What is a Latte Macchiato and how is it prepared?

Latte Macchiato, caffè Latte, and Cappuccino cannot be missing from any Italian family breakfast. And Latte Macchiato is a little joy to taste and look at, with its different layers and shades of color.

To prepare an authentic Italian Latte Macchiato, preparation involves creating 3 layers: the liquid milk at the bottom of a tall glass, then the coffee layer, and on top, to complete, the slightly thickened milk, but it does not have to be as frothy as a cappuccino (unless expressly requested by the customer).

How to prepare a Latte Macchiato
How to prepare a Latte Macchiato

What is a Latte Macchiato?

When we talk about Latte Macchiato, we refer to a milk-based drink to which espresso is added. However, its preparation is not so simple, having to respect certain proportions and methodology in the elaboration. This way, it will differ from the rest of the coffee drinks with milk, such as Cappuccino or Latte.

To achieve the perfect Latte Machiato, respecting the correct proportion of ingredients is crucial. Milk has a greater presence in this drink, with around 200 or 240ml of milk, while the amount of coffee corresponds to 25 or 30ml of espresso.

But what most characterizes a Latte Macchiato is its stratification both in ingredients and in texture, color, and temperature. Hot and liquid milk at the bottom, with an espresso in the upper half and thicker and velvety vaporized milk on the surface.

To make this coffee drink unique, it is very important to achieve well-defined layers, so each ingredient must be served without creating turbulence.

In summary, these are the main characteristics of latte macchiato:

  • It achieves a balanced combination between the milk’s enveloping flavor and the espresso’s strength.
  • The ingredients are not mixed during preparation, creating different shades in the glass.
  • It is served in tall transparent glass where the 3 layers can be easily appreciated.

Differences between cappuccino and Latte Macchiato

Many people think that the differences between Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato are minimal, but this is a tremendous mistake; the differences are there, and they are substantial. As you continue reading this page, you will understand what I am talking about.

Latte Macchiato, unlike cappuccino, comes in a tall glass, and the amount of milk is much greater than the amount of coffee. About 240ml of milk versus 30ml of espresso, that is, a 1:8 ratio, while the Cappuccino is 1:3.


The milk in Latte Macchiato is not as textured as in Cappuccino. Its preparation involves the liquid milk at the bottom of the glass, then the addition of the coffee, and on top to complete the slightly thickened milk, but it does not have to be frothy like a cappuccino. Unless expressly requested by the customer.

While a cappuccino is prepared in a low cup with a large mouth, pouring the coffee and then the milk. To prepare an authentic Latte Macchiato, the liquid milk is poured first, then the espresso and the textured milk.

Which milk to choose?

Although traditionally, the main ingredient to prepare a good latte macchiato was cow’s milk, today there are high-quality vegetable milks, which provide even better flavors than cow’s milk.

At this point, I recommend you use the milk that goes better with your diet or the one you like the most. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that my favorite is soy milk 😉.

How do you prepare a Latte Macchiato?

When looking at a Latte Machiatto may seem like a difficult drink to prepare due to the layers of milk and coffee, but it’s easier than it looks:

  1. First, we will prepare a cup of espresso coffee with the coffee maker we have on hand. Ideally, we will use a traditional espresso machine, but any espresso maker will do.
  2. With the milk well chilled to improve the texturization, we proceeded to steam it in a metal jug. Ideally, this is done in the steam wand of an espresso machine, but it can be done with a French Press or an electric frother.
  3. The steamed milk is poured into the bottom of the glass without creating turbulence.
  4. Next, pour the espresso coffee over the whipped milk with the help of a spoon (the secret to creating the famous colored layers is to pour the coffee very slowly).
  5. We add a layer of the froth obtained from the whipped milk on top of the espresso.

How to froth the milk?

The easiest way to froth the milk is with a coffee maker equipped with a steam wand. If we have one of this type, we put the wand inside the steel hug where the milk is just below the surface of the liquid.

We must be careful that the wand does not touch the edges of the pot. Once the steamer is turned on, we slowly move the jug up and down, rocking it a little. When the froth starts to form, the operation is finished.

Position of the steam wand inside the jug and how to hold the jug
Position of the steam wand inside the jug and how to hold the jug

➡️ Don’t miss this article, where I explain the alternatives for texturizing milk without a steam wand.

The best alternative is the electric milk frother, Aeroccino type, which will heat and froth the milk without too much effort. There is also a manual battery-operated version:

How to froth milk with a battery-operated frother
How to froth milk with a battery-operated frother

If, on the other hand, we do not have these machines, we can also obtain a delicious froth by hand. For example, with a French Press, beating the piston up and down vigorously.

How to froth milk with the French Press
How to froth milk with the French Press

Differences between espresso Macchiato and Latte Macchiato

The Espresso Macchiato or Caffè Macchiato is an espresso (usually double) with a little frothed milk. We already saw in another article that it was very similar to the Spanish Café Cortado, with the only difference being the texture of the milk.

The Caffè Macchiato is presented in a classic coffee cup; in some cases, certain baristas use slightly wider and larger cups because the fashion in recent years has been Latte Art. They add designs and decorations on the froth of the Espresso Macchiato using melted liquid chocolate.

By contrast, the Latte Macchiato is prepared in a tall glass, with a capacity of about 250ml, and where most of the drink is milk. In other words, they are nothing alike, neither in proportions nor in size and how they are prepared.

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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