What Is a Macchiato (And How To Make One)

Coffee, like tea, was unchanged for hundreds of years. Served black or with milk, it was a simple drink enjoyed by people around the world. Fine ground, roasted beans, dissolved in boiling water, and served hot.

Then came the espresso machine early in the 20th century, and the espresso coffee shot became a foundation for the creation of many new and interesting variations on the cup of coffee, such as the Macchiato.

In this article, we’re going to look at what is Macchiato, how to make one, and more.

Let’s get started.

What is a Macchiato?

A Macchiato is simply a single shot of espresso coffee, served in a small cup, with a splash of milk foam marking the light brown crema on the espresso. Hence the name, macchiato, meaning “marked or stained”.

But of course, it is never that simple, and we will look into how the café culture has made this basic drink a little more complicated.

What is a macchiato?

What is a Latte Macchiato?

Almost a completely different drink, the latte macchiato deserves the name just by the method of its construction.

Instead of the espresso shot being marked with milk, a latte is a cup of steamed milk marked with an espresso shot.

The normal amount of milk for a regular latte is steamed to a silky texture, then a shot of espresso is poured carefully into the milk, in a tall cup. Often a tall glass is used, so the customer can see the dark espresso as it curls through the pale milk.

Some cafés decorate the drink with caramel in a spiral or lattice pattern, and this is called a caramel macchiato. So when you are in a café and you want just a basic macchiato, you should try to remember to ask for an espresso macchiato to avoid confusing the barista.

Macchiato vs Latte vs Cappuccino: What’s the difference?

As mentioned above, a classic macchiato is a single shot of espresso marked with a splash of milk foam.

Many cafes, perhaps to increase the size of the drink or to avoid serving ‘nearly black’ coffee will add a little more steamed milk before marking with foam.

A café latte, which translates as ‘milky coffee’ is just that. A shot of espresso onto which is poured a full-size cup of steamed milk, topped with about 10mm of foamed milk.

A cappuccino is similar to a latte, except the milk content is 50% steamed milk and 50% milk foam.

In both latte and cappuccino, the milk is very dominant, while in a macchiato it is the espresso coffee that dominates the flavor with just a splash of milk to smooth the taste a little.

How to make a Macchiato at home

The macchiato is one of those drinks that is very difficult to make in your home if you don’t have an espresso machine.

If you do happen to have one, just pull a single shot into a small cup or small glass, steam some milk and scoop some foam, with the consistency of melting ice cream, onto the coffee.

If you do not have one, you can either make a small amount of strong instant coffee or the same with another brew method – drip or French Press.

The milk is a challenge, you will never get the same silky smooth texture that you can with a machine, but you can get close.

Warm the milk on a stove or in a microwave to below boiling (stove is easier to guess this than microwave) then put the milk in a blender and pulse until frothy. Alternatively use a hand mixer. Then you can scoop the foam onto the coffee.

In reality, it will taste nothing like the espresso and milk foam drink you will get in a café, but it’s worth a try.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a macchiato taste like? 

The main flavor should be that of espresso coffee.

Quality Arabica beans, medium roasted, finely ground, 30 mil water at around 90 deg. C pulled through in 25 to 28 seconds.

A perfect coffee shot, strong and full-bodied with a hint of caramel, the bitter edge smoothed off by the splash of milk foam.

How many calories are in a Macchiato? 

The macchiato has one of the lowest-calorie contents of drinks in a café, next to black coffee or water.

The average calorie count in a Macchiato is 8 to 10 depending on the small amount of milk foam.

Compared, say, to a latte at over 200 calories…say no more.

How much caffeine is in a macchiato? 

The caffeine content of all espresso-based drinks is related to the number of espresso shots regardless of the size of the drink.

A single shot has 40 mg of caffeine. So a large latte with two shots has 80 mg of caffeine.

A cappuccino with a single shot also has 40 mg caffeine although the volume of the drink is more than in a macchiato.

What is a Macchiato at Starbucks?

Starbucks is known for their inventive and crowd-pleasing drinks, and always innovate to keep that point of difference in the coffee market.

A regular macchiato at Starbucks is in fact a double shot of espresso with a scoop of milk foam.

They also created the Caramel Macchiato in 1996 as a short-term promotion, but it was so popular it was kept on the menu.

It is a latte macchiato (espresso shot poured over a tall cup of steamed milk) with a lattice web of caramel syrup on top. Customers have been known to order chocolate syrup instead, to personalize their drink.

In Starbucks in Canada, you can get a Maple Macchiato featuring, naturally, maple syrup.

China has a Chestnut macchiato, and in some Asian regions, they have a Tahitian Vanilla Macchiato.

Final thoughts on the Macchiato

If you have a sweet tooth, you will be happy with the non-traditional latte macchiato, flavored with your choice of sweet syrup.

If however, you are more of a connoisseur you will go for the regular classic macchiato. But make sure to be specific when you order, or who knows what you will end up with.

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