Macchiato – Definition, Recipes, And Variations


Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].

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If you visit your local coffee shop, the most common coffee drinks with milk are likely to be cappuccino, latte, and flat white. However, you might also notice espresso macchiato and latte macchiato on the menu.

This article examines what a traditional espresso macchiato is and how it differs from the latte macchiato. We’ll also explore how to make the two drinks and the flavors and textures you should expect from them. Finally, we’ll look at the types of macchiato you can order at Starbucks.

What Is Macchiato? The Macchiato Definition

There are different types of macchiato. A traditional macchiato is known as an espresso macchiato or caffè macchiato. This beverage consists of a single or double espresso shot with one to two teaspoons of milk foam served on top in a 2oz or 3oz demitasse cup.


The “macchiato” in Italian word means “stained,” “spotted,” or “marked.” In a classic macchiato, you always add the espresso to the cup before the milk. Therefore, the espresso is stained, spotted, or marked by milk foam.

The result is an espresso-based drink that accentuates the robust taste of the coffee, offset slightly by the sweetness and texture of the steamed milk. The foam also ensures a slightly cooler drink than an espresso on its own.

In Italy, a traditional macchiato will only have a small amount of milk foam on top (around 1 fl. oz). However, baristas often use more milk when preparing espresso macchiatos in other countries, including the US. Indeed, you can also order a wet espresso macchiato in some outlets, which uses half espresso and half steamed and frothed milk.

*Since it’s an Italian word, coffee lovers often spell it wrong, you may see macchiatto, macciato, machiato, they are talking about the same drink.

The other type of macchiato is the latte macchiato. This is quite different from the espresso macchiato, and we’ll detail precisely how later. For now, let’s examine how to make this amazing espresso drink.

How To Make An Espresso Macchiato (Recipe)?

As we explained earlier, the espresso macchiato brings out the bold flavors of the espresso, so using high-quality beans and pulling the perfect shot are pivotal to the quality of your coffee drink. Therefore, you’ll need some good beans and a decent espresso machine with a steam wand for the best results.

Remember, with espresso macchiato, you always pour the espresso into the cup first, then add the milk froth. Let’s go over the steps:

  1. Pull either a single or double espresso shot according to your preference.
  2. Using the steam wand, create frothy milk foam like the dense foam of a cappuccino. The textured milk should resemble melted ice cream.
  3. Using a teaspoon, scoop one or two spoons of foam and place it in the center of the cup on top of the espresso, then enjoy your drink. Because the beverage is small, it won’t stay hot for too long, so for the best results, make sure you drink it immediately.

This helpful video tutorial details how to make an Italian-style espresso macchiato.

What Is A Latte Macchiato?

The latte macchiato is significantly different from the espresso macchiato, despite their similar names. Indeed, it’s prepared the opposite way around, with the freshly steamed milk added to the cup first, followed by the espresso. In other words, this time, it’s the espresso that stains, spots, or marks the milk.

You usually serve the latte macchiato in a larger glass cup (typically 8 fl. oz to 12 fl. oz).


A latte macchiato contains significantly more milk than an espresso macchiato. Meanwhile, the espresso flows on top of the milk and forms layers.

Tip: An easy way to remember the difference between an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato is that the primary ingredient and first thing to pour in each cup is the first word in the name.

How To Make A Latte Macchiato (Recipe)?

As we explained earlier, the primary ingredient in a latte macchiato is milk, which is first added to your glass. Here are the steps:

  1. Froth milk using a steam wand. You’ll need significantly more milk (around 8 fl. oz) than for an espresso macchiato.
  2. Pour the steamed milk into the glass, with the airy foam sitting on top. There should be enough milk almost to fill the glass, leaving just enough room for your espresso.
  3. Pull a single shot espresso and pour it directly into the milk in the glass.
  4. Add vanilla-flavored syrup or other flavored syrups if you like.

Because the milk settles in the glass, you should get a beautiful three-layered drink, with the layer of espresso sitting between two layers of milk.

The result should be a delicious beverage that provides a bold first sip thanks to the espresso being added last. Then you’ll get the satisfying creaminess of the steamed milk.

What Is A Macchiato At Starbucks?

Starbucks has a range of macchiato beverages. Let’s go through each of them, so you know how to order the one you want and the ingredients you’ll need for making Starbucks macchiatos at home.


Espresso Macchiato At Starbucks

The Starbucks espresso macchiato is similar to the traditional macchiato described earlier.

