what's a macchiato, how to make a macchiato

What is a Macchiato?

A traditional Macchiato is a shot of espresso with a dollop of foamy milk as a topper. However, Starbucks redefined it with its Caramel version. Macchiato Lattes are also much bigger, so it’s a confusing beverage to order these days.

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Spillin' the Beans, coffee

About the Macchiato

Coffee Baseespresso
Added Waterno
Coffee : Milk Ratio1 : dollop
Type of Milkmilk froth
Cupglass espresso cup
Suppliesespresso, milk
Sugar or Added Flavorssugar and other flavorings are used in a Latte Macchiato
Notesalternatives to espresso machines include Moka Pot, L’OR, Nespresso, AeroPress, coffee sticks
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How to Make a Macchiato

Making a Macchiato isn’t too difficult. All you need are two ingredients: one shot of espresso and some steamed, foamed milk. Start by adding your freshly ground espresso beans to an espresso machine and brewing your shot of espresso (or use your Nespresso machine!). When it’s finished brewing, float some steamed or foamed milk on top.

1. Pull a shot of espresso or make a shot using an alternative method (scroll down for other espresso-making options).

2. Use a steam wand to froth about an ounce of milk.

3. Take a spoonful of the light foam at the top and dollop it on top of the espresso. You’re only using the froth – not the steamed milk below.

That’s the simple method for making the traditional twist on espresso. But if you’re craving a Starbucks-style beverage, you can make a Latte Macchiato. We also have a recipe for a Caramel variation with homemade caramel (keep reading!)

Latte Macchiato

A Latte Macchiato is a much larger drink, even though it’s only made with one or two shots of espresso. It’s essentially a Latte that’s prepared in reverse order. So, the steamed milk goes into the cup first, followed by the espresso. This particular drink also uses more milk like a Caffè Latte.

traditional macchiato, how to make a macchiato

Spillin’ the Beans Espresso Making Alternatives

Moka Pot


Cezve (or Ibrik)

Nespresso machine

Coffee sticks

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A Macchiato is a simple drink that’s made with espresso and milk. If you’re making a Latte version, it’s helpful to have tall, glass coffee mugs for a better presentation (see the image on the right). After all, presentation matters!

Milk froth for a Macchiato is a must. So, you’ll need at least one way to produce it. A steam wand is the best method. But you can also heat milk and use a handheld frother or an electric frother.


The non-latte version isn’t sweetened by anything but the milk foam. However, you can always add sugar to the espresso.

We’ve got the Starbucks Caramel Macchiato recipe for you below, which requires a few more ingredients. It’s prepared with homemade caramel sauce and vanilla syrup. So, even if you’re not in the mood for a macchiato, you’ve got dessert toppings!

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Spillin' the Beans, coffee

An Authentic Macchiato is a shot of espresso with just a bit of milk foam on top. The Latte Macchiato is a much larger beverage using 4 to 8 times more milk.

caramel macchiato, iced caramel macchiato

Iced Version of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato with Homemade Syrups

A layered iced coffee beverage with homemade vanilla and caramel syrups
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cuisine Beverages


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract or a vanilla bean is preferable
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 shot espresso


  • Start with the vanilla syrup by boiling 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar
  • Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 5-10 more minutes
  • Let the syrup cool, and then stir in the vanilla extract – VANILLA SYRUP ready!
  • For the caramel, combine brown sugar, butter, half & half, and a pinch of salt
  • Slowly heat the mixture on medium-low for a few minutes
  • Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes
  • Cool the mixture – CARAMEL SAUCE ready!
  • Put about a tablespoon of the vanilla syrup in the bottom of a mug
  • Froth the milk and layer on top of the vanilla syrup
  • Prepare one shot of espresso and pour it through the foam
  • Drizzle your homemade caramel sauce on top
  • Finally! Give it a taste (refrigerate the sauce and syrup for your next Caramel Macchiato craving.


Double the vanilla syrup and/or caramel sauce if you prefer a sweeter drink.
Keyword Caramel, Macchiato, Starbucks
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Macchiato?

Although there are different takes on the Macchiato, the authentic coffee is from Italy. It’s a shot of espresso with just a bit of milk foam on top. The hot drink is served in a shot glass or small demitasse cup.

Is a Macchiato the same thing as a Cortado?

The espresso-based drinks are similar, but the Cortado is a bit more milk-heavy. The macchiato has just a touch of milk foam, while cortados are equal parts espresso and steamed milk.

What’s a Latte Macchiato?

A Latte Macchiato is much larger than an authentic version. It’s basically a Latte made in reverse, starting with the milk and topped with espresso and milk froth.

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