What is a macchiato? It's probably not what you think - LITTLE CREAM (2023)

Order a macchiato and let yourself be pampered.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to make this drink. And a coffee shop's version could literally be the opposite of what you would find at another coffee shop across the street.

When someone orders a macchiato at my barista station, I always take the time to get to the same page before making the drink.

Are you looking for something small? Sparkling? Sweet?

With so many variations, you might be wondering if there is such a thing as a "real" macchiato.

In this article I will break it down for you. We cover the original macchiato drink, popular derivatives, and why coffee lovers have a hard time getting on the same page.

What is a macchiato? It's probably not what you think - LITTLE CREAM (1)


When someone says "macchiato," what do they mean?

Traditional macchiato

A classic macchiato is a pretty simple little drink. It is prepared with a "marked" double espresso with a small dot of frothed milk or foam.

This traditional version comes from Italy, where the word "macchiato" literally means "to mark."

The traditional macchiato is for espresso lovers who crave some milk to top off their espresso reception. Served on a small plate with a spoon, the macchiato is the perfect after-dinner drink.

What is a macchiato? It's probably not what you think - LITTLE CREAM (2)

Most specialty cafes serve traditional "wet" style macchiatos. This means the barista grades the espresso with lightly carbonated milk instead of one big ball of dry foam. It all depends on the preferences of the barista or cafe.

coffee with milk

Latte macchiato is the opposite of traditional. In this case, the espresso marks the milk and not vice versa. Because espresso coffee is denser than milk, it leaves an imprint on the top of the drink before sinking into most of the milk.

If you want a latte from your favorite specialty coffee shop, you should order a regular latte. Or explain nicely that you want to add your espresso after the milk.

Americans aren't known for their love of strong coffee. (See: History ofnorth american.) The popularity of the latte macchiato in the United States can be attributed in part to our love of dairy drinks and creative presentation.

Regardless of your milk preferences, I would give these a light shake before drinking. This way the espresso mixes better with the milk for a more balanced drinking experience.

Macchiato with caramel

A caramel macchiato is an excellent drink for connoisseurssweet and sweet coffee drinks.This version is like the double inversion of the traditional macchiato.

Ever since a Starbucks employee (Hannah Su) invented it to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary, the world of coffee has never been the same.

Like latte macchiato, espresso “brands” more than 12 ounces of milk. But in this case, it's all ice cream and sweetened with caramel sauce or caramel sauce.

What is a macchiato? It's probably not what you think - LITTLE CREAM (3)

While the presentation is attractive (dark espresso on top and creamy white milk on the bottom), my instinct is to give the drink a stir right away. I don't want to drink 8 ounces of sweetened milk hoping the coffee flavor will go away completely.

This drink is a Starbucks staple. Even if you won't find caramel on the menu at your favorite cafe, most baristas are familiar enough with caramel to offer a tasty equivalent. An Iced Vanilla Latte is a tight composition.

Caramel Macchiato tastes great with any type of milk or milk alternative, from cow's milk to coconut. If you like your latte and sweetness, you'll like the Caramel Macchiato.



A traditional macchiato is served in a "doppio" or espresso cup that holds 2 to 3 ounces of liquid.

Other versions, like latte or caramel macchiato, vary in size.

For example, Starbucks caramel macchiato is typically served in a "grande," or 16-ounce glass.

If you're expecting something like a latte or caramel macchiato at a specialty store, they'll likely suggest 12 ounces, about the size of a regular latte.

Again, it depends on where you are going and what you are looking for.


Unless otherwise stated, all macchiatos are served with a double espresso.

Depending on where you order your coffee from, they may offer more than one type of espresso. In this case, ask your barista which espresso, in his opinion, goes best with your chosen milk.

A light and fruity espresso can clash with whole milk or oat milk. But a nicely balanced espresso blend can add sweetness and depth. Your barista will know better.

If you're making a macchiato at home, try a medium roast from your favorite coffee company with "espresso" in the bean title. Espresso blends give you room to experiment and define your recipe.

What is a macchiato? It's probably not what you think - LITTLE CREAM (4)

These beans are roasted specifically for espresso and typically have a broader range of flavors in which they taste delicious.

Next time you stop by your favorite coffee shop, when in doubt, ask the barista what coffee they would recommend.


Since almost no milk is added and no sweeteners are used, macchiatos are just as sweet as espresso or milk.

