Macchiato, flat white and other espresso-based drinks
By Yvette Fletcher
Get more from your coffee machine with our guide on how to make different coffee drinks using espresso as a base.
Combine espresso and milk in different ways and you can enjoy a wide array of coffees, from cappuccino to macchiato, latte, flat white, piccolo and Americano. Find out below how you can make these drinks at home, and get more out of your coffee machine.
Espresso is the base for many different coffee drinks, but each has its own identity and taste. Here, we'll show you the different measurements needed for each coffee type, so you can impress friends and family with the perfect barista-style coffee in your own kitchen.
Firstly, it's important to note that different coffee machines make different types of coffee. If you are keen on milky coffee drinks, such as cappucino, you'll need to ensure you buy a coffee machine with a milk frother or steam wand.
To make sure you get a coffee machine that makes the kind of coffee you love, read our in-depth Which? coffee machine reviews, which test the milk-frothing capabilities of any machine that has this feature.
If you're not yet a Which? member, sign up for a £1 trial to get access to all of our reviews - from coffee machines to digital cameras.
How to make espresso-based drinks
Enjoy a cheeky cappuccino? Or fancy mastering a macchiato? Below we list the exact measurements of coffee, milk, foam and water to make these drinks at home, as well as a latte, flat white, piccolo and Americano. There's also advice on how to get the best cup of coffee every time.
A cappuccino is an espresso with frothed milked added to it. A good cappuccino will have equal parts of coffee, milk and foam – usually 60ml of each.
The frothed milk should have hot milk at the bottom, small velvety bubbles (sometimes called microfoam) above and then thicker, stiff foam at the top. Once ready, the milk should be added to the espresso using a spoon to hold back the stiff foam. This means the froth will remain fluffy and will sit on the top of the drink.
You can take a look at our guide and video to using your coffee machine step by step to get the tastiest coffee and beautifully frothed milk.
Out of all these drinks, a macchiato is the most like a straight single espresso, as it has the least amount of milk added to it. In Italian, macchiato means 'stained', which is what an espresso should be to make a macchiato – stained with just a dash of the foamy milk on the top.
A latte is a very milky coffee, with 300ml of milk added to 60ml espresso (a double shot). The milk for a latte should be less foamy than with other coffee drinks. It should be light and smooth with a small amount of tiny bubbles, and only a touch of stiff foam on the top.
A type of coffee imported from New Zealand, a flat white is similar to a latte, but smaller and less milky. A coffee aficionado would probably argue that a flat white is in fact a very different drink from a small latte, but the flat white has a considerable number of devotees.
Typically the key difference, besides the amount of milk used, is the type of milk froth.
The milk should have even less volume than a latte – ie, just smaller bubbles and no stiff foam – so that it provides a silky, creamy top that combines with the espresso crema (the golden topping that forms naturally on all good espressos).
A piccolo is essentially a mini flat white, as it also has two parts milk to one part espresso. But piccolos are often called piccolo lattes as they typically have more foam on top, like with a latte.
The simplest of coffees, an Americano has twice the amount of hot water as it does espresso coffee. You can enjoy an Americano with or without milk, but it doesn't include foam on top.
None of these ratios or volumes are set in stone. You can experiment with the quantities to tailor drinks to your individual taste. You can also use more than one shot of espresso and you can try adding syrups, such as caramel, hazelnut or vanilla, to the milk. Enjoy!