If you love coffee, chances are you’ve heard the word “macchiato” thrown around. But what is it? What makes it different from other espresso-based drinks like lattes and mochas?
We’ll explore the world of macchiatos, the differences between a macchiato and its relatives—the latte, cappuccino, mocha, and cortado, and learn why they have become so popular with coffee connoisseurs. So grab your favorite mug and let's get started!
What Is A Macchiato?
It’s an espresso-based drink that originated in Italy. The name itself means “marked” or “stained” in Italian—an ode to the light layer of foamed milk that is “stained” on top of the espresso shot.
A macchiato contains 2 shots of espresso topped with foamed milk or cream. It can be served hot or cold, depending on the barista's preference.
What sets a macchiato apart from other espresso drinks is the ratio of espresso and milk. While most espresso-based drinks contain equal parts espresso and steamed milk, a macchiato contains just a “stain” of foamed milk on top.
1. Macchiato vs Latte
While they are both espresso-based drinks that contain some form of frothed or steamed milk, there are some key differences between them. The main difference between a macchiato and a latte is the ratio of espresso to milk/cream.
- Lattes typically include more foam than macchiatos; whereas macchiatos usually contain one or two shots of espresso with only a small layer of foam on top.
- A macchiato contains two shots of espresso for every one ounce of milk or cream, while a latte contains one shot of espresso for every six ounces of milk. This means that lattes are much more creamy and milky than macchiatos, which are known for their strong flavor profile.
- Additionally, lattes tend to be much sweeter than macchiatos due to the added flavorings (like syrups), which are not included in macchiatos.
2. Macchiato vs Cappuccino
Cappuccinos and macchiatos share some similarities, but also have key differences. The main difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino is the ratio of espresso to milk/cream.
- Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink that includes two parts steamed milk and one part espresso. It is topped with a light layer of foamed milk and cocoa powder.
- Unlike a macchiato, a cappuccino is served in a larger cup and has more foam on top.
- Additionally, cappuccinos are typically sweeter than macchiatos and contain more milk.
3. Macchiato vs Mocha
While both drinks contain espresso and some form of frothed or steamed milk, there's one main difference between them, the ingredients used in each drink - chocolate.
- Mochas are made with chocolate syrup or cocoa powder mixed in addition to espresso and steamed milk for added sweetness and flavor. This gives mochas their signature sweet flavor that makes them popular among those who enjoy decadent coffee drinks like cappuccinos or frappuccinos.
- Mochas have more liquid than macchiatos; mixed with more steamed milk for a smoother texture.
- A macchiato does not have chocolate syrup or cocoa powder. This makes it a much stronger, less sweet, less creamy, and more intense espresso-based drink.
4. Macchiato vs Cortado
Just like macchiatos and lattes/mochas before it, cortados consist primarily of one part espresso and one part frothed/steamed milk. However, they differ slightly in terms of the proportion of the amount of milk used in each one.
- A cortado consists of one shot of espresso combined with an equal amount of steamed milk—usually, about two ounces drink, while a macchiato contains two shots of espresso and only one ounce (or slightly less) of steamed milk or cream.
- Cortados tend to be sweeter than macchiatos due to their higher ratio of steamed milk to espresso shots; however, both beverages have relatively low levels of sweetness compared to other popular coffee drinks like cappuccinos or mochas.
All in all, there are many differences between macchiatos and other espresso-based beverages. What sets a macchiato apart is its unique flavor profile: intense espresso flavor with a thin layer of foam.
How To Make A Macchiato
The macchiato is one of the most popular espresso-based drinks. And for good reason — it’s simple, yet delicious.
Making a macchiato involves pulling two shots of espresso and then topping it with a “dainty” or “dainty-light” layer of steamed (not frothed) milk.
A barista should pour the milk slowly and steadily over the shots of espresso while tilting the cup in a circular motion. This will create an even layer of steamed milk on top of the espresso. Place a teaspoon of caramel or another flavoring, to give the drink its signature twist.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t stir the macchiato after adding the steamed milk. This will help ensure a nice presentation and the espresso won’t be overwhelmed by the milk.
- If you want to add a bit of sweetness, try adding a teaspoon of sugar or a few drops of vanilla syrup.
- If you want to make your macchiato creamy, try using whole milk instead of skim milk.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, try topping your macchiato with a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa powder.
- Watch the below video tutorial for more explanation of the differences between an espresso Macchiato, a double, long Macchiato, a latte Macchiato, a caramel Macchiato.
Whether you prefer rich and bold or more creamy espressos like those found in Italian-style macchiato variations – there's no doubt that these beverages will provide delicious options for any coffee lover.
Need a quality coffee gadget to make your macchiatos and other espresso drinks? Check out our top picks of best espresso machine under 1000 USD below.
Now go forth and caffeinate your tastebuds. Happy brewing!