As if it wasn’t complicated enough trying to understand all of the different variants of coffee, Macchiato gets thrown into the pot as well just to mix it up a little bit more.
Macchiato is a double espresso with a dollop of foamed milk on top.
To get to the bottom of what macchiato is the first thing you need to understand is how to pronounce it properly. It’s got two c’s in it and an h which is enough to throw you because one of the c’s isn’t required in the pronunciation and the h is silent. It is pronounced ma-ki-ah-toe.
By the time you have read through this article you are going to want order one of the different versions of macchiato from a coffee shop or make one yourself so at least now you know how to say it properly.
You may already be familiar with a cappuccino, a latte and espresso but if not we have a couple of detailed articles explaining what they are and the difference between them all:
Why is it called a macchiato?
All variations of coffee produced using an espresso machine originate from the home of coffee, Italy and translated from Italian into English the word macchiato means “spotted”.
It is said that the drink was invented as a result of customers requesting a very small amount of milk with their espresso.
If a waiter had to deliver a number of drinks to a table that included espresso and espresso with a small amount of milk they would not easily be able to identify the difference between the two and so the barista would add a “spot” of foam to the espresso with a dash of milk so that the waiter could tell which was which and the macchiato or “spotted” espresso was born.
It’s kind of evolved now and if you order a macchiato in a coffee shop they will likely serve you up a double espresso with a spot or dollop of foamed milk on top.
If you leave it to settle for a few minutes the foam will start to mix in with the intensity of the espresso and will ever so slightly dilute the power of the espresso shot and take the edge off.
In truth, unless you are a coffee connoisseur then you are not going to taste much difference at all between a double espresso and a macchiato. The dollop of foam serves as more of a decoration to the blandness of the deep black espresso rather than a flavour changing ingredient.
Confusion can arise with what exactly a macchiato is because a common coffee drink is a “latte macchiato”
You have the word “latte” in there which is a drink all on its own, you have the word “macchiato” in there which is a drink all on its own and then they have thrown the two words together to create a “latte macchiato” which is another drink altogether.
Confused? Let’s explain.
The difference between a latte, a macchiato and a latte macchiato
1. A latte is a mostly milk-based drink that contains 4 parts milk to 1 part espresso. A double espresso should contain 60ml of coffee and when you add to that 240ml of milk you get a milk-based coffee drink.
2. An espresso macchiato is a double espresso with a small amount of milk foam added. That’s it.
3. A latte macchiato is when you add a double espresso to the heated milk and milk foam to create a beautiful present milk-based coffee drink.
So a latte macchiato is the same as an ordinary latte then? Well, kind of but it’s made differently.
With a latte, you add the coffee first and then the milk goes in second and you can top it up with a thin layer of foam to finish off the presentation.
With a latte macchiato you add the milk first and when you heat the milk you should do it in such a way as to create a little more foam which is important for the next stage. Here is how to froth milk properly.
Once you have heated and frothed your milk, pour the milk into a latte glass and make sure the foam goes on top of the milk.
You can pour it all into the glass in one go and the foam should naturally settle on top but we have found that you get better presentation if you put a spoon over the jug and pour in the milk first and then top it up with foam.
Then you pour a double espresso in through the top of the foam to create one of the most beautiful coffee drinks, a latte macchiato.
What you will end up with is a three layered drink, steamed milk on the bottom, double espresso in the middle and milk foam on the top.
Here is a short video showing the difference between an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato
Do you stir a latte macchiato?
A latte macchiato looks so amazing once it has been created you may wonder whether you should drink it as it is or whether it needs to be stirred first.
You definitely need to stir it first before you drink it because you need to blend the milk in with the coffee to get the coffee flavour you’re looking for.
If you don’t then you will just taste milk foam first (mixed in with a bit of espresso when you tilt the glass) followed by strong espresso and then just hot milk once you get through the espresso.
Lots of people will take sugar with a latte macchiato as well and if you don’t stir it then the sugar won’t mix with the coffee to sweeten it to your taste.
Once you have stirred your latte macchiato it morphs into a regular latte so in the end, once stirred they both become the same drink.
However, our preference is for a latte macchiato over a regular latte because it just looks so impressive once it’s made and that definitely contributes to the whole coffee drinking experience.
What is the best coffee machine for making macchiato?
Whatever type of macchiato you want to make there is one ingredient that you cannot do without and that is espresso.
To make a good espresso you are going to need an espresso machine.
A cafetière or a filter coffee machine produces a completely different type of coffee that is made by infusing water with coffee rather than forcing water through the ground coffee at high pressure to produce the unique, intense concentrated espresso coffee that is used to create macchiato and all other milk-based coffee drinks.
When you look at the monstrous espresso machines that you see in coffee shops, you could easily be fooled into thinking that you could never afford a coffee machine that replicates what they produce in Starbucks or Costa or Café Nero but you can pick one up for a lot less than you might think.
Here are some articles explaining the different options at different price levels and levels of convenience.
All of the espresso machines described in these articles will a produce different quality macchiato depending on how much time you are willing to spend crafting your drink and how much you are prepared to spend on the machine itself.
With a bean to cup coffee machine you get the ultimate in convenience with the machine grinding the fresh coffee beans for you and producing a double espresso at the touch of a button. These machines are super easy to use but they do cost from a couple of hundred pounds and upwards for a half decent one.
You don’t have to spend that kind of money if you are just starting out on making coffee at home and you can pick up a cheap espresso machine that will make a decent macchiato for less than £100.
Sage has a fantastic range of espresso machines that produce excellent coffee and are worth taking a look at if you want to invest a little more.
Nespresso coffee machines will also churn out a decent double espresso that you can turn into a macchiato and you don’t even need to get your hands dirty or ever even touch any ground coffee because its all tucked away in a nice little pod.
Whichever way you decide to go you are now fully informed on exactly what a macchiato is and all of the different options available to you if you decide to give it a go yourself at home.