What Is Macchiato Coffee? Here’s All You Should Know

Coffee shop menus are known for their confusing array of choices. One minute you’re trying to decide between a pumpkin spice latte and a cold brew, and the next, you’re wondering what on earth a macchiato is. If you’ve ever found yourself in this latter predicament, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Macchiatos can be confusing, even for seasoned coffee drinkers.

So what exactly is a macchiato? To put it simply, a macchiato is an espresso with a small amount of milk. But is there more to it than that?

Let’s take a closer look.

What is Macchiato Coffee: At its Most Basic

 At its Most Basic

A macchiato is a coffee drink that consists of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk. The milk is poured on top of the espresso, which results in a “stained” or “marked” coffee. The Italian word “macchiato” means “stained” or “marked,” thus the name of the drink.

Macchiatos are a popular coffee drink in Europe and are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. They are an excellent choice for those who want a classic espresso but with a robust flavor and a bit of creaminess from the milk.

Depending on the cafe you visit, you may see a series of different macchiato drinks on the menu. There is the classic macchiato (caffè macchiato or espresso macchiato), the caffè latte macchiato, the flat white macchiato, caramel macchiato, and even the iced macchiato.

How its Made

A traditional macchiato is made with whole milk, but you can also find variations made with skim milk or even non-dairy milk alternatives. Macchiatos can be made with any type of milk – whole, skim, almond, soy, etc. They can also be sweetened or flavored with syrups or spices if desired.

The ratio of espresso to milk in a macchiato can vary, but it is generally a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. This means that for every one ounce (30 ml) of espresso, there is either one ounce (30 ml) or two ounces (60 ml) of milk.

The Origin of Macchiato Coffee

While the macchiato might be a relatively new drink in the United States, it actually has a long and storied history. Macchiato was born out of the need for a differentiator between coffee with milk and classic espresso.

In Italy, coffee with milk was always espresso con latte, while straight espresso was called simply caffè. However, as caffè macchiato became more popular, the need for a name that distinguished it from caffè latte grew.

Baristas wanted a way to indicate to the waiting staff which coffee drinks had milk and which did not. They began using a spot of milk to “mark” the espressos that were going to be served with milk. This is how the macchiato got its name and its signature spot of milk.

Over the years, the macchiato has evolved from a coffee with a splash of milk to the drink we know and love today. Nowadays, a true caffè macchiato will be made with whole milk and served in a small glass or cup.

American Macchiato vs Italian Macchiato

American Macchiato vs Italian Macchiato

The macchiato served at Starbucks is very different from the traditional Italian macchiato. While the Italian version is a small espresso with a splash of milk, the Americanized version is more akin to a latte with a shot of espresso.

A Starbucks macchiato is an iced, triple shot espresso with milk and caramel syrup. It is then “marked” by a few foam drops and a drizzle of caramel on top. This drink is very sweet and rich and bears little resemblance to its Italian counterpart.

As you can see, this drink is quite different from the classic Italian macchiato, which would be smaller with just one to two shots of espresso, served hot, unlike the iced Starbucks version, and without any added foam.

So, what’s the difference between these two drinks? Quite simply, it all comes down to preference. If you’re looking for a sweet, rich, and creamy drink, then the American macchiato is probably more up your alley. However, if you prefer a strong and bold espresso with just a touch of milk, then the classic Italian macchiato is the way to go.

No matter which macchiato you choose, you’re sure to enjoy this delicious coffee drink!

Types of Macchiat

As we mentioned, there are many different types of macchiato drinks out there. While the classic macchiato is still the most popular, there are now iced, flavored, and even vegan versions of this delicious drink.

Iced Macchiato

One of the most popular variations of the macchiato is the iced macchiato. This drink is perfect for those hot summer days when you need a refreshing and energizing coffee.

An iced macchiato usually consists of espresso, milk, ice, and sometimes flavorings like vanilla or caramel. To make this drink, simply combine all of the ingredients in a glass and stir until everything is combined.

Mocha Macchiato

Also known as the Starbucks mocha macchiato, this drink is a delicious variation of the classic macchiato. A mocha macchiato is made with espresso, milk, chocolate syrup, and sometimes whipped cream.

Unlike traditional macchiatos, mocha macchiatos are served cold or iced and have a sweeter, chocolatey flavor. While the traditional caffe macchiato consists of one shot of espresso and a small amount of milk, the mocha macchiato contains two shots of espresso and more milk.

Creme Brulee Macchiato

Creme brulee is pretty much a staple in the coffee world at this point. This delicious and rich dessert has found its way into all sorts of coffee drinks, including macchiato.

A creme brulee macchiato is made with espresso, milk, vanilla syrup, and caramel sauce. It is then topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of brown sugar. This drink is sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious!

Vegan Macchiato

With the rise in popularity of plant-based diets, it’s no surprise that there are now vegan versions of popular coffee drinks like the macchiato.

