The Ultimate Guide to the Best Coffee Macchiato: Exploring Flavors, Techniques, and Varieties

Are you searching for the best coffee macchiato that is both naturally sweet and calorie-free? Look no further! In this article, we will explore the world of macchiatos and unravel the secrets behind making a perfect cup of this delectable Italian beverage. From the traditional espresso macchiato to the ever-popular caramel macchiato, we will dive into the different variations, discuss the milk options, and even guide you on how to froth milk for that velvety texture. Whether you're a coffee connoisseur or simply a fan of creamy indulgence, join us on this tantalizing journey to discover the irresistible allure of macchiatos.

Italian Macchiato - Naturally Sweet and Calorie-Free

The term "macchiato" translates to "marked" in Italian. When an Italian Barista prepares an "Espresso Macchiato," they mark the espresso with a small dot of milk foam. In Italian coffee houses, this macchiato is served in a tiny glass. The Italian Macchiato is strong but not bitter because it is made from freshly roasted coffee beans that are naturally sweet. The Italian-style roast caramelizes most of the sugars, enhancing the natural sweetness and adding a hint of caramel flavor to the coffee.

Unlike the American macchiato, the Italian version doesn't require additional milk, sugar, or caramel flavoring. It is naturally sweet and contains only 13 calories. Our Macchiato is one of the most popular coffee drinks in our Italian coffee collection.

Try our naturally sweet Macchiato

Peak Flavor coffee roasting for naturally sweet Italian macchiato

Italian Macchiato - Affordable and Delicious

Ordering an American caramel macchiato from a coffee shop can cost you or more. However, in Italy, an authentic Italian macchiato will only set you back about $1.50. Of course, you'll need to include the cost of airfare to Italy if you want to enjoy it every morning ☺.

At Peak Flavor Coffee, we make it easy for you to enjoy a naturally sweet Italian-style Macchiato from the comfort of your home. Inspired by Italian coffee culture, we carefully select a blend of naturally sweet coffee beans, roast them in the Italian style to develop a caramel flavor, and custom grind them to ensure the best extraction for your espresso machine. We deliver your order within 8 days of roasting, ensuring that your personalized macchiato reaches its peak flavor.

With Peak Flavor Coffee, you can make your Italian-style coffee for only $0.59 per macchiato. This means you get to save twice: on your wallet and your waistline.

Discover the flavor of Italian Macchiato

What is an Italian Macchiato?

In Italian coffee culture, a barista marks an Italian espresso in a small glass with a dollop of milk foam to create an Italian macchiato. Unlike the American Macchiato, the Italian version is naturally sweet and doesn't require any additional milk, sugar, or artificial caramel flavoring. This sweetness comes from the fresh roast, which is rich in natural caramel and honey notes. An Italian macchiato is a small portion with only 13 calories and typically costs around $1.

At Peak Flavor, we personalize our roast and grind to suit your espresso machine. Just like our custom Italian macchiato, our coffee collection includes a variety of options: espresso, cappuccino, latte, ristretto, and Americano.

Why is an Italian Macchiato Naturally Sweet and Not Bitter?

Italian coffee culture uses naturally sweet coffee bean blends for all their espresso-based coffee drinks. The fresh roast, with its extended caramelization process, avoids bitterness and eliminates the need for added sugar or artificial flavorings.

What is the Best Coffee for Macchiato?

Any fresh coffee roast with a naturally sweet coffee bean blend and extended caramelization can create an indulgent Italian macchiato. At Peak Flavor, we offer a coffee specifically developed for Italian macchiato, which we believe is the best coffee for this drink. Similarly, our range of Italian coffee is specifically designed for your espresso machine to extract natural sweetness: espresso, cappuccino, latte, ristretto, or Americano.

How Many Calories in a Macchiato?

An Italian macchiato contains approximately 13 calories and is served in a small glass portion. In comparison, the latte macchiato or caramel macchiato at your local coffee shop may have about 200 calories more than an Italian macchiato. Extra sugar, caramel flavoring, or additional milk is sometimes necessary to mask the bitterness of an old coffee roast or poor-quality commodity coffee beans.

