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What’s the Meaning of Macchiato?

One of my favorite beverages is the Caramel Macchiato, but for those who’ve never tried it, it’s a bit of a mystery. What does the word Macchiato mean, anyway? And how do you pronounce it? Macchiato, pronounced “mah-key-ah-toh,” literally means “marked” or “stained” in Italian. Traditionally, a Caffé Macchiato or Espresso Macchiato is a shot or two of espresso, with just a small amount of steamed milk that “marks” the espresso, though in some regions, the steamed milk comes first and the espresso makes the mark.

In our Caramel Macchiato the milk gets marked not once, but twice – first by shots of our signature espresso, and then by our rich caramel sauce. Take off the lid and you should see a dot where the shots were poured through the milk foam, and the rich “cross-hatch” pattern made by our caramel sauce. They’re marks of an expert and unbeatable Macchiato.

comments (35)

Comment FAQ

    • Archena
    • 3/15/2012 7:08 PM

    Thanks for the explanation Ethan!

    My favorite Starbucks beverage and always wondered what it meant.

    • illonna
    • 3/16/2012 7:35 AM

    Wow! I was just talking about this with a friend of mine last night, and I always seemed to have trouble pronouncing "Macchiato". Thanks so much for this valuable information as this has always been my fave drink at Starbucks. I'm also delighted to know that there is now an Iced Caramel Macchiato and can't wait to taste it for the first time! Again, Thank You! :D

    • jlange2431
    • 3/16/2012 2:30 PM

    I have tried the caramel macchiato at Starbucks, and I have to say, it is one of my favorite drinks here! I did always wonder what distinguished it from other coffee drinks. I don't know a lot about the different types of coffee and espresso drinks, but at least now I know what a macchiato is, which is good since I like the drink so much, warm or iced!

    • mtaienao
    • 3/16/2012 11:31 PM

    It's always been my favorite drink, especially cold. Thought I have noticed that when I get a Venti, it is a lot weaker and tastes almost like it was milk and just a bit of caramel. So I have started going with a smaller size, but it just doesn't last as long!

    • RochelleBr
    • 3/20/2012 9:14 AM

    Ha,Awesome I think it's great

    • RyanDMcDonnell
    • 3/21/2012 2:46 PM

    If that's the meaning of the word "macchiato," then why do espresso macchiatos typically have the shots at the bottom?

    • Staciesadenwasser
    • 3/22/2012 3:59 PM

    A Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato comes with three espresso shots but some baristas forget to add the third shot.

    • coopertchr
    • 3/23/2012 4:05 AM

    I'd just say.... Mmmm!

    • faizah9898
    • 3/31/2012 8:58 PM

    i just tried the iced caramel was sooooooo GOOD.the iced has get caramel.then you get milk.then you get strong coffee.i thought
    the coffee was a little strong but it was still good.i will definitely get it
    time i will get it should definitely give it a try.i give the drink a 9
    out of 10 because i thought the coffee was too strong.yum:)

    • Samtuot
    • 4/1/2012 11:27 AM

    I will go to starbucks now to buy it and become gold card

    • GrayStoneAngel
    • 4/7/2012 3:39 AM

    My normal drink of choice has been the Venti Iced Skinny Caffé Latté with a 2 pump Sugar-Free Hazel. But i am always willing to try something new. so on one of my rounds to my FAVORITE store, ( besides the APPLE store of course ) - Starbucks. I happen to see this drink, Caramel Macchiato, one sip and I have been hooked on it, ( I'm actually craving it now, even though it's about 6 am, I'm going to wake up my partner, Rob and have him get me that drink ). Thank You to all whom created this drink.

    • qwack63
    • 4/20/2012 3:58 PM

    The Caramel Macchiato was the path to my gold card. Iced, of course. ;)

    • Lmaha92951
    • 6/16/2012 10:39 AM

    This maybe a stupid question but can you get the macchiato or any of the drinks in decaf versions? I love coffee but can't have the caffeine.


    • mccarty22bk
    • 11/23/2012 2:10 PM

    I think this maybe my favorite drink as of now! I do love the fall spice drinks now that winter is coming it is so good to have more good flavors. :)

    • Cheli562
    • 1/17/2013 4:18 PM

    Oh my macchiato how i desperately need thee!

    • 3/18/2013 9:11 PM

    What are the different types of Macchiato you can get at Starbucks? Anybody know? And I've heard some people order upside down Macchiatos... what's that?

      • oaktowngurl
      • 4/9/2013 12:09 PM

      In reply to:

      Upside down macchiatos are when the shots go first and milk is poured over them. The traditional starbucks macciato is syrup, milk, espresso, and the drizzle. There's a Hazelnut and a Caramel macchiato.

    • tat2luvgirl
    • 3/20/2013 3:29 AM

    Is this drink as dry as a latte? Does a mocha macchiato skinny exist?

    • vs98789
    • 3/27/2013 7:12 PM

    In response to je garcia. U have two options of a macchiato either caramel or hazelnut. Upside means everything is in reverse order. Some peope love this cuz the shots melt the drizzle on the bottom instead of tasting all the espresso on top. It is also good stirred. Try one they are yummy.

    • 5/6/2013 6:38 PM

    i love this drink!!!! my moms been getting this since i was a little girl. thats how i learned about this drink. iced or hot it is amazing!! its a great treat! when you buy it hot its warm on you'e tongue. u can taste the caramel and milk!!!

    • 6/2/2013 6:02 AM

    So technically this is a Latte? Since a traditional Macchiato is a 4oz drink.

    • 9/3/2013 9:09 AM

    Thanks for the explanation. This makes me want to try the "traditional" Macchiato. I love two shots of espresso with just a tiny bit of milk/foam.

    • phokusd
    • 9/20/2013 1:46 PM

    LOL I don't care what is in it. It is my absolute FAV.

    • 10/10/2013 9:22 AM

    Unfortunately Starbucks has bastardized the real meaning of macchiato. It was never a foofy sweet caramel drink. Now I have to specify "traditional" when ordering a macchiato or even explain what it IS and IS NOT. Even at Starbucks stores. I'm sure the caramel version Starbucks invented tastes good for a sweet drink but its popularity has changed the meaning. As least in Italy they still know what it means. ;-)

    • 11/6/2013 2:20 PM

    A friendly note that the proper pronunciation of macchiato has three syllables, not four -- so mah kkya toh. Also note that if the steamed milk comes first and the espresso makes the mark then that is called a latte macchiato.

    • mdcollard
    • 12/2/2013 7:24 AM

    Technically, it's actually pronounced "Mahk-kia-to" - there should be a "k" sound at the end of "Mah" and the "kia" portion should sound like one syllable, kind of how aloomis said above.

    I find baristas in actual stores know what a real macchiato is, but the ones at stands often do not and can't make one.

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