Identity Crisis- What Exactly Macchiato is?

“I don’t think you know what Macchiato is.”

When Lesley was sharing this quote from her experience in an independent coffee store, we all laughed in class. “If you think the Macchiato is what you ordered from Starbucks, then you are wrong,” she was also been told by an “arrogant” staff.

Her experience reminds me the same experience in Astor Bake Shop in Astoria. I took two of my best friends who were visiting from China to an independent coffeehouse for brunch last week. My friend Rachel is a loyal customer of Starbucks and always need a coffee to begin her day. She ordered a Macchiato and was expecting to get to a same cup of Macchiato as Starbucks served, a latte with foamed milk and caramel syrup on top. I still remember she said to the waiter,

“I need a small size Macchiato.”

And the waiter said, “We only have small Macchiato.”

Few minutes later, we got a small Macchiato, in the shop cup. Not only it likes an espresso also tastes like. We double checked with the store and confirmed the tiny cup coffee is Macchiato.

So, I asked myself: if the Macchiato we have everyday in Starbucks was not, in fact, Macchiato and this Espresso-like thing is, then what is Starbucks selling?question

The real meaning of “Macchiato” is “marked” in Italian. In terms of coffee, it means either the Espresso is marked with milk, or foamed milk is marked with Espresso. Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.48.34 PMMacchiato is a cornerstone of Italian coffee culture, so most of time when we say Macchiato, we are specify an Espresso Macchiato.

Aside of Espresso Macchiato, there is another type of Macchiato called “Latte Macchiato”, which is a cup of hot milk with a shot of Espresso. However, it normally doesn’t have caramel syrup added on top.

What Starbucks is selling, as the matter of fact, is a caramel concoction. As it defines on its website, the Macchiato they are offering is Caramel Macchiato. “Freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup is marked with espresso and topped with caramel drizzle for an oh-so-sweet finish” is Caramel Macchiato definition on its website. Caramel Macchiato is the only Macchiato drink Starbucks sells, so no matter you order a “Macchiato” or “Caramel Macchiato”, you will get the caramel concoction eventually.


Here is a video about the Macchiato I ordered from Dun-Well Doughnuts in Brooklyn and Starbucks. Dun-Well Doughnuts is the first all-vegan bakeshop in NYC. All the pastry and drink it offers are all-vegan. The Macchiato I ordered from Dun-Well Doughnuts is the Espresso Macchiato in a shot cup. Dun-Well Doughnuts shows it understanding of the meaning of Macchiato and also developed its niche vegan marketing.

IMG_4378 copyNot only you can enjoy the authentic vegan coffee here, the doughnuts Dun-Well Doughnuts is selling are delicious. Flavors such as wild berry and earl grey are special and the dough itself is stretch, which taste different than other doughnuts. Take a look at this video and call your friends to hang out there!