As a coffee lover, I'm always on the lookout for the perfect "cuppa." I'm not a fancy coffee confection drinker: cappuccinos are too frothy, lattes too weak, iced coffee too sweet. I just like a plain old, well-made, robust and flavorful cup of coffee.
That said, if I want to get fancy, I go for the cafe macchiato. Literally "stained" in Italian, a macchiato is a delicate and potent blend of the three classic coffee ingredients: water, coffee grounds and milk. It's basically an espresso that is "stained" with a drop of hot milk and froth on the top. A good macchiato should have a strong kick to it, slightly tempered by the creaminess of the milk. Very hard to to well.
Yesterday I had the perfect macchiato at Ninth Street Espresso, at their Chelsea Market outlet. It was made with nonchalant aplomb by a bored barista, which belied the craftmanship behind it. As she slapped it down on the counter, the patron beside me said, "That's a fine cup of coffee!"
I stirred in a few sprinkles of brown sugar and had a sip. It was silky smooth with a lot of body and not a hint of bitterness. And because it was a triple shot, I got enough time to savor each sip, getting happier by the moment. I'll remember not to put any sugar the next time, which will hopefully be soon!
Tech blogger Matt Buchanon has his own rhapsodic description of the Ninth Street Espresso macchiato over at Gizmodo, of all places.