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What Exactly Is a Macchiato Coffee?

What Exactly Is a Macchiato Coffee?

Welcome to the world of macchiatos. This post is designed to demystify one of the most distinguished members of the coffee family. Known for its strong and refined flavor, the macchiato is both a classic and a mystery to many. 

We’ll explore what exactly makes a macchiato, how it differs from other coffee drinks, and why it continues to captivate coffee lovers worldwide. If you’re eager to deepen your understanding or just curious about this unique coffee, you’re in the right place.

The Quick Answer

If you’re just looking for the brief rundown, here's a quick snapshot of the macchiato:

  • Definition: A macchiato is a strong espresso-based coffee, marked with a dash of steamed milk or foam, distinguishing it from other espresso drinks.
  • Flavor Profile: It offers a robust espresso flavor, softened slightly by the milk, making it ideal for those who appreciate a strong coffee taste without the harshness.
  • Comparison: Unlike a latte, which is milk-dominant, the macchiato focuses on the espresso, with milk merely accentuating its features.
  • Variations: There are two main types - the traditional Italian Macchiato and the more milk-rich Cloud Macchiato.
  • Best Enjoyed: Sipped slowly to appreciate the balance between the bold espresso and the creamy milk.

Whether you're a long-time fan or new to the macchiato scene, understanding these basics can give you some more appreciation for this classic coffee.

Macchiato vs. Other Coffees

different types of coffee

Understanding the macchiato begins with contrasting it against other popular coffee drinks. Here's how it stands out:

Macchiato vs. Regular Coffee

  • Strength: A macchiato is typically stronger than regular brewed coffee due to its espresso base.
  • Preparation: While regular coffee is often prepared via drip or French press, a macchiato is made with a shot of espresso and a small amount of milk.

Macchiato vs. Latte

  • Milk Proportion: A latte involves a larger proportion of steamed milk, resulting in a creamier, milder flavor.
  • Flavor Focus: In a macchiato, the espresso is the star, with milk playing a supporting role, whereas in a latte, the milk softens and blends more with the coffee flavor.

Each coffee type offers a unique experience, with the macchiato providing a bold yet nuanced taste, perfect for those who enjoy the intensity of espresso with just a hint of creaminess.

The Anatomy of a Macchiato

macchiato art

Let’s get into the specific characteristics of a macchiato.

Core Ingredients

  • Espresso Base: The foundation of a macchiato is a rich, intense shot of espresso.
  • Steamed Milk or Foam: A small amount of milk or foam is added, 'staining' the espresso, which is where the name 'macchiato' (Italian for 'stained' or 'spotted') comes from.

Brewing Technique

  • Espresso Quality: The quality of the espresso shot is important, since it dominates the flavor profile.
  • Milk Addition: The art of adding milk or foam requires precision; too much can overpower the espresso, while too little may not soften its intensity adequately.

Flavor Profile

  • Rich and Bold: The espresso in a macchiato delivers a potent flavor, characterized by its concentrated coffee essence.
  • Subtle Creaminess: The touch of milk or foam adds a slight creaminess, creating a balance between strong and smooth.

How to Enjoy a Macchiato

macchiato in a tall mug

Enjoying a macchiato to its fullest involves more than just the brewing process; it's also about how you savor it.

Sipping Technique

A macchiato is best enjoyed slowly, allowing the flavors to unfold. Start with small sips to fully appreciate the combination between the bold espresso and the delicate creaminess of the milk.

Taste Experience

The initial taste is usually the intense espresso, followed by the milder, soothing sensation of the milk. This layered experience is the hallmark of a well-made macchiato.


While purists may prefer the classic form, don't hesitate to experiment. Adjust the amount of milk or foam to suit your taste. Some might even add a sprinkle of cocoa or a dash of flavored syrup for a personalized twist.

A macchiato is an experience. Taking the time to enjoy its layers and subtleties can turn a simple coffee break into a moment of true indulgence.

