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Caffè macchiato (Italian pronunciation: [kafˈfɛ mmakˈkjaːto]), sometimes called espresso macchiato, is an espresso coffee drink with a small amount of milk added. 'Macchiato' means 'marked' or 'stained' in Italian, so the literal translation of caffè macchiato is 'espresso stained (or marked) with milk'. Traditionally it is made with one shot of espresso, and the small amount of added milk was the 'stain'. However, later the 'mark' or 'stain' came to refer to the foamed milk that was put on top to indicate the beverage had milk in it. In fact, a caffè macchiato in Portuguese is named café pingado which means coffee with a drop, referring to the drop of milk.
The reason this coffee drink got its name was that the baristas needed to show the serving waiters the difference between an espresso and an espresso with a tiny bit of milk in it; the latter was 'marked'. In the United States, 'macchiato' is more likely to describe latte macchiato, thus arises the common confusion that 'macchiato' literally means 'foam', or that a macchiato must necessarily have foam. (As the term 'macchiato' to describe this type of coffee predates the common usage of foam in coffee by centuries, the staining 'agent', the additive that lightens the dark espresso, is traditionally the milk, not the foam).
In Italy a macchiato is thick milk foam in a small glass or cup with a shot of espresso poured through the centre of the foam leaving a rich coffee "mark" in the foam as it passes through. This may be the true origin of the espresso macchiato, but the Americanized simpler-to-make version has become the more commonly served drink. A barista may pour the shot with a small stainless steel shot pot with a spout to obtain a more accurate and sharper mark in the foam.
The Macchiato can be prepared either with steamed hot milk or cold milk. If hot, the espresso's name would become macchiato caldo (marked hot); if cold, macchiato freddo (marked cold). The choice between 'caldo' and 'freddo' is usually a matter of personal tastes. Some newer cafes tend to add steamed milk to the espresso in a 1:1 ratio (or more), as well as mixing the milk into the espresso, making it more like a miniature caffè latte or cortado. Some people call this piccolo latte, particularly in Australia.
The other variant of the term, latte macchiato, conversely means 'milk stained/marked (with espresso)', and indicates milk with just a little espresso in it (always less than in a caffè latte). However, in certain preparations (which differ from place to place), latte macchiato has not much difference in milk-to-espresso ratio when compared to the caffè latte; caffè lattes are normally around one-eighth espresso to seven-eighths steamed milk.
Caffè macchiato in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Impresso Espresso Bar)
- Davids, Kenneth (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying (5e ed.). New York, NY, USA: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-24665-X.
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