A Macchiato is a coffee beverage that originated in Italy in the 1980s. This was a solution for baristas looking to distinguish between plain espresso and espresso with a small amount of milk. Macchiato directly translated means “stained” or “marked”. The macchiato has traveled across the globe, assuming diverse forms and names, reflecting the unique coffee cultures in different regions.¹
Among beverages crafted with espresso and milk, the macchiato boasts the highest espresso-to-milk ratio. The purpose behind this ratio is to have the milk act as a gentle enhancer rather than a dominant flavour, subtly sweetening the coffee. The preparation of this drink involves carefully pouring a small quantity of micro foamed milk directly into a single shot of espresso.²
The Macchiato can be found in two forms:
The basic espresso macchiato is made with a shot of espresso that has been “stained” with 1-2 teaspoons of milk. The espresso takes center stage, with the milk serving as a supporting ingredient, increasing the coffee’s flavour while still allowing it to shine.³
How to make it:
- Begin with a shot of espresso and a subtle touch of warm milk. It’s not a strict 1:1 ratio; typically, there’s less milk compared to the amount of espresso.
- To elevate the macchiato experience, take a double shot of espresso and pour it into a cup. Take about half a cup of milk and heat it while frothing to create silky micro foam. Carefully scoop the foam with a spoon and place it on top of the espresso in the cup.
2- Latte Macchiato
This provides a sweeter, richer espresso experience. A shot or half a shot of espresso is mixed into a base of steamed milk, which is then topped with a layer of microfoam. Unlike the espresso macchiato, which is normally served in a short glass, the latte is served in a tall glass.³
How to make it:
- Begin with a shot of espresso, or even just half a shot (latte macchiatos often use less coffee). Heat and froth approximately ¾ cup of milk. Pour the microfoam into the tall glass and gently introduce the espresso. Pouring the espresso into the center of the glass will enhance its visual appearance.
Cappuccino vs Latte vs Macchiato
A latte consists of a single shot of espresso topped with a generous amount of micro foamed milk. It often has an espresso-to-milk ratio ranging from 1:6 to 1:8, resulting in a coffee flavour that is on the milder side. This beverage is well-known for its creamy and velvety texture, which adds a pronounced sweetness when contrasted to other beverages such as cappuccinos and macchiatos.
A cappuccino is made up of equal parts espresso, heated milk, and milk foam. It has a higher espresso-to-milk ratio than a latte and thus a more powerful coffee flavour. It establishes a beautiful balance between the flavours of coffee and milk without being overbearing. The frothy coating of milk foam on top of the beverage gives a lighter texture but also a distinct visual appeal.⁴
The macchiato has traveled globally, adopting diverse variations and names depending on its geographical location. A traditional Italian macchiato primarily comprises espresso with just a hint of milk. Across different regions, variations of the macchiato have emerged.
In Australia serve the ‘Long Macchiato,’ which includes two shots of espresso with a small amount of milk. In Portugal, known as a ‘Café Pintado,’ tends to feature more milk than espresso. In Spain, the ‘Cortado’ stands out with an equal balance of milk and espresso. Each locale has added its unique twist to the drink while preserving the fundamental essence of the macchiato.
- Dayvin.m.2022. The History of: Macchiato. Available at: https://scribe.usc.edu/the-history-of-macchiato/. Date Accessed: September 4th,2023
- Wikipedia. Caffè macchiato. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caff%C3%A8_macchiato#:~:text=7%20Sources-,History,meaning%20coffee%20with%20a%20drop Date Accessed: September 5th 2023.
- Tony. B. Latte vs. Cappuccino vs. Macchiato vs. Frappuccino: Ultimate Coffee Guide. Available at :https://majestycoffee.com/blogs/posts/latte-vs-cappuccino-vs-macchiato-vs-frappuccino#:~:text=A%20cappuccino%20has%20a%20more,compared%20to%20lattes%20and%20cappuccinos Date Accessed September 5th, 2023.
- Nescafe. What is a Macchiato? Available at: https://www.nescafe.com/in/coffee-types/what-is-a-macchiato#:~:text=In%20Italian%2C%20the%20term%20%22macchiato,espresso%20to%20still%20shine%20through. Date Accessed: September 5th, 2023