What Is A Latte Macchiato? Here's What You Need To Know About Starbucks' New Drink

Coffee lovers, rejoice! Starbucks is releasing a new espresso-based drink called a latte macchiato on Jan. 5. Even better? It's a permanent addition to their menu (so you don't have to stress about falling in love with a new drink, only to have it disappear until next winter). If you're a self-proclaimed caffeine addict, this is some pretty exciting stuff! From there, however, it very well may leave you pondering a simple question: what is a latte macchiato, anyway?

Luckily, the makings of a latte macchiato are pretty straightforward: Espresso and milk. Which, if you're anything like me, is a huge relief, as I'm not one for super sweet coffee drinks. According to Starbucks' Newsroom press release, the latte macchiato is "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."

So get your phones ready, foodies, because this drink is going to make for a really pretty picture (and that's at least half the reason you choose one menu option over another, right?).

So, what mechanical wonders go into crafting such a pretty treat? Apparently, the key to making a latte macchiato is pouring the espresso very, very slowly. To start, the barista pours steamed whole milk into your cup, then slowly pours in your espresso, making sure to leave the characteristic "dot" on top. Unsurprisingly, people often serve latte macchiatos in glasses so you can fully appreciate all the pretty layers. This makes sense because people often eat with their eyes.

Much like the flat white, however, these tasty beverages already existed prior to their appearance on the Starbucks menu. Latte macchiatos are an Italian thing: The phrase actually translates to "stained milk" which (I imagine) refers to the act of the espresso "staining" the milk. Latte macchiatos are also quite common in Germany. Interestingly, Starbucks released the latte macchiato previously, according to Starbucks Melody — in 1989 it was apparently described in a training booklet. If Americans react to latte macchiatos with the fervor we have for the flat white, they'll become a staple drink for espresso lovers across the nation.

Speaking of flat whites, at this point, you're probably wondering how a latte macchiato differs from a flat white. Explains a Starbucks spokesperson to Bustle via email, "Latte Macchiato offers its own distinct flavor compared to other espresso menu items: a burst of bold, roasty espresso in the first sip, which is then softened by creamy steamed whole milk. In comparison, Flat White offers a sweet and balanced flavor, combining ristretto shots of espresso with velvety steamed whole milk." Starbucks also shares a handy visual for comparing all of their espresso based drinks, shown here:

As the latte macchiato and flat white are quite similar in terms of ingredients, they're different enough to give espresso drinkers some variety. And if you're someone who isn't in love with the Starbucks secret menu, the more espresso variations you can find, the better. Count me in!

Images: Starbucks (3)