This espresso macchiato is for those who appreciate the bold intensity of espresso tempered by a delicate layer of milk foam. This easy-to-prepare beverage has two simple ingredients and delivers a revitalizing boost whenever you need it. It’s also easy to make vegan.
Italians don’t have cappuccino after 11 am — it has to do with digestion and dairy, but they’ll have a macchiato, which is an espresso shot with a dollop of milk foam. It’s typically served in an espresso cup and has the same punch as any espresso drink.
If you can’t have dairy, you can use plant-based milk. I’ll explain below the best way to get a great foamy froth for this espresso drink.
Today’s recipe is a traditional macchiato that is straightforward without all the added syrups or sweeteners, but if you’re craving specialty drinks, check out my full list of coffee recipes.
What is a macchiato?
The Italian term for “macchiato” translates to “marked,” “spotted” or “stained.” So basically, it’s an espresso stained with a spot of milk foam.
So, if you enjoy the robust flavor of espresso but find a straight shot too intense, a macchiato offers a delightful balance.
How to make espresso without a machine
There are several ways to make espresso-like coffee with some everyday household items. My post on How To Make Espresso Without a Machine explains several ways to get that bold espresso flavor by using devices like a French Press or even a mason jar.
- It’s best to choose dark roast or espresso-labeled beans when selecting coffee beans for espresso. Espresso beans are simply dark or medium roast coffee beans specifically marketed for espresso machines. It just makes it convenient when searching for the right type of beans. You can read more about it here → Espresso Beans vs Coffee Beans.
- If using a French press, don’t buy pre-ground espresso, as it will be too fine for the press. You’ll want to use a medium-coarse grind, but if the grind is too coarse, you’ll have weak espresso. So read the post above to ensure you get the right grind for a French press.
- Temperature matters when frothing milk, especially plant-based milk, so read the section below for the best foam.
- Using the freshest milk guarantees the best foam.
- There are many considerations in making espresso, like the roast, the grind, the quality of the beans and water. It’s recommended to use filtered water to get the best taste.
How to get frothy milk
You need to warm the milk to the correct temperature whether you are using a steam wand, a handheld frother or a French press to froth the milk. You’ve probably seen thermometers in the milk at your local coffee shop, and there’s a good reason.
To get frothy milk, it’s all about the temperature and even more so when using plant-based milk.
Warm the milk to 150°F (65 °C) for optimal results for dairy and non-dairy milk. Slight variations are acceptable, but this temperature produces the best foam.
Some people recommend using barista editions of plant-based milk explicitly made for frothing, but I haven’t had issues with regular unsweetened cashew milk.
And if you have an electric frother, I highly recommend making this Hot Chocolate with Frothed Milk! Your frother can do so much more than just froth milk. :)
Is a macchiato stronger than coffee?
This macchiato recipe uses a double shot of espresso, so when comparing it to regular brewed coffee, yes, it’s more robust and has more caffeine.
But it has the same strength as this French Vanilla Cappuccino but with less milk and foam.
It’ll taste less intense than a plain espresso because you add a slight creaminess with the milk of choice.
Do you mix it?
Typically, the macchiato is to be sipped to get the layered contrasts between tastes and textures from the foam with an espresso finish.
Some stir it before drinking, and others mix it with a sweetener.
Is it bitter or sweet?
Generally, a macchiato is perceived as bolder and more robust than a latte because it has less milk and a double shot of espresso.
Espresso can be dark and bitter, so adding a touch of milk foam gives you a more balanced drink.
What to serve with a macchiato
Italians often have a sweet pastry for breakfast and a cookie in the afternoon. Many cookies in Italy are made with almond flour, so these Pignoli Cookies are easy to make and perfect for serving guests.
Coffee drinks to treat yourself
I hope you enjoy this espresso macchiato. If you try it, please let me know below. Thanks!
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- 1 double shot (2oz – 1/4 cup – 60 ml) espresso
- 2oz (1/4 cup – 60 ml) milk of choice (plant-based for vegan)
- Start by brewing a shot of espresso using an espresso machine. If you don't have one, see How To Make Espresso Without a Machine for methods to brew espresso-like coffee.
- Froth a small amount of milk to add a creamy texture to your macchiato. Heat a small amount of milk (about 1-2 ounces) and use a milk frother or steam wand to froth it until you have a small amount of creamy foam.
- Pour the freshly brewed espresso into a small espresso cup or shot glass.
- Scoop the foam into the center of the espresso.
- Espresso macchiatos are best enjoyed immediately while the coffee is fresh and the contrast between the bold espresso and the touch of milk is at its peak.