What is Macchiato? – All you need to know!

Also known as an Espresso Macchiato, macchiato coffee initially originated in Italy and has since then become popular all over the world. The word itself is Italian and literally means “stained” or “marked.”

Macciato - What is it and how do you make it?

A espresso macchiato is like a hybrid version of cappuccino and espresso, but less bitter than the latter and stronger than the former.

Ever since its origin, there have been many variations and types of the classic espresso macchiato, of which the “latte macchiato” is the most popular.

But are they all the same? Does a Flat White fit into the family? What is the difference when you look at all these coffee drinks?

Is a Macchiato the Same as a Latte Macchiato?

If you are not an avid coffee drinker, you’re probably wondering whether there’s any difference between a Macchiato and a Latte Macchiato. While the two do sound incredibly similar, especially considering how they both contain foamed and steamed milk and espresso, they are actually quite different.

The difference between Macchiato and Latte Macchiato coffee drinks basically stems from the way that both these coffees are made and prepared.

Macchiato, also known as “Espresso Macchiato” and “Caffe Macchiato” in different parts of the world, is simply an espresso with a little dash of foamed milk. It is considered to be a great alternative to the classic espresso by many coffee-lovers, especially those who want a powerful caffeine flavor followed by a touch of creaminess. The milky texture is provided by, you guessed it, the milk in the macchiato.

So basically, when you order an Espresso Macchiato at your favorite coffee shop, you should expect to get a shot of espresso with a tiny dollop of frothed milk on top, which helps offset the strong caffeine hit. The final result is a bitter, strong, and earthy drink.

A Latte Macchiato, on the other hand, has the same two ingredients, except that this coffee is basically milk with a dash of espresso. It is a milk-heavy coffee drink where the whiteness of the steamed and foamed milk is “stained” or “marked” by the dark brown shot of espresso.

So, when you order the Latte version of a Macchiato, expect to see steamed milk at the bottom of the cup with swirls of brown, often followed by milky, creamy foam on the top of the drink.

When Is a Macchiato Traditionally Served?

A macchiato is like a middle ground between a rich, milky cappuccino, and strong, bitter espresso. There are some subtle (and some not so subtle) differences when you compare the macchiato vs cappuccino or macchiato vs latte.

In other words, it offers the perfect solution to avid coffee drinkers who want to sneak in a strong caffeine dose (Is there Caffeine in Cappuccino?) into their system sometime during the day.

So, a macchiato is traditionally served anytime during the day and is your go-to mid-day coffee fix.  

What’s the difference between Frappuccino and Cappuccino

How do you make a Macchiato?

If you are a true Macchiato fan and lover and wish to whip up a fresh cup of coffee for yourself every morning, you’ll be happy to know that it is quite easy to make a Macchiato at home. The key is to get the formula right, which translates to two important things: making the perfect espresso and following the correct staining technique.

Learn how to make the best Macchiato at home with the help of this easy, step-by-step guide.

Things You’ll Need

To make your espresso macchiato, you will require the following things:

Step 1: Grind the Coffee Beans

Depending on how strong you want the coffee shot to be, take a suitable amount of coffee beans and finely grind them in a coffee grinder till they are as small and ground as the size of salt grains. If you don’t own a coffee grinder, you can easily get pre-ground coffee beans from any grocery store near your home.

Step 2: Make the Espresso Shot

With the help of your Moka pot or espresso machine, make a shot of espresso like you normally do. In the former case, fill the Moka pot with water, add the ground coffee beans, and place the pot on the stove. With the espresso maker you can have the machine brew you a perfect shot of espresso to use for the macchiato.

Step 3: Prepare the Milk

Once your shot of espresso is ready, the next step is to steam the milk, preferably at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.

There are several different methods of steaming and frothing milk. These typically include using a handheld milk frother, an immersion blender, automatic milk frother, and the steam wand that comes with the coffee machine.

Your choice of method entirely depends on what is most convenient for you and which of these steaming tools are readily available at home.

Step 4: Add Milk to Espresso

This is the last and final step where all you need to do is to take the steamed milk and pour it into your shot of espresso. Make sure that you pour a very fine layer of milk if you wish to make a Macchiato that is closest to the one you enjoy every day at your favorite coffee shop.

Step 5 (Optional): Garnish

This is an optional step for those who might want to garnish their macchiato with different things, such as cinnamon powder, sugar, cocoa powder, or ground coffee, to name a few.

Take a pinch of your preferred ingredient, sprinkle it over the milky foam, and enjoy your hot and fresh cup of macchiato coffee!