A vegan macchiato is made with espresso or cold brew coffee, almond milk, and vanilla syrup. It is then topped with almond milk foam and a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce. In terms of similarity to the traditional macchiato, vegan versions are usually lighter and less sweet.

How To Make a Macchiato at Home In 5 Simple Steps

While macchiato is known to be an afternoon coffee drink, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy it in the morning! If you want to make a macchiato at home, you’re in luck because it’s relatively easy to do and does not require any fancy equipment.

One of the great things about making coffee at home is that you can tailor it to your specific preferences. If you like your macchiato on the sweeter side, simply add more syrup. If you prefer a stronger drink, add an extra shot of espresso. The possibilities are endless!

The main equipment you’ll need to make a macchiato at home is a Moka pot. If you don’t have one, you can also use an espresso machine or a French press.

Here’s how to make a macchiato at home in 5 simple steps:

Gather your supplies

In addition to your coffee maker of choice, you’ll need coffee beans, milk, a grinder, and a spoon. You can even use a scale if you’re a perfectionist and want to ensure you have the perfect ratio of coffee to water.

Grind your coffee beans

The grind size for a macchiato is typically a little finer than what you would use for drip coffee. Aim for a consistency that is somewhere between sea salt and table sugar.

Boil water and add it to your coffee maker

If you’re using a Moka pot, add the appropriate amount of water to the bottom chamber. If you’re using an espresso machine, fill the water reservoir.

Once the espresso or coffee is done brewing, add milk to the mix 

While most high street coffee shops serve their macchiatos with a frothy top and stenciled patterns, a traditional macchiato doesn’t usually have any milk foam. If you want a foamy drink, simply use a little less milk.

Add syrup or sweetener to taste and enjoy

You can use any type of syrup or sweetener you like. Popular choices include vanilla, caramel, and chocolate. You can also add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg for a little extra flavor.

Who Should Drink Macchiato Coffee?


Macchiato coffee is perfect for those who want a delicious and rich coffee drink but don’t want all the sweetness that comes with something like a mocha.

This coffee drink is also great for those who want a little more caffeine than what they would get from a regular cup of coffee. The espresso shot in a macchiato packs a real punch and will give you the energy you need to power through your day.

Macchiato coffee is a great choice for those who want to enjoy all the best that coffee has to offer. It is rich, flavorful, and has just the right amount of sweetness.

Keep in mind that if you’re visiting Italy, the home of macchiato coffee, the time of day you drink your coffee is just as important as the type of coffee you order. Italians typically avoid drinking coffee after noon, so you might want to get your dose in the morning if you’re looking to blend in!

Who Shouldn’t Drink Macchiato Coffee?

While macchiato coffee is an excellent choice for many people, there are some who should avoid it.

Pregnant women should avoid drinking macchiato coffee due to its high caffeine content. The same goes for those who are breastfeeding. Caffeine can pass through breast milk and can cause sleeplessness in babies.

Those with heart conditions should also avoid drinking macchiato coffee. The caffeine in this drink can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. If you have any type of heart condition, it’s best to steer clear of this coffee drink.

In general, it’s best to consume coffee in moderation. While a cup or two a day is perfectly fine, drinking too much coffee can lead to side effects like nervousness, anxiety, and heartburn. If you notice these side effects after drinking macchiato coffee, it’s best to cut back on your intake.

Ordering a Macchiato Like a Pro

How you place your order can make all the difference when it comes to getting a great macchiato. The satisfaction of taking that first sip of a well-made coffee is second to none, but sometimes our orders don’t quite turn out the way we want them to.

The sheer scale of choice when ordering coffee can be daunting, but don’t worry – we’re here to help. After reading this section, you’ll be ordering like a pro in no time.

As we mentioned earlier, macchiato doesn’t come in a single size or style. This coffee drink can be made with different types of milk, syrups, and espresso. As a result, your personal preferences will play a big role in how you place your order.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • If you’re a conservative drinker and want a macchiato that reminds you of a regular cup of coffee from a Milan or Rome café, your best bet is to ask for a caffè macchiato. This coffee drink is made with a single shot of espresso and a small amount of milk.
  • If you’re open to new experiences and want to try something a little different, ask for a latte macchiato or any other specific type of macchiato that catches your eye. These coffee drinks are made with more milk and often include flavorings like chocolate or caramel.
  • Finally, make sure to specify any allergies or dietary restrictions. For example, if you’re lactose intolerant, you’ll want to ask for a latte macchiato senza latte.

Wrapping Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about macchiato coffee. This delicious coffee drink has a rich history and can be made in various ways. Whether you like your coffee black or with a touch of milk, there’s a macchiato out there for you.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a cup of macchiato coffee and enjoy!

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Jeff Stone
Jeff is a coffee aficionado. He loves a couple cups of joe first thing in the morning. He like trying out new grounds and gear and then writes about it here. When he is not sipping java, he is usually writing it for his clients as a software engineer.

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