How to Make a Macchiato: 7 Simple Easy Steps For Beginners

Last updated on June 8th, 2023 by Jules Winnfield

Searching for your perfect morning drink? Welcome to the world of the caffè macchiato.

With iced coffee sales reaching new heights, and the controversial pumpkin spiced latte returning in time for the fall season, coffee has quickly become an integral part of our modern world.

As complicated as it may seem, a mug of traditional Italian blend macchiato is actually one of the most straightforward specialty coffee drinks to make as soon as you know the steps.

With many variations of this drink available, it is quickly becoming one of the most common methods of consuming a large amount of caffeine in a short amount of time!

So whether you’re the world’s best barista, a coffee connoisseur, or a complete coffee novice, our handy guide shortlisting ways on how to make a macchiato will help you find your way!

What is a Macchiato?

This coffee drink is one of the most misunderstood caffeinated beverages by a long shot.

Macchiato is an Italian word meaning ‘marked’ or ‘stained.’ Traditionally, the drink is small and balanced. It’s usually around 3 ounces and is made with two shots of espresso derived from high-quality coffee beans, and served with a small amount of milk.

The whole milk is steamed to a light and foamy consistency, and is then either scooped or poured onto the espresso.

If it is made correctly, this espresso drink will deliver the sharp flavor of espresso and the sweetness of milk in one single sip.

Espresso Macchiato vs Latte Macchiato 

Latter Macchiatos
A delicious latte macchiato with latte art to delight you with…

Macchiatos are also used by many people as an alternative to simply adding sugar to an espresso. There are two primary forms of macchiato – the espresso and the latte macchiato.

Both of these specialty coffee drinks offer vastly different tastes to suit your palette. Developed by Starbucks in 1996, the caramel macchiatos also exist for those with a heavy sweet tooth who also want the bitter taste of coffee.

They may sound similar, but there are minute differences between the espresso macchiato and the latte macchiato that make them near opposites. A traditional Italian espresso macchiato is made mostly with espresso, and is marked with a small amount of frothed whole milk foam to achieve its signature rich flavor.

Whereas, a latte macchiato consists of mostly steamed milk with a little bit of milk foam and is marked with espresso.

How to Make a Macchiato: The Main Methods

You don’t need to buy top-of-the-range equipment to make a traditional macchiato. There are typically two different ways of making this delicious coffee drink – one using an espresso machine and one using a Moka Pot.

We have listed two distinct methods below. Feel free to take a look!

Traditional Macchiato with Espresso Machine

What You’ll Need:

  • Fresh Roasted Beans
  • Filtered Water
  • Fresh Whole Milk
  • Espresso machine with steam wand
  • Milk jug
  • Thermometer
  • Coffee grinder

The Method:

Step 1: Grinding the Fresh Coffee Beans

A macchiato is made using espresso. Each typical double shot will contain between 18 and 21 grams (0.6 to 0.7 ounces) of coffee – although this does depend on how strong you’d like your drink to be!

Measure the beans and transfer them into the grinder. This will help you to create a very fine consistency as a base for your espresso.

Remember: you can purchase pre-ground coffee if you don’t have the correct equipment. But the taste of freshly ground coffee will make a far superior espresso and thus a more enjoyable macchiato. We like the 1ZPresso as a great manual grinder option for espressos.

Step 2: Packing into the Portafilter 

Continue the process by packing the ground beans into your portafilter to ensure the correct pressure has been reached.

Tap the portafilter against your hand to evenly distribute the grounds. You can also use a tamper to get an even better packing, but be careful not to pack it in too much!

Step 3: Adding the Ground Beans

Add your ground coffee into your espresso machine to brew a single or double espresso (as per your preference). On your machine, choose either ‘espresso’ or ‘double espresso’ for this.

Then, place a relevant number of espresso cups or a small espresso glass underneath the machine, ready to begin creating your drink.

Step 4: Preparing the Milk Foam

If you have a steam wand fitted with an espresso machine, add your milk to the milk jug and gradually foam the steamed milk.

Be sure to only make foam from the milk. This is an integral part of the final macchiato product in both its taste and appearance.

Step 5: Time for the Milk Frother

Hold the steam wand just below the surface of the steamed milk until it doubles in size and becomes very foamy. Proceed to lower the steaming wand slightly until the milk reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use your thermometer to gain an accurate reading, or judge by when your hand can’t hold the pitcher for more than a few seconds. At this stage, the steamed milk should be hot to the touch, but not yet simmering.

If you like your drink to be relatively frothy, leave the steamed milk as it is. But if you prefer a drink with less froth, gently swirl the now frothed milk to release any large air bubbles.