I find that a classic whole milk macchiato has the perfect natural sweetness.

A latte macchiato contains so much milk that the flavor of the espresso is much more subtle. Again, the degree of sweetness varies depending on the espresso or barista used. is commonAdd sweetenerfor milk coffee, such as caramel or vanilla, is not a requirement.

A caramel macchiato is all about the caramel. This drink is intentionally sweet. The Starbucks recipe not only mixes caramel into the drink, but covers the entire drink in a heavy drizzle.


A traditional macchiato is made with whole milk, which is great if you don't have any dietary restrictions. Because it has the highest fat content of any milk, it has an excellent creamy texture.

That being said, there are so many great alternatives on the market. With such a small amount of milk in a traditional macchiato, you can choose your favorite milk for a latte or cappuccino.

For one of the milkier macchiato variations, choose the milk you want to drink 10 ounces or more. If there's one thing I've learned from years behind the bar, it's that everyone believes their personal choice of milk or milk alternative is best.


Most cafes serve macchiatos with a double shot of espresso as standard. You shouldn't see much difference in caffeine content between stores.

Check the menu to see if the different drink sizes contain more or less espresso shots if you're sensitive to caffeine. While the amount of caffeine varies, most experts agree that the average 1-ounce espresso contains around 65 mg of caffeine.


A traditional macchiato is so small that it equals ten calories.

And the calorie intake of a latte macchiato varies depending on the milk choice.

But a caramel macchiato? That's where you get calories. A caramel macchiato has more calories because caramel syrup or flavoring has been added to it. Starbucks says it's about 250 calories if you order it with 2% milk.

Many of the large coffee chains have resident scientists on their staff. That means it's not uncommon to find helpful, calculated calorie counts on the menu.

Most corner coffee shops and specialty stores aren't that fastidious when it comes to nutritional statistics. They are there to make delicious coffee regardless of calorie intake.

How to make a macchiato

Step 1: Prepare your espresso

Record espresso to your desired specifications. Here's a helpful web storyGuide to espresso preparationthe right direction.

Prepare the milk while your espresso shots are being prepared.

Fill a small milk jug with about 4 to 6 ounces of milk. You need more milk than you want to use to heat the milk without burning it.

Step 2: Steam the milk

Wipe your steam wand with a damp cloth to remove any residual liquid on the wand if you don't have an espresso machine.milk frotherit will do very well.

What is a macchiato? It's probably not what you think - LITTLE CREAM (5)

Submerge your steam wand and gently aerate the milk until the milk has stretched ¼ inch.

The entire process of boiling frothed milk should take no more than 45 seconds. Four ounces of milk heats up quickly! Aim for 140-150F.

Swirl the milk in the jug to mix the creamy froth with the moister milk and remove any large bubbles.

Gently touch your espresso shots by pouring the creamy, slightly frothed milk over the espresso until your cup or double cup is full. Leverage!

frequently asked questions

Do you need an espresso machine to prepare a macchiato?

Yes, if you don't have an espresso machine at home, I recommend leaving the macchiatos to the baristas. The components of a macchiato don't double well with filter coffee or other forms of coffee.

Of course there are alternatives.

One way to brew espresso-style coffee at home is to use an Aeropress, following this award-winning barista's instructions.revenue.

Steam a few ounces of milk or cream on the stovetop and add it to your homemade espresso. Voila, a DIY macchiato.

Is a macchiato stronger than a brewed coffee?

Taste yes. It depends on the caffeine content.

Different types of coffee are brewed in specific proportions that affect the "strength" of a particular coffee.

Because espresso is so concentrated (only a few grams of water go through more than 22 grams of ground coffee), expect a caffeine boost.

A typical cup of Drip contains 70 to 140 milligrams of caffeine, while a double espresso averages 125 mg. Again, this depends on the coffee and how much espresso you grind for each shot.

What is the difference between aLatte and a macchiato?

Both drinks are prepared with frothed milk and espresso. A macchiato is traditionally served with very little milk. Only 1-2 ounces.

On the other hand, most lattes are served with about 10 or more ounces of milk on top of the double espresso.

Caramel milk macchiatos use more milk than a traditional macchiato. In fact, they're more like a latte than traditional macchiatos.

The language of coffee is changing rapidly as cafes and baristas continue to experiment and invent new ways of drinking coffee. When in doubt, please describe to your barista what you are looking for and they will point you in the right direction.

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