Going into a coffee shop can be intimidating. Most people aren’t sure what most of the items on the menu actually are. It’s hardly surprising. With all the single, double, triple-shot action going on, it’s a lot to take in. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. The next time your friend turns to you and asks ‘what is a macchiato?’, you’ll have the answer.
The first thing to say here is that coffee isn’t as complicated as it seems. A lot of the drinks found on a coffee shop menu are espresso based. The key differences between these drinks depend on what has been added to the espresso coffee afterwards.
Espresso Based Coffees
An espresso in its purest form is one of the more recognisable coffees. It’s the coffee in the tiny cup or takeaway container that is known to give people a quick buzz in the morning.
Espresso coffee is brewed under high pressure. A small amount of near-boiling water is forced through finely ground, tightly packed coffee beans, creating a strong shot of espresso coffee.
However, this espresso shot isn’t always consumed on its own. In fact, many of the more popular coffees contain shots of espresso with other ingredients added. Some examples include:
- Great Taste Award Winner 2018.
- Perfect for espresso coffee machines and making cold brew coffee.
- 100% Organic, Arabica coffee beans. Fairtrade & Rainforest Alliance accredited.
These are just a few to get you started. There are also variations of these popular coffees that contain different quantities of ingredients or are prepared differently.
What Is a Macchiato?
There are a couple of different kinds to choose from.
However, both are built from a foundation that is best explained by the name of the drink itself. Macchiato, translated from Italian to English, is ‘stained’ or ‘marked’.
A macchiato, therefore, begins as one ingredient that is stained slightly by another. Let’s take a closer look at two common examples:
An espresso macchiato, also known as a caffè macchiato, starts as an ordinary espresso.
A very small dash of milk and foam are added to the espresso to stain it, creating an espresso macchiato.
The espresso macchiato is designed to have the caffeine kick of a normal espresso, but with the harsher edge taken off slightly by the tiny amount of milk and foam.
A latte macchiato contains the same ingredients as an espresso macchiato. However, the ratios are flipped and espresso is instead used to stain a larger amount of milk.
Hot milk is first frothed to produce a large layer of foam that sits on top of a base layer of liquid milk.
After that, a shot or less of espresso is delicately poured over the back of a spoon and onto the top of the foam.
This method allows the espresso to slowly work its way to the centre of the drink. As such, a three-layered drink is created of foam, espresso, and liquid milk.
- Makes all coffee shop favourites.
- Adjustable milk frother to enhance the quality of steamed milk.
- Get creative with your choice of ground coffee.
Espresso vs Latte Variety
Assuming you receive the same sized shot of espresso in each drink, both the espresso latte macchiatos will pack the same caffeine punch.
However, the taste of the two drinks varies significantly so make sure you choose the one that suits your personal preference.
The espresso macchiato is perfect for people who want an intense coffee flavour but with the edges of a standard espresso rounded off slightly. Furthermore, an espresso macchiato is a great choice for people who don’t want to consume a large amount of liquid.
Alternatively, the latte macchiato is more suited to those who prefer a more milky, less intense coffee. You’ll get the same amount of caffeine if your espresso quantities are the same, but will have a much larger drink to enjoy.
Coffee Shop Differences
If you’re planning to order one of these drinks in a coffee shop then you may need to specify exactly which one you’d like.
Asking for a macchiato will likely provide you with the espresso variety. If you’re someone who prefers a less intense experience then make sure you let your barista know that you’d prefer the latte version.
Furthermore, many macchiato drinks come with a variety of syrups. If you’d like something a little sweeter then this is something you can ask about.
However, if you’d definitely not like syrup in your macchiato then check that it doesn’t come as a standard ingredient at your chosen coffee shop.
Whichever coffee you choose, enjoy. You’ve earned it.