What Type of Milk is Best For Your Macchiato?

pouring milk for a macchiato

Selecting the right milk is important in defining your macchiato's character. You need to balance what works well in a macchiato and your personal preferences.

Here are the main options:

  • Whole Milk: Rich and creamy, it balances the espresso’s intensity well.
  • Skim Milk: Lighter, emphasizing the espresso's boldness.
  • Plant-Based Milks: Almond or oat milk adds a unique twist with their distinct flavors.

While each type of milk brings something different to the table, whole milk is often the preferred choice. It provides a creamy texture that complements the strong espresso without overpowering it.

Traditional vs. Modern Takes

macchiato coffee

The macchiato has a few different variations that each offer a unique experience. Here are the two main variations:

Traditional Italian Macchiato

The classic version, a shot of espresso 'stained' with a dollop of steamed milk or foam. It's known for its strong espresso flavor with just a hint of milk.

Cloud Macchiato

A modern twist, characterized by its frothy, cloud-like milk foam layered atop the espresso. This version is often sweeter and creamier than the traditional macchiato, appealing to those who prefer a milder coffee experience.

While both versions hold their charm, the traditional Italian Macchiato remains a favorite for purists. Its straightforward, espresso-forward profile captures the essence of what a macchiato originally intends to be – a strong coffee with a slight softening touch from milk.

Choosing the Right Coffee Beans

Aerial Resupply Coffee's espresso coffee

When it comes to creating the perfect macchiato, the selection of coffee beans is a crucial step. At Aerial Resupply Coffee, we understand this importance and offer a range of beans that are perfect for crafting this beloved espresso-based drink.

Our dark roast beans are a particularly excellent choice for macchiato enthusiasts. The deep, intense flavors inherent in these roasts form the perfect foundation for a traditional macchiato, where the espresso's bold character is a key player. The rich, full-bodied nature of our dark roast provides a balance with the light touch of milk, creating a macchiato that's both robust and smooth.

For those who prefer a flavorful espresso base, our espresso roast beans are the ideal option. They offer a complex flavor profile that includes both the rich depth of a traditional espresso and the nuanced notes that make each sip a delightful experience. This roast is tailored to produce a macchiato that's flavorful but not overpowering, allowing for a perfect blend with the creamy milk.

Here are some of our roasts that will work best with a macchiato:

Here are those same roasts in k cup form:

DIY Macchiato at Home

adding espresso beans while making a macchiato

Creating a macchiato at home isn’t as hard as you would think. Here are some tips to help you get started with your DIY macchiato.

Tools Needed for Brewing

  • Quality Espresso Machine: A must-have for extracting rich, flavorful espresso shots.
  • Fresh Coffee Beans: Choose high-quality beans for the best flavor. A medium roast is typically preferred for its balanced profile.
  • Milk Frother: Essential for achieving that perfect foam for a traditional macchiato or the cloudier version.

Brewing Steps

  1. Pull a Strong Espresso Shot. The heart of the macchiato is a well-brewed espresso.
  2. Froth the Milk. Whether it's a touch of milk or a fluffy cloud, getting your milk texture right is key.
  3. Carefully combine. Gently add the milk to the espresso, ensuring not to overwhelm the coffee's robust flavor.

Making a macchiato at home is about finding your personal preference. Experiment with different coffee beans, milk types, and frothing techniques until you find your perfect match. Enjoy the process – each cup is a step closer to your ideal macchiato.


In this journey through the world of the macchiato, we've gone through various facets of this coffee, from its rich espresso base to the delicate art of milk addition. 

Here are the most important pieces for a perfect macchiato:

  • Your choice of coffee beans, like our dark and espresso roasts.
  • Precision when adding milk.
  • Adding personal touches to your macchiato based on your preferences.

We hope this guide inspires you to explore the art of macchiato making, whether you're a seasoned aficionado or a curious newcomer. Each cup offers an opportunity to savor a moment of exceptional coffee craftsmanship.


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