Back when Starbucks existed in the Pacific Northwest and, otherwise, only in Hyde Park and the one just west of the river on Randolph (the first Starbucks outside Washinton/Oregon, they say), an espresso macchiato was a proper espresso with a small swirl of foamy milk.
Fast forward to 2004, and a macchiato is some kind of pseudo-milkshake with lots of caramel sauce. But you can still order an espresso macchiato, and it should only have a very small amount of foam or milk, though they tend to overdo it, probably supposing that everyone wants more of everything.
I was a daily visitor to the HP Starbucks a decade ago. It saved my life, having grown up on quarter shots of cafe cubano and drinking espresso around the house in Tampa.
To complete the tale, I was in Canada recently, and visited a Starbuck's where straight espresso drinks (ie, espresso, espresso con panna, espresso macchiato), had disappeared from the menu entirely, making room for chais and milkshakes.
Two random thoughts that this brings up: (1) why there is no Chicago "hometown pride" in Starbuck's, despite the fact that it was really a Seattle/Chicago phenomenon for a long time before it expanded (the founders thought long and hard, apparently, and decided Chicago was a good fit). There were almost none in LA and NY, for example, before the later 90's; and (2) why Starbuck's and the clones never offered a cortado (espresso with an equivalent amount of steamed milk).
I agree with VI that it is possible to get a decent espresso at Starbucks, and there are terrific "baristas" here in Chicago who have been at it for a really long time. The staff at the Southport and Roscoe store comes to mind. They could make coffee in Seattle or Padua for my money. The beans are a little overroasted, but I prefer that to some rather bitter stuff from Italy, like the Lavazza Oro, which I tend to blend with Costco's fresh roasted Costa Rican (which has its own issues, too oily, and tends to muck up my machines at home); together they make a good cup.
As the company expands, and loses its overqualified slacker work force for the dregs of our economy (especially at airports, it seems), those automated machines are taking over. Not nearly as good as a skilled bar person (who can adjust for humidity, grind, bean conditions, etc.) but better than most of the workers these days.
Let's not forget how easy it was to find a decent cup of espresso around America before Starbucks. Not very. You might not have been looking, but I was. You'd be hard pressed to find a good shot in Manhattan or San Franciso, I'm not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. Sure, a few Italian old-timers like the place in Center City Philadelphia existed, but they tended to be solo operators, and hard to find. A place like Bruna's probably always had good espresso, but that was made by an Italian guy after dinner, not at 6 am on your way to work. Most mom and pops were terrible, period. Starbucks created a market and raised the bar. I'm kind of grateful.