What’s Macchiato and How to Make It: A Coffee Lover’s Guide

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Have you ever found yourself staring at a coffee menu, perplexed by the term “Macchiato”? What is a Macchiato, and how is it made? You’ve stumbled upon the right guide to answer these questions!

A Macchiato is a fascinating coffee concoction that beautifully balances the robustness of espresso with a dash of creamy milk. Intrigued to learn more and maybe even create one yourself? This guide is just what you need.

Being a coffee lover and home brewing enthusiast, I’ve spent years exploring varied coffee blends and brewing methods.

My advice springs from my passion and personal journey with coffee.

You’ll discover the art of crafting this delightful coffee beverage, and before you know it, you’ll be brewing a Macchiato like a pro! So, gear up for a fantastic coffee journey that promises to be as enriching as it is exciting. Let’s dive right in!

Origin of Macchiato

Imagine stepping into an Italian café. The chatter of patrons, the clinking of cups, the whir of espresso machines, and that delicious coffee aroma permeating the air — it’s a symphony for the senses. The humble macchiato was born right here amidst the hustle and bustle.

In Italian, “macchiato” means “stained” or “spotted.” The moniker perfectly encapsulates the essence of the drink: an espresso shot “stained” or “marked” with a dash of milk. 

Born out of the need to distinguish between black coffee and coffee with a splash of milk, the term caught on, and the drink itself began popping up in cafés around the globe.

What’s a Macchiato?

In its traditional form, a macchiato is a shot of espresso with a spot of steamed milk. The role of the milk here is not to steal the show but to offer a soothing contrast to the intense espresso.

 It’s like a flavor bridge that harmonizes coffee’s strong, bold notes with a touch of creaminess. If you’re picturing a latte or a cappuccino, put the brakes on! While they’re all in the coffee family, a macchiato is distinct for its stronger coffee flavor.

Variation of Macchiato

The macchiato isn’t just one type of drink. Over the years, it’s inspired several variations. Each one puts a different spin on the classic espresso-and-milk combo, giving you lots of options to find your perfect cup of coffee. Let’s take a closer look:

Espresso Macchiato: This is the traditional, no-frills macchiato. It’s a shot of espresso with just a little froth from steamed milk on top. It’s bold and robust, with the milk adding just a touch of creaminess.

Latte Macchiato: This one flips things around. It’s mostly steamed milk with a shot of espresso added in. So you get a creamier, milkier coffee that’s lighter on the coffee flavor. If you’re not a fan of strong coffee, this one’s for you.

Caramel Macchiato: Say hello to a dessert in a cup! This sweet treat, made popular by Starbucks, starts with vanilla-flavored steamed milk. An espresso shot is added, and a drizzle of caramel tops it all off. It’s a great pick if you’ve got a sweet tooth.

Long Macchiato: Preferred by some Aussie coffee lovers, the Long Macchiato takes things up a notch with two shots of espresso ‘stained’ with a little milk or froth. It’s a stronger, bolder coffee experience.

So, there you have it! The macchiato comes in many forms, each one offering a different taste experience. Whether you like your coffee strong or mild, creamy or sweet, there’s a macchiato out there with your name on it. Enjoy exploring and finding your favorite!

Difference Between a Macchiato, Latte, and Cappucino

Understanding Macchiato, Cappuccino, and Latte: It’s All About Ratios!

Navigating through the multitude of coffee drinks can feel like a puzzle sometimes. If you’re unsure about the difference between a Macchiato, Cappuccino, and a Latte, don’t fret – it’s all about understanding the ratios of espresso, milk, and foam. Let’s dive right in.

Macchiato vs Cappuccino

Starting with the Macchiato this drink is the ‘purist’ of the coffee world. If we were to put it in ratios, it would be  95:5, espresso to milk (95% coffee, 5% milk).

A Macchiato allows you to enjoy the bold flavor of espresso, mellowed slightly by a dash of milk.

In contrast, the Cappuccino is a harmonious blend of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. The ratio here is 1:1:1. The bold espresso forms the base, the steamed milk lends a creamy texture, and the layer of froth on top adds a touch of lightness.

A Cappuccino offers a balanced coffee experience that’s both bold and creamy.

Macchiato vs Latte

When comparing a Macchiato to a Latte, the first thing to note is their difference in milk content. While a Macchiato has just a splash of milk, a Latte is a blend of espresso and steamed milk with a small layer of foam on top. 

If you like numbers, the ratio is roughly 1:6:1, espresso to milk to foam. This results in a creamy, comforting coffee where the espresso flavor is softly complemented by the milk, making it a favorite for those who enjoy milder coffee.

So, to sum up: a Macchiato offers a strong espresso flavor with just a hint of milk (95:5), a Cappuccino presents a harmonious balance of espresso, milk, and foam (1:1:1), while a Latte delivers a smooth, milky coffee with a touch of espresso and foam (1:6:1).

Macchiato recipe

2 oz espresso

1 oz Steamed milk


  1. Pack 18-20 grams of ground coffee into the portafilter of an espresso machine.
  1. Start the extraction process to make a double shot of espresso (approximately 60ml). This should take about 20-30 seconds.
  1. While your espresso is extracting, heat your milk until it’s hot but not boiling, and froth it until it has a creamy texture with fine bubbles.
  1. Pour the freshly extracted espresso into your cup.
  1. Add a dollop (about 2 tablespoons) of the frothed milk to the center of the espresso.

