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Making a Better Iced Caramel Macchiato: From Basic to the Best

In American coffee culture, chain coffee companies have caused a bit of confusion regarding the definition of a macchiato. Let’s focus on the iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks as an example. This coffee-based beverage is typically served in a twelve-ounce cup, though you can also purchase an iced caramel macchiato as sixteen ounces or twenty-four ounces. 


The ratio of milk to espresso makes iced caramel macchiatos seem very similar, if not identical, to iced caramel lattes. For comparison’s sake, consider a traditional macchiato from European countries. Initially made popular by the coffee connoisseurs in Italy, traditional macchiatos only contain espresso and milk. 


If you are looking for a more authentic macchiato, you are in luck because many third-wave coffee companies in America offer macchiatos as a drink on their menus. Depending on the particular coffee shop that you go to, you can usually ask the baristas to add caramel syrup to your traditional macchiato. 


Also, even though traditional macchiatos tend to be served as a hot beverage, they can easily be iced instead. 


By using basic barista recipes as inspiration, you can craft the perfect iced caramel macchiato in your own cafe. The best part about making this coffee-based beverage for yourself is that you can customize it in any way you’d like. 


From calories and syrups, to alternative milks and the size of your drink, there are so many elements that go into making a better iced caramel macchiato. First, we’ll look at the two most popular ways that baristas make macchiatos, and then we’ll dive into the ways that you can make these basic recipes even better! 


Iced Caramel Macchiato Barista Recipe Barista Underground


Iced Caramel Macchiato Barista Recipe

If you have five minutes to spare, then you have plenty of time to make your own version of an iced caramel macchiato! The espresso shots are the part that takes the longest, and even so, you’ll only spend about a minute and a half pulling shots. 


On top of being efficient timewise, the iced caramel macchiato recipe is budget-friendly. To mimic an iced caramel macchiato like the ones from Starbucks, you only need four ingredients. 



  • Vanilla syrup
  • Caramel sauce
  • Milk of your choice
  • Shots of espresso



  1. Prepare your espresso shots by grinding the beans, but do not pull them yet. 
  2. Take a twelve-ounce iced coffee cup out of the cupboard. 
  3. Add the vanilla syrup to the bottom of the empty cup. 


Tip - You can use sugar-free vanilla syrup to make an iced caramel macchiato with fewer calories. 


  1. Then, add the milk to your coffee cup. 
  2. Now is the best time to start pulling the shots of espresso. 
  3. While the shots are pulling, take your ice cubes out of the freezer. 
  4. Add as many ice cubes to your cup as you would like. 
  5. Wait for the espresso shots to finish pulling.
  6. Pour them over the top of the milk, syrup, and ice mixture. 
  7. Take your caramel sauce and drizzle it over top of your beverage. 


Tip - The caramel sauce will fall to the bottom of your cup because it is far heavier and more dense than the milk. So, when you take sips of your iced caramel macchiato, it will taste best when you drink from a straw. 


Try your best to keep the straw close to the bottom of your cup so that you get caramel sauce with every sip. Otherwise, you'll end up with a thick layer of caramel at the bottom of your cup when you finish your caramel macchiato. 


If you are looking to make this hot, you can follow the same steps and leave out the ice!


Perfecting Your Recipe

Like we mentioned earlier, making iced caramel macchiatos is a great way to expand your recipe list beyond the perfectly brewed cup of standard coffee. You have full control over how much vanilla and caramel goes into your drinks for your customers. To make a less sweet iced caramel macchiato, you can do one of two things:


Your first option is to omit the vanilla syrup altogether. This will take away some of the sweetness of an iced caramel macchiato, leaving you with a bolder and richer taste. If you are going for a lighter approach, then we suggest keeping the vanilla syrup in your caramel macchiato, and simply adding less flavoring. Stick to half a teaspoon of each to start with, and adjust it to your liking from there! 


Iced caramel macchiatos are a very popular drink in many coffee shops, but what makes yours stand out is up to you! You are the barista behind the bar (or you likely hired that person to make stellar brews for you), so in any case, you have the insight as to how most of your customers like their coffee and espresso drinks. Feel free to play around with flavor amounts.


Better Iced Caramel Macchiato Barista Underground


Pro Tips for Better Iced Caramel Macchiatos

Tip #1

Use half-and-half or oat milk for your iced caramel macchiato. These are the two creamiest milks and milk alternatives. You might be wondering why creamy milk and alternative milks are best for iced caramel macchiatos. The reason is that an iced caramel macchiato is already a sweeter, more treat-like coffee drink. Using creamy milk will add to the dessert-like characteristics of this beverage. 


Half-and-half is best for small traditional macchiatos. It has a very high concentration of fat and it can be very caloric in large quantities. If calories are not on your customers’ radars, then by all means, craft a twelve-ounce iced caramel macchiato using half-and-half. 


Tip #2

When you drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of your ice and milk, try to get some of the caramel to land on the ice cubes. The odds of the ice cubes poking out of the top of your milk are very high, so it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to accomplish. 


The reason for this is that the ice cubes will help suspend the caramel so that it doesn’t all fall to the bottom of your cup. The caramel will slowly sink to the bottom as the ice cubes melt. We still recommend using a straw, even when following this iced caramel macchiato pro tip.


Tip #3

Pouring your espresso shots over the milk and ice is an important detail of iced caramel macchiatos. In fact, the word macchiato means spotted or stained in Italian. That is exactly what you want your espresso shots to do! The espresso marks the milk, taking it from a white or cream color to a beautiful golden brown. 


Adding espresso after the milk creates layers of flavor, too. With every sip, you’ll start out tasting the sweet flavors of caramel and vanilla. Then, the richness of the milk with complement the sweet syrups. The espresso will hit your tastebuds next, and you’ll see just how well the bitter tasting notes of the espresso shots pair with the contrasting saccharine taste of the other ingredients. 


Brewing it Over

Creating the perfect macchiato has a lot to do with your recipe and knowing your customers’ preferences. Play around with the amount of syrups you use (or don’t use) to get the right level of sweetness that your customers will enjoy. Not sure of their preferences? Have a day of free sampling! Put out different samples of the recipe and ask customers to rate it. Whichever wins can be your next featured recipe!

September 12, 2019 by Staff @ BaristaUnderground