Then, firmly tap the milk jug against a nearby counter to remove any stubborn bubbles and to incorporate the steamed milk and the froth that has accumulated on top. 

Step 6: Foam or Not to Foam

Let the milk foam stain your espresso like a piece of art…

If you like a more foamy drink, spoon the froth on top of the espresso to finish, and to achieve a ‘staining’ effect. If you prefer it to be smoother, pour in your milk until it reaches about double the height that the espresso was originally.

… And you’re finally done! 

Step 7: Customizing

If you prefer the more non-traditional look and flavor of a latte or caramel macchiato, feel free to ask your barista to add extra syrup drizzle to your drink for an extra boost of sweetness (or simply do it yourself). You could also:

  • Add vanilla syrup flavor shots
  • Top with whipped cream
  • Garnish with chocolate powder or shavings
  • Add cinnamon to give it a kick
  • for a caramel macchiato, simply drizzle caramel sauce on top
  • Pour over ice…now you have your own home made frappuccino!

How to Make a Macchiato Using a Moka Pot

There are ways and means around making a macchiato without the all the singing and dancing equipment mentioned above! 

make macchiato in moka pot
A moka pot brewing a delicious batch of espresso
Photo by Elesban Landero Berriozábal

What You’ll Need:

  • Strong coffee beans
  • Moka Pot (a stove top espresso maker) – these are affordable, easy-to-operate and highly convenient.
  • Fresh Whole Milk
  • Coffee grinder
  • Spoon
  • Whisk

The Method:

Step 1: About the Beans

Prepare the coffee. Using a Moka Pot, pour your coffee grounds into the inner basket and spread with your finger. 

Please note that you can use strong coffee in place of espresso!

Step 2: Filling the Pot

Fill the Moka Pot to its maximum fill line. Then, place the coffee filter into the reservoir and screw on the top. Heat this over a medium heat until you have created your espresso. 

A cool trick is once the espresso completes extraction, remove the moka pot from the stove and run cold water over it. This will prevent over extraction and drastically improve the flavor.

Step 3: Measuring the Milk

Measure out 200 ml of milk and heat it very slowly in a pan. You do not want this to boil – but instead want an excellent layer of milk foam or frothed milk to form.

You don’t want a chunky, heavy white layer! Furthermore, you can also put the milk into a microwave to heat. You can even use a french press to froth your milk if you need to be resourceful.

Step 4: Whisking It All

Use a whisk, a French press or a designated milk frother to successfully froth the milk. If using a handheld whisk, position it between your palms and rotate very quickly from left to right.

You’re looking to achieve a light and fluffy “dry foam” consistency. Add volume to the milk gently using a frother, then pour the foamed milk into the espresso.

Step 5: Achieving the Macchiato

macchiato milk foam
A foamy creamy macchiato with cinnamon dust to tempt you with…
Photo by Sigmund

Use a spoon to remove the top of the milk foam and place a dollop of it on top of the earlier prepared espresso. It should float on top and should look like it has stained the espresso below, like in a latte macchiato.

You can opt to have your macchiato in an espresso cup, a demitasse, or even a small glass if you so wish.

Congratulations! You have successfully made a delicious macchiato. Again, feel free to put any additional sweeteners into your recipe if you desire. Also, if you prefer a latte macchiato, copy the same steps but add more milk. You could even pour latte art if you’re feeling creative and thirsty!

Other Important Macchiato Facts

  • A macchiato is usually a strong beverage.
  • If you want to make sure you are ordering the right drink in a coffee shop, ask for an ‘espresso macchiato’, or ask to see the mug size they’re going to use. If this is smaller than a double espresso cup – you’re in the clear!
  • A standard macchiato has 2 shots of espresso, which is about 60-80 mg of caffeine.
  • Macchiatos are small and have a quick prep time. As a result, you need to drink it fast!

Our Final Thoughts

Making a cup of traditional espresso macchiato doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  Remember, don’t be disheartened if your drink isn’t perfect on the first attempt. Like any other skill, it will take some dedication and practice to perfect your blend!

You have full control over what goes into your cup – and we definitely won’t judge you if you decide to add ice, sugar, vanilla syrup, caramel sauce or dollops of foamed milk. Feel free to experiment to your heart’s content.

So whether its a home made caramel macchiato, frappuccino, mocha, or regular Americano espresso beverage, you can learn to brew it yourself from home and save yourself money…which is The Cup Coffee House way!

Need an espresso machine to get started? Check out our reviews on high quality machines from brands like De’Longhi, Breville, and Nespresso.

Overall, we hope this guide has helped to inform you about how to make and pour this great coffee drink!

Coffee Has Never Read This Good!

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