What exactly IS A Macchiato? We've had people asking that a lot lately, so decided to address it!

​Macchiato, pronounced ‘mah-key-AH-toe’ is the foundation of Italian coffee, alongside cappuccino, espresso, and other classic coffee drinks.

Even though you’ve seen or tasted it before, chances are that you still ask yourself, “what is a macchiato?”

Basically, it is an espresso drizzled with a little amount of foamed milk on top and it is served in a demitasse cup. The term macchiato simply means ‘Marked.’ If you look at it, this coffee beverage is a take between a cappuccino and an espresso.

What is a Macchiato?

Apart from that, Italians like to drink cappuccino only in the morning so drinking it in the afternoon gives them the option of putting a small amount of milk in their espresso for an added kick of flavor. In addition, Macchiato is also an ideal alternative for individuals who find espresso too strong and cappuccino too milky.

Another variant of macchiato is the latte macchiato. It is a coffee drink made up of one cup of hot milk and a shot of espresso. However, it doesn’t have the caramel-flavored syrup that coffee shops claim to be a real macchiato.

What is a Macchiato? The Mystery Solved.

Most people drink their coffee every morning. The majority of the population today likes a kick of coffee to start off their day. From students to office workers, coffee is a well-loved drink. Most of us can’t even imagine life without it.  For these reasons, there are a lot of branches of coffee shops that have opened and stayed due to the coffee demand from people of all ages.

These coffee shops have even created their own twist to the Italian names of the beverages, Frappuccino is one example. However, this also created some confusion with the original terms, specifically the macchiato. People can recognize a cappuccino or espresso the first time they saw it but how can you determine a true macchiato?

The Story Behind the Drink

Espresso, milk, and foam: these are the holy grail in creating different types of drinks that is recognizable among devoted coffee drinkers. Though these ingredients look simple, they can be transformed into flavorful coffee drinks with just a few tweaks.

Italian and French coffee beverages can be intimidating especially if you are not done by an experienced professional barista. Sometimes, even professionals also struggle in determining the kind of drinks that originated from espresso. This is because the coffee culture is vast and has a lot of room for endless possibilities.

The simplest way to create a macchiato is to have an espresso first. It is then followed by adding a little amount of steamed milk and lastly, adding the foam. This is the traditional way of making a macchiato and it is also the simplest method.

Macchiato is an Italian word equivalent for marked or spotted, which is an ideal way to identify the beverage. The marking indicates the type of liquid that is trickled on to the coffee, whether it is milk or espresso. If milk is poured on to the drink first, then it is a latte macchiato. If espresso is poured first, it is an espresso macchiato. The marking on top of the drink is essentially a trademark to help you determine the type of macchiato you are drinking.

Macchiatos are more than just a flavorful beverage in Italy. It is also a huge part of their vibrant history, coffee culture, and innovation. On top of that, it is an emblem of standard living in Italy and most countries strive to reach it.

Cappuccinos and espressos in their signature demitasses glasses are all part of the classic Italian coffee culture, even from the beginning. Macchiatos also play a huge role in this old and continuing coffee sceneThe macchiato or specifically the espresso macchiato is coffee option of most Italians if they wanted to sneak in some espresso in the afternoon. It offers the right blend of coffee and milk without overpowering each other. The other espresso-based drink which is the cappuccino is solely for a morning fix. You might also ask yourself “what is a cappuccino?”and you might get an answer among the coffee shop crowd.

The macchiato is the safe alternative for coffee drinkers who wanted to tone down the strength of espresso while having the balanced taste of milk from cappuccino. In simple terms, macchiato is just the right drink if you want something that has a balanced flavor.

Different Types of Macchiato

The term macchiato came from an Italian word, just like most terminology used in espresso beverages. It simply means “strained” or “marked,” which reflects its creation process. Both kinds of macchiato, the latte macchiato and the espresso macchiato, “stain” its milk and espresso duo with the other ingredient. However, take note that the term translates to “stained” not totally diluted, dyed, or blanched. This means that the elements shouldn’t overpower each other. An ideal macchiato drink must have a balanced amount of each element.

Below are other variations of Macchiato:

Latte Macchiato

The process of making a latte macchiato is actually a reverse of making an espresso macchiato. First, steamed milk is poured to the glass. Then, it is followed with a single shot of espresso. This reverse process provides the latte macchiato its own unique look that is completely different from the espresso macchiato. Aside from that, the preparation also results in a different marking on top of the drink, since espresso is added last.

