One of my guilty pleasures that I have found I enjoy rather unusually when at Starbucks, slightly more than the anticipation of waiting for my coffee, is listening as other customers make their orders. This habit, albeit curious, has acquainted me with quite a number of coffee variations that I admittedly had no idea they even existed. One of these coffees is the renowned latte macchiato.
So, is a latte macchiato supposed to be stirred? What about an espresso macchiato? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the macchiato, the different variations, and how to brew your own drink.
Do You Stir Latte Macchiato?
Technically, you are not supposed to stir a macchiato.
A good serving of latte macchiato features distinctive layers of milk, espresso, and foam, with milk at the bottom, espresso in the center, and foam at the top. You are meant to sip these components in order, so stirring them defeats the entire purpose.
That said, stirring your latte macchiato won’t have a significant impact on the taste. In fact, you may decide to stir it because the espresso and milk are usually separated into layers; otherwise, you’ll get the coffee first.
Why Are Macchiatos Layered?
To understand why a latte macchiato is layered, you need to first learn how the drink is made.
Making a latte macchiato entails steaming milk into a properly mixed froth and then pouring it into a cup. Next, you add prepared espresso into the cup to “stain” the milk and enhance the texture.
The process calls for an order and therefore a layering, but in real sense they are not actually layered but delicately blended. Layered drinks are usually specified when you prefer the individual textures of a particular ingredient in the drink.
For example, if you order a dry cappuccino (espresso with thick froth topping from steamed milk), it means that you want the espresso and steamed milk to remain mostly separated.
Espresso macchiato vs macchiato
A macchiato is generally a cross between an espresso and a Cappuccino. Macchiato is an Italian word that literally means marked or stained. The term originated from waiters and baristas in busy kitchens, who used it as a slang term to refer to espresso that is marked or stained with a spot of milk.
The original, conventional macchiato made with espresso and a spot of milk is referred to as espresso macchiato, and it is the most popular version among the Italians. You can distinguish it from other coffee varieties by the fact that it contains the least amount of milk.
To prepare an espresso macchiato, simply top a serving of espresso with 1 to 2 teaspoons of steamed milk or foam.
Latte macchiato vs Espresso macchiato
Latte is the Italian word for milk. As the name suggests, a latte macchiato is a variation of the original espresso macchiato, made with a serving of milk and a spot of espresso instead of the other way around. The milk can be iced, foamed, steamed, or a combination.
Although the latte macchiato has become quite popular around the world, to the Italians it is merely a kids’ drink!
To prepare a latte macchiato, serve your milk in a tall glass cup and then add a spot of espresso at the center so that it makes a brown “stain” in the middle.
What Are Other Alternatives To The Latte Macchiato?
1. Starbucks Caramel Macchiato
The caramel macchiato made its debut in 1996 to commemorate Starbucks’ 25th anniversary. Today, this sweet milky coffee is one of the most popular Starbucks drinks. (Source)
A caramel macchiato consists of a blend of milk and vanilla syrup that is stained twice: starting with espresso, and finishing with caramel sauce in a unique, double-circle design.
The drink is packed with milk and can be served either iced or hot.
Do you stir a caramel macchiato?
No, you are not supposed to stir a caramel macchiato.
A caramel macchiato is made of layers of vanilla syrup, milk, and espresso, with a caramel drizzle added at the top in the form of a special crosshatch pattern. You are meant to sip these ingredients in order, so that you can savor each flavor individually. Mixing them defeats this purpose.
What is an upside down caramel macchiato?
Any drink that is made “upside down” typically has the ingredients placed in reverse. So, if you ask for an upside down caramel macchiato, you should expect to see caramel syrup at the bottom, followed by the espresso, steamed milk, and finally milk foam. Vanilla drizzle is added to the top.
You can find more details about the upside down caramel macchiato in this article.
2. Long and short macchiato
A short macchiato is basically a traditional espresso macchiato. If you want the real, original espresso macchiato, ask for a short macchiato.
