What’s a Caramel Macchiato – And Why Does That Matter?

To understand what’s a caramel macchiato, you must first know what’s a macchiato!

Types of Coffee - Macchiato

So what exactly is a caramel macchiato?



Maybe it strikes you after gazing in confusion at a Starbucks menu, or an item list at your favorite coffee shop that…

They’d do customers a service – by offering a dictionary to translate terms into common sense!

I mean, what the heck is this lingo?

Latte. Cortado. Cappuccino.

And… macchiato.

That’s before you can begin to wrap your head around the 22 types of coffee, five or six types of milk, several types of sizes.


All you want is a cup of coffee, yeah?!

Well, I don’t have the solution to all your problems. But there’s one we can resolve right here and now.

What is a macchiato? And how is it unique from all other types of coffee on the menu?

Let’s find out.

A Trip Down Macchiato History Lane

An Italian-sounding name offers the first hint as to the roots of a macchiato.

The coffee-loving nation gets going with a capuccino in the morning, but shifts over to an espresso or macchiato as the day wears on.

Where an espresso is black and strong, a macchiato has a dash of cream in it.

Macchiato coffee

That’s all is in a conventional macchiato. Coffee. And cream.

Or to put it another way, an espresso shot with some milk foam on top of it.

The term “macchiato” translates to “stained“. A smooth dark brown cup of coffee – ‘stained’ by a dob of creamy foam. That’s your macchiato.

How Is A Macchiato Different?

A keen observer like you will surely have noticed something.

The popular favorite cappuccino is also a coffee drink made of espresso and foamed milk.

So what’s the difference between it and a macchiato?

Well, a cappuccino is very foamy. Really creamy. And so milder and gentler as a caffeine drink.

Coffee Drinks

Just like a Latte. That’s also made of espresso and foam – in a different ratio.

While a cappuccino has equal parts of milk foam, milk and espresso, a latte has more of steamed milk with a shot of espresso.

And a macchiato is mostly espresso, with just a tiny dab of milk foam.

To make things a little more interesting, you can order a cafe macchiato – or a latte macchiato.

In the latter, espresso is poured over the foamed milk, but left unstirred to form a layer of foam that rests above the espresso.

So What Is A Caramel Macchiato?

Caramel Macchiato

Simply a macchiato with caramel!

That is, caramel is used to ‘stain’ the drink above the foam.

When you order a caramel macchiato at Starbucks, what you’re getting is a latte macchiato with plenty of steamed milk and less of espresso.

Caramel syrup is mixed into the drink, as well as drizzled on top of it. Sometimes there’s even vanilla syrup added to this.

Which makes a caramel macchiato a lot sweeter as a drink – and quite mild as a caffeinated one. Tasty, mildly stimulant, and quite delicious.

How To Make A Caramel Macchiato?

How to make a caramel macchiato

With a coffee grinder and espresso machine, you can make a caramel macchiato right at home.

And save yourself a trip to Starbucks – as well as the 5 bucks you’re asked to shell out for a little milk, coffee and sugar.

Yes, all you need is 3 ingredients!

You’ll need some milk, and will steam it for foam. Scoop it off. Place it on your espresso shot.

Drizzle some caramel sauce over the foam.

And you’re good to go!

Feel free to experiment. Make it to suit your taste. And enjoy a jolt of caffeine in a delicious coffee drink.

What’s a good espresso machine?

The popular Nespresso coffee maker is a popular favorite. So is the Mypressi Twist espresso maker.

Power Tips for a Great Caramel Macchiato

1. Use fresh caramel syrup. Fresh-made buttery caramel sauce is easy to make – and adds a world of difference to quality.

2. Use whole milk. It froths readily. After all, a caramel macchiato is indulgent – so why skimp on the milk?

3. Start with a tablespoon of caramel sauce in the bottom of your cup!

How To Prepare An Iced Caramel Macchiato?

Iced Caramel Macchiato

An easy 2-minute recipe can help you enjoy a tasty cool coffee drink in summer.

All you need in addition to the other ingredients for a caramel macchiato is some ice.

After mixing espresso and your caramel and/or vanilla syrup together, fill a glass with ice and pour it in. Top it up with some milk and drizzle in some more caramel sauce.

Don’t pour in your coffee piping hot. Let it cool, or leave it inside the fridge for a few minutes before using it.

Filling a tall glass with ice cubes will make sure your iced caramel macchiato is more enjoyable on a hot day.

While espresso makes for the best caramel macchiato, you could use any other strong brewed coffee instead.

Instant coffee doesn’t taste too great, but in a pinch, try it!

Variant Macchiato Drinks

Creamy Caramel Macchiato – For an even more decadent cold coffee drink, add some whipped cream to your caramel macchiato. And drizzle an extra dollop of caramel sauce on top of it.

Chocolate Caramel Flavored Macchiato – In addition to your caramel syrup topping, add some chocolate sauce as well. If you like, stir some more chocolate syrup into your milk itself.

You could play around with these basic recipes to come up with variants that taste just as delicious.

Salted Caramel Macchiato – Stir a pinch of salt into your milk and sprinkle some flakes on the caramel syrup topping. Enjoy a caramel macchiato with a difference.

Cinnamon Caramel Flavored Macchiato – A spicier flavor is possible when you replace vanilla syrup with cinnamon syrup. Oh, and you can top up your macchiato with a cinnamon sprinkle, too.


Is a Macchiato Really Strong?

Types of Coffee - Latte

As compared to a latte which is mostly milk, a macchiato can be really strong. And that’s true even about a cappuccino, which has lesser espresso than a macchiato.

But what really makes a macchiato strong is how many shots of espresso is in it.

A larger macchiato will have more espresso in it. So it will be stronger.

The adding of caramel syrup in a caramel macchiato doesn’t impact how strong it is, though it will sweeten your drink – and beef up the calories you’ll consume!

(Fun fact: A typical caramel macchiato contains 200 to 300 calories – while a traditional espresso macchiato only has 25 or less!)

How To Order Your Macchiato?

Knowing what’s in a macchiato comes in handy when you order it the next time at a coffee shop.

A traditional macchiato is easy to order… just ask for a ‘macchiato’.

You’ll get an espresso with a little milk foam. You could pick the kind of milk to go with it – cow, almond, soy, macadamia or oat milk!

But there are some special kinds of macchiato you may dare try out – and you’ll now be able to take that chance more confidently.

A ‘One and One‘ has a double shot of espresso – served in two small coffee cups. One is a pure espresso, the other is a macchiato.

A flavored macchiato may tickle your tastebuds – and you can pick between a caramel macchiato or vanilla syrup.