Whether you’re an expert homebrewer or you’re learning how to order at your local coffee shop, you’ve heard of the macchiato. The macchiato is a classic alongside staples like the latte or cappuccino.
If you’re learning the basics, you can’t skip mastering the macchiato. Today, we’re going to introduce you to a variation on the classic coffee drink: the delicious latte macchiato.
Cafe Latte Vs. Latte Macchiato
Both drinks have ‘latte’ in the name, so how different can they be? Lattes and latte macchiatos share the same ingredients: milk and espresso. So it’s no surprise that both contain milk, as latte means ‘milk’ in Italian.
Macchiato means ‘marked’ or ‘stained,’ which refers to how you mark the espresso with milk.
So, latte macchiato literally means ‘stained milk’.
To state it plainly: the difference is the order of ingredients. When mixing a latte, the espresso is poured first with the milk as the second layer. For a macchiato, you pour the milk first with espresso as the second layer.
Suppose you’re only so-so about the taste of espresso, or maybe you like the smooth milk taste of lattes. In that case, the latte macchiato is a fantastic choice. Lattes, as the name implies, emphasize milk. Latte macchiatos have less milk than classic lattes and more espresso.
How to Make a Latte Macchiato at Home
When making a latte macchiato at home, you’ll need a method of frothing milk. You can use a frothing wand, handheld frother, espresso coffee machine, or an electric mixer. If you don’t have any frothing equipment at home, never fear, as you can do it the old-fashioned way whisking by hand or shaking in a jar.
What You’ll Need:
- ½ cup of whole or 2% milk
- 2 shots of hot espresso
If you need to cut out full-fat milk, there are some froth-friendly non-dairy alternatives. Oat milk is generally the best pick for frothing, but almond milk can also achieve a decent foam.
- 1-2 tablespoons of flavored syrup
You wouldn’t add flavored syrup or garnish on the top of a traditional macchiato, but when you’re making a latte macchiato at home, why not? We recommend making a classic latte macchia first to get the process right. But you can easily add in extra flavor later.
If you enjoy a dash of cinnamon or other top garnish, it’s simple to add it as the last step of any drink. Make a traditional macchiato and give it a taste. If you miss your dash of flavor, spice it up with cinnamon or cardamom.
Ingredients prepared? Frother at the ready? Follow our four steps for how to make a latte macchiato.
Step 1: Froth Milk
The first step is to prepare your fluffy milk foam.
You might have heard that fresh cold milk is the best for frothing. If you’re using an automatic frother or press, you want to start with chilled milk. However, it would be best if you avoided frozen milk, as ice won’t froth.
Heating the milk helps improve the sweetness. But be careful not to scald your milk, as it won’t taste quite as delightful. Also, hot milk won’t froth, but warm milk can make it easier to froth by hand. It should be a colder temperature than your double shot of espresso.
Use your favorite method for frothing. If you’re using a machine or other equipment, optimal frothing will occur quickly. If you’re frothing by hand, you might need to stir or shake a few rounds.
What you’re watching for are bubbles. For your homemade latte macchiato, you’ll want a thick, bubbly milk foam. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency, you’re ready to pour.
Step 2: Make Espresso
Steps 1 and 2 can be switched, depending on how speedy you are and if you have another set of hands helping out. For example, if there are two of you in the kitchen, you can do steps 1 and 2 simultaneously. However, we’re placing the making of espresso as step 2 because you want your espresso to be hot.
If you need a reminder, we detailed four ways to make an espresso without an espresso machine in another post. With or without a device, you’ll want strong espresso.
Once you’ve brewed your espresso, set it aside.
Step 3: Pour Frothed Milk into Your Glass
For the third step, it’s milk first. While using a tall glass is preferred, as you can see the magic happen, don’t fret if you’re a mug fan. If you have a tall mug, it will work as well.
Pour your frothed milk into your drink receptacle, but save a large spoonful for after (the ‘stain’ part of the name). How much foam you reserve will depend on your taste preferences, but generally, one tablespoon is a safe bet.
Now you wait for the milk to separate, typically taking between 30 seconds to one minute.
Step 4: Add Espresso
The fourth step is where it all comes together. Begin by gathering your glass/mug and your espresso. Next, pour espresso down the side of the glass to form an attractive layer over the foamed milk. Lastly, pour or spoon in the last dollop of creamy milk foam.
If you want to add a garnish, here’s where you sprinkle on the top.
Now that you’ve added the finishing touch, you can enjoy your latte macchiato.
Should I froth or steam the milk?
For lattes and latte macchiatos, the go-to is frothing, not steaming. Why? Steaming creates tinier bubbles or microfoam. Frothing creates more substantial bubbles, forming a cloud-like surface that’s better for your espresso to float on top.
There is no wrong choice. Steaming creates a smoother, sometimes creamier taste. If you prefer steamed milk, and you’re brewing at home, why not choose steamed milk for your latte macchiato? We recommend trying the froth way at least once to check it off your traditional drinks bucket list.
Is a latte macchiato stronger than a latte?
A latte macchiato contains more espresso, and the design promotes that espresso taste. Lattes are all about that milky taste. A perfect latte macchiato blends the strength of espresso in macchiato with the smoothness of a latte. It won’t be as delicate as a latte, but it’s lighter than a macchiato.
A simple latte to brew at home when you're in need of that coffee house taste. Only two ingredients but easily customizable with tons of flavor options!
- ½ cup of whole or 2% milk
- 2 shots of hot espresso
- Froth your milk
- Prepare your shots of espresso
- Pour frothed milk into your cup
- Pour espresso over your frothed milk and enjoy!