How to Make a Macchiato

4 min read FEB 17, 2022

When you hear the term "macchiato," what comes to mind?

Do you envision a milky, sweet coffee drink with caramel syrup on top? Is there a mocha sauce? What about a dollop of whipped cream?

If you go to your favorite chain coffee shop, you’ll find a variety of macchiatos including a latte macchiato and an iced caramel macchiato. These are delicious but can be confusing. Are they even real macchiatos? Are you supposed to mix a caramel macchiato

Well, a classic macchiato is very simple.

It’s made with a shot or two of espresso and a dash of foamed milk. This means that the caffeine in a macchiato is the same as you’d expect from an espresso. That’s pretty much it. 

So you want to learn how to make a  macchiato, and not the kind you'd find in a trendy coffee shop? Continue reading to learn how to do it in the comfort of your home.

How Do You Make a Macchiato

Before we dive into it, we first need to answer the question what is a macchiato?

A café macchiato, also known as an espresso macchiato, is a shot of espresso with frothed milk on top. The word "macchiato" means "stained" in Italian, implying that the espresso has stained the milk foam on top. 

According to some sources, the macchiato was created as a strategy to extend the use of espresso so it could be drunk well into the afternoon.

A latte macchiato is the other type of macchiato. A latte macchiato is heated milk with a splash of espresso on top. It has the flavor of an espresso-forward cafe latte. What's the difference between a latte and a macchiato? 

You mix the espresso with milk in a latte macchiato, whereas you mix steamed milk with espresso in a latte.

Making a Macchiato

Let's get you started on brewing a classic macchiato now that we know what it is. It's one of our favorite espresso beverages because you get the bitter flavor of coffee without having to drink a lot of to make macchiatoIngredients

For a macchiato, you'll need the following:

  • Coffee beans
  • Milk
  • Grinder
  • Espresso machine
  • Frother

A few notes

  1. Standard milk is 1% or 2%, but because a macchiato requires a dollop of foam on top,  any milk or plant-based milk substitute will do.
  2. Check to see if your grinder can handle a precise espresso grind. If you don't have one, purchase espresso beans from a local coffee shop and have them grind them for you.
  3. You will need a separate milk frother if your machine does not have a milk frothing system.


Make the Espresso

If your coffee beans aren't already ground, finely grind them and create a double espresso with an espresso machine, which should measure around 2 fluid ounces.

Pull a double shot of espresso after that. You can make espresso without a machine, but any authentic espresso requires a machine with 9 bars of pressure. However, because this coffee drink is so espresso-centric, a strong coffee, such as what you'd get from a moka pot, isn't a good substitute. The coffee’s body will be less thick and creamy than it should be.

Tip: If you don't have espresso beans, it's not a train smash. Any coffee beans will work as long as they are ground finely enough, however, darker roasts are usually easier to extract. As a result, feel free to use whatever coffee you choose. 

Froth the Milk

To foam a tiny amount of milk, use a milk frother or the steam wand on your espresso machine. This drink will just need about an ounce of milk or less, although most frothing systems will require more than that to function properly. 

If you add too much milk, you’ll throw off the mixture. Instead of a creamy microfoam like you'd get with a latte, you'll want to make an airy foam as you'd get with a cappuccino.

Remember, you can foam milk with a french press if you don't have a steam wand or a milk frother. Although this method won't produce the fine microfoam required for latte art, it's ideal for a basic dollop on a macchiato.

Stain and Enjoy

Enjoy your espresso shot with a dollop of foamed milk on top. Some people will add a pinch of sugar to their espresso before drinking it, but this isn't customary.

If you like to add sugar to your coffee, start with a darker roast. The caramelization that happens during the roasting process gives these a natural sweetness.

Wondering how to drink a macchiato? Serve the macchiato right away, or add cinnamon to the top, or drink it straight up.

Caramel Macchiato

Use the formula above and sprinkle some caramel syrup on top for a delightful caramel macchiato like the one you fell in love with at your local cafe. For a dessert-like treat, mix in some vanilla do you make a macchiatoAlternatively, if you’re not up to the task of making your own from scratch, Lifeboost offers the ideal combination of sweet caramel with a dash of vanilla to satisfy your cravings. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, an espresso macchiato is one of the most straightforward beverages to prepare. Why? Because it's just espresso with a smidgeon of froth on top. You won't have to bother about measuring your milk or mastering the ideal microfoam.

So, if you have access to an espresso machine, why not experiment with it at home? Brew one or two as an afternoon pick-me-up for the whole Italian experience.

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