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Americano vs Macchiato: What’s the difference?

A macchiato coffee

With so many great espresso-based drinks available today, it can be difficult to tell one from another.

Our range of comparison guides helps you learn more about the great selection of coffee drinks and compare them to each other.

This article will explain the differences between the Americano and macchiato, including how they are made and what they taste like.

What is an Americano?

An Americano is a drink with two components; espresso and hot water.

The hot water is used to dilute the espresso shot and was created by Italians in World War II as a drink to suit the palate of American soldiers.

How is an Americano made?

To make an Americano, an espresso machine forces pressurized hot water through fine coffee grounds. The shot of espresso is poured into a coffee cup and then water heated to the same temperature as the espresso is added.

What is a Macchiato?

Macchiatos can often be confused with cappuccinos as they are both espresso-based drinks that add steamed milk. However, the big difference is that a macchiato only uses a splash of milk.

Macchiatos date back to the 50s and offer an excellent middle ground between the strong espresso and lighter cappuccino.

How is a Macchiato made?

An espresso macchiato is made by adding a small amount – usually between one and two teaspoons – of milk and milk foam to either one or two shots of espresso.

A latte macchiato is a similar drink but sees the espresso shot added to a cup of steamed milk. The larger volume of milk gives a sweeter, more diluted taste.

The Difference Between Americano and Macchiato

The main difference between the Americano and macchiato is how they are diluted.

An Americano is an espresso and hot water, whereas a macchiato is an espresso with a splash of steamed milk.


Traditionally made macchiatos are not very sweet because not much milk is used. Many modern coffee shops will add sweeteners, syrups, or flavoring to a macchiato, but the traditional drink should only consist of espresso and steamed milk.

Because an Americano is a diluted espresso that only uses hot water, it is an excellent option for those who enjoy the bold, rich flavors of an espresso shot.


Because a macchiato can be made with two shots and only has a splash of milk, there tends to be a higher caffeine concentration than an Americano.

Depending on the preference of the coffee drinker, an Americano can have its strength altered by using a double shot of espresso or reducing the amount of hot water used to dilute it.

Americano vs. Macchiato

These espresso drinks are relatively easy to differentiate because one (the macchiato) contains milk and the other (the americano) doesn’t.

As well as the traditional options, coffee lovers can also explore variations, including iced macchiato, caramel macchiato, caffè macchiato, and latte macchiato.

These options offer a sweeter, flavored experience or a stronger option.

Like the macchiato, the Americano is also available in different variations, including the iced Americano, the stronger lungo Americano, caffè crema, or Red-eye Americano, which uses drip coffee as a replacement for the hot water.

Both options will require an espresso machine to make them at home.

Final Thoughts

Americano and espresso macchiato are popular coffee drinks, but they are very different in how they taste and how they are prepared.

These drinks are great examples of how versatile espresso coffee can be.

Knowing how a coffee is made will help you know what taste to expect. This can be useful when choosing a new drink, as you can choose coffees that fit your usual preferences.

That said, we’d encourage you to be bold and try new things! You never know what you might discover.

Featured Image credit: Marcingietorigie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

FAQs – Americano vs Macchiato

Can you add anything to an Americano?

A traditional Americano is made up of hot water and espresso. If you want to add other ingredients to this, you might want to look at the other coffee drinks that use espresso shots, as there might be one that is more suited to you.

That being said, you are free to add whatever you want to your drink, and many coffee shops cater to all tastes by adding cold milk, sugar, cream, or other sweeteners. Syrup flavoring is a popular way to sweeten a coffee drink and change the flavor.

Can you add anything to a macchiato?

Like an Americano, you can supplement macchiato coffee to suit personal preferences. Many popular flavor variations go well with macchiato coffee, including vanilla macchiato, mocha macchiato, and cinnamon macchiato.

You can also add more milk or foamed milk to your drink for a creamier, sweeter taste.

Can you make an Americano stronger?

An Americano can be made stronger by adding an additional espresso shot. This will increase the level of caffeine in the drink.

If you want a stronger drink with the same caffeine level (i.e. more concentrated caffeine) then simply use one espresso shot and less water to dilute it.

Can you make a macchiato stronger?

Traditional Italian macchiatos can be made with either one or two espresso shots depending on how strong you like your drink.

You can also make a macchiato stronger or weaker by increasing or decreasing the amount of steamed milk.

Can you make Americanos and macchiatos at home?

To make either a macchiato or an Americano at home, you must invest in the proper equipment, which can be expensive. However, weighing up the cost of visiting your local coffee shop regularly against buying and running your own machine at home can help.

The convenience of enjoying an Italian espresso-based drink at home can be excellent, especially if you are entertaining guests.

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