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How to make macchiatos, flat whites and other popular coffees

By Manette Kaisershot

Get more from your coffee machine with our guide on how to make popular café-style drinks using espresso as a base.

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Combine espresso and milk in different ways and you can enjoy a wide array of coffees, from cappuccinos to macchiatos, lattes, flat whites and piccolos. Find out below how you can make these drinks at home, be your own barista, 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.

If you prefer black coffee you have the choice of espresso, long black or Americano coffee, depending on how strong you like your brew. 

You can jump straight to the drink you want to make using the links below:

Before you start

When buying a new coffee machine, it's important to think about what type of coffee you like to drink most. If you are keen on milky coffee drinks, such as cappuccino, you'll need to ensure you buy a coffee machine with an automatic milk frother or a steam wand for manual milk frothing.

To make sure you get a coffee machine that makes the kind of coffee you love, read our in-depth coffee machine reviews, or, for more advice on choosing the right machine for you, try our coffee machine buying guide.

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.

Espresso 

An espresso is a single shot of plain coffee that should be about 30ml. Espresso is the backbone of every other drink - get this right and you will be starting with a solid building block for all other coffees. 

An espresso should be rich and full tasting, slightly sweet and never bitter. It should be topped with a bright golden crema, which forms when air mixes with the oils found inside roasted coffee beans. 

See our Best Buy coffee machines for the models which make the best espressos.

Cappuccino 

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.

Macchiato 

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.

Latte 

A latte is a very milky coffee, with about 200ml of milk added to at least one shot of espresso. 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.

Flat White 

A drink imported from New Zealand, a flat white is similar to a latte, but with some small key differences. 

It is less milky than a latte of cappuccino, which means the espresso flavour is more pronounced. A flat white is poured with milk that has been steamed to perfection - with tons of micro foam. They are combined in a way that makes a consistent, milky drink. 

Flat whites are typically served in a 165ml cup, making them smaller than a latte or cappuccino and are typically served at a cooler temperature than either latte of cappuccino. 

Piccolo 

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.

Long black 

A long black is a shot of espresso combined with about 120ml to 180ml of hot water. The addition of hot water to the espresso opens up the flavours, while still keeping the drink strong. 

To make a longblack you pour espresso over the hot water, the order is important to maintain the espresso's golden crema. 

Americano 

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!

Need more advice? Try our guide to making the perfect espresso and cappuccino, which gives you step by step advice on how to make these coffees, and more videos with tips from our expert.

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