Is Peak Flavor Macchiato a Good Value?

At only $0.59 per macchiato, Peak Flavor offers a 90% savings compared to a latte macchiato or caramel macchiato from a local gourmet coffee shop. We believe this represents excellent value for money.

What is a Caramel Macchiato?

A caramel macchiato is a popular espresso-based beverage sold at Starbucks. It is made by combining vanilla syrup, steamed milk, espresso, and caramel sauce. The espresso is poured on top of the milk, leaving a dark mark on the milk foam (hence the name "macchiato," meaning "marked" in Italian). Caramel sauce is then drizzled on top to add a layer of sweetness. Caramel macchiato is one of the most beloved drinks at Starbucks.

Now, let's explore the ingredients needed to make caramel macchiato at home.

Caramel Macchiato Video Tutorial

Let's start with the basics.

Espresso Macchiato vs Latte Macchiato

The traditional macchiato, also known as caffè macchiato, consists of one or two shots of espresso topped with a dollop of milk foam. This beverage is intense, providing a powerful caffeine and espresso flavor that is lightly balanced by the milk.

If you're familiar with an espresso cortado, it is quite similar to a cafe macchiato, except that the milk and espresso are in equal proportions. This means that the macchiato is more concentrated than a cortado.

On the other hand, a latte macchiato begins with steamed milk, unlike the usual latte where the espresso is poured first. The milk is poured before the brewed espresso shots, creating a layered effect as the espresso sinks beneath the foam without mixing with the rest of the drink.

Preparations may vary depending on where you buy your latte macchiato. Some places use one or two espressos, resulting in differences in caffeine strength.

In terms of taste, macchiatos are considered "espresso-forward" beverages, meaning that the flavor of the espresso is more prominent. Generally, latte macchiatos have a milky taste, while espresso macchiatos are more intense.

Read more about the differences between Espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato here.


When I lived in Italy with my mom, I developed a classic Italian habit: enjoying a cup of bittersweet espresso after almost every meal. We prepared espresso using a "macchinetta" or "moka." A macchinetta consists of three main parts: the bottom chamber for water, the middle chamber for coffee, and the top chamber for the finished espresso. In my opinion, a macchinetta is an amazing machine that produces authentic espresso without taking up much space on the kitchen counter or draining your wallet. I still use the macchinetta I brought from Italy many years ago, but I have my eye on the Bialetti Moka Express 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker as my next purchase. If you're an espresso lover, this machine will bring you joy! Here's a helpful video on how to use a macchinetta:

You're probably wondering which COFFEE BEANS are used to make espresso. Here's a little secret: "espresso" refers to the brewing process rather than a specific type of bean. As long as coffee beans are finely ground and prepared by forcing hot water through them with high pressure, they can be used to make espresso. You may choose to buy Starbucks Espresso Coffee Beans or use the beans you already have at home. I recommend trying different kinds of coffee to find the one that suits your taste. And if you own an espresso machine, feel free to use that instead. 🙂

Caramel Sauce

For my macchiato, I used generic caramel sauce from a local store, but it turned out to be too watery. However, I've had great experiences with Ghirardelli Caramel Flavored Sauce in the past. It's absolutely amazing!

How to Make a Macchiato

Finally, we've reached the exciting part! Once you have your espresso roast coffee, milk, and the necessary tools, you're ready to make your macchiato. If you're new to frothing, I recommend reading How to Froth Milk for beginners. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make a macchiato at home:

  • Make the espresso: Use your preferred method to make one shot of espresso, whether it's an espresso machine, a manual espresso maker, or an Aeropress.
  • Heat the milk on the stovetop or steam it with the espresso machine: Heat ½ cup of milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The milk should be hot to the touch but not simmering. You can use a food thermometer or gauge the temperature with your finger.
  • Froth the milk: Use your preferred method to froth the milk into small, even bubbles. Aim for "dry foam," which is light and fluffy. A milk frother is excellent for achieving this type of foam. I highly recommend reading How to Froth Milk if you're new to frothing.
  • Place the foam on top: Use a spoon to remove the dry foam from the top of the milk and gently place it on top of the espresso. The foam should float on the surface without incorporating into the espresso below, creating a beautiful presentation.
That's it! We hope you enjoy your macchiato. Let us know in the comments below or tag us on Instagram at @acouplecooks.

