The word macchiato comes from the Italian word macchia, which means “to stain or a spot”. A macchiato coffee in Italy is varied depending on what the customer wants. A person can have a macchiato coffee with cold milk, hot milk, frothed milk or cream. But the espresso coffee is only stained with milk, that is it only has a very little amount of cream, froth, cold or hot milk. It is up to the Barista (coffee maker) to ask what type of macchiato coffee the customer wants.
Traditionally this coffee came about in Italy because the customer wanted a very strong espresso without sugar but a “stain” or dash of something to take away the edge or slightly sweeten the espresso.
Caffè macchiato, is an espresso coffee (short black) or ristretto coffee. In Italy, it is usually served in a demitasse cup (small thick porcelain cup for coffee) or a small thick shot glass (a small version of a caffe` latte glass) and then stained with cream, hot or cold milk or frothed milk.
In Australia a macchiato coffee is usually served in a small thick shot glass (a very small version of a caffè latte glass) and then topped with about 15mls or so, of frothed hot milk.