Nowadays, espresso, cappuccino, and macchiato are among some of the common terms used by coffee lovers across the globe. While all of them are coffee-based drinks, there are some basic differences between them. Espresso refers to the coffee drink that is made by pressing hot water through coffee grounds. Cappuccino contains one part espresso with one part each of steamed milk and steamed milk foam. Macchiato coffee refers to an espresso shot with a small amount of milk froth. So cafe macchiato is nothing other than espresso with a topping of milk froth.
The term macchiato means 'marked' and in this case, it refers to the espresso marked with a small amount of milk. This type of coffee can be made at home, provided, you have the necessary materials and tools. You may find it difficult to prepare this drink, as it is all about the perfect espresso shot that requires an equally perfect foam to top it.
Perfect Milk Froth
In order to make a macchiato, you need milk froth that can be made by steaming milk. Use thick milk for this purpose. Skim milk is not preferred, as it may not produce a dense foam. For preparing a single macchiato, use around eight ounces of milk. Add the milk to a stainless steel pitcher, and place a food thermometer in it. You may also use a steaming pitcher with thermometer.
Place the steaming wand tip just beneath the surface of the milk. Start the steamer and after sometime, place the tip of the steaming wand, just above the surface of the milk, so that froth can be formed. If you are doing right, you may hear a light hissing noise. Once the milk gets heated to a temperature of around 150 to 160° F, turn off the steamer. Clean the steaming wand and keep the pitcher aside. The next step is to pull the espresso shot.
Pulling Espresso Shot
One of the golden rules with regard to espresso coffee is to use freshly ground coffee beans. Add freshly ground coffee beans to the portafilter. Lightly shake and hit the portafilter to accommodate more coffee grounds. Tamp the portafilter till it is sealed tightly, and there is no extra space inside. Clean the sides and the rim by removing stray coffee grounds, and lock the portafilter into the machine. Pull the shots, and the ideal timing for a shot is between 18 to 23 seconds. It is believed that a perfect espresso shot will have a froth that is golden in color.
Making Caffe Macchiato
Both the espresso shot and milk froth are ready. All you have to do is to take out a tablespoon (may use up to three tablespoons) of milk froth and place it on top of the coffee. Your macchiato coffee is ready to serve. If you fail to come up with a perfect macchiato, try for a few times, as this is more like an art form that can be mastered with practice.