While at work as a barista i am often asked:
Lots of people enjoy a good cup of coffee, but are a little overwhelmed by the choices before them. They order a macchiato and are surprised to get a tiny cup with strong coffee and too little milk for their liking, or vice versa. What’s the difference between an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato? And which coffee’s got the least milk in it? The largest amount of foam?
So i thought, let’s take a look at coffee today. These are just the basics, no variations on recipes from different chains or small local coffee shops.
Let’s take a look at different espressi with milk.
From left to right: Espresso Macchiato – Cappuccino – Caffè Latte – Latte Macchiato.
Now, let’s look at them close up.
Did you know that the Italian word ‘macchiato’ actually means ‘spotted’? An espresso macchiato is a spotted espresso. Spotted with milk.
The foam is created by steam, which creates tiny air bubbles, giving it a velvety texture. Although cocoa can look and taste sort of nice, it destroys the foam and is often used to mask that the foam is actually not that good (see those large bubbles in mine? not so good… oops).
The pouring of the milk in the espresso mixes the liquid and creates a beautiful color. Latte art is painting or drawing while pouring in the milk and creating cool images. Really awesome. Great latte art doesn’t guarantee that the coffee is good though. Taste does.
A caffè latte, aka latte, is made with slightly ‘thinner’ milk, i.e. milk with less foam (my foam was actually a little too thick). The little amount of foam makes a caffè latte less strong than a cappuccino. The thin, *slightly foamy* milk allows the barista to create more detailed latte art, which is fun.
Last but not least, the latte macchiato. As said before, ‘macchiato’ means spotted. Where a caffè macchiato is a spotted espresso, a latte macchiato can be thought of as a spotted milk. Thick foamy milk is poured in a glass. The milk separates from the foam and sinks to the bottom. Next an espresso is carefully poured on top of the milk, and sits between the foam and milk, resulting in beautiful layers.
Let’s look at the different beverages all together once more.
See the different layers? Different amounts, different colors, different tastes. Yummy coffee.
Enjoy your next cup! Which one are you gonna have?
ps. one more thing