When Is A Macchiato Not A Real Caffè Macchiato?

In my recent posts, I have been referring to an interesting blog that had a cool image of the popular types of Italian coffee. To stick with that theme, I want to talk about one of my favorite espresso drinks, the Caffè Macchiato (a.k.a. un Macchiato Caldo or Caffè Macchiato).

real caffè macchiato - at a bar

If you are as familiar with a real caffè Macchiato, this drink is simply an espresso shot with a small dollop of milk foam dropped into the glass. Macchiato means stained or spotted, which brings up the obvious question: Does the milk stain the coffee or does the coffee stain the milk? I believe the coffee stains the milk, but for this I will require a nearly infinite number of taste tests around Italy to validate my beliefs.

Until then, I need to appreciate when this drink is done correctly. When it isn’t, I’d like to use it as an example of what not to do. For example:

real caffè macchiato - Espresso Cup

I enjoyed the above delicious cup of espresso spotted with milk at a not so local Italian bakery. Please note the espresso cup in which it is served, as well as the tiny amount of stained milk in the cup. There is no confusing this delicious and refreshing beverage with a Caffè Latte and definitely not with a Cappuccino.

Last week, however, I was served this:

real caffè macchiato - Hipster Version

Please note the size of the glass and the amount of milk and foam. While the milk certainly looks ‘marked’, I knew immediately after being served this that I was in for a morning of disappointment. I read later that the Chef/Owner is passionate about French cooking, which might explain her obvious disdain for Italian Coffee. 

real caffè macchiato -  From Rome

I experienced the same misguided attempt at a Macchiato later that same day, but it was at a hipster coffee joint in Northampton, MA in the US, so that one might be on me.

More Coffee Bar Experiences

If you are interested in learning more about the Italian coffee bars and delicious opportunities to experience them, check out some of our other posts:

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