Everything You Need To Know About A Cortado (2022)

A cortado can be found on the menu of most coffee shops and is becoming a popular choice in cafes around the world. Traveling to every region, Cortado has made its way to worldwide coffee chains such as Starbuck and Costa Coffee.

You are probably hearing Cortado for the first time or your friend had you drink it last time but you forgot its name. You need to try cortado for once if you are a fan of hot coffee drinks. Cortado is a good menu for both espresso lovers and those who enjoy light coffee.

Everything You Need To Know About A Cortado (1)

However, the ways coffee shops serve Cortado can be very different.

Today each coffee shop has developed its own recipe of Cortado, creating new variants of Cortado throughout the world. Thus, picking a Cortado drink remains tricky and confusing over the number of coffee drinks presented to you.

But you will never have this repeated problem when you stop at a Café next time because you will learn everything about Cortado in this article.


(Video) What is a Cortado?

  • Know The Cortado
  • True Story of Cortado
    • Cortado X other Coffee Drinks: How is it different?
    • Cortado VS Latte
    • Cortado VS Macchiato
    • Cortado VS Cappuccino
    • Cortado VS Flat White
    • Go-to Home-Made Cortado
  • Key Takeaways

Know The Cortado

Simply speaking, a cortado is a one-of-kind hot coffee drink balanced between espresso and hot milk. Cortado is made in a happy and equal balance of espresso and condensed milk.

Cortado’s origin came from the Spanish creation, in a basque country. The name means “cut” translating from the Spanish word “Corta”. Therefore, the term “cut” here is the warm milk that cuts through the shots of espresso and acidity. That is why the drink is sweeter, smoother, and less intense. Yet still, Cortado is popular among espresso coffee drinkers.

True Story of Cortado

Traditionally served, delicious Cortados were made in small size cups made from glass or metals rather than ceramic. Stick to a past participle, this small beverage is made in a 1:1 shot of espresso to milk ratio.

With an equal mix of espresso and steamed milk, Cortado sometimes looks lighter on the milk part. If you go around and order a Cortado today, many coffee shops have multiple take-on a Cortado and even name it in different ways. It really comes down to the region or country in specific you are in.

On to the name, for example in Australia, people call it Piccolo latte while in French people name it Noisette. The serving sizes and flavors also differ from one region to one region, and across world cafes.

Everything You Need To Know About A Cortado (2)

For example, Starbucks and Costa coffee have recreated their own Cortado. Starbuck Cortado is a more highly concentrated espresso (double shot of ristretto) with fresh milk. Costa coffee shops, on the other hand, make a Cortado with half espresso to amount of milk. They served it in a short and luxurious 04 oz cup.

Besides, if you go to a Café in San Francisco and some states in the U.S, they name Gibraltar instead of a cortado. Also, they typically do not serve it in a small glass but in 7 to 8 oz Gibraltar glass. Many coffee shops have adopted this practice serving a cortado in a Gibraltar glass rather than a cup.

(Video) Specialty Coffee Drinks Explained - What is a Cortado?

Unlike the rest of the world, Cuban has a comparable recipe and serving of Cortado. A Cuban Cortadito is usually served in a special glass, often with a metal ring base and a metal wire handle.

Cortado X other Coffee Drinks: How is it different?

It is a delicious fusion between espresso and milk, and that is what makes a Cortado. The whole milk makes it sweeter and less intense than other milk-based coffee drinks like flare white, latte, macchiato, and cappuccino.

Everything You Need To Know About A Cortado (3)

Cortado VS Latte

It is very common that this coffee drink to be compared to a Latte. Both Cortados and latte look the same from the outset. The textured milk of a Cortado is similar to a latte, but the noticeable difference between them is the size matters.

Each café typically serves a latte in a cup that is 8 oz or bigger. Moreover, the latte can be thicker and needs more steamed milk. A barista makes a latte with a roughly equal amount between black coffee and milk.

They make one or two shots of espresso and froth 3 shots of milk. Some also like to add sugar in addition to milk. Moreover, baristas contribute multiple latte art and variants to satisfy their customers. On the other hand, a cortado is small, simple, balanced espresso and milk.

Cortado VS Macchiato

Italian coffee beverages are also well known and delicious. On one note, Spain’s cortado is compared to Italian’s espresso macchiato. Macchiato and cortado are not the same drink, but some people often make mistakes between the two.

Espresso macchiato is so much darker and more intense than a cortado. Meaning to say Macchiato is made of 90% espresso and 10% milk. Thus, the big difference is the take on espresso and milk. When making a macchiato, baristas put 2-3 shots of espresso and add a little milk – 2 to 3 spoons.

(Video) What Is A Cortado And Why Do You Need One?

Milk foam is intended to reduce the acidic and bitter taste of black coffee. But, it has a thicker and more micro milk foam than a cortado. Their serving size is another big comparison. Not served in a small glass-like Cortado, Macchiato is served in a cup and sometimes in a long glass.

Cortado VS Cappuccino

Besides espresso macchiato and latte, this coffee drink is very often confused with a cappuccino and a flat white. Cappuccino has a slightly different composition of espresso and milk from Cortado. The espresso to milk ratio of Cappuccino depends on the barista and preference.

Usually, Cappuccino needs 1-2 shots of espresso, and 5 oz of frothed milk. The milk, in addition, is more textured than a Cortado. But Cortados more often feature thin foam art while thick layers of milk on Cappuccino. The serving size of Cappuccino is larger, served in 5 oz or 6 oz cups.

