The Latte Macchiato Is An Espresso Lover's Dream

New year, new you — at least, as far as your coffee order is concerned. As a special treat to start 2016 off with a caffeinated bang, you'll see a new menu item being offered at your favorite coffee chain: the Starbucks Latte Macchiato. With foamy, steamed whole milk dotted with rich shots of espresso, the drink definitely sounds like it's worth the buzz, but it also brings to mind another espresso-based Starbucks treat. What's the difference between the Latte Macchiato and a Flat White? Either one is a coffee lover's dream come true, but in two very different ways.

Let's start with the drink of the hour, the Latte Macchiato. Admittedly, I was a little confused when I first heard this was a thing — isn't that, like, two different drinks? How do you combine them together? Should you combine them together? The short answer is yes. The LM isn't available until Jan. 5 (in keeping with the precedent set by the PSL, I feel comfortable using this abbreviated shortcut), but the way Starbucks describes it has me hankering for one now. You won't find any fancy syrups or whipped cream in your cup if you order this beverage — just a heavenly combination of milk and espresso. According to Starbucks:

The new Latte Macchiato features steamed whole milk that is perfectly aerated and free-poured creating dense foam reminiscent of meringue. The beverage is then marked by slowly-poured full espresso shots, creating a signature espresso dot. Starbucks baristas will use this carefully crafted technique to draw out an intensely bold and roasty flavor that highlights the Starbucks espresso in the beverage.

In other words, shots of espresso are slowly poured through foamy steamed milk, and the result looks a little something like this:

For those of you espresso aficionados who live for these types of Starbucks announcements, that description probably sounds a little familiar. This time last year, the coffee chain introduced America to the Flat White, another espresso-based beverage that boasts similar components. Hugely popular in Australia and New Zealand, the FW (yup, just did it again) consists of adding a steamed milk microfoam to ristretto shots (which are essentially extra concentrated espresso shots). So basically, it's the opposite of a Latte Macchiato.

TL;DR: A Latte Macchiato consists of espresso added to foam, while a Flat White is foam added to espresso. Here's a visualization of the two side-by-side, for reference:

Still confused? Not to worry — Starbucks has created this handy chart to show you how the Latte Macchiato stacks up against its other espresso-based beverages.

Like the Flat White, the Latte Macchiato will be a permanent fixture on the Starbucks menu, meaning unlike the ephemeral red cup beverages that light up our holiday season for a brief but beautiful period of time, you can get the Latte Macchiato all year long. Which is great, because with red cup season over and done with, we are going to need something to look forward to.

Images: Starbucks