Do You Need Espresso for a Macchiato?

Yes, espresso is one of the key ingredients in order to make a traditional espresso Macchiato. It is also one of its primary flavors.

However, if you have no means to make a shot of espresso, you can also substitute it with any strong coffee that’s easily available. Although using a different kind of coffee will greatly affect the taste of the coffee, it will do the job when you are craving a macchiato!  

How to Make a Latte Macchiato

Compared to the classic macchiato, a Latte Macchiato has more milk and a lower amount of espresso. If you’re a fan of a milkier coffee with a less bitter coffee taste, follow these easy steps to prepare a cup of delicious latte macchiato right at home without having to waste any money! Check the preparation below for differences between a macchiato vs latte.

Things You’ll Need

Just like when making an espresso macchiato, you will need the following things when you’re making a Latte Macchiato:

  • Milk
  • Espresso
  • Frother

Step 1: Froth the Milk

Since a latte macchiato emphasizes more on the milk than coffee, the first step is to froth your desired amount of milk. You can do this either with the steam nozzle of your espresso machine or a handheld frother.

Step 2: Pour the Milk

The next step is to gently pour the frothed, steamed milk into a latte glass till it’s about two-thirds full. While you’re pouring the milk, try to hold back the foamy part with the help of a spatula or spoon. Once the glass is 2/3 full of milk, add the layer of milk foam on top – Can You Froth Half and Half?

Step 3: Prepare the Espresso

With the help of your espresso machine or Moka pot, prepare the espresso shot.

Step 4: Pour the Espresso

Once the espresso is ready, gently pour it into the center of the milky foam. The key is to pour the espresso very slowly because the precision of your method is what will determine the final result of your latte. If poured correctly, it will create the signature layered look of the drink, which is characterized by thicker steamed milk at the bottom with a slowly diffusing espresso shot, and lastly, the fluffy layer of milk foam from the foamed milk you created..

Comparing iced coffee vs iced latte

What is The Difference between a Macchiato and a Cappuccino?

As we’ve already mentioned before, macchiato means stained or marked, so you should expect to get either a lot of steamed milk or coffee that’s been stained with the other ingredient of the two. Cappuccino, on the other hand, doesn’t follow the same approach. You will get steamed milk foam with espresso when you order a cappuccino anywhere in the world. Where both drinks are the same is that they are espresso with steamed milk, just in different ratios.

People often compare a cappuccino vs macchiato, primarily because of how amazingly similar these two drinks are. They do use the same ingredients, and yet they are so different from each other.

A Macchiato offers a very rich and bold choice and is mainly characterized by its layered appearance. Its first layer is a shot of espresso that is stained with a dash of milk followed by the tiniest amount of milk foam on the top. So, the most dominant flavor in a macchiato is that of strong and bitter coffee that is equalized by the small hints of steamed milk and the layer of foam on top.

A Cappuccino, on the other hand, consists of an espresso shot, followed by a great amount of steamed milk, which is topped with a thick layer of creamy and frothy milk foam. Compared to the former, this coffee drink is milkier and creamier, with small traces of coffee, considering the amount of milk used in a cappuccino.

Is Starbucks Macchiato the Real Thing?

Starbucks is undeniably the most popular and surely the most amazing coffeehouse and coffee shop out there, with an incredible range and variety of different types of coffee.

However, speaking of a macchiato, is the Starbucks macchiato the real deal when you order it in the coffee shop?

Starbucks is known for “making its own rules” when it comes to coffee, and you are likely to find a number of unique types of coffee at all Starbucks outlets. However, their Macchiato has often received mixed reviews and has been described as “just a latte with milk foam on top.

While a traditional espresso macchiato is mainly a bitter espresso drink with some steamed and foamed milk, the Starbucks macchiato is said to be sugary and decadent. So while it’s still very delicious, it is surely not the real thing!

So, if you ever end up at a Starbucks coffee shop and want to drink a traditional macchiato, you will have to specifically ask for one because their version of a macchiato coffee drink is clearly different than the original one!

Final Thoughts 

All in all, if you’re looking for a bitter-tasting coffee, but with enough hot milk to balance the flavor, a Macchiato is the one for you! It is more intense than a cappuccino but less strong compared to a full espresso shot. This makes it the perfect choice for a mid-day coffee fix for all coffee enthusiasts out there!

If you order a macchiato at coffee shops then make sure that the item on their menu is either the latte or espresso macchiato you expect. Many coffee shops make their own version with different ingredients which can still be delightful but not what you expect when you order a Macchiato at a coffee shop. Espresso and hot milk is all you need!

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