Flat White or Macchiato? Which One Should You Choose?

Coffee Levels is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Short Answer: A macchiato is a splash of steamed milk or milk foam with lots of espressos. Whereas, a flat white has a good amount of steamed milk with an espresso shot.

I believe there are a lot of people who enjoy their coffee bold and strong.

Though, there are many varieties for coffee and everybody can add their own flair to it, there are some classic methods of making coffee that cater to the masses. You can find them around the globe and in any big or small coffee place.

Among these are two that are very renowned for being the perfect choice for people who enjoy strong coffee, and those are flat whites and macchiatos.

Though these are similar in components, they taste very different and have unique aroma and flavor notes.

Let’s dive deep to understand a bit more about them.

What’s The Difference Between a Macchiato and a Flat White?

a glass of macchiato

Both drinks are espresso-based and contain steamed milk. But a macchiato has merely a dollop of steamed milk or milk foam, meanwhile, a flat white is equal parts espresso and equal parts steamed milk.

Flat whites and macchiatos are very trendy coffees because people really enjoy them. They’ve built a massive consumer base around the globe but especially in America.

They supply adequate amounts of caffeine because of the espresso shot. This instant pick-me-up has some great nutrients as well. It contains antioxidants that make your immune system strong. But the difference in both of these coffee lies in the amount of steamed milk added to each of them.

Macchiatos and flat whites both have the same espresso base. But a macchiato has less milk or milk foam.

In a double shot of espresso, only a splash or dollop of steamed milk or milk foam is added. This is done so that the poured espresso can shine through and the steamed milk or milk foam cuts the harshness of the espresso. Traditionally, macchiatos are not stirred to mix the espresso and milk, they’re sipped directly.

But if you want to, who’s stopping you? On the other hand, a flat white is a double espresso shot with steamed milk added and then topped with milk foam. It has an aromatic coffee flavor and a strong taste. But it’s stirred to mix the espresso and milk thoroughly giving it a strong and creamy mouthfeel.

I wrote articles detailing the contents of each drink, macchiato and flat white. You can read them here if you’re interested.

Which Drink Is Stronger?

A macchiato is stronger than a flat white. The quantity of espresso is higher in macchiato, making it stronger than a flat white.

The espresso itself is very strong and potent. And both of these drinks have enough espresso to give it a bolder taste. But since macchiato has 90 percent espresso with only 10 percent steamed milk or foam, it’s much stronger than a flat white.

Another factor to take note of here is that a macchiato is not stirred at all before sipping. This makes the flavor of the espresso most noteworthy, thus resulting in a stronger cup of chockers.

That’s not the case with a flat white. Though it can be strong for some, it has equal part steamed milk and espresso which is then topped with milk foam. This cut down the harshness of the espresso. Plus, it’s stirred thoroughly before sipping, making it a perfect package for coffee lovers.

You can learn more about how to make macchiatos by watching this video:

Which Drink Is Healthier?

Flat whites and macchiatos are both great if consumed within limits. A macchiato is healthier than a flat white. This is because it contains less milk and sugar, promoting the overall health benefits of coffee more.

Americans are among the biggest consumers of antioxidants from coffee. How cool is that? But coffee also packs a punch. Consuming coffee moderately helps your health.

There can be a problem if you consume large amounts. These two coffees are both healthy for someone with no underlying health conditions. The coffees contain full-fat milk, but they are espresso-based. In comparison with the flat white, the macchiato wins here. How come?

A macchiato has very minimal amounts of milk and no sugar. This in the long run is good for your body. The consumption of large quantities of sugary foods and dairy products, such as sweeteners, syrups, and milk, leads to some serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, weight gain, wrinkles, and other problems.

In general, macchiatos are not sweetened, but you can add natural sweeteners if you want, but do so in small amounts. It is not recommended to consume flat whites every day or more than usual since it is made with full-fat whole milk. One can enjoy a flat white once in a while since it is creamy and refreshing.

I have prepared a chart comparing the two and their contents.

Flat White 8 oz15311 g8 g8.9 g11.6 g89 mg
Macchiato 8 oz523 g1.8 g2.7 g6.2 g50 mg

Which Has More Caffeine?

