macchiato definition macchiato definition

Macchiato Definition

By the Lavazza Team 2–3 minutes

Ever had a macchiato coffee? Perhaps it’s your go-to order at the coffee shop. A caffè macchiato is now one of the most popular drinks offered on the menu of baristas around the world.

However, you might be wondering exactly what is a macchiato coffee? Or maybe you’d like to learn how to make a real macchiato coffee? Keep on reading and all the secrets of the coffee connoisseurs will be revealed.

Definition of macchiato

To directly translate the word ‘macchiato’ from Italian, it literally means ‘stained’ or ‘marked’. Supposedly, the origin of this word’s usage in relation to an espresso macchiato came from baristas explaining to serving waiters the difference between a neat espresso, and one ‘marked’ with a tiny splash of milk. The Portuguese name for the same type of drink - Café Pingado - also reflects this meaning, directly translating as “coffee with a drop of milk”.

What is a macchiato?

As you may have guessed from the previous description, a macchiato coffee is made up of a shot of espresso, topped up with a very small amount of steamed milk. Part of the appeal of a macchiato coffee is that the milk moderates or dilutes the strong taste of the coffee without overwhelming or drowning out the flavour.

Variations, tips and curiosities

Since its invention and subsequent popularisation, there have been a few twists and variations on the original Italian macchiato coffee.


Another popular type of macchiato is the latte macchiato, which consists of a larger amount of foamed milk - closer to the amount used in a traditional latte - topped off or 'marked' with a shot of espresso on the top. It is different to a cafe latte, which involves adding steamed milk to espresso. The latte macchiato involves the use of more milk, since it is the base of the beverage and just a drop of coffee is added.

lavazza latte macchiato


Beyond the latte macchiato, there are a few more variations on the macchiato. The drink that we have explained earlier in this article, with two shots of espresso, is sometimes referred to as a double macchiato, or a “doppio macchiato” in Italy.

In Australia, the self-appointed coffee capital of the world, this is known as a long macchiato, and its counterpart, a short macchiato, contains - you guessed it - just a single shot. In Perth, Western Australia, you might even hear someone ordering a “long mac topped up”, which involves a double shot of espresso in a glass, topped up with textured milk. In Melbourne, this same drink refers to a concoction of a double shot of espresso, a glass half-filled with water, and topped up with a dash of frothed milk.


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