And there you have it, a classic Macchiato! The bold espresso flavor should dominate, complemented by a small touch of creamy milk. Enjoy your homemade Macchiato!

Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Macchiato

Fresh is Best: Always use fresh coffee beans and grind them just before brewing. This ensures that the natural oils and flavors in the coffee are preserved, leading to a more flavorful and aromatic espresso shot.

Master the Art of Steaming Milk: To achieve the ‘stain’ of milk on your macchiato, you need to perfect the art of steaming milk. This not only heats the milk but also introduces tiny air bubbles, creating a creamy texture that complements the bold espresso. Remember to use a steam wand and a frothing pitcher for the best results.

Serve Immediately: Coffee tastes its best when it’s fresh, especially for a macchiato. The contrast between the warm milk ‘stain’ and the strong, hot espresso is part of the drink’s appeal. Serve your macchiato immediately after preparing to fully appreciate this harmonious blend.

How to Order Macchiato

Ordering a macchiato can sometimes feel daunting due to the different variations available. However, by following these steps, you’ll be sipping on your perfect cup in no time:

Know Your Preference: First, understand what type of macchiato you prefer. Do you want a traditional Italian macchiato with a ‘stain’ of milk, or do you enjoy the creamier, sweeter versions like a Latte Macchiato or a Caramel Macchiato? Knowing your preference is the first step to a satisfying coffee experience.

Ask the Barista: Different cafes and coffee chains might have different interpretations of a macchiato. Always ask your barista about the composition of their macchiato to ensure it aligns with your expectations. Some cafes might serve a traditional Italian-style macchiato, while others might lean towards the milkier, flavored versions.

Specify the Size: Some places offer macchiatos in various sizes. If you’re ordering a traditional macchiato, it’s typically served in small sizes due to the high concentration of espresso. However, larger sizes might be available for the milkier variations.

Choose Your Espresso: Depending on the café, you may be able to choose the type of espresso for your macchiato. Single-origin or blend? Dark or light roast? Each type of espresso brings different flavor profiles to your macchiato, so select according to your preference.

Add Extras If Desired: Do you want an extra shot of espresso for a stronger flavor? Or maybe a dash of flavored syrup like caramel or vanilla? Some people also like a dusting of cocoa or cinnamon on top. Make sure to communicate any extras you want in your macchiato.

Clarify Your Order: Before finalizing your order, it’s always a good idea to repeat it back to the barista. This ensures that they have understood your request accurately and will prepare your macchiato just the way you want it.

Who is Macchiato Best For

Ah, the macchiato, a true gem in the world of coffee. But who exactly is it best suited for? Let’s break it down and explore the different variants to find your perfect match.

Classic Macchiato: Ideal for those who love strong espresso flavors. If you enjoy the bold kick of a well-crafted espresso shot with just a touch of creaminess, the classic macchiato is for you.

 It strikes a perfect balance between strength and creaminess, letting the espresso shine through.

Latte Macchiato: Perfect for those who prefer a milkier and smoother coffee experience. If you like your coffee to be comforting and creamy, the Latte Macchiato is a great choice.

 It features layers of steamed milk and espresso, creating a visually appealing drink with a mellow and soothing taste.

Caramel Macchiato: A treat for those with a sweet tooth. The Caramel Macchiato is the answer if you crave a touch of decadence in your coffee. 

It adds a rich caramel syrup to the Latte Macchiato, giving you a sweet and indulgent flavor experience.

Choosing the wrong macchiato variant might leave you unsatisfied. For example, if you love strong espresso, going for a Latte or Caramel Macchiato might result in a milder and sweeter taste that doesn’t meet your expectations. 

On the other hand, if you prefer creamy and sweet coffee, the classic macchiato might not deliver the indulgence you desire.

The solution is understanding your preferences. Do you enjoy bold espresso or a smoother, milkier profile? Experiment with different macchiato variations to find your perfect cup.


Summing up our deep dive into the world of coffee, we’ve journeyed from Italy to your kitchen, exploring the bold, pure essence of the Macchiato. 

We’ve discovered its unique character compared to other popular coffee drinks, learned how to make one at home, and even picked up a few barista secrets along the way. 

Armed with all this knowledge, your coffee adventure awaits. Happy brewing! 


A Macchiato is a coffee drink made with a shot of espresso "marked" with a spoonful of frothy milk, balancing robust flavors with a touch of creamy sweetness.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • 2 oz espresso
  • 1/2 cup whole milk


  • Pack 18 grams of dark ground coffee into the portafilter, level, tamp, and lock the portafilter in the machine.
  • Start the extraction process to make a double shot of espresso (approximately 60ml). This should take about 20-30 seconds.
  • Heat your milk until it's hot but not boiling, and froth it until it has a creamy texture with fine bubbles.
  • Pour the freshly extracted espresso into your cup.
  • Add a dollop (about 2 tablespoons) of the frothed milk to the center of the espresso.
  • Enjoy your homemade Macchiato!
Keyword macchiato
Photo of author


Viky Tiagué is a coffee enthusiast and freelance writer with a passion for sharing his love of coffee.

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