Also known as espresso macchiato or caffè macchiato, macchiato coffee is in simple terms an espresso with a dash of usually foamed milk. The Italian expression "macchiato" can be in fact translated as stained or spotted, recalling the milk’s mark commonly added to dark intense espresso, lightening the colour of the coffee and piercing its smooth and black surface.
Some say macchiato was born out of the need to mark the difference between espresso with a spot of milk and a coffee with milk. A macchiato coffee certainly adds to the classic espresso’s robust, deep and rich taste a hint of creaminess and smoothness, provided by its peculiar spot of milk itself. While most countries have adopted the traditional Italian naming, a few of them go for a different one. For instance, if you’re looking for a macchiato in Portugal, all you have to say when ordering is you want to taste a cafe pingado, referring to the drop of milk included.
A variant can be found in latte macchiato, literally "stained milk", consisting in a foamy beverage in which the main ingredient is milk, while espresso – generally around half of it – is added on top.
Macchiato coffee has been evolving over the years since coffee shops and chains have tried over time to rekindle and spice up their selections and product range. Furthermore, macchiato can be enhanced with flavoured syrups, such as caramel or vanilla. Whether some consumers may consider it even more delightful, coffee purists might see it as a sacrilege.
In the following paragraphs we will see how to prepare an exceptional macchiato coffee according to the Italian tradition and the most clasic recipe.
To blend the distinctive and bitter flavour of espresso with a velvety and smooth milky taste all you need is:
As to the equipment required, you will make use of a coffee grinder, an espresso machine, a milk steamer, and, finally, an espresso cup.
First of all, grind your coffee beans. For the best flavour, it is highly recommended to do that just before brewing. Besides, make sure to grind them fine in order to obtain the right texture for your brewing method. Brew a shot of espresso by using an espresso machine, a moka pot or the equipment you have on hand.
It is time to steam your milk. However, you will need a small amount of it. Place your milk into a cup, then insert the frothing wand of your espresso machine and froth until it doubles in size. In case you don't have a milk frother or a French press, you still can heat milk in the microwave or in a pot on the stove, just before pouring it into a mason jar and shaking or whisking it until it is fully frothed.
In case you are wondering which could be the best type of milk for your macchiato coffee, the best choice is with no hesitation whole milk. It undoubtedly froths best, as it has higher milk fats and proteins. In any case, to do that the best way, make sure your milk is as fresh as possible!
At this point, pour the steamed milk into the espresso. The art of this beverage truly comes out in how you accomplish this step. Make sure to pour it into the centre and the stain of milk will be visible on the surface.
As already mentioned, you may garnish your macchiato with whipped cream or syrups at leisure. Time to serve and enjoy!
Here are the simple tips you need to follow to brew a tasty and delicious Italian macchiato coffee as tasty as the one you would order in your favourite coffeehouse!