The espresso macchiato is available in four sizes – single (0.8 fl.oz), doppio (1.6 fl.oz), triple (2.3 fl.oz), and quad (3.1 fl.oz). Each size offers an extra shot of espresso, with the single containing one shot and the quad, four espresso shots.

If you don’t request any customizations, your barista will serve the espresso macchiato with a dollop of 2% steamed milk and foam. Meanwhile, there is only a hot espresso macchiato option.

As with many Starbucks beverages, you can customize your drink in many ways. For example, you can opt for a non-dairy milk option, such as almond milk. Or you can add a sweetener, such as sugar or honey. This is true of the following macchiato drinks, too.

Caramel Macchiato At Starbucks

Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato is prepared more like a latte macchiato than an espresso macchiato, with the milk poured into the glass first, followed by the espresso.

The Starbucks caramel Macchiatos are available in four sizes – short (8 fl. oz), tall (12 fl. oz), grande (16 fl. oz), and venti (20 fl. oz).


First, the barista will pour 2% steamed milk into the glass, then add either a single or double espresso shot depending on the size (short and tall contain one espresso shot, whereas grande and venti use two).

Next, the vanilla syrup is added, with an extra pump added per size. So, a short serving has one pump of vanilla syrup, whereas the venti has four pumps of the syrup.

Finally, the top of the beverage is crisscrossed with a caramel drizzle.

Your beverage will have a rich and bold espresso flavor offset by the sweet finish of the vanilla, caramel, and milk.

You can order hot or iced Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks, making it an excellent all-year-round option.

Apple Crisp Macchiato At Starbucks

The Apple Crisp Macchiato is a recent fall addition to the Starbucks menu in the US and Canada.

The drink combines apple brown sugar and espresso topped with caramelized spiced apple drizzle.

The beverage is available in the same sizes as Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato. Meanwhile, the number of pumps of apple brown sugar syrup corresponds with the size you order, too. Also, like the Caramel Macchiato, the drink contains a single espresso shot in the short and tall sizes and a double shot in the grande and venti sizes.

The 2% steamed milk is added first, with the espresso added after to mark the milk. Then, the syrup is added, followed by the caramelized spiced apple drizzle.

This drink combines the apple flavor with the espresso to offer a fruity and sweet flavor.

As with the Caramel Macchiato, you can order an iced version of the Apple Crisp Macchiato, too.

Besides the Starbucks Macchiatos mentioned above, you may find cloud macchiato that is made of airy fully foam and espresso, Chestnut Macchiato, or other customized ‘secret menu’ at your local Starbucks coffee chain.

If these are not enough, check out the Starbucks secret menu to unlock more flavorful coffees.

The Final Thought

It’s a common misconception that all macchiatos are the same, but in fact, the opposite is true.

If you enjoy an espresso’s robust, bold flavors but would like a little sweetness and texture, an espresso macchiato is a good option.

However, if you’re a lover of more traditional espresso-based drinks, we recommend trying a latte macchiato, which is far milkier than the espresso macchiato and looks gorgeous with its distinctive layers.

Provided you use high-quality beans and can pull the perfect espresso shot, following the specific steps to make a macchiato is relatively straightforward. Indeed, you can even create a Starbucks macchiato, making it a versatile and delicious option to try at home.

Macchiato FAQs

Can you make macchiato with almond milk or other milk alternatives?

Yes, you can use any milk to make either an espresso macchiato or latte macchiato as long as you can create the textured foam.
So, whether you’re using almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or another dairy alternative, you should be able to make delicious espresso or latte macchiato using the appropriate milk-foaming technique. However, you can create denser milk froth with whole milk.

How much caffeine is in macchiato? 

Espresso macchiato contains around 75mg of caffeine content in a single shot and 150mg in an espresso macchiato using a double espresso.
Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato and Apple Crisp Macchiato contains 75mg of caffeine in its short and tall servings, with 150mg in its grande and venti sizes.
For context, the FDA cites 400mg of caffeine per day as a safe limit for adults.

Can I make Macchiato without an espresso machine?

Yes, you may not make the classic version of macchiato without an espresso machine, you can make a similar drink at home. You can first make a condensed espresso-like coffee using an AeroPress or a Moka Pot, then create foamed milk with a French press or a handheld milk frother. To get the better frothed milk, heat the milk to around 150F (65C) before frothing. Then you can follow the recipes above to create your own caffe macchiato at home.

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.