugar to the mix, the calorie count is raised significantly. In fact, a single teaspoon of sugar has about 16 calories, so the more you add, the higher your intake. Too much sugar Trusted Source Get the Facts: Added Sugars | Nutrition | CDC To keep Americans living longer, healthier lives, they need to consume fewer calories from added sugars. www.cdc.gov can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, so try to limit how much you add for a healthier beverage.

Caffeine quantity

The caffeine quantity stays the same at about 68mg with an Americano and macchiato when using a single shot of espresso in each drink. If you add a second shot to either drink, this doubles the caffeine level. The extra caffeine does have a few benefits since it gives you a boost of energy, enhances your memory, and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Unfortunately, higher caffeine levels can also raise anxiety levels Trusted Source Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer or Psychoactive Drug? Caffeine use is increasing worldwide. The underlying motivations are mainly concentration and memory enhancement and physical performance improvement. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and the risk of arrhythmia, so it’s best to limit how often you add those extra shots or space out your caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

Which Should You Choose?

Now that you know the differences between an Americano and a macchiato, which one is the right one for you?

Choose Americano

Those who prefer the strong, bold flavors of coffee and espresso will likely prefer an Americano.

Choose Macchiato

Anyone that enjoys beverages with a sweet, yet rich, flavor and creamy texture will likely choose the macchiato.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t drink coffee or are inexperienced with the wide range of options available, you may not realize that there is such a huge difference between each beverage, even when they start out the same. When you compare the Americano vs macchiato, both begin with a single shot of espresso. The difference is the additions added after the espresso is made.

An Americano has hot water added, slightly weakening the strength of the espresso while still maintaining the bold, robust flavor. A macchiato has milk foam layered over the espresso instead, softening the strength and giving it a creamier texture. A macchiato takes more time to make and there are some variations in calorie count and flavor between the two beverages, so you may prefer one option over the other.

References

1.
The Nutrition Source
Coffee lovers around the world who reach for their favorite morning brew probably aren’t thinking about its health benefits or risks.
2.
Get the Facts: Added Sugars | Nutrition | CDC
To keep Americans living longer, healthier lives, they need to consume fewer calories from added sugars.
3.
Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer or Psychoactive Drug?
Caffeine use is increasing worldwide. The underlying motivations are mainly concentration and memory enhancement and physical performance improvement.
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