A macchiato has more caffeine than a flat white. A flat white has about 128 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz cup. Whereas, a macchiato only has 120 mg per 8 oz cup.

Coffee’s popularity is largely due to its caffeine content. Boosting energy and reducing sleepiness are among the benefits of caffeine. Early morning is the preferred time to drink coffee, or in the afternoon when you need that extra boost of energy to finish your tasks.

It is best to drink espresso when you are feeling particularly low and want to be energetic. Hence, people drink small amounts of it to maintain its electrifying effects.

two cups of coffees with latte art

Espresso is the main ingredient in both drinks. But a macchiato has more caffeine than a flat white. A flat white has about 128 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup and a macchiato has 120 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup.

Though, this doesn’t mean you drink heaps and heaps of coffee in a day. Excessive caffeine in your system can have some irreversible bad effects. The FDA has a daily caffeine limit of 400mg and it’s for your own benefit to stay within that limit.

Pros And Cons Of Each Drink

Both drinks have their pros and cons, however, these pros and cons aren’t set in stone. The key here is moderation. Take either drink in moderation and you may possibly reap its benefits, however, take them in excess and you’ll be facing the cons instead.

Coffee in moderation is very good for your health. Regular use can help your body stay fit but overconsumption can lead to some serious health issues.

But let’s first talk about the benefits of Macchiato.

Pros Of Macchiato

This espresso-based coffee has a massive and loyal following. Macchiato entails many benefits.

Benefits include:

  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Protects against cancers
  • Lowers depression
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Increased attention
  • Improves focus
  • Immediate boost of energy
  • Great source of antioxidants
  • Elevates mood

Cons Of Macchiato

Drinking a macchiato on a regular basis shouldn’t be a problem if you consume it within limits. But if you do, some effects are as follows:

  • Ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Kidney problems
  • Jitteriness
  • High Glucose levels
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heartburn

Now let’s talk about the benefits of drinking flat white.

Pros Of Flat White

A flat white entails many benefits but only if you drink it in suggested quantities.

They include:

  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves memory
  • Instant energy booster
  • Largest source of antioxidants for Americans
  • Lowers risk of having Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Reduces risk of cancer

Cons Of Flat White

For a normal person, a regular drink of flat white shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you consume it more than advised or have an underlying condition, you will have negative effects which include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High sugar levels
  • Increased cholesterol level
  • Jitteriness
  • Kidney problems
  • Lower iron levels
  • Skin issues

Difference In Taste

An original macchiato is strong and bitter in taste, whereas a flat white is very velvety and sweet with a strong hint of espresso.

Flat whites are great for people who want a full package of coffee without any other flavors taking the main lead. This coffee gives you a nice aromatic taste, as well as a creamy mouth feel.

Along with being bitter, the double espresso shots give it an extra punch. Despite the bitter flavors, steaming full-fat milk over a layer of foam adds a smooth and rich texture to it that complements the bitterness.

a cup of coffee on a small plate with a spoon

On the other hand, a macchiato is a perfect choice for people who want to enjoy the direct punch of a coffee. The strong espresso is acidic and bitter but with an addictive aroma.

This is then complemented by the small amount of steamed milk that is full-fat and brings a hint of sweetness. Coffee lovers who enjoy a very power-packed cuppa love this. Starbucks has also introduced a Caramel Macchiato which is much sweeter than the traditional one.

Though it contains a strong espresso flavor the harshness and bitterness are cut down with the added milk, vanilla syrup, and caramel syrup topping.

They add vanilla syrup first in the cup, then the steamed milk and the milk foam. After this, they top it off with a double shot of espresso and a drizzle of caramel syrup. Perfect for those who want a sweetened and caramelly macchiato.

What Do I Think

Both of these coffees are popular among people. People who enjoy a strong cup of coffee like macchiatos, meanwhile people who enjoy milk and strong all-in-one coffee prefer a flat white. Flat whites and macchiatos both have caffeine in them and provide that instant energy boost to our bodies.

But personally, I think a macchiato is much better than a flat white. A large amount of sugar and dairy in the latter can damage your skin and health. It can give you elevated blood sugar, acne, and much more.

Coffee is healthy but only if drunk moderately and not in large quantities. Enjoy what you prefer but keep in mind, don’t drink excessive amounts of it.

Other Articles