The traditional tea shop gets a trendy makeover in Downtown LA’s exciting new location of the East LA chain, Macchiato. Macchiato boasts a perfectly Instagram-able interior complete with plentiful potted plants, pastel decorated walls, and an inspirational marquee quote. Speaking with the Macchiato team, we learned that what sets this new shop apart is their “whimsical, yet classic twist” on traditional drinks. Nothing exemplifies this whimsy better than their signature Potted Plant drinks - topping coffees and bobas with whipped cream, crumbled Oreos, and a sprig of microgreen.

We were kindly invited to try Macchiato’s signature dishes last month, so we hopped on the train from UCLA to check it out.

Bridget Ball

First up: the Potted Plant Taro Milk Tea.

This bright purple drink was a symphony of flavor, topped with a decadent layer of whipped cream, and garnished with a thick crumble of Oreos. Macchiato is influenced greatly by its Taiwanese roots, with the owners explaining the inspiration for the shop coming from “[their] roots of traditional Taiwanese bubble tea drinks”. Taro, a root vegetable, is a common ingredient in many Taiwanese dishes, known for its distinctive purple color and making it a treat for the eyes as well as the senses. The taro milk tea was perfectly sweetened and uniquely flavored, with the Oreo crumble providing a satisfying textural experience - crunchy and smooth all in one. As someone who loves tea and also loves trying new things, the Potted Plant Taro Milk Tea was a drink sent from heaven.

We couldn’t write about Macchiato without trying one of their signature flavored espresso drinks. We tried the Potted Plant Horchata Macchiato and we weren’t disappointed with the result. At its core, the drink has a quality espresso mixed with a little bit of milk and some sugar. The horchata component lent flavors of cinnamon, rice, and almond that complemented the coffee nicely. We substituted the milk in the macchiato for almond milk, which probably helped support the almond flavor of the horchata (almond is only present in some horchata recipes). This combination in particular seemed very natural, as cinnamon is commonly used to flavor coffee and lattes. We felt that this drink faithfully presented the flavor profiles of both horchata and espresso in a delicious combination.

Bridget Ball

Another bold visual statement on Macchiato’s menu is the Charcoal Waffle.

Before trying this dish, the word “charcoal” summoned images of barbeques or trendy toothpastes, so we were initially skeptical about this dessert. However, our taste test revealed a fantastic crisp-but-chewy texture in a moist and ever-so-slightly earthy waffle. We were delighted to find that the charcoal creates more than just a popping Instagram visual, and lightens the texture of the waffle, while preserving moisture. The charcoal makes the waffle a little more savory than average, which pairs excellently with the sweet fruit, whipped cream, and ice cream served alongside. The charcoal waffle is the perfect collision of Macchiato’s whimsical food innovations and an exciting ingredient that improves the quality of the dish.

Bridget Ball

We weren’t prepared for the sight we beheld with the S’mores Waffle.  

It features a masterpiece of golden-brown waffle, vanilla ice cream, torched cushions of marshmallows, mounds of whipped cream, all topped off by a generous drizzle of melted chocolate and a light snowfall of powdered sugar. Our amazement continued when we took a bite and experienced the blissful flavor, with the classic campfire snack transformed into a glorious dessert. The toasted marshmallows gave the dish a smoky flavor, which contrasted nicely with the coolness from the ice cream. I didn’t think that s’mores could be improved, but Macchiato defied expectations yet again with its innovative twist on a classic.

Looking forward, the Macchiato team hopes to “[expand] its menu with new drinks and waffle flavors very soon,” as well as increase the number of vegan options and experiment with new ingredients. 

All in all, stopping by Macchiato is a whole latte fun.