How to make an espresso macchiato at home?

By | January 16, 2020

The espresso macchiato, as PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, is one of those coffees that you will never see at the local convenience store because it is unique and only served at reputable coffee bars and restaurants.




Learning to make this kind of coffee would be quite an impressive achievement for the at-home barista to make simply because it relies on the quality of the espresso. There is nowhere to hide if you can’t do it right!

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

What can I learn about how to make an espresso macchiato?

In fact, if you heard someone ordering an espresso macchiato from the barista, you might be quite surprised by what the customer actually gets. (Hint: it’s really tiny!)

Espresso Photography Shots

Where does espresso macchiato come from?

This beverage originates from the lively culinary & lifestyle traditions of Italy. Italians will only drink espresso in the afternoon. So the espresso macchiato was created for those afternoon coffee drinkers looking for an espresso with a stronger aromatic taste, but mellowed by the addition of a dash of milk!

Cappuccino is normally served in the morning and consist of a combination of espresso and steamed milk, then the surface is topped with foamed milk. Espresso is served in the afternoon which is a very concentrated coffee beverage that some people feel it is too strong. Then the baristas in Italy came up with the idea of espresso macchiato which takes the best of both worlds and brings them together, gently and delicately.

What does ‘macchiato’ mean?

The word ‘macchiato‘ means spotted or marked. It is made by adding a small amount of foamed milk to an espresso. The drink appeals to people who generally do not like such an unnuanced strong espresso, but who otherwise feel cappuccino is too weak and milky tasting for the afternoon.

The combination creates its own unique taste which we enjoy and appreciate. If you are a true coffee lover like me, this is a style of coffee you definitely need to try!

How is Espresso Macchiato made?

Variation 1: Standard Recipe

The way to make an espresso macchiato is exactly the same as a standard espresso. Once the espresso is actually made, just spoon the foamed milk lightly over the top of the espresso.

Please note that when we say ‘spotted’, we don’t mean drowned! You are not making a Cappuccino or a Latte… so use the foamed milk sparingly.

The reason that Espresso Macchiato is a popular alternative is that the limited amount of milk actually balances the strong coffee flavors. I find that not everyone likes the overly sweet concoctions that the Caffe Latte and its Caffe Macchiato siblings have become.

Similarly, for some the Cappuccino can also be quite milky, if it’s not made with strong enough coffee, a common problem if the coffee is poor quality or the espresso machine isn’t maintained properly.

Espresso-Macchiato

However, the espresso macchiato allows you to experience the naturally strong tones of espresso, while balancing the bitterness with a touch of sweetness from the milk. Wonderful!

Variation 2: Milk First

First, add about 10cc of milk into the bottom of the espresso cup. Then place this under the steamer and create the foam.

Now, place the cup under the espresso outlet. Pull your shot(s) directly into the cup. For non-purists, you can sprinkle very lightly with cocoa powder for a finish. Otherwise drink as is! 😀

What equipment and coffee do you need?

If you want to know how to make an espresso macchiato, you need to have these tools on hand.

  • An espresso maker of some sort which you have set up and used to make espresso before.
  • A milk steamer so you can make the foam for the top.
  • Good quality espresso coffee beans.
  • Espresso cups for presenting your beverage.

Buy espresso cups or glasses: Insulated

That last item is particularly important in the winter. Espresso of all kinds is a very small drink, so keeping the temperature warm in the winter is a challenge. In other words, it cools fast. I would normally recommend small cups like those pictured in Jeremy Yap’s picture, filled with hot water to keep the cup warm.

Look at these highly recommended double hulled glasses on Amazon

Check out these insulated espresso cups @Amazon for warmer espresso

But in a Chicago winter freeze, I’d suggest using double hulled glasses or insulated espresso cups to help keep the espresso warm while you steam the milk..

Video Tutorial: How to make an espresso macchiato?

You can watch the video to see how it’s done by coffee expert Mike Phillips. Hell teach you how to make an espresso macchiato perfectly!

Tips and tricks if you don’t have an espresso maker

You can use a stovetop espresso maker or an Aeropress to get a decent espresso as an alternative. Steaming the milk might be done on a regular pan, with a thermometer and an Aerolatte to get a bit of froth.


Or you could get this Secura electric automatic milk frother (pictured) from Amazon if you still want to practice how to make an espresso macchiato.





For more information and recipes on to our How To Make Coffee Page

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