What Is A Macchiato Coffee: (Coffee Expert Explains)

The macchiato originated as a way of sneaking espresso in the afternoon as cappuccino is the primary espresso-based drink for morning pick-me-ups. The macchiato gives coffee fans a happy medium between espresso and cappuccino, as it’s not as punchy as espresso, yet it’s stronger than a regular cappuccino.

There are two types of macchiato: an espresso macchiato, which you prepare by pulling one shot of espresso and adding one to two teaspoons of steamed milk topped with a dash of foam. The other is a latte macchiato, which is slightly more complicated but it involves adding a shot of espresso to steamed milk.

Macchiato is not as well recognized as other coffee drinks, but it’s well worth trying. This article will discuss everything you need to know about what’s involved in preparing, serving, and making a macchiato.

Is A Macchiato Coffee Or Espresso?

Macchiato is a type of coffee drink made from espresso and topped with a little foam or steamed milk to enhance the espresso flavors.

In Italian, “macchiato” is translated to “marked” or “stained,” as the espresso is marked or stained with milk. The macchiato is ideal for individuals who find espresso too strong but a cappuccino too weak.

The origins of the macchiato are not clear-cut. Still, it is believed that the word macchiato was coined by baristas needing to show waiters the distinction between a regular shot of espresso and a shot with a dash of milk in it.

Since the addition of milk stains the latter, it was named macchiato to highlight the addition.

How Much Milk Is In A Macchiato?

As already discussed, there are just two types of macchiato: an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato. There is no definite amount of milk you need to add to espresso, but let’s observe two recipes to give you some insight into how much milk you must add to a shot of espresso to make a macchiato:

1. Espresso Macchiato

The espresso macchiato is called a café macchiato in Italy, and it is the original type of this drink. Unlike the latte macchiato, the espresso macchiato involves the milk staining the espresso.

This drink slightly moderates an espresso by adding a restrained splash of milk. Other espresso-based drinks put much of the emphasis on the milk, whereas this drink tips the scale furthest toward the shot of espresso.

The first step is to pull a shot of espresso, as usual. Then add about one to two teaspoons of steamed milk and a little foam on top. Espresso macchiatos are typically served in a ceramic or glass demitasse.

2. Latte Macchiato

More work is involved in making a latte macchiato. In this recipe, you will see that a shot of espresso marks the steamed milk.

This drink differs from a latte because it has less espresso more milk and is a layered beverage. Unlike an espresso macchiato, it emphasizes the milk, not the espresso.

The first step is to prewarm a large, 12-ounce glass before filling the glass with anywhere between one-third to half full of steamed milk.

Next, you must consider the speed at which you pour your espresso. Pour your shot of espresso slowly and carefully over the steamed milk.

Using the back of a spoon, you can diffuse and slow the pouring speed. However, most baristas pour the espresso into the center to create the quintessential dot or stain in the milk.

You should achieve a layered appearance to your latte macchiato if poured correctly. A clear gradient should be evident from the denser steamed milk at the bottom of your demitasse to the espresso, and lastly, to the foam layer on top.

Is Macchiato Sweet Or Bitter?

The traditional Italian macchiato is not supposed to be sweet. However, the sweetness largely depends on how the drink is made.

Traditional macchiatos don’t have syrups in them to be less sweet; however, certain coffee shop chains like Starbucks have transformed the traditional macchiato to make it a sweet and syrupy concoction.

Starbucks understands their customer base and adds sweeteners and syrups to their macchiatos because they know that’s what people like. However, if you stick to tradition, the macchiato only involves espresso and milk, not a sweet drink overall.

Are You Supposed To Mix A Macchiato?

Typically, it would be best to mix a macchiato, as it’s the layers that make the drink unique. The color gradient of white to dark brown is the perfect look of a macchiato. You should sip the layers in order so as not to ruin the drink’s design.

People often confuse macchiatos with lattes, but they are very different beverages, even with the same ingredients.

Macchiatos should be experienced; unlike a latte where the drink is blended, you should sip the foam first, then the milk, and then the delicious espresso on the bottom.

The latte macchiato is made in reverse order to the espresso macchiato, but the same rule applies. Consider the macchiato a coffee drink of many flavors to experience one at a time, not just one single flavor.

How Should You Drink A Macchiato?

As previously mentioned, you shouldn’t mix a macchiato; you should experience it as many individual drinks with multiple flavors rather than a blended drink with one flavor overall. However, if you wish to stir your macchiato, that is entirely your decision.

If you order a macchiato in a café, the finished drink should be lighter in color than espresso due to the addition of steamed milk. There should be a slight amount of foam on top.

Once you are served your macchiato, please don’t allow it to sit for too long, but rather, drink it immediately. However, savor the flavor of each layer.

Can I Drink A Macchiato At Night?

Most experts agree that you should avoid caffeine after 3 pm as caffeine can interfere with your sleep pattern up to six 9 pm, it’s better to avoid drinking coffee after 3 pm. Some experts even advise stopping consuming caffeine as early as 2 pm .

While consuming coffee in the evening isn’t ideal for those who wake up early, one study from Stanford university informs that there could be hope for night owls.

Their research concluded that drinking coffee in the evening only has adverse outcomes for those who wake up early. However, it doesn’t affect others who stay up late and sleep in.

You can, of course, drink a macchiato at any time you like; however, the macchiato is a middle-of-the-day beverage. It’s not as intense as espresso due to its milk content, and cappuccino is the preferred drink for the morning.

The macchiato originated to include espresso drinking in the afternoon, and it allows coffee lovers to enjoy a balance between espresso and cappuccino.

Can A Macchiato Be Hot Or Cold?

The traditional macchiato is always served hot. However, since Starbucks has reinvented the beverage, it can be served either hot or cold. Starbucks cold caramel macchiatos are especially popular in the summer.

If you would like to try the Starbucks Iced Macchiato for yourself, consider the following Iced Caramel Macchiato recipe, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make:


  • 2 shots of espresso
  • Half a cup of ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup of cold milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce


This method involves layering the ingredients in the Starbucks style. Firstly, put some vanilla syrup in the bottom of your cup before adding ice, filling half the cup. Next, carefully pour the milk over the ice, then add more ice until your cup is almost full.

Next, pour your two shots over the ice before drizzling caramel sauce over the top. Each layer should merge quickly, so swirl them all together and enjoy.

How Do You Make Macchiato Coffee At Home?

Making a traditional macchiato at home is not very difficult, although you need control over your pour method. The following recipe follows the original form of this drink, whereby the milk marks the espresso.

This macchiato calls to have espresso moderated by just a splash of milk. You would prepare this drink by first pulling a shot of espresso, then adding a touch of steamed milk and a drop of foam on top. Consider the following ingredients and methods:


  • 1 ounce of steamed milk
  • 2 ounces of espresso


Pull a shot of espresso using 16.5 grams of ground coffee, then steam the milk and stop when your pitcher feels warm. Add a touch, about half an ounce, of steamed milk to your shot to mark it with milk.

Final Thoughts

A macchiato coffee is an espresso marked with milk. We know the original is now called an espresso macchiato, but there is also a latte macchiato.

Both drinks differ in the way the layers go in reverse order. However, both drinks should be experienced the same way- tasting many flavors rather than one uniform blended flavor.

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