Slices of pie with lemon jam, latte-macchiato in transparent cup

With so many coffee varieties to choose from, stepping into a coffee shop can be bewildering.

Do you know the difference between a macchiato and a latte?

Well, you will by the end of today!

Before we delve down into what a macchiato is and how to make one, it pays to look first at espresso.

Why is this?

Well, as you’ll know if you’ve got even a passing interest in coffee, espresso acts as the base for a number of longer and creamier drinks so how do you get that macchiato started?

I. Espresso

Espresso coffee and espresso machine on a wooden table

With espresso, near-boiling water is forced through a container filled with coffee grounds at high pressure.

Espresso, originally from Italy, is thicker than coffee brewed using other methods with more dissolved solids floating around. Espresso also comes with a crema, a foam that has a creamy consistency.

The pressurized brewing process leads to an intense concentration of flavor and chemicals in your espresso shot.

A shot is the term for a short glass of espresso. A double shot is self-explanatory.

Although the caffeine content is high with espresso, the far smaller serving size means you’ll end up with less caffeine overall.

If you want to make your coffee the way the Italians take it, there’s no substitute for an espresso machine to get the job done to perfection.

How To Make Espresso Like a Professional Barista

Barista pressing ground coffee into portafilter by tamper to making fresh espresso

Assuming you have your espresso machine in place, making a shot isn’t that tough.

  1. For a single shot, weigh out 7-9g of fresh beans. For a double shot, you’ll need 14-18g
  2. Grind your beans finely to a consistency roughly comparable with table salt
  3. Use distilled water if possible. Failing this, use bottled water or filtered tap water. Don’t underestimate the importance of top-notch water if you’re hoping for a truly intense espresso at its finest
  4. Put your coffee grounds into the portafilter then tamp down
  5. Start your espresso machine
  6. When pouring your shot, 25 seconds is the optimum extraction time


With those basics in place, you now understand what makes up the foundation of your longer, creamier coffees like macchiato.

What is macchiato exactly, though?

II. What Is Macchiato?

Macchiato is made using a shot of espresso along with a tiny splash of steamed milk and foam.

The name macchiato comes from the Italian word for “spotted” or “marked.” This marking is what baristas pop on top of this drink to identify it and differentiate it from a straight-up espresso.

There are variations on this drink including latte macchiato and some flavored versions like caramel macchiato which use syrup for added sweetness.

A regular macchiato is made from simply espresso and foam and luckily it’s extremely simple to make.

How To Make Macchiato Like a Professional Barista

  1. Make an espresso shot as outlined above
  2. Hold a container of cold milk at 45 degrees to the wand on your machine
  3. Steam until the milk increases in volume
  4. Add a teaspoon of the foam to your shot of espresso and that’s your regular macchiato just the way a barista would serve it

How about those other variations on a macchiato, though?

We’ll look next at how you can tell a macchiato apart from a latte macchiato.

III. What’s The Difference Between Macchiato and Latte Macchiato?

A latte macchiato is made up of a single shot of espresso poured on top of steamed milk with a touch of milk foam added at the end to give the macchiato a creamy, layered look.

This macchiato has a milder taste than an espresso macchiato because there’s much more milk.

Don’t confuse a latte macchiato with a latte. With a latte, there’s steamed milk and espresso but milk is added to the espresso not vice-versa.

Making a latte macchiato is not much more complicated than making an espresso macchiato.

How To Make Latte Macchiato Like a Professional Barista

Slices of pie with lemon jam, latte-macchiato in transparent cup

A latte’ macchiato is best served in a tall glass so you can see the beautiful layers of the espresso, milk and foam.

To make a good latte macchiato, follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare an espresso as we explain above
  2. Put some cold milk into a milk frother and heat until you get a rich, creamy froth
  3. Pour the froth into a tall glass and you’ll see the milk and foam separate
  4. Add your espresso to the glass and it will flow gently down, settling in the middle with the foam above and the milk below so you get those trademark layers

So, now you’ve seen how to make an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato, how about some other classic, espresso-based coffees?

IV. Other Types of Espresso-Based Coffee

We’ll round out today with a quick glance at some of the other enduringly popular espresso-based drinks out there.

All of these drinks should be commonplace sightings on the menu at your coffee shop but you might be a little confused over what they are, exactly.

Well, we’ll clear that up right now.

Each of the below drinks uses a shot or double shot of espresso as a base.

  • Ristretto: You extract a ristretto using the same amount of coffee as you’d use for a regular shot of espresso but only half the water. This results in an intense, dark and highly concentrated espresso. Not for the faint-hearted!
  • Americano: A long black, also commonly known as an Americano, is hot water with a shot of espresso extracted on top
  • Latte: Latte again uses espresso as a base with both micro-foam and steamed milk added. This steamed milk gives the drink a much sweeter taste than espresso
  • Piccolo Latte: This drink is a latte made in an espresso shot glass. The taste, while strong, is also mellow
  • Cappuccino: A cappuccino is much like a latte except you use more foam and finish the drink off with sprinklings of chocolate
  • Flat White: A flat white is a cappuccino without the foam or chocolate. Add steamed milk to a shot of espresso in a cup but don’t pour in any micro-foam
  • Mocha: A mocha is like a hot chocolate colliding with a cappuccino. Add some chocolate powder to a shot of espresso and add micro-foam and steamed milk for a chocolatey sensation
  • Affogato: Not a drink but a dessert, an Affogato is made by placing a large scoop of vanilla ice cream into a single or double shot of espresso. What better to round out the day?

V. Conclusion

Well, by now you should be in no element of doubt as to how to make a great macchiato. You should also have a solid overview of what constitutes the other popular coffees you’ll find on any Starbucks menu.

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See you soon!

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