What is a Macchiato?

‘Macchiato’ is an Italian word that is commonly used to describe the coffee beverage. If you would ask fans of this drink how to make it most of them would say that you add some milk to an espresso shot.

While this is not incorrect, there’s no universal amount of milk to be used, which means that if you order a macchiato in different cafes, you could get different drinks.

In simple words, a macchiato is an espresso, which is made first, and followed by the addition of a smaller amount of steamed milk and foam, it is the traditional and simplest definition of a macchiato.

In Italian “Macchiato” means “marked” or “spotted”, which is a good way to begin to look at the drink itself.

If we talk about the sweetness of macchiatos, it depends on how traditionally they’re made. Traditional ones don’t have any syrup in them and that’s why they’re less sweet unless sweetener is added in some way.

Coffee chains like Starbucks don’t exactly add syrups and sweeteners to their macchiatos for no reason. Their customers love these sweet, sugary drinks, and so that’s how they’re prepared nowadays.

If we use traditional ways of making a macchiato, the only two ingredients to be used are milk and espresso, which isn’t going to result in a very sweet drink overall.

Are Macchiatos served Hot or Cold?

Another question that you might ask is that if macchiato is to be served hot or cold?

The answer is that they can be served hot or cold, Starbucks cold caramel macchiato is a perfect example of cold macchiato.

But traditionally, macchiatos are always served hot, not cold. But as you know Starbucks always believe in playing along with traditional espresso-based drinks and discovering new ones.

Should you stir a Macchiato?

People often ask this question if macchiatos are meant to be stirred or not?

The answer is that it depends on how you like it personally, but traditionally we don’t really stir a macchiato.

The reason behind is that macchiatos are not meant to be experienced like a latte where the drink is more or less blended, but rather the foam first, followed by the milk, and then the flavorful espresso on the bottom.

You can experience the drink not as one single flavour, but as multiple flavours and one at a time, starting with the foam on the top to the espresso at the bottom.

The one we talked about above is assuming we’re talking about an espresso macchiato, one of the types of macchiato you’ll encounter and that we will describe in more detail later in this article.

Is a Macchiato Stronger Than a Coffee?

People often ask if Macchiatos are stronger than coffee?

Well, it depends on a few things, like how many shots of espresso are added in the macchiato.

For a traditional macchiato, one shot of espresso is added, and it won’t be as strong as if you get a macchiato prepared with more than one shot. If we talk in terms of the amount of caffeine, there’s around 80 mg of caffeine per shot of espresso.

If you find espresso itself to be strong, then there are high chances that you’ll probably find macchiatos to be strong, because macchiatos are prepared by adding espresso to them. More the number of shots you add, the stronger of a taste you’re going to get.

What does a Macchiato Taste like?

A traditional Macchiato is a layered coffee drink with a likely strong espresso flavour, this drink is mostly made up of one element, Espresso, with a splash of another, steamed milk.

We already discussed earlier that the sweetness of macchiato depends on the number of shots of espresso we add to it. Moreover, different types of macchiatos have different tastes that we’ll discuss later in this article.

What is the Difference Between a Latte and Macchiato?

The difference between a macchiato and a latte depends on what you mean by macchiato. A traditional macchiato is simply an espresso topped with foamed milk, this results in a cross mixture between a straight espresso and a cappuccino.

Many Americans think of a macchiato as a latte macchiato, the drink is primarily steamed milk with a small amount of espresso on top. Latte macchiatos are often topped with caramel syrup.

The word macchiato itself means “Stained milk” while latte means “Coffee with milk.” A latte drink starts with espresso with the milk and foam added on top while a macchiato is basically the reverse of it, which results in a very pale coffee that is perfect for those who do not like a very strong coffee flavour.

What is the Difference Between a Macchiato and a Cappuccino?

Generally, cappuccinos contain more espresso than latte macchiatos, so you do end up with a much more strong coffee flavour; however, one of the biggest differences between a latte macchiato and a cappuccino is in the way of presentation.

Often, cappuccinos are served in 6-ounce cups. Typically, you will find a circle of cream around the edge of the cup with a rich foam in the centre.

While Latte macchiatos are traditionally served in tall glasses, when poured correctly, a macchiato will have lovely layers with the milk on the bottom and a thin layer of espresso on the top.

How to make a Macchiato?

