Warming and sweet, it’s no surprise that the caramel macchiato is one of the top drinks sold at Starbucks. But the good news is that if you want to enjoy a cup of this delicious beverage, there’s no need to spend any extra money. In fact, the frothy, sweet caramel macchiato can easily be made at home for a fraction of the price you’d pay in a coffee shop using just four ingredients if you have an espresso maker at home. A shot of espresso coffee is the best choice for making this coffee drink if you have an espresso machine, but don’t worry if you don’t since a shot of instant espresso or K-cup espresso can also work just as well, along with very strongly brewed coffee if you prefer.
What is a Caramel Macchiato?
Macchiato is the Italian word for ‘spotted’ or ‘stained’, referring to the small amount of foamy milk that’s poured into the espresso to ‘stain’ it in a traditional caffe macchiato. This name has been loosely adapted to create the caramel macchiato beverage, which consists of a shot of espresso topped with caramel sauce and a lot more milk than you would expect from a standard macchiato, which technically makes it a latte.
You can easily make this drink at home as all you need is four ingredients and a milk frother. If you don’t have a milk frother, you can use a variety of different ways to achieve the right foamy texture for your milk such as shaking it before microwaving it or pumping it in a French Press. You can also easily make a vegan, dairy-free alternative to the traditional caramel macchiato using a plant-based milk like oat milk, coconut milk, or almond milk.
How to Make a Caramel Macchiato
To make a caramel macchiato at home, you will need the following caramel macchiato ingredients:
- One cup milk
- One tablespoon of vanilla syrup
- One shot of hot espresso or strong brewed coffee
- One tablespoon of caramel sauce
To make the coffee, follow these steps:
- Gather the ingredients together
- Use a steamer, the stovetop, or a microwave to steam your milk. Add vanilla syrup to the milk, and then froth it
- Add your hot espresso or strong brewed coffee to a mug before topping with the steamed milk
- Drizzle the caramel sauce on top and serve immediately
Making Espresso without an Espresso Machine
If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, you might be wondering if you’ll still be able to make and enjoy a caramel macchiato recipe – and the good news is that yes, you can. However, bear in mind that without an espresso machine, the coffee that you get won’t be exactly the same, but there are some methods that you can use to get it as close as possible to traditional espresso. There are some good options to consider that are not as expensive as an espresso machine but still produce excellent results. How do you make a caramel macchiato without an espresso machine?
These gorgeous coffee makers have three chambers. You fill the bottom chamber with water, place coffee grounds in the middle chamber, and the strong coffee is brewed into the top when you heat the water at the bottom. It produces a stronger coffee compared to drip coffee and you will need at least two tablespoons of strong, ground coffee per half a cup of water.
The French Press is an elegant and easy-to-use device that’s widely available and has options to suit every budget. You can easily use it to make a great strong coffee that can be used as an ideal substitute to espresso when making a caramel macchiato. All you need to do is use the device to press hot water and coffee after letting the coffee steep in the chamber with the water for a few minutes.
You can get an AeroPress for a similar price to many French Press options. They work by combining coffee and hot water in one chamber, before you push them directly into your mug by hand. This method of making coffee is an ideal choice if you want a smoother brew that is lower in acidity, and it makes an espresso-like shot in less than a minute when you use high-quality, finely ground dark roast coffee.
Pod Coffee Machine
Pod coffee machines such as the Keurig and Nespresso ranges are widely popular today. While they do not work in the exact same way as an espresso machine, you can get pods that are designed to produce a shot of strong coffee that is extremely similar to an espresso shot. The Nespresso Vertuo, for example, achieves this by generating pressure from spinning the pod quickly.
Caramel Macchiato Substitutions and Additions to Consider
One of the best things about making your favorite coffee drinks at home is that there’s an endless range of additions and substitutions that you can make to really make the beverage your own and customize it to exactly how you like it. Some ideas that you might want to try when making a homemade caramel macchiato include:
Salted Caramel Macchiato
Sprinkle some sea salt flakes on the top of the caramel sauce and add a pinch of sea salt to the mixture of milk and vanilla to add even more flavor to this drink.
Chocolate Caramel Macchiato
If you love chocolate, then get your sweet fix by adding some chocolate syrup with the caramel sauce on top of the coffee. You could even make the drink more of a mocha by mixing some chocolate syrup with the milk.
Cinnamon Caramel Macchiato
For a warming version, swap your vanilla syrup for cinnamon syrup instead, and top the drink with a dusting of cinnamon.
Double Caramel Macchiato
Go heavy on the caramel sauce at the bottom of your mug to get an even sweeter version of this drink.
Creamy Caramel Macchiato
Once you’ve poured the steamed milk, add a topping whipped cream for an even creamier, luxurious version of this beverage before finishing it off with a drizzle of caramel sauce.
Iced Caramel Macchiato
The iced caramel macchiato is a popular summer drink at Starbucks and it’s even easier to make at home since there is no need to steam the cold milk. Just add a cold milk of your choice to the espresso, over ice, and finish with the caramel sauce as normal.
Making a Caramel Macchiato Like Starbucks
The Starbucks grande caramel macchiato is one of their most popular drinks and the good news is that the recipe above will get you a drink that is pretty close to what you can get from this popular coffee chain. However, if you want to learn how to make a Starbucks macchiato and figure out how does Starbucks make a caramel macchiato so that you can replicate it exactly, the good news is that they list all their recipes on their website for you to follow. You should also consider getting the same ingredients such as coffee beans and syrups from Starbucks to get the perfect taste. Starbucks typically use Monin syrups in their coffee, which can be bought from many online stores and supermarkets. To make a caramel macchiato that tastes just like Starbucks’ version, you’ll need to do the following:
- Drizzle some vanilla coffee syrup in the bottom of your cup.
- Add steamed milk. Starbucks use an espresso machine steam wand to achieve this, so you’ll get the best results if you have an espresso machine with milk steaming capabilities at home. If you don’t, try a different method, but be aware that the texture might be slightly different.
- Prepare a double shot of espresso, and pour this into the top of the cup, over the steamed milk. Starbucks use espresso, so if you don’t have an espresso machine, yours may taste slightly different.
- Drizzle your caramel sauce over the top. Starbucks use a thick caramel sauce. You may be able to buy this online, or you could use a caramel sauce that is designed for ice cream. To get that authentic Starbucks feel, drizzle it in a crisscross fashion.