I was recently reading different peoples takes on what a macchiato is. Am i wrong or does no one know what it is? i thought it was a shot of espresso with a dollop of foam on top. 'Mark' in Italian = mark the espresso with the foam?

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To clarify (as someone who's worked for the great Green Mermaid), Starbucks DOES have an espresso macchiato - which is as so many have described... a shot (or shots) topped with a dolop of foam (unless the customer requested more). 

The more common drink "Caramel Macchiato" is indeed a latte macchiato made with vanilla syrup and caramel butter sauce on the top of the foam after the espresso shots marked the top of the drink.

Many people think this (latte macchiato) IS what macchiato refers to - but it is simply one form of a drink that is 'marked' in some way.

In Italy , we do not like dry foam . It's pretty much all creamy.  A "Caffè macchiato" is an espresso with a "macchia (mark) di (of) latte(milk)." It means just a drop , they don't want a minicappuccino. Since , as I said , it's pretty much all creamy , this drop , after sinking, leave a small white mark on the surface of the espresso , and so it has been called "macchiato". Recently , I would say in the last 10 years , beside the macchiato , people start askin the "Caffè Schiumato" (Schiuma = foam): it means they don't want the most liquid part of the steamed milk , but just the most creamy , that it will remain on top of the espresso( but at the same time it is not separated by the espresso itself).
just asking the question, because I know milk is somewhat different overseas... what is the fat content, how is it packaged, and does that have something to do with the creaminess of the foam?

Andrea Sorrentino said:
In Italy , we do not like dry foam . It's pretty much all creamy.  A "Caffè macchiato" is an espresso with a "macchia (mark) di (of) latte(milk)." It means just a drop , they don't want a minicappuccino. Since , as I said , it's pretty much all creamy , this drop , after sinking, leave a small white mark on the surface of the espresso , and so it has been called "macchiato". Recently , I would say in the last 10 years , beside the macchiato , people start askin the "Caffè Schiumato" (Schiuma = foam): it means they don't want the most liquid part of the steamed milk , but just the most creamy , that it will remain on top of the espresso( but at the same time it is not separated by the espresso itself).

Bless you for bringing this up. First of all let's allow that Starbuck's and the mother country don't agree on some terms. Here's the usage in Italy. Make a caffe' espresso. Now, if you run steam through milk, foaming it a bit, and mix in a shot of caffe' espresso, that's "caffe' latte -- milk coffee". It's not cappuccino. It's not macchiato. -- Anything "macchiato" has a spot (like the Big Red one on planet Jupiter). Or spots, like a leopard. -- In Italy the barista keeps handy a little jug or bottle of milk at room temperature. The customer can order "un caffe' macchiato, per piacere" or if you're chummy with the barista, "dammi una macchia -- give me a spot"  -- of milk (latte). Do not warm the milk, or steam it. Spill just a drop of plain ole milk in the waiting caffe' espresso.

Stain or Spot? We're talking about English here. These words overlap but are not coterminous. If you dye a garment or a microscope slide specimen, that's a stain, but not a spot.  If you get a spot on your necktie or your blue dress, it's also stained. Macchia is from Latin macula. For your dermatologist, that's a bit of pigment on your hide, but flat. If raised, that's a mole or a wart. "Immaculate" is spotless. Unlike Monica's, Mary's dress was spotless. The Holy Ghost is a pure spirit. "Una macchia" on a desert landscape is a patch of vegetation. 

It must have been a Noo Yawkah who "translated "macchia" as "mark".

My take on the macchiato is a double with just a splash of the steamed milk and a foam top. Customers come in and the trouble is that you now have to make clear if they are asking for a "caramel macchiato" which is that caramel latte starbucks serves or an actual macchiato. A lot of people are taken off guard when the realize our macchiato is 2.5 ounces.

wow...I'm actually enjoying explaining to customers who order espresso macchiatos the different preferences in the coffee world.  who knew?


If Italian tourists pop in at a US Starbucks and the barista serves them what you describe, they'll say "that's not what I ordered." In Italy CAFFE MACCHIATO is a CAFFE ESPRESS0 with just a drop. a spot -- UNA MACCHIA -- of room temperature milk.


 

My take on the macchiato is a double with just a splash of the steamed milk and a foam top. Customers come in and the trouble is that you now have to make clear if they are asking for a "caramel macchiato" which is that caramel latte starbucks serves or an actual macchiato. A lot of people are taken off guard when the realize our macchiato is 2.5 ounces.

It's ratio. 2:1 shots/milk for a macchiato. 

There's no mystery if you know Italian and you've lived in Italy. In Italian "una marca" is a brand, a make, a company, like FIAT. "Una macchia" is a SPOT, as on a leopard. Drop a spot of whole milk in your espresso and you've got a "caffe' macchiato".

Una macchia is the spot -- of milk --that you drop in your espresso. 

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