When you’re a coffee lover, there are few things more satisfying than making your own perfect cup of espresso-based drinks at home.
One recipe that I have recently become obsessed with is the classic macchiato – small and balanced, delivering both the flavor of rich espresso and creamy sweetness from frothed milk in one delicious sip.
In this article, I’ll guide you through each step to learn how easy it can be to make this tasty little drink at home.
What is a Macchiato?
A macchiato is a classic Italian coffee drink made with one shot of espresso and a dollop of milk foam. This leaves the espresso as the main taste driver of the macchiato, the milk froth on top simply adds “design” and lightens the crema of the espresso.
Caffè macchiato originated in Italy, where it was first introduced as an alternative to stronger drinks like straight espresso. The term macchiato means “stained” or “spotted”, referring to the spot of milk over the espresso shot, which baristas put for servers to identify which drinks have milk in them.
What I find interesting about this drink is that it’s meant to be consumed quickly. Unlike other espresso+milk drinks with larger volumes that are best enjoyed slowly, the macchiato is a quick pick-me-up for those who need their caffeine fix on the go. When an espresso is too intense, but a cortado is already too much volume, try the macchiato.
Equipment & Ingredients for This Macchiato Recipe
Here are the things that you will need to make macchiato:
- Espresso machine – Used to produce the shot of espresso for the recipe. If you don’t have an espresso machine, click here for more ways to brew espresso at home.
- Milk frothing pitcher – A small pitcher is needed to froth milk. The size should be appropriate for making a single serving of macchiato.
- 2 oz of cold whole or 2% milk – It’s important not to add too much milk in order to maintain the balance between the espresso and milk flavors.
- 18 grams of ground coffee – Medium or dark roast coffee that is finely ground is the best option to make espresso shots for a macchiato.
Now that you have what you need, it’s time to jump into this easy homemade café macchiato recipe.
Step-by-Step Guide to Make a Macchiato
Preparing a macchiato requires minimal ingredients and equipment, but does require some finesse in steaming and frothing the milk just right if you are using a steam wand. You can just use milk froth though, so you don’t need an espresso machine’s steam wand with this recipe. Either way, the entire process takes only a few minutes from start to finish.
Here are the steps to help you learn how to make your own macchiato at home. I’ll show you the difference between the modern and the traditional versions of the macchiato as well.
1. Brew your espresso.
- Add and tamp 18 grams of ground coffee into the portafilter and put it on the espresso machine. Use a digital scale like the Timemore scale I use to get the desired amount of ground coffee.
- Pull two espresso shots into your coffee cups. I generally don’t drink 2 shots at once, just a single shot. But all to their own.
2. Steam and froth the milk.
- Use any milk frothing method to steam and froth dairy or vegan milk.
- You can also use a steam wand, but it’a a bit overkill, since you’ll be wasting most of the milk:
- Submerge half of the steam wand angle-wise into the milk pitcher with 2 oz milk so that air bubbles are created for more foam production.
- Use a thermometer during steaming to ensure that the milk doesn’t get too hot, over approximately 70°C (160°F).
3.a. The traditional macchiato uses a dollop of milk froth over the espresso.
- Add a tablespoon of warm milk froth in the center of the cup.
- Serve and drink immediately.
3.b. The modern macchiato adds milk as well.
- The modern macchiatos ratios are 1 part coffee : 1/2 part steamed milk : 1/2 part milk froth.
- Hold your frothed milk pitched at an angle over your prepared espresso, and pour it gently into the center, then let it settle naturally atop the espresso.
What kind of cup should you serve a macchiato in?
The best cup to use for serving macchiato is a small cup, typically a transparent espresso cup or a macchiato cup, which holds more than 60 ml of liquid.
Barista Tips for Making Macchiato
Macchiato may be quick to make and consume, but you also have to take the time to master this recipe. Here are some additional tips to make sure that you can make a macchiato that you’ll be proud of:
- Make it a caramel macchiato recipe: If you love the Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks, you can elevate yours by putting vanilla syrup into the mug before everything else and adding a drizzle of caramel sauce over your macchiato foam. Add ice and make it 6 ounces of milk and you have an iced caramel macchiato.
- You can make it non-dairy: Substitute whole milk with non-dairy and vegan options such as almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk.
- Use freshly ground beans: Instead of buying preground beans, grind your own coffee beans to ensure the freshness of your espresso shot.
- Learn to make other espresso-based drinks: Once you’ve mastered making macchiato coffee, it’s easier to learn other espresso drinks with milk such as a latte, cappuccino, and flat white.
If you’ve read this far, you should now be able to make a delicious macchiato, the classic Italian drink in no time. You can even take your macchiato to the next level by incorporating caramel or turning it into an iced beverage.
So go ahead and impress yourself (and others) by serving up some café-worthy drinks from the comfort of your very own kitchen. Happy sipping.