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What is a Macchiato Coffee



Sasha Pavlovich

 ·  28 February 2023

Perhaps you’ve had a long afternoon of studying and you’re looking for a caffeine boost. Or maybe you’re a tired mom who needs to get some work done after the kids have gone to bed. You could just be an espresso aficionado who enjoys a little dairy added to mix things up.

No matter who you are, the macchiato is a delicious choice for the sleep-deprived, a well as those who just love the taste, aroma, and smooth goodness of an espresso, lightly marked with steamed milk.

Because that’s what a macchiato drink is.

The word “macchiato” means “marked” in Italian. The beverage is perfect for those who are in the mood for an espresso boost, but aren’t ready for a straight espresso. Instead, they want it marked by a bit of steamed milk.

You can think about a macchiato as the opposite of a cappuccino, in that the cappuccino is steamed milk with added espresso, whereas the macchiato is espresso with added steamed milk.

Variations on this drink abound, which can make ordering a bone fide macchiato into a confusing and fascinating endeavor. Let’s talk about the flavorful coffee macchiato, what is a macchiato coffee, and how it can add joy to your day.


What is a Macchiato Coffee?

The word “macchiato” is Italian, and it means “stained” or “marked”. In other words, this beverage is essentially an espresso with a dollop of steamed milk added. There are some variations on this beverage that add warm or even cold milk to the drink.

It is possible to create latte art using the added milk, and many baristas do just that.

How big is a macchiato? Typically this drink is served in a clear glass or an espresso cup. It is essentially 90% espresso and 10% milk, providing a satisfying cappuccino alternative to calorie counters and the dairy averse alike.

Often, the milk is added in just one area of the cup, providing a little white dot in a sea of caramel colored goodness. The milk addition brings sweetness to cut through the bitter espresso, without dominating the drink with foam or sugary syrups. Yum.

There are international variations on this drink, depending on where it is ordered. A double espresso with milk is a macchiato in London, whereas two espresso shots with a dash of milk makes up the drink in Australia. Ask your barista whether they have a trademark interpretation of the drink in their local area or coffee shop.

Espresso Macchiato -

The Macchiato Story

Let’s discuss a little macchiato coffee history.

Contrary to popular belief, the macchiato was not a staple of Italian coffee drinkers, and is a relatively recent invention.

From a cultural perspective, in Italy, it was considered improper to order a cappuccino after 11 am, because milk drinks are most appropriate in the morning. Baristas wanted an option for an afternoon treat to serve that wasn’t as intimidating as a straight espresso. Thus, the cafe macchiato was born.

The term ”macchiato” was a shorthand instruction for whether a customer wanted a straight espresso or a marked espresso; that is, an espresso with a tablespoon or two of milk added. If the customer wanted the milk, the order would state “marked”– indicating the milk addition.

By now I hope you’ve gotten a taste of some macchiato coffee history, and you may be ready to consider ordering one yourself.

But as we will see, there are several different types of macchiato, so it’s important to know which one you want before placing your order.


Different Types of Macchiato

Here is where the macchiato discussion gets a little bit confusing. There are several different macchiato type drinks available. Let’s take a look at each one, so you can understand the distinctions between them all.

Espresso Macchiato

The espresso macchiato is the drink we have been discussing in this article so far. It contains approximately 9/10 espresso and 1/10 milk– either steamed, foamed, or in some cases, cold. This drink is typically served in a demitasse cup, although sometimes it is served in an espresso glass. It can feature latte art, or a simple dot indicating the mark of milk to the espresso drink.

It’s a perfect coffee drink with a smooth dairy addition to bring out the espresso flavor without being too heavy or difficult to digest.

Latte Macchiato and Caramel Macchiato

A latte macchiato is a much less concentrated drink, aiming to mark the dairy with a portion of espresso, rather than the other way around.

A barista should use a transparent glass for this drink, creating a layered effect. The bottom layer is steamed milk, with the next layer as slowly poured espresso, with foamed milk on the top. If correctly poured, this beverage is both beautiful and simple, although differing greatly from the traditional macchiato drink.

Caramel Macchiato -

A caramel macchiato, on the other hand, is a drink ordered at Starbucks, which is essentially steamed milk, a small portion of espresso, with caramel flavoring or syrup added.

The caramel macchiato is the sweetest of the variations and contains the most milk. It can be served in many different sizes.

As you can see, the variations on this drink make it one of the more difficult beverages to pin down. Let’s discuss the best way to order your macchiato with the least confusion for you.

Also, might want to check out Breve Coffee, that is if you are a fan of half-and-half and tasty stuff with lots of calories ) Worth trying it out.

How to Order Your Macchiato

When ordering your macchiato, first determine which variety you are hoping to try.

If you typically order a latte, you may want to try a latte macchiato. However, if you are feeling adventurous and enjoy the espresso taste, be sure to tell your barista you want an espresso macchiato.

Different coffee shops will have different types of macchiatos available. However, the best way to make sure you communicate which one you want is to use the word “espresso” or “latte” before the word “macchiato” when placing your order. Your barista should be able to go from there.


How to make a Macchiato

Home espresso machines are the perfect way to make your macchiato without worrying about the confusion of ordering the drink at a local cafe. It’s also a delightful afternoon pick-me-up without adding too much milk to your day, and a wonderful treat to share with your guests. Let’s discuss how to make a macchiato.

To start, you will need nine parts espresso to one part milk. Brew your espresso in the usual way, and begin to heat your milk. It is your choice whether you’d like the milk to be steamed or foamed; try different combinations to see what works best for your palate.

Pour your espresso into your espresso cup, and pour your steamed or foamed milk over the top. Your milk should stand as a drop of white color surrounded by brown espresso. Alternatively, if you know how to make latte art, give it a try here. You may enjoy the reversed canvas, having white color on a brown background, as opposed to a traditional latte art where the espresso is written onto a white milk background.

Macchiato: Afternoon Delight

Hopefully this article has given you some insight into the world of coffee macchiato, how big is a macchiato, how to make a macchiato, and so much more.

If you enjoy espresso or are just learning about various coffee drinks, give the macchiato a try. Be sure to use quality beans and a full fat milk for the smooth, decadent flavor. This is a drink designed to take a moment away from life, breathe in the aroma, and enjoy. You deserve a treat, and this drink is delicious and a caffeine boost.

Take a moment this afternoon and order one– you’re worth it.

What is a Macchiato Coffee -

author sasha
Sasha Pavlovich

Hi, I'm Sasha Pavlovich and welcome to my blog about coffee! As an experienced barista, I have a deep passion for coffee. I love to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with everyone, and I never get tired of talking about it. Whether you're a novice or a connoisseur, I'm sure you'll find something on my site that will make you appreciate the wonderful world of coffee even more.