What is Macchiato?

Being my personal favorite, macchiato definitely has a place in all our hearts. With its perfect combination of milk and espresso, you’ll experience an unforgettable moment when drinking a properly made macchiato.

In this article, we are going to examine yet another espresso-based drink and ask the most vital questions to clarify it more: what is macchiato, what does macchiato mean, how to order one and how to make one.

Let’s start.

macchiato
“Macchiato” by Salim Virji is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

What is Macchiato?

Macchiato is yet another espresso-based drink originated in Italy. It is mostly known for its layered texture, a good macchiato tends to have three layers consisting of steamed milk, espresso and the foam.

Italians call it Caffe Macchiato, which is the original version of the name by the way, and the name literally means “stained” or “marked”. The name macchiato actually gives all the secret away; a traditional macchiato has espresso as the base ingredient and a dash of milk stains the still surface of the espresso when it is added into the coffee.

As the cappuccino is specifically consumed for a morning caffeine kick, Europeans invented macchiato as an excuse to drink more espresso during the day. ( I can see why they invented macchiato as I, too, cannot get enough of drinking the ambrosial espresso.)

Compared to a cappuccino, macchiato contains less milk and therefore is stronger. When it comes to espresso, on the other hand, macchiato seems a bit lighter as espresso doesn’t have any milk in it.

Variations

Espresso Macchiato

espresso macchiato
“Espresso macchiato” by karen_neoh is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Being the most commonly consumed version of macchiato, espresso macchiato is the archetypal version of the drink. Italians call it caffe macchiato.

You probably remember what we said, right? About the meaning of the macchiato, stained or marked? Well, in terms of this variation, milk is the one which stains the espresso.

If you want your macchiato to be less strong, you may order espresso macchiato as the espresso becomes more subdued by the addition of milk.

Preparing it is also easy too; just pull an espresso shot (or more, up to you), add foam and 1.5 teaspoons of milk on top of it. Then serve it with demitasse cups and enjoy the unique taste of it.

Latte Macchiato

latte macchiato
“Latte Macchiato in champagne flute” by insidious_plots is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As you can guess, the milk is marked by espresso this time. To make one, fill a 12 oz glass with some steamed milk (1/3 is a good ratio). After that, pour one shot of espresso into the glass but you must be careful with the speed. Slower you pour, the better taste it will have. It is usually poured into the middle of the milk to create the mark we talked about.

Well, the reason why we used glass was to see the trademark layers of latte macchiato. Created with the slow pouring method, three layers can be seen if done correctly: a thick layer of steamed milk at the bottom, a shot of espresso in the middle, and the stained foam on top of the drink.

One of the frequently asked questions to me is “what is the difference between latte and latte macchiato?”. The distinction is pretty clear actually; a latte macchiato has more milk and less espresso. In addition to these, it has a signature layered structure; you can’t see layers in a regular latte.

Caramel Macchiato

caramel macchiato
“mmmm… iced caramel macchiato quad soy” by ~Twon~ is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The year was 1996 and Starbucks had just introduced their new delightful invention: iced caramel macchiato. That was a breakthrough in the coffee industry and able to hit the zeitgeist. Nowadays, specialty coffee shops made caramel macchiato even more popular and you can see it in every single coffee shop.

To put it simply, it’s basically a regular macchiato but with the addition of caramel sauce. The caramel perfectly blends with the strong flavor of espresso and foamy-creamy nature of milk and voila; the most charming drink in the coffee industry is born.

Caffeine Content

As other espresso-based drinks, macchiato’s and its variations’ caffeine content depends on the amount of espresso shot it contains. To be more exact, a single shot of espresso contains 60-190 mg of caffeine and is almost 1 ounce in weight. (30 grams).

Who Should Drink Macchiato?

Even though macchiato is literally a liquid joy to drink, it might not be for some people.

For instance, if you are looking for espresso flavor but the strong nature of it deters you, espresso macchiato is the perfect drink to choose. As espresso macchiato combines the strong flavor of espresso and smoothness of milk, it’s the best way to satisfy your thirst for espresso without having the effects of caffeine.

If you love the dairy side more than espresso taste, however, then latte macchiato should be your go-to drink. While milk flavor dominates the drink, you can still taste the subtle espresso flavor hidden in the beverage.

How to Order Macchiato?

It’s hard to find another drink that is so difficult to order one. Every single coffee shop has a different way of defining macchiato, so it can be quite confusing from time to time.

One crucial tip that I can strongly recommend you is you should specify which variation you want. For instance, most of the shops serve latte macchiato when “macchiato” is ordered while new third wave coffee shops will bring you an espresso macchiato. What is the solution, you may ask? Answer is simple: if you want espresso macchiato, order it by saying “espresso macchiato”, not macchiato.

In addition, bear in mind that neither espresso macchiato nor latte macchiato is big in size. If you really need your daily caffeine kick, you should ask for a “double”, otherwise you may not be able to wake up properly.

How to Make Macchiato

That much macchiato talk made me want to drink one. Let’s make some!

  1. Brew one shot of espresso with whatever method you prefer.
  2. Steam the milk to 150°.
  3. Create milk foam by holding the steam wand slightly below the surface.
  4. Now you need your espresso. Pour milk into it and add foam on the top.
  5. It’s done. Remember, it’s your first try and the ratio might be a little off, but if you keep making macchiato you will find the optimum ratio for you!
What is Macchiato?

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