LATTE MACCHIATO: what it is and how to prepare it

Latte macchiato is a true Italian classic, now known and appreciated all over the world. Usually, people drink it at a bar, for breakfast or for a “merenda” (Italian breaktime), served in a tall glass that shows its incredible nuances

With a Gaggia espresso machine, you can make it at home too, with a few simple steps! How? Read our article.

What is latte macchiato?

Latte macchiato combines the soft taste of warm frothed milk with the strong flavor of espresso. The proportion among the elements is crucial. The quantity of milk should be around 200-240 ml, while coffee is a standard espresso, poured at the end to “stain” (macchiare, in Italian) the milk.

The key feature of this beverage are, with no doubts, the layers. The different textures and temperatures of frothed milk and coffee create a beautiful stratification: parts of them blend, but not completely. In the glass, you can see the three main elements: the denser and velvety frothed milk, the liquid hot milk and the espresso poured on top.

Differences between latte macchiato, cappuccino and cafè au lait

You know that with only two ingredients – coffee and milk – it is possible to create a whole range of beverages. Someone may think that latte macchiato is just a bigger cappuccino, which is not. In fact, the quantity of milk and coffee differ, as well as the methods to prepare them! To make a cappuccino, you need to brew the espresso first, then, you pour the frothed milk all over it, to fill the cup (never a glass). On the contrary, latte macchiato requires a bigger quantity of milk first, followed by the espresso, poured in a tall glass. The French café au lait is very different: there is no milk foam. It is just coffee and hot milk, in equal parts, blended together and served in a big cup.

How to make latte macchiato

The first step to follow is to froth milk in the best possible way, just like a barista will do! It is crucial to make a perfect latte macchiato: the foam needs to be creamy, steady and with no extra air bubbles. In fact, big air bubbles could pop and negatively affect the texture of the foam.

How to froth milk perfectly with a Gaggia espresso machine

To froth milk perfectly requires a bit of practice and the right equipment. Here, we share with you a few tips to get the best froth. Let’s start from the type of milk. Traditionally, the best milk to use is whole cow milk, as it has a proper content of fats and protein (both around the 3%). This will ensure a denser in-cup result. You can use a vegetable milk too, but please always check the protein and fat content in order to get a dense cream. Then, opt for cold milk, straight out of the fridge. This will leave you enough time to heat milk homogeneously during the frothing process.

If you have a Gaggia manual machine with a pannarello or a steam wand, turn the machine on a couple of minutes before using it, so it can heat properly. Then, select the steam function and wait for its light to turn on. If you are using a fully auto machine with a pannarello o steam wand, just select the steam function from the menu and wait until the machine is ready.

Here below, the step-by-step instructions

1. Fill the milk jug for two-thirds with your milk of choice. The jug should not be too big. A medium one will allow the creation of a nice vortex.

2. If you are using a manual machine, you can open the steam knob for a few seconds and then close it. In this way, you can get rid of extra condensation inside the steamer.

3. Place the milk jug right under the pannarello/steam wand and keep it a little bit inclined towards the steamer. The steamer should be immersed in milk and never touching the bottom of the jug.

4. Activate the steam function by turning the steam knob clockwise, and gently move the jug up and down, so you can froth milk. For the best result, the steamer should always be in contact with liquid milk and never with the foam. This will create a steady and compact texture.

5. Once you have reached a creamy result and there are no more bubbles, turn the steam knob counter-clockwise to stop the steam function. Your frothed milk is ready!

Last steps

Now that you have frothed milk, if you notice any extra air bubbles, just let the jug rest on the counter for a few seconds. Then, gently beat the jug on the table twice, and slightly move it in circles. This is our little “home barista‘s secret”!

In the meantime, prepare your espresso in a small cup. Now, it’s time to assemble our delicious latte macchiato. First, pour the creamy milk in a tall glass, then pour the espresso right in the center. Serve with cookies or a slice of cake, and enjoy!