The past few months have shown me that ordering an espresso macchiato is a great way to compare coffee shops.
Any coffee place can make a latte or serve straight espresso. It takes a bit more skill to make a good cappuccino, and [apparently] even more to get a macchiato right. It surprises me though how many coffee shops fail at making a good, or even a correct, espresso macchiato.
What makes a good espresso macchiato? Good espresso made from quality coffee beans, with the right ratio of espresso to milk foam.
I don’t know how many times I’ve asked for a caffè macchiato and was handed a cup of milk. One of these places had a diagram like the one below, proceeded to confirm that I wanted an espresso macchiato, yet still gave me a latte.
From my experience, any coffee shop (not generic cafes) that have made me a good macchiato, anything else I order there has been good as well. Likewise, places that fail at making a decent macchiato also usually don’t deliver any other coffee drink I enjoy.
Granted, it’s not quite fair to judge a place on a single visit (different baristas, off-days, etc..), but it really only takes a few attempts to know for sure.
An espresso macchiato is my drink of choice for coffee shop comparison (at least drink-wise), what is yours?
An alternative test I thought of is latte art (in a cappuccino or caffè latte). Usually, places that do some sort of design in the milk foam have good coffee (still needs to be tested more thoroughly).