Macchiatos can be a confusing drink for coffee shop customers. If someone orders a macchiato in your coffee shop, it's a gamble to know what they want in their hot paper cup. They could be asking for an espresso-heavy drink or an upside down latte. A good way to make a distinction between these drinks is to give them two different names: espresso macchiato and latte macchiato.
What is an Espresso Macchiato?
This is the traditional macchiato. Literally speaking, it's "spotted espresso," meaning it's espresso with a spot of milk. To make an espresso macchiato, pour two shots of espresso into a small hot paper cup. Steam milk until it has a thick layer of foam. Take a spoon and scoop a large dollop of this thick milk foam onto the espresso. Your finished product will be a strong cup of espresso with just a touch of milk foam.
What is a Latte Macchiato?
This is the modern version of a macchiato. Unlike the espresso macchiato, this isn't "spotted espresso." Instead, it's "spotted milk." To make a latte macchiato, steam 8 oz milk until it has a thick layer of foam on top. Pour it into a 12 oz hot paper cup. Top that with 2 shots of espresso. The foam with separate from the milk and espresso and you'll end up with a beautiful layered drink.
Why are They Different?
It's unclear why both these drinks are called macchiato. The customer confusion continues to be perpetuated by coffee shops defining the word differently.
The popular coffee chain, Starbucks, is one of the original proponents of the macchiato as "spotted milk" rather than espresso. Their common drink, the caramel macchiato, is actually closer to a traditional flavored latte than any kind of macchiato. This causes mass confusion for customers branching out to smaller coffee shops.
To clarify this confusion, you can add both an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato to your coffee shop menu so you customers get exactly what they want in their hot paper cup.