Coffee Makers

What Is A Macchiato? Macchiato vs. Cappuccino

What Is A Macchiato

The coffee menu in respectable restaurants and cafes can be quite confusing even for coffee aficionados that have been drinking the beverage all their life. And this is more so when it comes to espresso-based beverages like a macchiato.

Macchiato, cafe macchiato or espresso macchiato as it is also often referred to as is a popular espresso-based coffee beverage which like others such as cappuccinos and lattes will contain some milk.

However, the proportions of ingredients in a macchiato are tweaked to give it a special taste and flavor which keeps its fanatics coming back for more.

If you are not sure whether to order one or not next time you are in your local café, here we explain in detail what it is all about to help make that decision easier for you and we also provide directions on how to make it at home.

Table of Contents

Overview and History

Just like other popular espresso-based beverages like lattes and cappuccinos, macchiato is an Italian word which when translated to English means spotted or stained coffee.

And it gets its name from the fact that it was traditionally prepared by adding a sprinkle of milk to a shot espresso which then left white spots on the darker espresso coffee.

Coffee experts and historians believe that the macchiato originated from the need for baristas to show the difference between a regular espresso and one with a little dash of milk. Baristas would often add a spot of milk on the espressos to help waiters tell them apart from the regular espressos.

Over the years the macchiato evolved into a distinct coffee beverage and not just a method of distinguishing different kinds of espressos. As more and more coffee chains try to spice up their coffee menus by adding new beverages, macchiato found its ways into the menus of most respectable restaurants and coffee bars.

How to Make a Macchiato

How to Make a Macchiato

If you do not plan to spend cash on a macchiato at your local restaurant, you need to know how to make it at home. And because this is a specialty beverage, you will need to pay attention to detail. But, like with many other espresso-based drinks, the key to making that perfect macchiato will mostly lie on getting the ingredient proportions right.

What You Will Need

Step By Step Instructions

Step 1: Start by steaming or heating milk to around 150 °F.

Step 2: Once the milk is steamed pull one short of espresso into the demitasse.

Step 3: Now pour a small amount of milk over the espresso (about 1 or 2 teaspoons).

Step 4 (optional): Add a fine layer of foam or microfoam on top o the beverage.

How Does It Taste

Adding the milk to a macchiato is meant to help moderate the bold taste of espresso rather than overwhelm it. And while the milk still adds a touch of sweetness, you can still feel the strength and boldness of the espresso.

Generally, a macchiato will be a much bitter beverage than common milk-based beverages like lattes and cappuccinos and the almost pure-espresso composition and consistency mean it can even be acidic.

However, like with many other coffee beverages, it is important to note that the macchiato taste will often depend on where you buy it because some restaurants and coffee bars have their specialty recipe that will have other things like flavored syrup added.

Should You Stir a Macchiato?

One of the most common questions that many coffee lovers will ask themselves when making a macchiato at home or after ordering one is whether to stir in the dash of milk or not.

While whether you stir your macchiato or not will depend on your personal preferences, traditionally a macchiato should not be stirred.

And the reason for this is that unlike a latte which is meant to be enjoyed when it is more blended, a macchiato should not be experienced as a single flavor. Rather, you should experience the flavors one at a time starting with the dash of milk at the top and finishing with the bold espresso at the bottom and stirring would ruin this experience.

Can You Serve a Macchiato Cold?

More and more coffee lovers seem to be catching the drinking cold coffee bug, and so the chances are that there are many out there that want to know whether they can drink the macchiato cold or not.

The simple answer is that like most other types of coffee, you can drink your macchiato either cold or hot, and it is all up to your personal preferences. Starbucks even has a cold caramel macchiato on their menu.

However, if you are planning to drink your macchiato cold, it is best to spice it up with other things like chocolate syrup. A cold espresso with a small spot of milk at the top might not be the best-tasting or most refreshing coffee beverage for most coffee drinkers.

What Is a Latte Macchiato?

What Is a Latte Macchiato

You have to be keen when ordering a macchiato in a café or restaurant because you can easily be served a latte macchiato instead of the traditional espresso macchiato. And while a latte macchiato is still a highly flavorful beverage, the two are not the same.

A latte macchiato is like a reverse espresso macchiato based on the method of preparation. Instead of starting by pulling a shot of espresso into your demitasse, you should begin by adding steamed milk to a glass and then finishing with a shot of espresso at the top.

Latte macchiato will also typically have more milk than the traditional espresso macchiato. And instead of the milk spot at the top, this beverage will have a shot of espresso at the top given that the coffee is what you add last.

Macchiato vs. Cappuccino

Given that cappuccinos are one of the most popular espresso-based beverages, it is only fair for a coffee lover to want to know how it differs from a macchiato.

But, the main difference between the two is that while a cappuccino will be made from equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, a macchiato will be closer to pure espresso as it only has a small splash of milk.

Also, the taste is quite different given that cappuccinos are creamy and more diluted while macchiato will be more acidic and bitter.

The serving size is also quite different. With macchiato, you can expect to get around 4 ounces of beverage served in a small cup but with cappuccinos, you will get at least 6 ounces of beverage served in a larger cup.


There is always one more coffee beverage that you need to try out because just when you think you have drunk them all you discover a new one. And one of those that every coffee drinker must try out at some point is a macchiato.

Macchiato is simply an espresso stained with a splash of milk and it is the perfect choice for any coffee lovers that want to add a moderate touch of sweetness to espressos without losing the strength and boldness of the coffee.

And because this espresso-based drink does not have a lot of ingredients, it will be super easy to make at home as besides a shot of espresso, you will only need a teaspoon or two of steamed or heated milk. Go ahead and try it out and it will probably end up being your new favorite coffee.

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