Cortado Recipe: The Ultimate Espresso Drink – (2022)

- Advertisement -

The espresso realm is awash with options that are composed of different flavors and concentrations. Coffeehouse menus may seem confusing with the variety they offer, but around the world, the cortado is a popular choice among the many variations of espresso.

While the cortado varies in preferred flavors depending on location, it is considered among the top classy espresso drinks worldwide. This article delves into the origin of the cortado, cortado variations, and the cortado recipe so you will want to enjoy this savory drink from the comfort of your home.

Table of Contents

What is Cortado?

The word “cortado” is of Spanish origin and comes from the word “cortar”, which means “to cut.” The drink is assigned this name because milk is added to “cut” the robust concentration of espresso. So, the cortado is designed to tone down the acidity of espresso while retaining its flavor and adding a smooth taste.

Unlike Italian drinks, Spanish drinks tend to incorporate little or no foam. True to its Spanish roots, cortado in English-speaking countries is a smooth infusion of milk and espresso, at a 1:1 ratio and without the foam typical of the latte or the cappuccino.

The origin of Cortado

The cortado is a popular drink that comes from Spain’s Basque Country. From that influence, the drink became popular in Cuba and later gained traction in the USA. Currently, the beverage is most popular among coffee drinkers in Portugal, Spain, Latin America, and Cuba.

In Cuba, the drink is known as a ”cortadito”, which implies a smaller serving than the standard 10 ounces. Traditionally, the cortado was served in small glass cups with a metallic base and ring.

While the presentation of the cortado has changed over time, coffeehouses around the world have retained its small serving size, as witnessed in Starbucks cortado, which is served in a 5-7 oz capacity.

Like most espresso drinks, however, the cortados has notable variations, including the Cortado Condensada, Leche y Leche, and Bombon.

Cortado recipe: How to make a cortado

Although the cortados ranks among the classier variations of espresso, it is fairly easy to make. When making a cortado, you will need:

  • An espresso machine
  • Coffee beans
  • Full-fat milk
  • A flavor of choice
  • A steaming pitcher
  • A grinder
Cortado Recipe: The Ultimate Espresso Drink – (1)


  1. Grind the coffee beans and measure the amount needed to brew your preferred strength. When using fresh grinds, ensure that you use less, as freshly ground beans release more flavor. Using too much of freshly ground beans may result in the extraction of a bitter-tasting espresso.
  2. Measure and tamp your espresso grounds, ensuring that no particles are left on the portafilter ring.
  3. Mount the portafilter and lock it in place to retain the optimal pressure for extraction.
  4. As your espresso is brewing, pour your milk into a steaming pitcher and steam it at 60-65 degrees C.
  5. Add a flavor of choice (vanilla syrup, honey, maple) and stir it for a uniform blend with your espresso.
  6. Pour an equal amount of milk into your cup over the espresso 1:1.
  7. Enjoy your cortado!

Although the cortado is often served in small portions, you can make larger beverages as long as you keep the same ratio. You may also opt to use milk with a different fat content, provided that you’re careful to not produce any foam as you steam.

You may also read how to make a latte without an espresso machine?

Variations of the cortado

You may also select a cortado condensada (espresso and condensed milk) or Leche-y-Leche (using condensed milk and adding a cream topping).

Cortado condensada

A cortado condensada is also known as a bombon. Unlike steamed milk, condensed milk yields a sweeter flavor and remains separated from the espresso as long as it isn’t stirred.

A testament to the popularity of cortado condensada in various coffeehouses is that it’s often used as a dessert.

Leche Y Leche

Leche is Spanish for “milk.” The name of this drink hints at its two layers of milk. The Leche y Leche recipe combines the steamed milk from the cortado and the condensed milk from the condensada.

The Leche y Leche has a layer of condensed milk, a layer of espresso, and a topping of steamed milk. Leche y Leche is a smooth infusion rich in flavor—a great serving to kickstart your day.

Piccolo café latte

The piccolo café latte is the Australian variation of the cortado. The piccolo café has more milk and foam compared with the classic cortado. Although it is served in the small 3-4 oz capacity, the piccolo latte has a 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk.

