You walk into a coffee shop with a book—or Kindle—ready to relax, do some reading and order a coffee. While waiting in line, you see written on the menu, the names of all the different espresso based drinks you can order— and you read about something call a Macchiato and you wonder what it is,
What is a Macchiato ? A Macchiato is an espresso with dash of steamed milk. When the milk is added to the dark colored espresso, it makes a “stain” or “mark” from which it gets it name.
The small amount of milk added is enough to brighten the dark color of the coffee. If you prefer a little creaminess in your coffee, then a macchiato is the perfect alternative to the normal espresso.
How is that different from all the other coffee drinks you see on the menu? Instead of potentially ruining your morning by closing your eyes, pointing, and ordering, or just defaulting to the same thing you order every time, let me see if I can help you out in this article with the Macchiato and why it should be on your list of coffee drinks to order.
Even though you might not be a macchiato connoisseur… yet, reading this article about it can definitely help you learn a bit more about this coffee drink that almost always see on a typical cafe menu.
History of a Macchiato
Although it may seem obvious, the macchiato is believed to have been invented out of the need to be able to tell the difference between a coffee with just a touch of milk and the classic espresso.
This was mainly done by the baristas in Italy who wanted to teach there staff when training them, which coffee was an espresso and which coffee had milk. They differentiated it by using only a “spot” of milk.
Over the years, the macchiato that was created in Italy, has been changing , some even say evolving. This is due to coffee shops diversifying their product range and spicing up their menus by adding a dash of cinnamon here, a scoop of chocolate there, and so on.
A latte macchiato, for example, has evolved from the Macchiato. It has larger amounts of hot milk and can also have syrups such as caramel added to them.
The Popularity of Macchiato
Although the macchiato is originally from Italy, it is now available almost all over the world, thanks to the large amount of coffee shops, both chains and independent cafe’s alike, that help promote this now, popular coffee drink. Depending on where in the world and what you order, there are slightly different varieties on how this drink is made.
For example, It is common to order a long macchiato in Australia, which is a double shot of espresso and a splash of milk served in a tall glass.
That said, a traditional macchiato, that most coffee shops serve in the Canada, the US, and European countries are what I have described above, although some coffee shops offer the “exotic” version such as caramel macchiatos and latte macchiatos in addition to the “standard”.
Macchiato Brewing Basics
When it comes to making a Macchiato, its a simple and straightforward process where the main difference is in the details.
Getting the ratios right is the key to making the perfect macchiato. The name itself gives you a clue on how it should be made: a splash of milk added to a pure espresso. Be careful not to add too much milk, or you will be making something more or less like a cappuccino or a latte.
The goal of making a macchiato is to preserve the strong flavor of the espresso while adding a small taste of sweetness with a splash of milk. As such, one shot of espresso is poured into an espresso cup and then a small amount of hot milk is added. Most coffee shops will use carefully created micro-foam while others will add a thin layer of foam.
How to Make Espresso Macchiato at Home
If you always start your mornings with a macchiato, the good news is that the recipe for making it is really simple. You first need to make an espresso. You do not need to have a fancy coffee machine to make one similar to the one you see at your local coffee shop on your way to work.
One of the most common way of making espresso, if you don’t have a espresso coffee machine, is using a Moka pot (look at my post that includes how to use a Moka pot for more information). The Moka pot is a small silver kettle-like kitchen appliance that makes the good flavored and smooth coffee.
- You will need fresh roasted coffee beans, a spoon and a grinder for you to use a Moka pot to make a macchiato. You can use a scale to weigh the coffee beans in order to get it right.
- When the coffee beans are finely ground, add them to the Moka pot with water. Place the pot on the stove.
- When the espresso is ready, the next step of making a macchiato is the preparation and addition of milk. Make sure that your coffee has a thin layer of milk and not a heavy and chunky white layer.
- Using a milk frother, ( you can find one on Amazon) gently add froth to the milk and then pour it into the espresso.
In recent years, coffee has been served in glasses but most people choose an espresso cup or demitasse to drink their Macchiato. Choose whichever is comfortable for you.
It only takes 5 minutes to make a caramel macchiato at home. You will just need 5oz of milk, 1 tablespoon of vanilla syrup, 1 shot of espresso and caramel sauce.
To begin, warm the coffee mug and add the tablespoon of vanilla syrup. Then add hot milk and milk foam into the cup and pour one shot of espresso that you maybe made with the Moka Pot. Drizzle caramel sauce on top and it’s ready to drink!
Espresso Macchiato Vs Latte Macchiato
Is simply made by staining the espresso with a tiny splash of milk. In this case, the espresso is slightly moderated by the spot of milk. It is prepared by first putting a shot of espresso in a glass or demitasse cup, then adding a small amount of steamed milk and pouring a bit of foam on top.
This, on the other hand, is made by staining steamed milk with a shot of espresso. The main difference between a latte and latte macchiato is that the latte macchiato has less espresso, more milk and a top layer of foam.
It is also mostly served in a glass in order for you to see the layering. One tip for making a latte macchiato is by pouring the espresso slowly into the steamed milk so you get that infamous “espresso dot”.
Ordering a Macchiato
Heading into a modern restaurant or coffee shop can be a bit stressful when it comes to ordering because of the number of options available on the menu (and the general hustle and bustle of the place).
- Have a sweet tooth? Ask for your latte macchiato to be flavored with a dash of caramel.
- If you are watching your weight or have an allergy, you can always re-work your order to look at other milk options such as substituting low-fat milk for whole or ordering dairy-free milk such as Almond or Soy.
- If it is one of those days, add a bit of extra power to your macchiato by ordering an extra shot!
Is a Espresso Macchiato for You?
Short answer; Who Knows? As everyone is different, but in order to find out and broaden your coffee horizons, you should at least give it a try and see what all the talk is about.
I think it is always worth trying out new coffee drink especially if you don’t really know the type of coffee drink you want that day and you are looking for something different so , give it a try!
But of course, before you get to that point, I think its helpful to have a basic understanding of what you are getting yourself into when ordering or making this so lets talk basics:
Espresso or Cappuccino is often mentioned in the same sentence with a macchiato. However, a macchiato is just espresso with a tiny amount of milk. The milk creates a different flavor to that of espresso and the small amount of milk makes the macchiato taste different to a cappuccino.
It is traditional to start your day with a strong coffee in Italy. However, Italians do not order anything that has cream past midday. So if you ever visit Italy, you should enjoy your glass of macchiato before noon.
If you do not like the strength of rich and acidic espresso or the creaminess and sweetness of a cappuccino, a macchiato is a suitable choice for you.
On a milk scale, a macchiato is in between an espresso and a cappuccino—it gives you a taste of the two worlds. This could be the coffee for you if you don’t fancy an espresso but enjoy a strong coffee.
In recent years, baristas have spiced up the traditional products and added flavored syrup in order to satisfy the classics. You may want to try out a flavored macchiato, for example, with caramel or cinnamon. It is entirely up to you to try new things.
In order to know the different options of coffee available out there, you definitely don’t need to be a full-on lover of coffee.
Hopefully, this article has given you information that you didn’ t know before about the origin of the macchiato, how you can make it at home and also how to order it from your favorite coffee shop. Give it a try, you never know it may become your new coffee drink of choice!