What is Macchiato Coffee?

If you have been wandering what a Macchiato is and you want to know what a Macchiato is, then you’re in the right place. The traditional macchiato, also known as Espresso Macchiato, is a simple yet elegant drink originating in Italy. 

However, since there are so many varieties and different coffee types available, it's sometimes really hard to know what each one is and how they differ in flavour, size and serving techniques. 

The Macchiato, unlike the famous Cappuccino or Espresso, is less well known.

In this article, you'll get to know each and everything about it, such as…

  • What is a Macchiato, an introduction. 

  • Its origin and traditions of a macchiato.

  • Types of Macchiato available. 

  • Techniques to make a macchiato.

Still interested? Let's get learning...


Introduction to Macchiato

Macchiato, an Italian term meaning "marked" or "stained," refers to a coffee beverage that is distinct for its small but powerful impact. Originating from Italy, this drink has gained widespread popularity across the globe, particularly among coffee aficionados seeking a robust espresso flavour with a hint of creaminess. The small amount of milk is enough to lighten the colour and pierce the crema. If you find an espresso too bitter, than this could be for you. 

As a simple explanation; a Macchiato is an espresso with a splash of foamy milk.


The Traditional Macchiato

Origins: The Macchiato explained 

The Italians believe that frothy drinks are only for breakfast and it is often frowned upon if you order a cappuccino after 11am. The Italians were looking for an afternoon coffee beverage and wanted to enjoy some of the creaminess from the cappuccino if they found espresso to bitter. 

The cappuccino, which is considered specifically for that morning coffee, the Macchiato was ideal for the afternoon.

It is also believed that Macchiato was created in order to distinguish between a coffee with only a touch of milk and a basic espresso. 

It starts with a base of one shot of rich, intense espresso. This is then "marked" with a small amount of steamed milk and sometimes foam, adding a hint of sweetness and creaminess to the strong espresso base. The key is in the balance: the milk should not overpower the espresso but should rather complement its bold flavours.

Serving size and milk choice

Typically served in a small cup, the traditional macchiato offers a perfect mid-morning pick-me-up. Most drink with regular milk, but some people like drinking with different types of milk, such as almond or soy or other oat milk and alt milk alternatives, to cater to dietary preferences or adding a flavour syrup for a sweet twist.


The Modern Macchiato

Evolution and Variations

In recent years, the macchiato has evolved, especially in coffee cultures outside Italy. The two most common types are:

  • Latte Macchiato
  • Espresso Macchiato 

The most notable variation is the Latte Macchiato. This drink inverts the traditional ratio, featuring a tall glass filled with steamed milk, into which a shot of espresso is poured. The result is a layered drink that is milkier and milder than its traditional counterpart.

How to make an espresso macchiato:

The Espresso Macchiato has the highest espresso-to-milk ratio, and the milk is just a small accompaniment to complement the espresso, giving the coffee a strong taste. 

Step 1: First pull a normal shot of espresso (or a double shot if you like it stronger!)

macchiato what is

Step 2: Add around 1-2 tablespoons of heated frothy milk gently dolloped on top.

what is in macchiato coffee

Step 3: Serve. An espresso Macchiato can be served in an espresso cup made of glass or ceramic whichever you prefer!

what is in a macchiato

How to make a latte macchiato:

The Latte Macchiato has a sweeter flavour with a higher milk content.  

Step 1: First pull a normal shot of espresso.

Step 2: Pour around 175ml of heated frothy milk into your tall glass. 

Step 3: Pour your shot of espresso into the middle of the glass, cutting through the milk. 

Step 4: Serve in a tall long glass.


The Starbucks Effect

Global coffee chains like Starbucks have popularised their versions of the macchiato, often adding caramel, vanilla, or other flavourings. These adaptations are typically much sweeter and larger than the traditional Italian macchiato.

Caramel Macchiato and other variations are usually a really sweet coffee drink that's good for people who don't drink coffee too often or don't enjoy the coffee flavour. It can be served both hot or cold this way and often enjoyed in the summer. 

In a Starbucks Macchiato, a couple of espresso shots are paired with freshly steamed milk and vanilla-flavoured syrup, topped with a caramel drizzle.


Making a Perfect Macchiato

The essentials

Creating the perfect macchiato requires high-quality espresso, fresh milk, and precise technique. The espresso should be rich and full-bodied, with a golden crema on top.

The technique

For a traditional macchiato, steam the milk until it’s hot and slightly frothy. Then, carefully pour a small amount on top of the freshly brewed espresso. For a latte macchiato, steam more milk and pour the espresso slowly into the milk to create distinct layers.

Is a macchiato stronger than black coffee?

Macchiato has two shots of espresso so it is the same caffeine strength than most other coffees. It will taste stronger than other drinks, such as flat whites or cappuccino as there is less milk to dilute the taste. 

For a traditional macchiato, steam the milk until it’s hot and slightly frothy. Then, carefully pour a small amount on top of the freshly brewed espresso. For a latte macchiato, steam more milk and pour the espresso slowly into the milk to create distinct layers.


Macchiato at RiSE Coffee

Our Approach

At RiSE Coffee, we honour the traditional Italian macchiato while also embracing modern variations. Our espresso roasted beans are carefully selected for their quality and flavour profile, ensuring a robust and aromatic base for our macchiatos.


The macchiato, in its various forms, is a testament to the versatility and enduring appeal of espresso. Whether you prefer the traditional, bold espresso macchiato or the milder, milkier latte macchiato, there’s a version for every coffee lover. At RiSE Coffee, we love a good macchiato and its a favourite in our household!

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