How to make a macchiato

This Caffe Macchiato Recipe is...

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For a vegan, plant-based, or dairy-free version, you can use oat milk instead.

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Learn how to make a macchiato the authentic way with a shot of espresso topped with frothy foam.

  1. Make the espresso: Use an espresso machine or a manual espresso maker to prepare one shot of espresso*. Pour it into a mug or try our Aeropress Espresso.
  2. Steam the milk or heat it to scalding: Use ½ cup of milk (you'll only use ¼ cup of foam). Heat the milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be hot to the touch but not simmering. You can measure the temperature with a food thermometer or estimate it by testing with your finger.
  3. Froth the milk: Use your preferred method to froth the milk into small, even bubbles. You should have plenty of "dry foam" for your macchiato. A milk frother is great for creating this type of foam. Be sure to read How to Froth Milk if you're new to frothing.
  4. Add the foam to the espresso: Use a spoon to remove the dry foam from the top of the milk and gently place it on top of the espresso. You'll need about ¼ cup of foam for one macchiato.


*Whole milk works best, and fresher milk is preferable for frothing. You can also use oat milk for a vegan macchiato. A milk frother is ideal for dairy-free milk. If using a French press, pump vigorously about 25 times until frothy, without overwhipping.

  • Category: Coffee
  • Method: Frothed
  • Cuisine: Coffee
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Keywords: How to make a macchiato, caffe macchiato, What is macchiato

Milk for Macchiato

The best milk to use for a macchiato is whole milk because of its high milk fat content, which produces the best froth. 2% milk is also suitable, especially if you have a handheld milk frother. The key is to use fresh milk for optimal frothing.

If you prefer a vegan macchiato, oat milk is the best non-dairy option. It froths well and adds a delicious flavor. Check out How to Froth Milk for more information on working with non-dairy milk.

How to Froth Milk for Macchiato: Using an Espresso Machine

The most technical part of making a macchiato is frothing the milk. However, frothing for a macchiato is not as complex as for a latte. Dry foam, the frothy and light foam needed for a macchiato, is relatively easy to achieve. (For a cafe latte, you'll need micro-foam with a wet-paint-like texture, but that's not necessary here!)

If you have a countertop espresso machine, you can use the steaming wand to froth the milk for a macchiato. Our espresso machine recommendation is reasonably priced and works well. Alternatively, you can froth the milk with a whisk. Here's how to use an espresso machine to froth milk for a macchiato:

  • Place the steaming wand just below the milk's surface until it doubles in size and becomes very foamy.
  • Slightly lower the steaming wand until the milk reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a thermometer or check by touching the pitcher; if you can't hold it for more than a few seconds, it's the right temperature.
You don't need an espresso maker with a steamer to make a fantastic macchiato! You can simply heat and froth the milk, which produces almost the same result. Different tools can be used to froth milk for a latte, outlined in How to Froth Milk. Here are some excellent tools for frothing milk at home:
  • Handheld milk frother: A milk frother works well and produces extremely frothy milk. It's perfect for making a macchiato.
  • French press: If you have a French press for making coffee, it's also great for frothing milk. It creates a nice, frothy foam with slightly larger bubbles than the frother.
  • Whisk: A whisk will also do the job. It whips up the milk nicely, producing larger bubbles and a bit less foam than the other methods.
How to froth milk with a milk frother

Choosing the Right Cup for Espresso Macchiato

As you can see from the photos, I use double-walled espresso glasses. They are practical with a capacity of 60 milliliters (2 ounces), providing ample space even though I only use half of it for my espresso macchiato.

However, these glasses don't retain heat as well as porcelain cups. Therefore, I generally recommend using preheated porcelain cups. You can find a 6-piece set on Amazon here.

Personalized Macchiato for Your Espresso Machine

At Peak Flavor Coffee, we carefully create each order to perfectly complement your home coffee maker. Our macchiato blend utilizes naturally sweet coffee beans and small batch roasting to enhance the caramel flavor. We also custom grind the coffee to optimize extraction in your espresso machine. Treat yourself to an authentic Italian Macchiato at home with a double espresso.