Each drink has different preparation process and each has their own flavorful taste. But still, both offer unique taste experience for individuals who consume them. However, baristas still argue which version is the ideal way to prepare a macchiato drink. With this, here are the differences between the preparation processes you should consider:

  • ​The variant of espresso bean that is utilized to create the espresso.
  • The process of making the espresso, including how the barista handled it and the type of espresso machine utilized (​Super Automatic, Commercial Espresso Machine, etc)
  • The amount of foam added.
  • The way the barista steamed or frothed the milk.
  • The shape, size, and artistic feature of the markings.

Espresso Macchiato

Espresso macchiato and latte macchiato are common terms used to refer to macchiato. These are both variations of macchiato but they have different preparation processes. This usually confuses many people about the identity of macchiato. However, it is time to address that confusion and clear it up.

When preparing an espresso macchiato, steamed or frothed milk is poured first which is visible from its marking. After that, it is added with foam which can be seen on top of the drink. In order to achieve an ideal espresso macchiato, the espresso needs to be toned down by a dash of milk.

When to drink a Latte Macchiato

Though Latte Macchiato and Espresso Macchiato are both types of macchiato, they are extremely different in taste. The term macchiato translates to “marked” in Italian. This means that an Espresso Macchiato has more espresso and it is marked with a little dash of steamed milk and foam. This has a strong and bold flavor. On another note, a Latte Macchiato has more steamed milk and it is marked with espresso. This, on the other hand, has a creamier and rich taste.

Usually, latte macchiato is served in a tall glass to highlight its beautiful layers of milk, espresso, and foam which sits on top. It is an exciting drink but see to it that you stir it carefully before drinking to mix all the components or otherwise you’ll end up getting the entire coffee first.

The real café macchiato is already mixed. It only has a dash of milk foam on top. This helps the server determine which cup has milk on it. However, there’s a trick that most baristas use to save time in stirring. They pour the espresso shot in the cup first followed by the steamed milk. These ingredients mix well with each other without the need to of stirring. The notable feature about this drink is it is slightly lighter compared to straight espresso shots. This is because of the added steamed milk which lightens the color of the drink.

Traditionally, café macchiato only last after five teaspoons of liquids. However, some prefer to stir the little amount of foam on top of the readily mixed espresso and steamed milk blend. This cools down the drink but that’s okay, you can drink your macchiato anyway you like it. You are the one who ordered or made it so it’s totally up to you how you consume it.

When to drink an Espresso Macchiato

Caffè macchiato is usually called espresso macchiato. It is an espresso-based beverage that is created with a little amount of foamed milk.

The key to a good macchiato lies on the espresso shot at its bottom. Stirring is essential since it allows all the components to emulsify thus creating a perfectly balanced coffee drink.

If you are planning to travel to Italy and you want to blend in with the locals, remember this tip: coffee beverages with milk are consumed before breakfast. If you order a cappuccino at 11 am, you’ll definitely prove that you are a tourist. Aside from that, if you go to an espresso bar, don’t order coffee since it still means espresso to them. If you do that, you’ll still get a shot of espresso and not a 12oz coffee in a reusable cup. The best thing to order is a ‘Caffé Americano’ or ‘Caffé Lungo.’

Espresso has crema, which is where all the good flavors and aromas are kept. It gives the drink its naturally bold and strong taste. However, crema doesn’t last long since it disappears in a short period of time. If you allow your espresso to sit for a long time, it’ll defeat the purpose of the drink and ruin its taste. So the last tip if you want to blend in when you visit Italy is to drink your espresso immediately but don’t forget to enjoy it.

​In Closing

Even though most of us are not expert coffee makers or professional baristas, we still manage to enjoy our cup of coffee every day.

For those who are not fond of strong espresso shots, don’t worry because macchiato is a great alternative that you can always try. It has a subtle hint of sweetness and heavenly taste that will surely hook your palate.

There are also other variations of macchiato in case you don’t want to taste the same drink every day. Despite different variations and flavoring, macchiato is an ideal choice for coffee lovers of all ages. If you wanted a new coffee experience, you can switch to a latte macchiato anytime.

On top of that, don’t forget to identify the markings of your macchiato, just like how experts do. If you have to ask “what is a macchiato?” you can start with the mark on the drink. Now go and have yourself a cup of your favorite coffee drink, bonus if you opt for macchiato to achieve that classic Italian coffee experience.

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