The word “macchiato” in Italian means stained or spotted. The espresso macchiato, therefore, means “stained espresso”, due to the milk staining the black coffee color.
An espresso macchiato is often shortened to just macchiato in some parts of the world. However, this can be confused in some cultures with a lattè macchiato and clarification might be needed.
The caffè macchiato is a short espresso drink, served in a 2 oz demitasse.
The espresso macchiato has the highest ratio of coffee to milk of any espresso and milk based drink. The milk is not supposed to take away from the taste of the coffee, but rather to add a different quality and a little bit of sweetness to the coffee.
Traditionally, a macchiato would have been prepared by steaming milk and then scooping a small amount of foam onto the espresso with a teaspoon. Nowadays, within the specialty coffee movement, it is popular to serve an espresso macchiato with some latte art on top and so the micro foam is poured from the jug rather than placed with a spoon. A well made macchiato with latte art is the mark of a skilled barista. The latte art design on a macchiato is very difficult to do because of the limited volume in the cup as well as pouring time available to the barista. If poured incorrectly, the macchiato will have too much milk and the ratio of the macchiato will be thrown off.