For the best Italian-style macchiato, we recommend using whole milk when adding a dollop of milk foam to your double espresso. Our Italian Macchiato bean blend contains fructose, a natural sugar, while whole milk contains lactose for an easy foam. Most high-quality espresso machines already have a built-in milk foamer.

If you're considering switching to a new espresso maker for making Italian espresso and Macchiato at home, we suggest the Breville Barista Express. It's the machine I personally use and it consistently delivers a perfect Italian macchiato using Peak Flavor Coffee.

Pair your espresso machine with our other Italian coffee roasts for the ultimate experience in taste: cappuccino, cafe latte, ristretto, or Americano.

Peak Flavor offers authentic Italian Macchiato with fewer calories

Iced Macchiato versus Iced Latte?

When the weather is warm, enjoying a cold and refreshing coffee drink can be a bit confusing if you're not a coffee expert. Ordering an iced drink may seem like you're getting the same thing regardless of what you asked for. However, there is a noticeable difference between two popular iced, milky coffee drinks: the iced latte and the iced macchiato. The iced macchiato is stronger and more layered, while the iced latte is mixed and weaker. If you're interested in learning more about how these favorite cold coffee drinks are made, let's explore the differences between these two popular types of iced coffee. What sets latte apart from macchiato?

Learn more about the differences between Iced Macchiato versus Iced Latte here.

Why is the Starbucks macchiato different?

Wait, a macchiato isn't caramel flavored? That's the question I asked Alex when we started making various types of espresso drinks. If you're familiar with Starbucks, you'll understand what I mean.

So what exactly is a Starbucks macchiato? It's a latte macchiato topped with caramel or hazelnut-flavored syrup. It consists of layers of steamed milk, foam, and espresso, finished off with a sweet drizzle. In reality, it's quite different from a traditional caffè macchiato.

Among younger Americans, macchiato is a rapidly growing trend. However, the American Macchiato differs significantly from its Italian counterpart. Rather than being created by an Italian barista, the average American chain store barista adds 235 calories to create a caramel macchiato.

An increasing number of young Americans prefer Macchiato over drip coffee. The popular American Macchiatos usually contain only one small shot of espresso but are loaded with caramel flavoring. The remaining portion of a typical 16 fl Oz American Macchiato is mostly milk, resulting in a total of 250 calories per order.

In contrast, Italian macchiato is a completely different coffee drink. It consists of a double shot of espresso with only 37ml of fresh, whole milk. The Italian version has a mere 13 calories and does not require additional sweeteners due to its natural sweetness.

The stark contrast between American and Italian macchiatos raises the question of why an American macchiato needs an extra 235 calories to taste satisfactory. The primary reason for this caloric abundance is that American macchiatos are not made with freshly roasted espresso. By the time you order a caramel macchiato at your favorite coffee shop, the coffee beans were roasted 60-90 days ago and have developed bitterness and acidity. The only way to mask the bitterness is by adding calories from sugar, flavoring, and milk.

At Peak Flavor Coffee, we customize each coffee order by blending, roasting, and grinding to match your preferred coffee drink and espresso machine. Explore our personalized collections for Italian coffee, including espresso, cappuccino, latte, ristretto, and Americano.

More Coffee Drinks & Tea Lattes

This is another post in our Barista Series: a guide to making all your favorite coffee house drinks at home! Here are a few espresso drinks and tea lattes to master:

In conclusion, the world of coffee macchiatos is filled with endless possibilities and flavors that cater to every coffee lover's preferences. Whether you prefer the naturally sweet and calorie-free Italian Macchiato or the indulgent Caramel Macchiato, there is a macchiato out there waiting to be savored. With a variety of customization options and techniques to explore, making your own macchiato at home has never been easier. So, why not embark on a journey of flavors and experiment with different milk options and frothing methods? Whether you're a fan of the traditional espresso macchiato or crave the richness of an American Macchiato, the world of macchiatos is yours to discover. Cheers to finding your perfect cup of macchiato!

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