Iced cortado

The iced cortado is a delicious serving of the cortadito “on rocks.” As the ice thaws, it cools your drink off, allowing you to enjoy creamy coffee and combat the summer heat.

Differences between the cortado and other espresso variations

While espresso lends itself to tons of variations, many drinks have only slight differences in ingredients and presentation. However, each drink boasts a unique taste owing to the ratio of its ingredients.

The cortado is closely associated with a cappuccino and a macchiato. From this cortado recipe, we note its uniqueness in the infusion of espresso and milk to achieve a smooth finish.

Cortado vs latte

The latte is among the most popular espresso drinks. Unlike the cortado, the latte is an Italian drink comprising espresso and milk with a foam topping.

Besides the use of foam, a key difference between the cortado and the latte is the serving capacity, which can range between 6-20 oz. The latte also calls for a larger quantity of milk and a lower concentration of espresso drinks.

Cortado vs Macchiato

The macchiato is yet another European classic with Italian roots. Unlike the cortado, however, the macchiato has a higher ratio of espresso to milk. As a result, the drink has a striped appearance that fits in with its Italian name, which means “marked coffee.” The milk in macchiato is not designed to neutralize the acidity of coffee so much as it is to boost your drink’s flavor.

Cortado vs Cappuccino

Cappuccino is the closest drink to the cortado. Like the cortados, the cappuccino comprises a similar ratio of milk to espresso. However, the cappuccino has more foam, which makes up a third of the total amount of your drink.

Flat White vs Cortado

The flat white is an equally popular variation of espresso on the market. Although the flat white comprises an equal amount of espresso as the cortado, their major difference is in the foam. While the cortado has a smooth infusion of milk and espresso, the flat white has a micro-foamed layer. As such, the flat white has a velvety appearance instead of the smooth infusion of the cortado.

Final verdict

We all have varying interests in the taste and composition of espresso. However, among different options, the cortado is a classic infusion with equal parts of milk and espresso to avoid any bitterness. With the above cortado recipe, you can easily create the drink and enjoy a delicious drink right at home.

Owing to its composition, the cortado is a favorite of coffee drinkers who appreciate less acidity. Yet, cortado offers many variations that are ideal for various occasions and diversifying your espresso regimen.

Photo byTyler Nix and Hoàng ChươngfromPexels

- Advertisement -


What does cortado mean in Italian? ›

A cortado is a beverage consisting of espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The milk in a cortado is steamed, but not frothy and "texturized" as in many Italian coffee drinks.

What is a cortado espresso drink? ›

The Cortado is an espresso drink of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It's Spanish in origin: “cortado” means “cut” in Spanish, indicating that the espresso is cut with the milk. In contrast to other coffee drinks, a Cortado is always the same volume: one doubleshot of espresso and 2 ounces milk.

What is Starbucks equivalent to a cortado? ›

You would think Starbucks would have cortado on their menu, but nope. It's not an official Starbucks espresso drink so be prepared to explain how the drink is to be made in case the barista doesn't know. To order it, ask for a double shot of espresso with 2 ounces of steamed milk on top.

How many shots of espresso are in a cortado? ›

Cortado coffee is typically made from two shots of espresso mixed with an equal amount of steamed milk, making them significantly smaller than other popular drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. The biggest difference between a cortado and other espresso drinks is that there is no microfoam layer in a cortado.

Is cortado stronger than espresso? ›

Ristretto shots have slightly less caffeine than Espresso shots so if you are comparing a Flat White with a Ristretto shot vs a Cortado with an Espresso shot, the Cortado will have more caffeine.

Is cortado stronger than macchiato? ›

A macchiato is an espresso with just a dollop of milk on top, while a cortado has more milk added, making it more smooth and creamy, without any large milk bubbles. Because a macchiato uses less milk than a cortado, it'll be stronger in flavor, which I've mentioned above.

Why is it called a cortado? ›

Cortado comes from the word cortar in Spanish, which means “to cut.” The milk used in this drink reduces the acidity of the espresso – hence the name.

