What is a Macchiato
While over 150 million Americans consume coffee daily, a large percentage of the drinking population continues to miss out on the true beauty of coffee. There is a world of delicious tastes to be discovered, many cherished espresso drinks, and the macchiato is one that you should get to know.
Even the most casual coffee fan can instantly identify an espresso or a cappuccino, but the macchiato is one that confuses a lot of people. This confusion is in spite of the fact you've almost certainly heard of it at some stage.
The Italian macchiato is an espresso-based coffee that was first introduced by baristas back in the 1980s as a way to help coffee enthusiasts distinguish the difference between a plain espresso and an espresso that is made with milk.
Its growing popularity across North America is largely attributed to the fact it provides a nice middle ground between an espresso and a cappuccino while it simultaneously offers great versatility. In fact, many coffee shops using commercial espresso machines have preprogrammed settings for the macchiato.
There are no set rules on how much milk should be added to the espresso. Likewise, the milk can be standard or steamed, which adds further personalization opportunities. Whether made with a home coffee machine or via a manual method, the drink is traditionally prepared as a short beverage.
It tastes similar to a cappuccino, but is noticeably stronger. Over the years, the macchiato has been further enhanced with customized variations, including the caramel macchiato and iced macchiato. Meanwhile, long macchiatos can be created by adding a second espresso shot.
The standard macchiato is also considered a healthier coffee because it weighs in at around 10 calories with a fat-carbs-protein ratio of around 50-30-20. Of course, the figures may change slightly depending on the choice of coffee beans or the addition of extra milk.
Etymologically speaking, the macchiato takes its name from the Italian word for "marked". That's because it "marks" the primary ingredient with the secondary ingredient. If you practice latte art, one could argue that you are performing a 'Macchiato'.
In most cases, this means adding a dash of milk to the espresso shot, which creates the espresso macchiato. However, adding a shot of espresso to a cup of milk is a popular variation that produces a latte macchiato.
Macchiato Vs Latte
In terms of its basic formulation, the macchiato is probably most closely linked to the latte. After all, milk (or steamed milk) is added to the espresso shot to create either of the two beverages. However, there are clear differences between the two. The most obvious is that a macchiato is generally a short beverage while the latte is much taller.
Conversely, the espresso macchiato is much darker in appearance. This is because the milk is only used to mark the coffee. When made in a traditional method, the coffee is only 1.25-1.5oz, making it a drink that can be consumed in a very similar fashion to a straight espresso.
It is smoother, is not topped with froth, and is less powerful than an espresso. However, you will still gain the delicious tastes commonly attributed to an espresso. Many people opt for this drink to prevent bloating due to the small portion size.
This is underlined by their contrasting origins. While the macchiato is a "marked" coffee, the term caffe latte translates directly to "coffee milk". The milk is, therefore, a far more prominent feature in the latte. Consequently, it is taller, lighter, and sweeter than the macchiato.
The latte is often topped with a layer of foam, which makes it a milder coffee despite the fact it uses the same amount of espresso (one shot) as a standard macchiato and other espresso-based drinks.
In essence, the macchiato and latte are in the same family of beverages as they use the same ingredients. However, their contrasting characteristics highlight that the addition of milk can completely alter the appearance, flavor, and overall drinking experience.
When you want a quick coffee hit that brings the full flavor of an espresso with a hint of the taste experience delivered by a latte, the macchiato is your perfect solution. If you have an automatic espresso machine at home, or perhaps a manual lever espresso maker, you can make these yourself with ease.
How To Make A Macchiato
The Italian macchiato is available in most good coffee houses. It can be prepared as a standard or long version. Alternatively, the addition of syrups, a double espresso shot, more milk, and other custom options make it a great 'on the go' option during your daily commute to work.
However, when looking for a quick hit or pick-me-up at home, you can enjoy a similarly simple brewing method. There are multiple options at your disposal, but the most common solutions are listed below:
Macchiato With A French Press
Whichever method is selected, a high-quality espresso is essential. Using espresso beans or a very dark roast bean, you should grind the beans to a fine powder. Following this, you can prepare the macchiato using your French press by completing these steps;
- Boil the kettle and leave it to stand for 30 seconds.
- Add two tablespoons of coffee to the French press.
- Add a dash of boiling water, allowing the coffee to bloom.
- Pour the rest of the necessary water (1 cup) into the French press.
- Close the lid and wait for five minutes.
- Plunge slowly. The first plunge should stop at the halfway point. The second can go all the way.
- Pour the coffee into the serving pot.
- Add your milk or steamed milk.
The easiest way to create steamed milk is with a frother, but a dash of standard milk is fine.
Macchiato With A Coffee Machine
The French press method is pretty simple but will require about 10-15 minutes. When equipped with a high-quality coffee machine, such as a grind and brew coffee machine, the whole process can be automated to provide guaranteed consistency in taste and temperature. To make your macchiato in this way, simply;
- Brew one shot of espresso in the espresso machine.
- Steam a small amount of milk to 160°.
- Slowly pour the milk into the espresso.
Yes, it really is as easy as 1-2-3. With the right choice of coffee beans, it'll feel like you've been transported straight to the coffee house.
When wanting to create a macchiato that brings an extra je ne sais quoi to the table, the addition of a store-bought syrup is the most likely solution. In this case, you will follow whichever method you usually opt for, but place the syrup in the bottom of your cup before pouring the coffee from your machine or French press into the cup.
There you have it, the Macchiato. Now, go mark (Macchiato) your day with a delicious hot or iced Macchiato. Next time you make your way to the front of the counter at that café or coffee shop, you'll impress everyone with your newly acquired knowledge of the Macchiato!