What is a Macchiato?

Last updated:
This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

Macchiato, also called espresso macchiato or caffè macchiato, is a type of coffee with a dollop of milk foam poured over the espresso shot.

You can prefer macchiato if you don’t want a strong taste like espresso and also not a light taste like cappuccino.

Almost all the world, including giant coffee chains, called this beverage Macchiato (mah-key-AH-toe).

So, let’s deep dive and look at what is a macchiato.

Macchiato is an Italian word that means stained. So, what does it mean?

It looks like a stain when we pour a dash of frothy steam milk on an espresso. So its name justifies its nature.

History of Macchiato

Traditional Macchiato originates from Italy, and there it is called caffè macchiato. So, now you are thinking about how the name originates in Italy. Baristas first used it to show the serving waiters the difference between an espresso and an espresso with a tiny amount of frothy milk. 

The idea is inspired by the word café pingado, meaning coffee with a drop. It’s a Portuguese name for the same drink.

Italians consume cappuccino in the morning, and a macchiato is a good option for brunch and the afternoon. Since its taste lies between an espresso (strong) and a cappuccino (light), macchiato has always been a great contender to give coffee aficionados the mean taste.

Nowadays, macchiato comes in different names, tastes, and flavors. We’ll discuss this in the latter part of this article.

Types of Macchiato

There are several types of macchiato, and till now, we have only covered the Traditional Macchiato. From here onwards, we’ll discuss the evolution of macchiatos and what are the differences between them.

Mainly there are two types of Macchiato and further, we’ll discuss their subtypes

Espresso Macchiato

Espresso Macchiato is further classified into two parts:

1.1. Traditional Espresso Macchiato


Traditional Macchiato is the original form of the beverage, and it is part of the espresso group.

Espresso is the purest distillation of coffee beans, and when a little foam of full-fat milk is added to the top of the shot, it becomes a Macchiato. 

1.2. Wet Espresso Macchiato


Wet Espresso Macchiato is the modern-day evolution of the Traditional method. Here we maintain a 50:50 split between milk and espresso. 

Also, it requires a slightly different steaming technique, i.e., we apply less steam pressure and put the steam wand at the deepest point of the pitcher.

Latte Macchiato


Latte Macchiato, also known as caffe latte, is an Italian beverage called stained milk. It is a layered drink dominated by milk, unlike espresso macchiato.

In espresso macchiato, we add a dollop of milk in an espresso, but in latte macchiato, we take a glass of whole steamed milk and then pour espresso slowly into the center of the glass in one go, but the quantity of espresso is less than what we use in previous methods. 

Then the foam appears on the top, and the espresso slowly mixes with the milk. It forms a layered drink, as shown in the image.

How to Make a Macchiato

Espresso Macchiato



  • Milk (full-fat) 
  • Coffee Beans – Fresh
  • Pitcher
  • Espresso Machine


  • First, you need to learn how to make a perfect espresso cup. We prefer using a portafilter espresso machine, but a stovetop (it can brew the closest to espresso) can do the work.
  • Froth the milk using a steam wand and a pitcher- make sure that it’ll not get too hot or when you feel warmth in your hand, then stop the steam process; if you can measure 65℃ will be good. The froth should be like a dense foam similar to melted ice cream.
  • Take a demitasse cup, which is around 70 ml (2.5 fl. oz.), pour 2 fl. oz. of espresso, and add 0.5 fl. oz. of milk foam. Simply 3.8 tbsp of espresso and 1 tbsp of milk foam.
  • Enjoy your Cup of Macchiato.

Latte Macchiato



  • Coffee grounds
  • Milk
  • Glass
  • Pitcher


  • Take a pitcher, pour milk, and purge the steam wand into the deepest point. Apply the low steam pressure and start frothing. You can use a milk frother or try manual ways.
  • Pour the frothy milk into a large glass and wait for 30 seconds to separate the foam and steamed milk.
  • We prefer taking 250 ml or 8.5 fl. oz. of frothed milk and 1 fl. oz. or 2 tbsp of espresso.
  • Use half of the espresso compared to espresso macchiato and slowly pour the shot at the center in one go. Here a stain will appear on the foam. Espresso slowly starts to mix with milk and settles in the middle, making a layered drink.

When to Order an Espresso Macchiato

If you like espresso-based drinks, but the espresso alone is too strong for you, you might be looking for something that has an espresso taste but could be bolder. Cappuccino and latte are great contenders, but what if it feels too weak or milky for you?

Here comes an espresso macchiato; in terms of taste, it lies between a cappuccino (which has ⅓% of espresso, milk, and foam) and an espresso. We add a dollop of milk foam just to weak out the espresso. 

So, a macchiato is excellent for brunch and afternoon. Remember one thing; Macchiatos are served in a demitasse cup, which is smaller in size. If you are looking for a big cup of coffee like a Cappuccino, you need to order this 2 times but first, give it a try.

When to Order Latte Macchiato

If you like a more milky version of espresso, then buy a latte macchiato. Also, a latte and cappuccino are great options for you. When to order a latte macchiato? 

Before this, you need to understand the difference between a latte macchiato and a latte.

The only difference between these two is the foam and the quantity of espresso. A latte is more steamed milk, with less foam, and 1 or 2 shots of espresso. A latte macchiato has less amount of milk and more foam.

In terms of taste, Latte Macchiato is more of an espresso taste, whereas a latte is a balanced flavor.

Now, you know what’s the difference between these two.

So, if you like a milky version of espresso and love foam, go for a latte macchiato. Sometimes you may get this with syrup or sugar included with this.

Tips for Ordering a Macchiato

If you are in Italy, you can simply place your order by saying Caffè Macchiato; in Portugal, say Café Pingado, and you’ll get the espresso macchiato.

If you are in a cafe chain like Starbucks or McCafé, you need to specify the type of macchiato you are looking for, either an Espresso Macchiato or an Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato. 

I have had a conversation with many coffee lovers & they told me that sometimes taking the correct name does not always get you the right cup, especially in the case of macchiato. Now you may think, what’s the solution?

I asked the same question, and they said always remember to cross-check, tell the shop more precisely, or ask the barista to describe their version of macchiato. 

And if you are in a specialty coffee shop, taking the name macchiato will likely get you an espresso macchiato. 

I hope that works and you get the right cup!


What is a double macchiato?

A double macchiato is a double-shot espresso with a dollop of milk foam add over it.

Is a macchiato better hot or cold?

It is better to drink macchiato hot as you can enjoy more flavors and also traditionally it was served hot.

Does a macchiato taste like chocolate?

No, it doesn’t taste like chocolate as it is not a mocha, it tastes very close to espresso.

How much caffeine is in a cup of Macchiato?

A small to medium cup of macchiato has the caffeine of 80mg and a large cup will have around 110-130 mg of caffeine.

Photo of author


Shaif is the founder of Berry To Brew and his passion for coffee led him to start this journey. His aim is to make every coffee lover love coffee even more with the recipes he shares and the questions he answers.

Leave a Comment