Call Us at +1 (302) 208-9293

Need Help?
Call Us at +1 (302) 208-9293

What Is Macchiato Coffee?

Last update:

A macchiato is an espresso-based drink that combines an espresso shot (or 2) with steamed milk. Keep reading to learn how to make one and how these drinks differ from similar beverages.

As a teenager, I always had macchiatos and never knew what was in them. Today that changes. I compiled some information to help us learn everything about this drink.

To understand it, you’ll find the following points:

Let’s get this show on the road.

Key Takeaways

  • A macchiato is espresso with a small amount of steamed milk added
  • There are 2 types of macchiatos; latte (more steamed milk) and espresso
  • A lighter drink compared to other espresso-based drinks due to the included steamed milk
  • You’ll often see these drinks with flavorings such as caramel & pumpkin spice

What is Macchiato Coffee?

TasteBold, slightly sweet
AromaRich, roasty
Mouth feelVelvety, creamy
Caffeine level *Moderate
Other namesEspresso macchiato & Caffè macchiato (Italian)

A macchiato is a coffee drink. It mixes a shot of espresso and a small amount of frothed milk [1]. Baristas add air to this type of milk to add a creamy taste and texture to your drink. Usually, you’d use whole milk or semi-skimmed milk to produce this foam.

But it’s possible to froth milk with dairy-free milk. Check out the link I mentioned to learn how.

The name means “stained” in Italian, as milk “stains” the coffee.

You might try caramel for a sweet, rich taste for more flavor. Vanilla is another popular choice, giving your coffee a smooth, sweet flavor.

Some people enjoy adding chocolate to their macchiatos for a mocha twist. Seasonal flavors, like pumpkin spice in the fall or peppermint in the winter, add a festive touch.

Types of Macchiato

Of course, macchiatos aren’t simple. There are a couple of different types to consider:

  • Latte macchiato: milk foam, espresso, & steamed milk
  • Espresso macchiato: small amount of steamed milk & espresso
    • This has less steamed milk than its latte counterpart
  • Long macchiato: 2 shots espresso & milk
  • Café Pintado: drink with 1:5 ratio of espresso to milk

The following sections will provide more details on these drinks.

1. Latte Macchiato

A latte macchiato is a coffee drink. It has frothed milk, espresso, and milk foam.

The latte macchiato differs from an espresso macchiato. In a latte macchiato, you pour espresso into the milk. In an espresso macchiato, you pour milk into the espresso. This difference creates distinct layers and flavors.

2. Espresso Macchiato

An espresso macchiato combines espresso with a small amount of aerated milk. The espresso is the main focus in this drink.

A latte macchiato, on the other hand, has more steamed milk and milk foam. In this drink, you pour espresso into the milk, creating layers. So, the main difference is the amount of milk and the way you combine the ingredients.

3. Long Macchiato

A Long Macchiato is Australia’s version of the macchiato, which has 2 shots of espresso and a bit of milk.

4. Café Pintado

A Café Pintado is Portugal’s version of the macchiato, with a 1:5 ratio of espresso to milk. It has much more milk compared to a regular macchiato. However, it’s not aerated. Thus, it’s technically not a macchiato.

Different Macchiato Flavors

Coffee shops, like Starbucks, offer choices like caramel, vanilla, and mocha. Seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice or peppermint make the drinks festive. These flavors enhance the taste and provide a unique twist on the classic macchiato.

Other flavorings that go well with macchiatos include:

  • Caramel
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate (mocha)
  • Hazelnut
  • Toffee nut
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon dolce

History of Macchiato

In the 80s’, baristas needed a way to differentiate plain espresso and drinks that included milk. That led them to label espresso-based drinks, including milk, as macchiatos [2].

There’s not much else to this drink’s origin. But that doesn’t matter. Let’s learn how to make one.

How to Make a Macchiato

What you’ll need:

  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee beans: 18–20 grams (finely ground, espresso grind)
  • Softened water: enough to fill the espresso machine’s water reservoir, usually 1–2 liters
  • Milk: 2–3 ounces (60–90 ml) for frothing
    • You’ll use a small dollop (about a tablespoon) for the macchiato
  • Milk frother or steam wand
    • usually attached to the espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder

Using softened water in espresso machines is essential because hard water can cause scale buildup, which can affect the machine’s performance and the taste of the coffee.

Softened water also helps extract the coffee’s flavors more effectively, producing a better-tasting espresso shot. This effect is due to the lack of minerals in softened water [3].

Time to make: 5 minutes

Steps to take:

  1. Heat up the espresso machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  2. Measure & grind the coffee beans to a fine espresso grind
  3. Fill the portafilter with the ground coffee & use the tamper to press the grounds evenly
  4. Attach the portafilter to the espresso machine & place the espresso cup or glass under the spout
  5. Brew the espresso shot, aiming for about 1 oz (30 ml) of liquid
  6. Pour cold milk into the small pitcher or jug & use the milk frother or steam wand to create a creamy, velvety milk foam
  7. Gently pour a small dollop of frothed milk (about a tablespoon) onto the espresso shot
  8. Serve the macchiato immediately and enjoy

Tips for Ordering a Macchiato from Starbucks or Other Coffee Shops

Follow these tips to order a macchiato from Starbucks and other coffee shops:

  • Order a traditional macchiato, by specifically requesting an “espresso macchiato”
  • Order Starbucks-like macchiatos from other coffee shops by requesting a “caramel latte”
    • Or ask whether they have drinks that taste similar to Starbuck’s macchiatos
  • To make your drink stronger at Starbucks, request any of these shot options:
    • Solo: 1 shot
    • Doppio: 2 shots
    • Triple: 3 shots
    • Quad: 4 shots

When ordering more than 1 shot from coffee shops that aren’t Starbucks, don’t use the terminology mentioned in the list. Unless their menu specifies otherwise.

