What is a Cortado Coffee? Cortado Vs. Other Espresso Drinks

What is a Cortado Coffee? Cortado Vs. Other Espresso Drinks

Cortado coffee has recently popped on the boards of coffee shops. The balanced and rich coffee resembles many popular coffee types, including flat white and macchiato.

The Spanish drink is among the most popular beverages in Europe. But what makes it so popular? Here is everything about the cortado coffee.

What is Cortado Coffee?

What is Cortado?

The Spanish Origin

Unlike most coffee drinks, Cortado has Spanish origin. Basically, it is a small espresso drink that contains almost equal proportions of warm milk. The usual Cortado serving has 2 ounces of milk and 2 ounces of espresso. The milk in the coffee is steamed but not as foamy or frothy as used in latte, cappuccino, and macchiato. The non-foamy milk is a characteristic of Spanish coffee drinks. It not only gives coffee a smooth and silky texture but also allows the milk to cut through the acidity of the espresso.

The diluting factor has given the Cortado its name. Cortado is a Spanish word that means “cut.” This refers to the milk lowering the intensity of espresso while retaining the coffee flavor.

Cortado is getting increasingly popular around the world because of its perfect balance of reduced acidity and strong espresso flavor. Nowadays, it has many great variations, but traditionally, it has the simplest ingredients and preparation methods.

The Cordato and How It Tastes

Traditional Cortado is unsweetened and has only two essential ingredients; espresso and steamed milk. It has a 1:1 ratio of espresso and milk and is served in small glass cups called Gibraltar.

Cortado is a perfectly balanced drink, and all the flavors play together nicely; that’s why they do not have added spices or flavored syrups like caramel syrups, peach syrups, strawberry syrups, blueberry syrup, etc. Instead, different kinds and quantities of milk are used to create variations. Like Cuban Cortado has condensed milk topping. Similarly, baristas also use oat milk, almond milk, and soya milk to give it a new flavor.

How to Make Cortado

How to make Cortado coffee?

Preparing a Cortado is pretty simple; the only equipment you need is an espresso machine with a steam wand. You can use a milk frother if the machine does not have a steam wand. Next, you should have high-quality roasted coffee beans or ground coffee. And lastly, the milk of choice, as mentioned above, traditionally, dairy milk is used in Cortado, but you can use soy milk or almond milk as a non-dairy option.

Related Article: Aeroccino Vs Steam Wand

Now you have all the ingredients, let's prepare our Cortado.

  • Start by putting the roasted coffee beans in the espresso machine and extract double shots of espresso.
  • Then take your desired milk and steam it with the steam wand. If the machine does not have a steam wand, heat the milk to 130F to 150F and froth it with the milk frother. The milk should be lightly textured and not too foamy.
  • Slowly add the milk over the espresso and your delicious Cortado is ready.

While preparing, remember that the espresso-to-milk ratio should not be over 1:1, as equal proportion is the key.

Cortado is fairly easy to prepare if you have a coffee machine at home. You can serve it in Gibraltar cups or in a simple 8-oz coffee mug.

Common Variations of Cortado

Cortado does not have a lot of variations as it has the simplest ingredients and preparation methods. Moreover, people also like to enjoy the perfect drink. 

But some baristas and coffee shops have dared to change the original recipes. 

Here are some common variations of Cortado. 

Cortado Condensada

Cortado Condensada is an excellent variant of coffee. It is made of steamed condensed milk instead of regular milk, which makes it sweet and slightly denser than the average Cortado.


Cortadito is the Cuban version of Cortado. It has sugar whipped with a single shot of espresso. Unlike traditional, it is sweeter and has condensed milk topping. The blend produces a sweet drink with the goodness of coffee and a hint of caramel taste.

Leche y Leche

Leche is Spanish for milk, and two “Leche” means it has two milk types. Leche y Leche has condensed milk at the bottom, an espresso shot in the middle, and hot milk on top. The quantity of milk is collectively almost the same as espresso, ensuring a 1:1 ratio is maintained.

Moreover, visually it is a beautifully layered drink with condensed milk at the bottom, espresso in the middle, and warm milk on top.

Difference Between Cortado and Other Coffee Drinks

Cortado is quite easily confused with many popular coffee drinks. So, if you are at a coffee shop and planning to order one, here are the differences between Cortado and other drinks.

Cortado Vs. Latte

Latte coffee

A latte is an Italian coffee drink with a mild coffee flavor. It has the same amount of espresso but has dairy products like steamed milk or ice cream, or full cream that further dilute the acidity of espresso. Moreover, the latte has a thick foam on top with intricate latte art. Lattes are also open to flavored syrups for better taste, and the average serving size of a latte is around 18 ounces.

On the contrary, Cortado has no or minimal amount of foam on top. It has a bold taste and the drink size is around 4 ounces to 7 ounces.

Cortado Vs. Macchiato

Macchiato coffee

The main difference between these coffees is the amount of steamed milk. Macchiato has some steamed milk with a little bit of foamed milk on top. While Cortado only has steamed milk. Espresso to milk ratio is 1:1 in Cortado and macchiato has just a little milk. That’s why it has a strong coffee taste, while Cortado has a slightly sweet and balanced flavor. The texture of Cortado is very smooth, as there is no foamed milk.

Cortado Vs. Flat White

Flat white is also widely compared to the Cortado. They also differ in terms of milk quantity, flavor, and texture. Flat white is served in an 8-ounce ceramic cup; it has 1-2 shots of espresso and 5 to 6 ounces of milk with a slightly thick foam on top.

The espresso flavor is also slightly mild because of the milk quantity. Moreover, the foamed milk on top also changes the texture compared to Cortado’s silky texture. The foam also allows baristas to create some foam art.

Related Articles


How to Make Espresso Using French Press

Aeroccino Vs Steam Wand

What is a Flat White

What is a Frappuccino and How To Make the Perfect Cup at Home

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