What Is A Cloud Macchiato?

What is a Cloud Macchiato, and how is it any different from a standard macchiato? Read on to learn more about this drink.

What is a cloud macchiato?
Behold the enticing cloud macchiato.

My morning sip of Starbucks already makes me feel like I’m floating on Cloud 9, so when I heard about the newest addition to the menu—aptly named the Cloud Macchiato—I knew that it was kismet. 

As someone who orders iced caramel macchiatos at least 70% of the time I get coffee, I spent my drive to Starbucks in deep reflection over how the coffee chain could improve on something that, in my eyes, was already sheer perfection. 

That day, I learned that a cloud macchiato is a Starbucks drink with a fluffy cloud of caramel-drizzled soft foam resting atop a sea of smooth, iced espresso. Swirls of milk and java are also mingled with vanilla syrup. It’s like caffeine nirvana.

The Origins Of The Macchiato

Before we dive into the full, albeit brief, history of the Cloud Macchiato, we must first understand the fundamentals of the drink. 

The “True” Macchiato

True macchiato
The espresso in macchiato can be placed in the middle of the drink.

The word macchiato is Italian for “spotted” or “marked” because it contains just a spot of milk

When preparing the drink, a barista pours a layer of foamed milk first, then adds a single or double shot of espresso on top. 

The much lighter milk rises to the top as the shot is poured, leaving a little espresso mark in the middle, hence the meaning of the name. If you like this post, you might be interested in our short macchiato guide.

The Starbucks Macchiato

It would be more appropriate to call the Starbucks version of the Italian cafe staple a macchiato latte.

Lattes consist of espresso shots and steamed milk, precisely how the franchise prepares its popular drink. 

Like the classic macchiato, though, espresso is the last ingredient, resulting in a bold first sip that mellows as the layers settle into one another. 

What Is A Cloud Macchiato?

latte machiato
Cloud macchiato is cinnamon or caramel flavored.

The drink is available hot or iced in either cinnamon or caramel flavor, but the basic premise is the same either way.

At the bottom is a layer of milk, followed by espresso, then capped off with airy whipped milk topping similar to the meringue you would find on top of a lemon pie. 

That’s the secret to helping the milk foam keep its form. 

Like meringues, cloud foam contains dried egg whites, which are well-known in the world of baking for their ability to keep a relatively stable structure when whipped. 

Both drinks come drizzled in caramel for an extra dose of buttery sweetness.

Read our guide to Macchiato vs. Cortado.

Cloud Macchiato Taste

Cloud Macchiatos are more of a textural experience than a taste experience because adding egg whites to cold foam doesn’t particularly change the overall flavor. 

The puff of lusciously soft milk does give the drink a certain je ne sais quoi that I will sorely miss, thanks to its frankly criminal discontinuation as of October 2020. 

If you haven’t tried one, here’s what you missed:

Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato

Picture a cinnamon roll, but instead of cream cheese icing, you slather it in whipped cream. That’s kind of what the Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato tastes like, which is why I always preferred this one hot. 

In addition to the standard vanilla syrup and caramel drizzle, it also features cinnamon syrup and cinnamon-lemon powder that provides a citrusy brightness I didn’t even know I wanted in a Starbucks drink. 

Caramel Cloud Macchiato

My usual Caramel Macchiatos always come iced, so it was natural that the Caramel Cloud Macchiato became my default cold option. 

While the only difference was that the fluffed topping, it still felt special and introduced some much-needed texture to an otherwise one-note iced coffee

Like this? Check out our guide to the best Starbucks coffee for beginners


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.