On the other hand, a long macchiato is a much more complex drink with several variables.
Some folks just top up a regular macchiato to fill up the cup and call it a long macchiato. Others consider a double shot macchiato to be a long macchiato. For most Australians, a long macchiato is a double shot of espresso half-filled into a latte glass and then topped with steamed milk.
Cappuccino Vs. Caffe Latte Vs. Latte Macchiato
The latte and the cappuccino are two of the most popular drinks, but what is the difference?
What is a cappuccino?
Cappuccino is basically a mix of milk, foam, and espresso. Different people use different sizes of these ingredients when preparing a cappuccino. Some measure a third of each, which would result in quite a strong drink due to the high concentration of espresso.
Some prefer a dry cappuccino with plenty of foam, sometimes up to half the mug. Other coffee lovers like a wet cappuccino with more milk and less foam.
Personally, I don’t mind how it is prepared as long as the three ingredients are mixed from the beginning to the end.
The foam should be smooth and extremely silky and it should stay on the top for a long time. It’s also very important to texture the milk well. That is, I need to be able to taste the coffee, which ultimately means using less milk.
The traditional way of making a cappuccino involves having the top foam in the middle, surrounded by a full circle of cream. You can also have a cappuccino with a ton of foam, but the foam is hidden within the drink instead of appearing on top. You could even create some nice latte art on the surface of your drink with practice!
What is a Caffe Latte?
As mentioned earlier, latte is an Italian word for milk, so it is not really a type of coffee drink. Caffe, on the other hand, means an espresso.
A caffe Latte is therefore an espresso with milk. Ideally, a caffe latte should have more milk than a cappuccino. You can achieve this by using a bigger cup to add more milk, or by using different techniques to make the drink milkier.
In most cases, the caffe latte also tends to have less foam when compared to a cappuccino.
What is the difference between a caffe latte and latte macchiato?
The main difference between these two types of coffee is the method of pouring. With a caffe latte, you add milk over the espresso.
With a latte macchiato, you start with frothed milk and then add some espresso over the drink to end up with the three beautiful distinctive layers.
How do you make the perfect espresso for your macchiato?
To make a macchiato, you need to know how to prepare your espresso. Espresso is coffee brewed at both a high temperature and high pressure.
For this task, you need an espresso machine that can hit a brewing temperature of 90.5 to 96.1 degrees Celsius (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit), and approximately 9 Bars of pressure.
These conditions should be perfect to create a creamy, foamy layer on top. This layer is referred to as the crema and it is the sign of a good espresso.
You also need a good coffee grinder. Pre-ground coffee is okay, but it’s just not the same as using freshly ground beans. Look for a burr grinder as opposed to a blade grinder. This will ensure you put the correct, consistently sized grounds in the portafilter.
You may have to experiment a bit with the grind sizes to find the right one for your particular filter. If your portafilter basket is not pressurized, you will need a tamper to press down on the fresh grounds.
However, some baskets are pressurized so they do not require tamping. To differentiate between a pressurized and an unpressurized portafilter basket, look for a single tiny hole on the underside of the pressurized basket and a fine mesh covering the entire underside of the unpressurized one.
Now, attach your portafilter basket to the machine head and you are all set!
Just press the GO button for 3 to 4 seconds and you should have your thick, syrupy coffee coming out of the spout. A shot of coffee (1 ounce) takes about 25 seconds to pour.
The drink should be fragrant and extremely dark in color, with a thick, brown crema streaked with dark and lighter threads. The crema should cover the entire surface.
There’s nothing quite liberating like the sensation of sipping a hot latte macchiato during the cold weather. If you were wondering whether you should stir your macchiato, now you know.
When preparing a latte macchiato, remember that the milk should be way more than the espresso.
The espresso is gently layered over the frothed milk, which in turn causes a “stain” on the top. Then the foam rises to the surface as the milk settles to leave a distinctive three-layered drink.