Bringing Europe Home

Budget Barista Series: Latte Macchiato


A latte macchiato is a dirty little drink.  Macchiare means “to dirty” or “to stain,” so a latte macchiato is milk that has been dirtied-up, so to speak, with a shot of espresso.  That is exactly how I like to dirty my milk. The beverage is made by putting steamed milk and the milk foam into a glass and then carefully pouring espresso through the foam.  This leaves a little “stain” in the foam, or macchia in Italian (which sounds a lot like the English word “mark” to me). The “stain” can be covered up with a final topping of milk foam or it can be left as glaring evidence that the espresso was actually poured in through the milk and no cheating was done by adding the milk afterwards.

When prepared properly, the drink will be fetchingly layered, with milk, espresso, and foam.


I had a hard time preparing this properly.  I couldn’t get my milk and espresso to behave and separate into three distinct layers.  I also had a hard time obtaining what I considered to be a proper balance of foam with the milk and espresso.

Before I move on, let me remind you that for your homemade macchiato, you need to make the essential espresso while you’re fooling with the milk, so that it’s hot and ready by the time you are. (See my Espresso post for a detailed account of how to do this.)  Some people like a half shot of espresso in this drink; I prefer a full shot.

Now for the latte. I first tried the “aerolatte” method of foaming hot milk in a glass.  I couldn’t get the milk to foam up quickly enough to still have hot milk when it came drinking time.  However, I am sure that there are others more adept at this than I.  Also, if the glass was filled more than 1/3 with milk, the milk slopped everywhere when I was frothing it.  The milk foamed much faster when I used the aerolatte directly in the pan, but then I got carried away with the frothing and ended up with a top-heavy drink. Besides, the drink looked more like a parfait than a coffee drink to me.

I finally settled with this method:  I heated about ½ cup of milk in the saucer, and when it started to steam I aerolatte-frothed it until it was about doubled in volume.  I poured this into the glass, leaving just enough room in the glass for my espresso.  I let this stand for about 2-3 minutes, which allowed me time to take some photos while the foam “stiffened.”

I then poured my shot into the drink, and it did leave a thin, dark layer of coffee, which tended to expand and lighten as I continued with my photo shoots.  I topped it with more foam, for sheer aesthetic value.  I still ended up with four layers, rather than my intended three, but I decided that it had its own appeal, much like a stack of good books.

And it tasted just fine.

Actually, it was delicious.


  1. Looks delicious, love the way you set it up too!

    • Thank you, cupcakes. I did have fun with that photo shoot. 🙂 And the drink is quite tasty, too!

  2. Gina

    Wow! Definitely fetching and I’ll bet delicious! I love the sweet taste of milk dirtied with espresso; the extra layers look good to me. Will try this one at home.

    • It’s almost like doing a science experiment–watching to see what happens to that espresso! It’s also great fun to drink the results. 🙂

  3. Thank you for visiting my blog. I enjoyed reading your series of entries on coffee. You have a very nice blog 🙂

    • Thank you, as well. Coming from a “food follower,” that means a lot to me!

  4. Bonita Babe

    Absolutely gorgeous & soo yummy looking!! I plan to try this, and discard my flavored fake coffe creamers. Love those books, perfect setting. Thanks for this barista series – cleared up the coffe confusion for me.

  5. gatechfan

    cappuccino, espresso, macchiato, oh my!

    • You’re a clever one, GaTech Fan! Glad you’ve been following the Budget Barista Series!

  6. You’re too kind! But, this exercise in layering does make me consider that…we never really know what’s going on inside that paper cup when we order a macchiato at Starbucks 🙂

  7. This is quite possibly my favourite coffee drink and yours looks extremely inviting. Excellent job!

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