How to Make the Perfect Macchiato — Part I

Dollor or Pour? How do you make the perfect macchiato?

Dollop or pour? In this two part debate, Jenny Chiang and Justin Chong, two of Saltwater's beloved baristas, will fight to the finish to defend their views on how to make the perfect macchiato.

First up! Jenny Chiang defends the pour method:

Many people would say that dolloping is how we recognize a macchiato. A macchiato derives from the words, “spotted” or “marked” in Italian. It basically is a drink marked with milk. I believe that the traditional method, the dolloping, is fine…

However, nowadays in third wave coffee shops, you'll see something that looks like a mini-cortado that is also not quite a piccolo or a “mezzo-mezzo” (see blog post #1).

I believe this macchiato form has evolved from a traditional dollop to a more presentable creation of a macchiato.

Of course, it always depends on personal preference, so when someone orders a macchiato with just a dollop, you have the main component with a dry layer of foam on top. With a poured micro-foam milk, you have some mixed in foam on the top which creates a velvety layer with the crema

Velvety layer of crema in a poured macchiato

If the barista knows how to pour in a macchiato, 9 times out of 10 it will end up tasting pretty much like a dolloped macchiato except with just a tad bit more milk. Some people like the dolloped way and some like the pour way. The people who like the dollop mainly want an espresso with some spunk and the people who want a pour are people who want something a little different than just an espresso.

Some baristas argue against the milk pouring method of the third wave macchiato. They might say, “Why don’t you get a piccolo or a cortado instead? It’s more milk than the dolloped macchiato and less than a cappuccino.”

This is not relevant because piccolos and cortados have more milk content and is also made with ristretto shots (a restricted shot from a full double shot). The amazing part about piccolos and cortados are that they have more flavor and concentration held with the milk within the drink. A macchiato that has a pour mark usually is just a mark of milk… so the creaminess is minimal.

Although, there is a similar idea behind the dollop and the pour. Both give the regular macchiato drinker a taste of dessert within the coffee. The goal is to moderate with milk rather than overwhelm the taste of the coffee while adding a touch of sweetness. 

The dollop is not the only way a macchiato should be prepared.

The pour of microfoam milk adds a new perspective of the espresso and the dollop simply adorns it right on the crema. Both of these ways represent how we make macchiato’s but my biggest argument is that the pouring method is the way that we have evolved the creation of this drink.

Many places such as Blue Bottle and Joe’s coffee are pouring right into the espresso to give it that nice presentable finish. The foam from the pitcher of steamed milk is the foam itself. As the barista pours, minimal milk makes its way into the macchiato if it is being poured discreetly with velvety foam. This creates a harmony between the espresso, tinge of milk, and foam. Just the dollop on the top of the espresso is a drier and more traditional way to make it. It is a person’s right to have a dolloped macchiato if they ask the barista, but in my opinion, a poured macchiato is the way to go.

Peace out,

Jenny Chiang

A poured macchiato, otherwise known as a third wave macchiato

Stay tuned! Next week, Justin Chong will defend the dolloped macchiato, and its value steeped in tradition and taste.

P.S. If you'd like to test out a poured macchiato at home, check out our coffee subscription service below. Use discount code "ACE" at checkout to get the first bag on the house!

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