Cortado VS Flat White

Flat White is another milk drink mixed with espresso. It is a small version of a latte drink. Their textured milk is the same. What differs it from a Cortado is the ratio of compositions. It does not balance between espresso and steamed milk. Baristas need double shots of espresso and 6 oz or less of milk to make a Flat White. Furthermore, the flat white is served in bigger cups from 5 oz to 8 oz.

Go-to Home-Made Cortado

The global pandemic makes you become your own barista at home. You will need some materials and ingredients such as coffee beans, grinders, espresso machines, and steamed milk.

It takes very easy and quick steps to make a cortado at home.

First, you measure your delicious coffee grounds to 16 grams or more in the portfiler. Then, start to grind coffee beans well until you like them. Next, use an espresso machine to brew your coffee. Then, extract two shots of espresso into a small glass that can serve 4 oz.

As a choice, you can serve it in any size of cups or glass of your favorite. After you finish with the espresso, you start to steam your milk with an equal ratio to the espresso extracted. Measure 4 ounces of milk but you only need 2 oz the right amount to make.

(Video) What is a Cortado + [How to Make One!]

The milk can be non-dairy or alternative milk as you prefer. Now, froth your milk firmly until textured milk gets bright and thin. Last and loud, slowly pour the frothed milk onto the espresso in the glass. There you go; your Cartado is ready for serving. For more fun, you can also customize your drink with additional syrups at the end.

Making a Cortado drink at home is simplistic yet a savory experience to master. You only need to have a few things:

  • Coffee beans
  • Grinder and espresso machine
  • Milk – barista tip, you need only 2 ounce of milk but need to froth 4 ounce of milk because it is easier

Key Takeaways

It is common that coffee drinkers mistake a Cortado for other delicious drinks like latte, macchiato, cappuccino, and flat white, etc. A key foundation for Cortados is the happy balance between espresso and milk.

Moreover, it is a small drink size among other menu drinks. It is a pleasant drink for anyone who does not drink intense espresso or black coffee. It is also a savory drink to try for starters. Now you know its origins, name(s), variants, and specific comparisons, you have no problem getting a Cortado at a Café. This drink can also be easily made at home if you have enough materials.




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.

What makes a good cortado? ›

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

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 a cortado bitter? ›

Cortado vs Macchiato

A cortado is not too dissimilar to a macchiato. They both contain the same amount of espresso, except the macchiato has a little less milk and is slightly smaller in volume. This results in a slightly more bitter taste. That's our guide to what is a cortado.

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.

How much milk is in a cortado? ›

What's a cortado? 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 kind of milk is used in a cortado? ›

Grind coffee beans and use an espresso machine to extract 2 shots of espresso into a small cup that holds at least 4 ounces. A gibraltar glass is the perfect size for a cortado at 4.5 ounces. Steam milk. Froth 4 ounces of lightly textured milk (the same as you would for a latte)—but you'll only use 2.

Is a cortado healthy? ›

If you want to shave off a few of those calories, you can go for a flat white instead. However, a cortado remains the healthier option. Even if you opt for different substitutes, the volume difference between these two coffee beverages is going to render the cortado the more health-conscious choice.

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.

What is a large cortado called? ›

This is a single ristretto shot in a macchiato glass that is filled with steamed milk in the same fashion as a cafe latte. A larger drink, popular in Portugal, is the galão, which uses 1:3 proportions but is otherwise similar to both cortados and manchados.

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.

Should I stir a cortado? ›

Experiment and find out whichever you enjoy more! I prefer giving the cortado a quick stir before drinking, but you can also drink it straight away, without stirring. The espresso and milk have already been slightly mixed either way. I just like to stir it, so I'm sure all the flavors are well combined for each sip.

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.

Are Cortado sweet? ›

If you're looking for a coffee with more milk than a Macchiato and more punch than a Flat White, Cortado is the one. Nicely positioned between the Macchiato and the Flat White, the Cortado is intense yet sweet. It maintains a similar mouthfeel to that of a Flat White, but it? s served in a smaller 4.5oz (130ml) glass.

What is the difference between Cortadito and Cortado? ›

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.

How are you supposed to drink a cortado? ›

The cortado should always be served in a 150–200 ml (5–7 fl oz) glass and the milk should only be steamed; maybe a little foam settles to the top but the essence of the drink must be steamed milk. Cortado is more similar to a less-foamy cappuccino than an espresso macchiato.

What is a large cortado called? ›

This is a single ristretto shot in a macchiato glass that is filled with steamed milk in the same fashion as a cafe latte. A larger drink, popular in Portugal, is the galão, which uses 1:3 proportions but is otherwise similar to both cortados and manchados.

Should I stir a cortado? ›

Experiment and find out whichever you enjoy more! I prefer giving the cortado a quick stir before drinking, but you can also drink it straight away, without stirring. The espresso and milk have already been slightly mixed either way. I just like to stir it, so I'm sure all the flavors are well combined for each sip.

Do you stir a cortado? ›

Since the whole Cortado drink is based on a 1:1 ratio with the coffee, then you should be using the same amount of milk as you have used espresso. You do not need to measure this out accurately, just try and get as close as you possibly can. There is no need to stir anything. Your Cortado has now been fully prepared!


1. Piccolo, Machiatto & Cortado Difference explained
(Barista Andrea)
2. All Espresso Drinks Explained: Cappuccino vs Latte vs Flat White and more!
(European Coffee Trip)
3. What’s the Difference between A Cortado, Cappuccino, and A Latte? | Café Rica’s Barista Life
(Café Rica USA)
4. ESPRESSO ANATOMY - The Modern Cortado
(The Real Sprometheus)
5. Wait… what’s a Cortado?
6. Know Your Coffees: #6 The Cortado, What Is It and How Do We Make One For You?
(Cafe Allez!)

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