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A latte macchiato
A glass of latte macchiato

Latte macchiato (Italian pronunciation: [ˈlatte makˈkjaːto]) is a coffee beverage. The name is Italian for "stained milk" or "marked milk", referring to the way the drink is prepared by pouring a shot of espresso into steamed milk. It is a play on espresso macchiato, an older drink consisting of espresso marked with a dollop or two of milk or cream.

Related drinks

Latte macchiato differs from caffè latte in several ways. First, in a latte macchiato, espresso is added to milk, rather than milk to espresso as in a caffè latte. Second, a latte macchiato features more foam rather than simply hot milk. A latte macchiato often uses only half an espresso shot or less. Finally, a latte macchiato is often a 'layered' drink, rather than being mixed as in a caffè latte.

In a caffè latte, the emphasis is on the coffee, while in a latte macchiato, the emphasis is on the milk.

The macchia (Italian for "spot") is the small stain of brown espresso foam, known as crèma, left on top of the milk showing where the espresso shot was poured. Its presence visually distinguishes the latte macchiato from a caffè latte, as in a caffè latte the espresso is added to the cup first before the milk is mixed in.

Another similarly named beverage, caffè macchiato (also known as espresso macchiato), is actually a shot of espresso "stained" with a small amount of milk.


A latte macchiato may be prepared simply by frothing milk, generally producing generous foam, pouring it into a glass, and adding espresso. The frothing is generally extensive, yielding significant light, "dry" foam, with a layer of liquid milk underneath, rather than the "wet" microfoam used in latte art.

Alternatively, it may be prepared as a layered drink, with the espresso gently poured (most gently out of a small espresso brew pitcher, over the back of a spoon) so that it forms a layer between the denser liquid milk below and the lighter foam above. In this case a glass is essential for the layers to be visible.

The espresso may be brewed into a standard espresso cup or shot glass and then swiftly dumped in, or may be brewed into a specialized espresso brew pitcher, which makes pouring easier, particularly for layering.

See also

Further reading