Is cortado single or double shot? ›

Cortado coffee is a Spanish drink containing a double espresso shot mixed with hot milk. It's the espresso version of a latte, just without all that milk foam on top.

Is cortado strong coffee? ›

Cortado- In Summary

In summary, a Cortado is a small, strong espresso drink that is served in a 4.5 oz glass. The drink is typically served as a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of espresso to steamed milk.

Is cortado stronger than cappuccino? ›

They both contain one shot of espresso, which is around 40 milligrams of caffeine. However, more differences between the delicious espresso drinks occur when you start counting calories. A four-once cortado can be anywhere from 15 to 30 calories, whereas a 12-ounce cappuccino can be 150 to 200 (or more!)

Do you sip a cortado? ›

Be sure to make your cortado so you have plenty of time to enjoy it. It doesn't take long to make, but you want to sit with your drink and sip it to fully enjoy the flavor. The caffeine content of a cortado is high, so this isn't something you'll brew and take to work in a travel mug.

Is a cortado the same as a flat white? ›

They're generally served in 5-7 fl oz cups. Although the difference is very subtle, it's all about the consistency of the milk that is used. They have the same amount of espresso, but the milk in a cortado is not textured. Essentially, a cortado is smooth while a flat white is more velvety and thicker.

How do you make a cortado? ›

  1. Gather about 16.5 ounces of espresso coffee. Grind.
  2. Pour 2-3 ounces of milk into milk pitcher.
  3. Extract two shots of espresso into Gibraltar glass.
  4. While espresso is extracting, steam your milk. Make sure there isn't any foam. ...
  5. Slowly pour milk in espresso. Enjoy!
Jan 12, 2021

How much caffeine is in a cortado? ›

How much caffeine is there in a cortado? A cortado traditionally is made with a double shot of espresso which contains about 150mg of caffeine.

How do you texture milk for cortado? ›

2. Steam Milk
  1. Fill your pitcher with milk (or a milk-alternative).
  2. Purge the steam wand.
  3. Stretch (aerate) and texture (emulsify) the milk.
  4. Touch the pitcher to check the temperature.
  5. Tap out any trapped air bubbles and swirl the steamed milk around to get ready to pour over your espresso shot.
Mar 27, 2018

What is the ratio of cortado? ›

Cortado (from the Spanish cortar, known as "Tallat" in Catalan, "Pingo" or "Garoto" in Portugal and "noisette" in France) is an espresso "cut" with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The ratio of coffee to milk is between 1:1 - 1:2, and the milk is added after the espresso.

Is a cortado the same as a macchiato? ›

The Big Difference? Foamed or Steamed Milk. As we are sure you have noticed, the difference between a cortado and a macchiato is the milk. If you have foamed milk, you are enjoying a macchiato while steamed milk is present in a cortado.

Does Starbucks have a cortado? ›

Two ristretto shots topped with warm, silky milk served in a 6oz cup that gives you the needed coffee kick for your day.

What coffee is similar to cortado? ›

Both macchiatos and cortados are small drinks made by combining espresso with milk, but that's where the similarities end. A macchiato is a shot of espresso with foamed milk floating on top. A cortado is a double shot of espresso cut with an equal amount of steamed milk.

How big is a cortado cup? ›

This is the same glass used in the top US coffee shops. At 4.5 oz, the glass is the perfect size for the classic Cortado.

How do you pronounce cortado? ›

Popular in Spain, the cortado starts with a single-shot espresso base topped with a just a small amount of steamed milk and a very small layer of foamed milk to finish. Think of it as a 50:50 version of a latte. The drink is often served in a small glass. Pronounced cor-tah-doh.

How much liquid is in a cortado? ›

Cortado is a Spanish word that means “cut.” Simply put, a cortado is an espresso that has been “cut” by an equal amount of steamed milk (1). The usual recipe is 60 ml of espresso, 60 ml of warm milk. It came into the United States through San Francisco but quickly spread from coast to coast (2).

