A Comprehensive Guide to Caffè Macchiato

A Comprehensive Guide to Caffè Macchiato


Caffè macchiato, sometimes called macchiato, is an Italian drink consisting of espresso and milk foam. The word macchiato means stained or marked, and the color of the coffee represents the mark left by the foam. The drink has its origins in Italy, where it was created in the early 20th century by Luigi Bezzera, an inventor and engineer from Milan who founded the La Pavoni Company. Here’s all you need to know about this delicious beverage.

What is a Caffè Macchiato?

Caffè Macchiato

A caffè macchiato, or cappuccino macchiato, is a combination of espresso and foamed milk topped with a dot of frothed milk. The three-part foam is what gives it its signature stained appearance. Typically, baristas will use 30 ml (1 oz) of espresso for every 100 ml (3.4 oz) of steamed milk. Some recipes call for using whipped cream instead of frothed milk; either way, you get foam on top that you can top with chocolate sprinkles or cinnamon—or nothing at all! Most variations of caffè macchiato are equal parts espresso and hot foamed milk mixed in one cup. However, if it’s served as a latte, there’s more steamed milk than espresso.

Latte versions typically have less foam than other kinds and less body due to the extra space taken up by more liquid. Usually, caffè macchiatos have similar amounts of both liquid and air in them due to their being shaken well before they’re served; they shouldn’t be too thick or chunky like cappuccinos sometimes are. Lastly, don’t let cafe au lait fool you into thinking caffè macchiato are just milky coffee! In French, cafe au lait means coffee with milk. It refers to black coffee topped with hot milk. This terminology is not used in Italy or anywhere else outside France. So next time someone orders a caffè macchiato outside of Italy, order yourself a straight-up Americano!

The Ingredients

Traditionally, espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. For a typical caffè macchiato, you will need two and a half ounces of strong espresso with 1–2 teaspoons of very fine and light froth (or foam). These ingredients are added together and topped off with warm milk. The foam coats your tongue first while you drink, leaving you with all of your favorite espresso flavors in every sip. How do you make a caffè macchiato like an Italian? First, choose high-quality espresso. If it doesn’t taste good on its own, why would it taste good mixed into other flavors? Next, use precise measurements to create that perfect cup of caffeine and milky goodness.

The Process

There are many ways to make a caffè macchiato. It all depends on which country you’re in, and even then there can be different opinions. Most baristas will agree that it’s important not to skip any steps while making a caffè macchiato. The process is actually very easy once you get it down, but I have included detailed instructions so you don’t have to worry about getting confused if your local barista doesn’t follow these instructions exactly. Here are the steps for a perfect caffè macchiato:

Step 1. Start with hot water (typically an 80/20 ratio of water to milk), pour espresso shots into a cup,
Step 2. Stir until smooth, top with foam ( We recommend waiting 30 seconds between foaming and pouring milk).
Step 3. Put milk in last as it slows down foaming, add more foam if needed. If done correctly, you should end up with white foam at the top of your coffee with two distinct colors of coffee underneath – one darker than another – much like an espresso topped by crema. You could also see crema here; if so, great!

Also Read: Disadvantages of Drinking Coffee & Benefits

Brewed Coffee vs. Espresso Machine

Many consumers believe espresso drinks require an espresso machine, but a caffè macchiato can be brewed at home with your regular drip coffee maker. Since a caffè macchiato doesn’t require espresso, you’ll have to purchase ground espresso instead of whole beans. Just make sure you brew your coffee hot enough and stir in plenty of foam. If you’re interested in making a perfect caffè macchiato from your favorite roaster or coffee shop, bring some foam home along with your chosen cup for reference. Otherwise, stop by another local shop to pick up some of theirs. How does it compare? That’s how you’ll know if yours is good! To reduce confusion about whether or not brewed coffees are considered espresso, keep in mind that there are hundreds of definitions for what constitutes espresso alone. You should easily find a definition that agrees with whichever method or bean roast suits your style best.

Additional Tips for Brewing an Amazing Cup

Coffee is complicated. Sure, you could go buy a K-Cup and be done with it, but where’s fun in that? Each coffee roaster offers its own set of brewing tips and recommendations. These extra steps will help you brew amazing coffee without any hassle or trial and error. Do yourself a favor: Follow these additional tips for coffee brewing and see how your barista skills improve over time! Here are some general tips for making great espresso-based drinks at home.

  1. Use freshly roasted coffee beans, the most important step when preparing to make an espresso-based drink is to use fresh beans. Roast dates are usually printed on bags—if yours doesn’t have one, look for a roast date sticker on the bag (they should not be more than two weeks old).
  2. Don’t skimp on milk froth It might sound counterintuitive, but leaving milk out too long causes off-flavors to develop.
  3. Don’t let milk sit in your steaming pitcher too long: Whether you’re making lattes or caffè macchiato use fresh milk! Try not to keep milk out of refrigeration for more than an hour. If you do need to leave it out, make sure you pour it into a cold container and immediately place that in your refrigerator.


A coffee enthusiast from Asia keeps trying new hot beverages and sharing all his experiences with the internet. Aayush is a writer by profession who only thinks about coffee. He loves to brew and create unique recipes and share them with the public. Aayush had tried different types of coffee from different sides of the world. His favorite coffee is the Hawaiin Kona Coffee.

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