A macchiato is a coffee-based beverage that’s made with espresso and foam, it is similar to a cappuccino and a latte, but the major difference is the ratio of coffee, milk, and foam.

As we discussed a traditional macchiato is just a shot of espresso garnished with a small amount of steamed milk, but there are also flavoured and iced versions you can give a try.

Many coffee shops and cafes serve a variety of macchiatos, but you can also make them on your own at home with a few pieces of equipment.

Traditional Macchiato Recipe

Step 1: Grind the beans

Macchiato is prepared with espresso, and each standard double shot will require 0.5 to 0.8 ounces of coffee beans, depending on how strong you want the shot to be. First of all, measure the beans and transfer them to a coffee grinder, after that grind the beans until they’re finely ground.

You can say that finely ground coffee beans are about the size of salt grains and this is the ideal grind for espresso. You can even buy pre-ground espresso beans from grocery stores and coffee shops if you don’t have a grinder at home.

Step 2: Fill the portafilter with grounds

The next step is to remove the portafilter from the group head and fill the clean portafilter with the freshly ground coffee. Give a few taps to the portafilter against your hand to distribute the grounds, and then tamp the grounds to compact them all together.

In case, you don’t have access to a professional espresso maker, you can use a stovetop espresso maker and then pour the grounds into the inner basket and spread them around evenly with the fingers.

If you can’t prepare espresso by yourself you can use strong coffee in place of the espresso.

Step 3: Make the espresso shot

Place the portafilter back to the position in the group head and turn it to lock it in place. Place the cup under the portafilter and turn on the water to pull the shot.

You have to let the water run for around 30 seconds to fully extract the shot. Stir the espresso to distribute the cream, which is the foam that builds up on top.

If you’re using a stovetop espresso maker, fill the reservoir with water to the maximum fill line. Now, place the filter inside the reservoir and screw on the top. Heat the espresso over medium heat until it bubbles over into the top reservoir. Then pour the espresso into the demitasse.

Step 4: Steam the milk

In this step, you’ll have to transfer the cold milk to a tall metal container and then hold the container at a slant angle to the steam wand. Insert the steam wand into the milk and turn on the steam.

Steam until the milk has increased in volume and the container is hot to the touch. Remove the container and clean the wand with a damp towel, the ideal temperature for steamed milk is 140 F.

Step 5: Pour the milk and serve hot

When the milk is ready, pour the steamed milk onto the espresso. Use a spoon to scoop a dollop of foam on top. Serve the macchiato immediately, or you can also add sugar, and garnish the top with cinnamon, or drink the macchiato as it is.

Iced Macchiato Recipe

Step 1: Make the espresso

There are different ways you can make espresso for an iced macchiato. First, you can use a machine that is used in industries to make the espresso, or, secondly, you can use a stovetop espresso maker, and finally, you can also brew a small pot of very strong coffee.

To make strong coffee in place of espresso, use a dark roast and brew a two-cup pot using 4 tablespoons of coffee.

Step 2: Combine all the ingredients

Put the milk and ice into a blender, add a liquid sweetener, for example, honey, agave, or maple syrup. You can also add flavoured syrup, such as vanilla or caramel to sweeten the drink and add an extra aroma to the drink. In the end, pour in the freshly brewed espresso or coffee.

Use only half a cup of milk if you’re making the iced macchiato with coffee instead of espresso.

Step 3: Blend the ingredients

Turn on the blender and blend the mixture for about a minute or two, continue blending until all the ingredients are combined and there are no chunks of ice left.

Step 4: Serve the iced macchiato

Now, pour the iced macchiato into a glass cup and serve. You can garnish the macchiato with caramel or chocolate syrup for an attractive presentation.

Different Types of Macchiato

There are basically two types of Macchiato and those are, “Latte Macchiato” and “Espresso Macchiato”. But here we’ll discuss one more type known as “Caramel Macchiato” which can be found in popular coffee shops like Starbucks.

Latte Macchiato

Latte Macchiato is a coffee beverage; the name means stained or marked milk. Marked as in an espresso stain on the milk used. It is a play on “Espresso macchiato” which is an espresso with a drop or two of milk or cream.

Latte macchiato differs significantly from caffe latte in several ways. First, in a latte macchiato, espresso is added to the milk, rather than milk to espresso as in a caffe latte.