Is ristretto the same as cortado? ›

Cortado - An espresso with a small amount of warm milk. The ratio of milk to coffee is between 1:1 and 1:2, and the milk is added after the espresso. The word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar (to cut). Ristretto (Restricted Shot) - Shot pulled short of Espresso coffee.

How do you explain a cortado? ›

The term cortado, or cut, refers to the milk cutting through the intensity of the espresso, toning down its acidity while retaining the coffee's flavour. Traditionally it's served with little froth and a 1:1 milk to espresso ratio.

Is cortado stronger than latte? ›

The short and sweet version of the difference between these coffees is that the cortado is smaller with a stronger coffee flavor, and the latte is going to be significantly larger and milk-forward.

How does a cortado taste like? ›

One of the key reasons the Cortado tastes the way it does, is because of the way the milk's prepared. Cortado milk's prepared the same as a Flat White, with less foam, allowing for a denser milk. With roughly a 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk in the Cortado, the milk reduces the acidity and presents a sweeter taste.

What's the difference between a cortado and a Cortadito? ›

A Cortado is a Spanish or Portuguese Espresso made from a double shot of Espresso and steamed milk. Generally it is made at ratio of 50/50. A Cortadito is a Cuban Espresso that consists of a pre-sweetened espresso shot topped off with steamed milk. The ratio can be between 50/50 and 75/25 espresso and milk.

What has more milk a cappuccino or a cortado? ›

After all, it is a drink made of a double shot of espresso and an equal amount of steamed milk. On the other hand, the cappuccino is much sweeter, the drink has a 2:3 milk ratio, and the frothed milk on top is a sweet indulgence by itself.

How many calories are in a cortado? ›

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (4 oz)
% Daily Value *
Calories 15
Total Fat 0.6g1%
Saturated Fat 0.4g2%
7 more rows

What makes a good cortado? ›

Easy Cortado Recipe - How To Make A Cortado Coffee At Home - YouTube

Does cortado have foam? ›

Unlike many other popular espresso drinks, the cortado contains little to no foam. Italian coffee drinks tend to contain some froth or foam, but Spanish coffee drinks don't come with "texturized" milk.

How hot should cortado milk be? ›

The steamed milk for lattes and cappuccinos can range from 150 degrees Fahrenheit to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the steamed milk for a cortado should be steamed to only 130 degrees Fahrenheit to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do you heat milk for cortado? ›

Step 1: Pour the milk into a stainless steel pitcher. Place the pitcher under the steam wand, with the wand touching the bottom of the pitcher. Turn the steam wand on, and move it so that it is just below the surface of the milk. Heat until it is steamed, but NOT foamy.

Can you make a cortado with oat milk? ›

Cortado with Oat Milk - YouTube

Is cortado similar to latte? ›

Cortados are made with equal parts steamed milk and espresso, and they may contain no foam or a small amount of microfoam. Lattes have quite a bit more steamed milk and are almost always topped with a solid layer of microfoam.

What is a double espresso with milk called? ›

A latte, much like a cappuccino, is a combination of espresso and steamed milk. They are generally no smaller than eight ounces, though there really isn't a limit to how small or large they can be.

How do you make cortado with instant coffee? ›

How to make "ESPRESSO" with INSTANT COFFEE - YouTube

Why is it called a cortado? ›

Cortado comes from the word cortar in Spanish, which means “to cut.” The milk used in this drink reduces the acidity of the espresso – hence the name.

Can you get cortado in Italy? ›

The drink originated in Spain and has become one of the most popular coffee drinks in Europe. In Italy and Sweden, it's sometimes called “espresso macchiato.” Cortados are a delicious, smaller-sized hot coffee beverage containing espresso and steamed milk.

Is a cortado the same as a flat white? ›

They're generally served in 5-7 fl oz cups. Although the difference is very subtle, it's all about the consistency of the milk that is used. They have the same amount of espresso, but the milk in a cortado is not textured. Essentially, a cortado is smooth while a flat white is more velvety and thicker.

What is a latte called in Italy? ›

Caffè latte/latte macchiato

Caffè latte translates to coffee and milk. It will usually come in a tall glass filled with espresso and steamed milk.

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated: 03/26/2022

Views: 6310

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.