How to Make a Macchiato: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is a Macchiato?

Navigating the vast variety of espresso-based coffees on the menu can be a daunting task, thanks to the fusion of authentic Italian coffee heritage and the creative flair of American coffee shops. Even more challenging is discerning whether your coffee is the genuine article or merely a watered-down or syrup-loaded imitation. A prime example of this conundrum is the macchiato.

While many coffee lovers can effortlessly identify a well-brewed shot of espresso or a frothy cup of cappuccino, the macchiato often leaves them stumped. You might wonder if that sugar and caramel-laden drink your friend just ordered is truly an Italian espresso classic. The answer is a resounding no.

Now, don’t fret. We’re here to unravel the mystery of the macchiato for you. We’ll delve into what exactly a macchiato is, explore its variations, and provide tips on what to look out for when you order one.

Where it Originated

The macchiato, specifically the espresso macchiato, was born out of the desire to enjoy a shot of espresso during the afternoon. Unlike its espresso-based cousin, the cappuccino, which was strictly a morning delight, the macchiato offered a more flexible option.

The macchiato serves as a perfect compromise for coffee lovers who crave something in between an espresso and a cappuccino. It doesn’t hit as hard as a shot of espresso, yet it’s more robust than your typical cappuccino. It’s the ideal balance, offering a delightful afternoon pick-me-up.

Unraveling The Mystery Of A Macchiato

The term macchiato, like most espresso drink names, hails from Italy. It loosely translates to “marked” or “stained,” offering us a clue to its nature.

The two primary macchiato variations, the espresso macchiato and latte macchiato, both involve “staining” one component of the milk+espresso pair with the other. However, remember that “stained” does not mean completely bleached, dyed, or diluted. You should mainly taste one element, with just a hint of the other.

Watch our tutorial video on how to craft a traditional Italian Macchiato:

YouTube: Seven Miles Coffee Roasters

The Art Of Espresso Macchiato

The espresso macchiato, known simply as a caffé macchiato in Italy, is the original version of this beverage. Here, the milk stains the espresso.

The purpose of this drink is to slightly soften the robust espresso with a splash of milk. Compared to other espresso-based beverages, the macchiato leans the most towards espresso on the espresso to milk scale.

This beverage is crafted by first pulling a shot of espresso, followed by adding 1-2 teaspoons of steamed milk and a touch of foam on top.

Espresso macchiatos are typically served in glass or ceramic demitasse cups.

Mastering The Latte Macchiato

The latte macchiato requires a bit more finesse than its counterpart. In this version, the steamed milk is stained by a shot of espresso.

The latte macchiato stands apart from a latte by having more milk, less espresso, and being a layered drink. It deviates from the espresso macchiato by focusing more on the milk, rather than the espresso.

A barista begins with a large, 12 oz glass (it should be glass to showcase the layering). The pre-warmed glass starts anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 full of steamed milk.

Next, the pouring speed of the espresso is crucial. One shot of espresso (sometimes less) is VERY slowly poured over the steamed milk. Some baristas may use the back of a spoon to diffuse and further slow the pouring, but most will pour directly into the center to create the distinct dot (“stain”) in the milk. This pouring technique results in the signature layered appearance of the latte macchiato. If poured correctly, there should be a clear gradient from the thicker steamed milk at the bottom of the cup, to the espresso, and finally to the layer of foam on top.

Traditional Macchiato Recipe

Now,let’s get down to the nitty-gritty – how to make a Macchiato. Fear not, it’s simpler than you might think.

  • Yield: 1 cup
  • Prep Time: 2 Minutes
  • Total Time: 2 Minutes

The Espresso Macchiato, or Caffé Macchiato as it’s known in Italy, is the original form of this delightful drink. The aim is to create a perfectly balanced espresso, slightly softened by a splash of milk.

Firstly, you’ll need to pull a shot of espresso. Then, add just a dash of steamed milk and a bit of foam on top. Voila! You’ve made your very own Macchiato.


  • 2 oz espresso
  • 1 oz Steamed Milk


  1. Pull a shot of espresso – we recommend using 16.5 grams of ground coffee to pull a 2 ounce shot.
  2. Steam your milk until your pitcher feels warm, but not overly hot in your hand.
  3. Add just a dash (about a half of an ounce) of steamed milk to your shot of espresso to “stain” it with just a bit of milk.
  • Serving Size: 3 oz
  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 15

And there you have it! A simple, yet delicious Macchiato recipe that you can whip up in no time. Whether you’re starting your day or needing an afternoon pick-me-up, this traditional Italian coffee drink is sure to hit the spot. Enjoy!


In conclusion, the Macchiato is a delightful espresso-based drink that offers a robust coffee flavor, subtly softened by a dash of steamed milk. It’s a traditional Italian beverage that’s perfect for those who enjoy the intensity of espresso but appreciate a touch of creaminess to balance it out.

With our easy-to-follow recipe, you can now bring a slice of Italy into your kitchen. It’s a quick and simple process that requires minimal ingredients, making it perfect for any time of the day.

Remember, the key to a great Macchiato lies in the quality of the espresso and the temperature of the milk. So, take your time, enjoy the process, and before you know it, you’ll be sipping on a delicious homemade Macchiato.

We hope this blog post has inspired you to try making a Macchiato at home. Stay tuned for more coffee recipes, tips, and tricks. Until then, happy brewing!

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