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Solving the macchiato mystery

Jun 7, 2024 | Cheeky Devil Roasters

Whether it be a morning cappuccino or an Instagram-worthy latte, most cups of coffee are easily recognisable. However, the same can’t be said for a macchiato. Even between professionals and avid macchiato drinkers, you’re sure to get different opinions on what you should be getting when you order one.

 

Origins of the Macchiato 

Nowadays, the macchiato will have different meanings depending on where you are. However, the best place to start is at the beginning. Like most espresso drinks, the word itself is derived from Italian. It means “stained” or “marked” because of the “staining” involved when you combine the milk and espresso.

The macchiato first started being made for those looking to get a caffeine fix in the afternoon. Cappuccinos were generally only used in the morning. Macchiatos were made to be lighter than an espresso shot but stronger than a normal cappuccino, becoming the perfect sweet spot for those looking for a bold but rich taste.

 

 General Definition of a Macchiato

All, what exactly is a macchiato? In general terms, it’s an espresso with a splash of milk, essentially “staining” the coffee. A splash of milk is, of course, very subjective. It could mean a dash, a teaspoon, two teaspoons or more. However, most of the time, it would be just enough to smooth out the espresso and to add body to the drink.

 

Variations of the Macchiato

The macchiato has grown over time into two general categories, the espresso macchiato and the latte macchiato. The first variation, the espresso macchiato, is the original form. It is also known as a traditional macchiato or caffè macchiato in Italy. The second variation, latte macchiato, has become more popular over the years.

Coffee enthusiasts typically agree that a true macchiato is an Italian, traditional espresso macchiato.

 

Espresso Macchiato

The espresso macchiato is comparable to a mini foamy flat white. The milk “stains” the espresso to make it more subdued. Most espresso-based drinks have more milk or foam than the espresso itself. However, an espresso macchiato has more espresso, a little milk and sometimes a bit of foam on top.

An espresso macchiato is ideal if you’re looking for something like a cappuccino but with less milk. You’ll be getting a stronger, richer espresso flavour without being hit with the complete strength of an espresso shot on its own.

 

 Long Macchiato vs. Short Macchiato

A traditional short macchiato is a single shot of espresso with a splash of textured milk. A topped-up short macchiato is also a single shot of espresso; however, the cup is filled with textured milk rather than left partly empty.

We then have the long macchiato, a concoction served in a latte glass and originated in Australia. A traditional long macchiato is a double shot of espresso with a dash of textured milk and most of the glass left empty. If you’re ordering in Perth though, you’ll most likely get a double shot of espresso with the glass filled with textured milk. In Melbourne, you’ll get get a double shot of espresso, the glass half-filled with water and then a dash of textured milk on top.

Overall, ordering a short or long macchiato will get you something different depending on the cultural influences of where you are. However, a short macchiato usually means there will be less espresso and a long macchiato usually means there will be a double espresso.

 

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