Second, a latte macchiato contains more foam, rather than simply hot milk, a latte macchiato often uses only half an espresso shot.

Finally, a latte macchiato is a ‘layered’ drink, rather than being mixed as in a caffe latte.

A latte macchiato can be prepared simply by frothing milk, generally producing generous foam, pouring it into a glass, and then adding espresso.

The frothing is generally extensive, yielding significant light and dry foam, with a layer of liquid milk underneath it, rather than the wet microfoam used in a latte.

For a latte macchiato, we have the reverse in terms of preparation when compared to an espresso macchiato. Steamed milk is added first, in this case, followed by the single shot of espresso.

The preparation of the drink gives the latte macchiato a different look from the espresso macchiato, and a different marking on the top, that being the espresso that is added last.

When to Drink a Latte Macchiato

Espresso macchiato and latte macchiato taste differently. Latte is prepared by adding more steamed milk, which makes it creamier and has a rich taste while espresso macchiato has more espresso and marked with a little foam and steamed milk.

The usual latte is served with a tall glass to make its beautiful layers visible and highlighted to the one drinking it. Overall, it’s an exciting beverage but sees to it that you stir it well before drinking. This is to mix all the contents and taste everything rather than getting the coffee alone.

But as we discussed earlier you might now want to mix all the flavours and let them come one by one.

Espresso Macchiato

Espresso macchiato is pronounced as “ess-press-oh mock-e-ah-toe”, it is a single or double espresso topped with a dollop of heated, foamed milk and served in a small cup.

If you prefer your espresso to take charge of your drink’s flavour, you will probably enjoy an espresso macchiato.

It is very common to hear a macchiato often called an espresso macchiato or latte macchiato.

These are both considered macchiatos, but they are two distinct types, leading to some confusion around what a macchiato actually is.

When to Drink an Espresso Macchiato

Espresso macchiato is also known as Caffe macchiato, it is defined as an espresso-based brew drink that is prepared with a small amount of milk foam.

To get the best out of it, you need to have the best shot of espresso at the bottom of the drink.

When ordering an espresso-based drink, you have to remember how much is a shot of espresso, because this is the basis for the cost of the other espresso-based beverages.

The best way to order is to say “Caffe Lungo” or “Caffe Americano.”

It is known that espresso has a cream, where all the good aromas and flavours are being kept. It gives the beverage a natural boldness and strong taste.

But the cream doesn’t last long, it disappears right away in a short time. If you allow your espresso drink to sit for a long period, it will conquer the true purpose of the beverage; means, it will ruin the taste.

How to order an Espresso Macchiato

If you are ordering from a reputable coffee house, asking for a “macchiato” should result in the beverage with a dollop of foamed milk.

It may not even be on the drink menu, but the barista will know what it is, if you are at a coffee shop, however, you will need to specify “espresso macchiato” in order to avoid receiving some similar kind of drink flavoured with caramel and topped with whipped cream.

You don’t have to confuse the espresso or Caffe macchiato with a latte macchiato, which is the absolute opposite of an espresso macchiato.

Latte macchiato means “stained milk” and is foamed milk with a small amount of espresso in it.

Caramel Macchiato

Caramel Macchiato is an espresso-based beverage sold in Starbucks. It is prepared with vanilla syrup, steamed milk, espresso and caramel sauce.

The espresso is poured on top of the milk leaving a dark mark on top of the milk foam. Caramel sauce is poured on top of the foam, adding a layer of sweetness. In case you don’t know Caramel Macchiato is one of the most popular Starbucks drinks.


  • Macchiato is an Italian word that is commonly used to describe the coffee beverage.
  • A macchiato is an espresso, which is made first, and followed by the addition of a smaller amount of steamed milk and foam.
  • Can be served hot or cold, Starbucks cold caramel macchiato is a perfect example of cold macchiato.
  • Stirring a macchiato depends on how you like it personally, but traditionally we don’t really stir a macchiato.
  • If you find espresso itself to be strong, then there are high chances that you’ll probably find macchiatos to be strong, because macchiatos are prepared by adding espresso to them.
  • A traditional Macchiato is a layered coffee drink with a likely strong espresso flavour.
  • We discussed two recipes for preparing a macchiato.
  • Espresso macchiato is also known as Caffe macchiato.



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