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Home » What is Latte Macchiato?

What is Latte Macchiato?

Latte macchiato is an espresso-based coffee beverage whose name translates as “stained” or “marked milk”. The name refers to espresso being added to a glass of steamed milk, leaving a dark “stain” on its surface. 

Latte macchiato is the inverse of the macchiato. In what way? Regular macchiato consists of an espresso touched with a dollop of steamed milk. Latte macchiato is one of the most popular espresso beverages worldwide, and it can be made either hot or cold.

Latte Macchiato

Where does Latte Macchiato coffee come from?

Little is known about the origin of the latte macchiato. People believe that Italians invented espresso macchiato in the 1980s. It was meant to identify espresso that contained a small amount of milk. The latte macchiato likely arose sometime soon after, also in Italy.

The traditional latte macchiato should not be confused with the Starbucks creation, the Caramel Macchiato, better known in North America. The Caramel Macchiato, introduced in 1996, is a similar concept. But the milk is sweetened with vanilla syrup, and a caramel drizzle is added to the top. The result is a far sweeter and higher-calorie beverage. 

Make sure you know the basics about different coffee types and various coffee drinks before ordering something you’re not going to like.

How to make a Latte Macchiato coffee

  • 4 ounces of milk
  • 2 ounces of espresso
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite syrup (optional)
  • cinnamon, cocoa (optional)



10 minutes


6-ounce drink

A few extra notes:

  • Special equipment: Milk frother or espresso machine with steam wand
  • 1% or 2% dairy milk is the best option as it has the right balance of proteins and fats to yield an airy but creamy milk froth.
  • You want very frothy milk for a latte macchiato, so a steam wand isn’t mandatory. A milk frother will work just as well.
  • If you’re lazy about making your own latte macchiato, check some of the top-rated latte machines instead.

Step 1: Froth the milk

Pour 4 ounces of cold milk into a milk frother or, if you’re using a steam wand on an espresso machine, into a steaming pitcher. Froth the milk until it has a light texture with plenty of air bubbles. It should be airier than the creamy microfoam you would use for a standard latte.

Pour the frothed milk into a tall clear glass, the standard serving vessel for a latte macchiato.

Pro tip: If you want to add a flavored syrup to your drink – such as the vanilla syrup used at Starbucks – mix one tablespoon of the syrup with one tablespoon of water in the glass before adding the milk. 

Step 2: Add the espresso

Pour the espresso on top of the frothed milk in the glass. Wait a minute and see distinct layers of steamed milk, milk foam, and espresso. Looking down from the top, you’ll see a spot of brown on the foamed milk from the espresso; this is the “mark” that gives the drink its name.

Pro tip: At this point, you can top your latte macchiato with a dusting of cinnamon or cocoa. The dark brown topping adds flavor and emphasizes the appealing gradation from brown to white in the glass.

What are the benefits of Latte Macchiato?

Latte macchiato’s unique health benefits result from the caffeine and antioxidants in coffee. The benefits of this coffee drink include:

  • Keeping blood pressure under control.
  • Warding off certain common diseases.
  • Providing mental alertness.

Because this drink is primarily milk-based, you also get many health benefits from the milk. Milk helps strengthen your bones, provides a wealth of vitamins and minerals, and is a good source of calcium.

A latte macchiato is one of the most mildly flavored espresso drinks. This, coupled with its appealing airy milk froth, makes it a good choice for anyone new to drinking coffee. It’s the gateway to stronger drinks like the flat white, cappuccino, and espresso macchiato.

What are the side effects when you drink Latte Macchiato?

Because it is more dilute than many coffee drinks, the Latte Macchiato has a low risk of side effects like insomnia, anxiousness, and restlessness. If consumed in copious amounts, it could contribute to an anxiety disorder, especially in someone with a pre-existing condition. Likewise, anyone sensitive to dairy may find it causes stomach distress.

What is the difference between Latte Macchiato and Latte?

Latte macchiato and the traditional latte (also known as a Caffè Latte) are made with the same two ingredients: milk and espresso. Both are often served in tall clear glass that showcases their layers.

Compared with a latte, a latte macchiato has more espresso flavor because it uses a smaller ratio of milk to espresso. The latte macchiato also has more milk froth and less steamed milk. Because latte has more milk for the same amount of espresso, it has a milder and sweeter flavor. It is made mainly of steamed milk, with just a thin layer of milk foam. So it has a creamier, denser texture.

You also prepare the two drinks differently. To make a latte, you add steamed milk to espresso. To make a latte macchiato, you add espresso to steamed milk.

If you wish to know more, read our What is latte? piece. For a more comparative perspective, read the article on cappuccino vs. latte vs. macchiato.


Yes, a Latte Macchiato coffee contains sugar, but only the naturally occurring sugars present in the milk. Traditionally, it has no added sugars or syrups. In a 6 ounce serving of Latte Macchiato made with 2% milk, there are 6 grams of sugar. On the other hand, a medium Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks contains 16.5 grams of sugar. Here’s where you can learn how to make iced caramel macchiato.

The Latte Macchiato tastes like a brewed cup of coffee with a lot of milk. But because it uses espresso and steamed milk, it has a much smoother and creamier texture than plain coffee and milk. If the espresso is prepared using a dark roast bean, as is traditional, it will have flavor notes of bittersweet chocolate and nuts.

Yes, Latte Macchiato contains coffee because it is an espresso-based drink. Espresso uses coffee beans just like coffee – often but not always a dark roast – but they are more finely ground and brewed under pressure to produce just an ounce or two of concentrated coffee referred to as a “shot”.

Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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