To add a personal touch, ask for a specific espresso roast that piques your interest. If you prefer a cooler drink, request your macchiato iced. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask the barista to add flavored syrup.

To avoid dairy, ask whether they have an alternative to dairy milk. Many coffee shops may not offer dairy-free alternatives due to their difficulty to froth. But Starbucks has an Almond Milk Macchiato [4].

How to order from other big dogs (e.g. mc donalds

Macchiato vs. Other Espresso-Based Drinks

Let’s compare macchiatos to other drinks made with espresso:

DrinkIngredientsCaffeine Content *Brew Time
MacchiatoEspresso with a dollop of frothy milk63–90 mg25–30 sec
MochaEspresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup63–175 mg25–30 sec
CappuccinoEqual parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam63–120 mg25–30 sec
LatteEspresso, steamed milk, thin layer of foam63–175 mg25–30 sec
CortadoEqual parts espresso and steamed milk63–90 mg25–30 sec

Comparison of popular espresso-based drinks, detailing their ingredients, caffeine content, and brew time.

1. Macchiato vs. Mocha

  • Macchiato has a dollop of frothy milk, while mocha includes steamed milk and chocolate syrup
  • Macchiato highlights the espresso flavor, while mocha offers a sweeter taste
  • Mocha typically has more calories due to added chocolate
  • Macchiato is a lighter drink, while mocha is richer and creamier

The macchiato offers a bold espresso taste with a touch of milk, making it a lighter option. The mocha combines espresso, milk, and chocolate, creating a sweeter, more indulgent beverage with higher calorie content.

2. Macchiato vs. Cappuccino

  • Macchiato features a dollop of frothy milk, while cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam
  • Macchiato emphasizes espresso flavor, while cappuccino offers a balanced taste
  • Cappuccino has more milk, making it creamier than a macchiato
  • Macchiato is a smaller, stronger drink, while cappuccino is larger and smoother

The macchiato delivers a bold espresso taste with a touch of milk, perfect for those who want a strong coffee flavor. The cappuccino offers a more balanced and creamy experience, thanks to its equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam.

3. Macchiato vs. Latte

  • Macchiato has a small amount of frothy milk, while latte includes more steamed milk and a thin layer of foam
  • Macchiato highlights espresso flavor, while latte offers a milder, milkier taste
  • Latte has a larger volume, making it a more filling drink than a macchiato
  • Macchiato is a stronger, smaller drink, while latte is smoother and creamier

Lattes creates a milder, smoother experience due to its higher milk content and larger volume, perfect for those who prefer a creamier, more filling beverage.

4. Macchiato vs. Cortado

  • Macchiato uses a small dollop of frothy milk, while cortado has equal parts espresso and steamed milk
  • Macchiato retains a stronger espresso taste, whereas cortado offers a more balanced flavor
  • Cortado has a smoother, silkier texture due to the steamed milk, while macchiato is bolder with a touch of froth
  • Macchiato is often smaller in volume, while cortado is typically served in a larger glass

Cortados combine espresso and steamed milk in equal proportions, creating a smoother, more balanced beverage that appeals to those who enjoy a less intense coffee flavor and a silkier texture.

Here are popular places to order macchiatos:

Business *Coffee Beans Used
StarbucksEspresso Roast
Dunkin’ DonutsEspresso-Style
Tim HortonsTim Hortons Espresso Coffee
Burger KingArabica

Places where macchiatos are available.

* Drink availability will vary by restaurant. Not all countries serve the same drinks.


Read on to find FAQs on macchiatos.

How Does a Macchiato Differ from Other Espresso-Based Drinks?

A macchiato differs from other espresso-based drinks by featuring a small dollop of frothy milk atop a strong espresso shot, resulting in a bolder flavor and less creamy texture.

What is the Origin & Meaning of the Name “Macchiato” in the Context of Coffee?

The name “macchiato” originates from Italian and means “stained” or “spotted.” In the context of coffee, it refers to an espresso “stained” with a small amount of milk, highlighting the coffee’s strong flavor with a touch of creaminess.

What is the Difference Between an Espresso Macchiato & a Latte Macchiato?

An espresso macchiato is an espresso shot with a small dollop of milk, while a latte macchiato is steamed milk with a small amount of espresso.

Can I Make a Macchiato with a Single, Double, or Triple Shot of Espresso?

Yes, you can make a macchiato with a single, double, or triple shot of espresso, adjusting the milk quantity accordingly to maintain the characteristic flavor balance.

Are There Any Popular Variations of a Macchiato?

Yes, popular variations like the caramel macchiato add flavored syrups, whipped cream, and drizzles to create a sweeter macchiato.

How Do I Properly Steam & Froth Milk for a Macchiato?

To steam and froth milk for a macchiato, heat it to 150–155 °F while incorporating air to create microfoam. The goal is a velvety texture with small, uniform bubbles for a perfect dollop on top of the espresso.

Wrapping Up

Macchiatos differ from similar drinks due to the small amount of included steamed milk. Otherwise, it’s another espresso-based beverage.

While looking up macchiatos and how to make them, you’ll need to find excellent beans to make your coffee taste amazing. Check out a guide that compares some of the best coffee beans around.


* Caffeine content varies depending on factors such as bean type, roast level, and preparation method.

Photo of author


Tim Lee is, as you might have guessed the founder of He is a former barista and a professional web publisher. He has now combined his knowledge and expertise in both subjects to create
flow control espresso machines
how many scoops of coffee per cup
what espresso machine does starbucks use
espresso grinder vs. coffee grinder which do i need
why do espresso machines have 2 spouts
how to clean a mahlkonig coffee espresso grinder

Leave a Comment