What Is a Cortado Coffee Drink?

What Is a Cortado Coffee Drink

Have you ever wondered what is a cortado drink and how you can order it? Have you ever found this espresso-based beverage on a coffee menu?

Well, I guess you have not. Cortado is a coffee known for its Spanish origin. It contains only 2 ingredients – milk and an espresso shot. If you think about it, few other coffee drinks are prepared with those two ingredients. But they differ in taste and look because of the preparation technique.

Everything is described in this article.

I hope it will help you in your coffee journey.


  1. What Is a Cortado?
  2. The Cortado Origin Story
  3. How to Create a Cortado?
  4. How to Drink a Cortado?
  5. Advantages of the Cortado
  6. Cortados at Starbucks
  7. What Is a Cortadito?
  8. Differences Between Drinks

What Is a Cortado?

A cortado is a hot coffee beverage that consists of espresso and milk in smaller cup sizes. The ratio of espresso to milk is one to one (about half espresso, half milk). The primary purpose of this quantity of milk is to temper the espresso’s acidity. A cortado’s steamed milk has less froth and foam than other Italian coffee drinks, but it’s still fascinating.

The café cortado’s basic structure and worldwide fame have made it a favorite of many coffee lovers. Changing the drink’s size is rarely an option because of its fixed smaller size. Large coffee chains like Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, and Costa serve the cortado in the same pre-determined cup.

The usual serving cup for this beverage has been a glass or a small metal cup for ages. Due to its lack of concern for aesthetics, the cortado is less likely to have foam art or other frills than the lattes.

The Cortado Origin Story

Originally from the Basque area of Spain (Pas Vasco), the café cortado made its way to Portugal and then South America. Because it tempers the sharpness of espresso with a hint of sweetness, it’s trendy. Hispanics are significant consumers of coffee in the United States, making it an essential part of their culture. 

Let’s get to the name now. It is referred to as “cortado” or “cortadito” in Spanish since “cut” is a verb in the language. Titles may vary depending on where you are in the world, such as:

  • Puerto Rico: “Cortadito”;
  • Cuba: “Cortadito“;
  • Venezuela: “Marrón”;
  • Australia: “Piccolo”;
  • France: “Noisette”;
  • Certain states of America: “Gibraltar” or “Gibraltar Coffee”;
  • Rest of the world: “Cortado”.

There are regional variations in portion size as well. In Spain and South America, espresso and steamed milk are frequently the only ingredients. The United States does not offer it in a 6- to 8-ounce cup, unlike Japan, where it is.

Let’s get down to business and learn how to make your first cortado.

How to Create a Cortado?


  • Fresh coffee beans (for 2 oz of Espresso)
  • 2 ounces of milk


  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder
  • Milk steamer

Step-by-step recipe for cortado at home

  1. Grind the coffee beans.
  2. Tamping the beans
  3. Make the Espresso Shot.
  4. Steam the milk.
  5. Pour the steamed milk over the Espresso.
  6. Serve right away.

STEP №1 – Grind the coffee beans

Before using the coffee, ground the beans to a fine powder in a high-quality coffee grinder. If you are unsure about the espresso setting on your grinder, see the user handbook for clarification. Grinder manufacturers often provide suggestions for various brewing techniques with their equipment and offer recommended settings for each operation.

With a burr grinder, the most excellent espresso comes from freshly ground coffee beans, more uniformly dispersed. For the freshest cup of coffee, grind the beans right into the portafilter.

STEP №2 – Tamping the beans

The next phase is tamping the beans. Tamper-aided pressing of coffee grinds onto a disc is possible. You’ll be able to guarantee that the portafilter can enter and exit the machine efficiently, allowing for maximum water-coffee interaction. Be careful not to compress the disc by pressing down too forcefully. Lightly squeeze the handle and twist it to relieve the pressure.

STEP №3 – Make the Espresso shot

Get a glass ready. You may fill a tiny glass (like a Gibraltar glass).

Make one or two espresso shots. Turn the handle to secure the filter basket after gently sliding it into the machine. Pour the hot water from the glass into the portafilter and set it down. Your espresso machine may include a switch or a button that you need to push to get the coffee into your cup.

STEP №4 – Steam the Milk

As the shot is being taken, it is possible to make steaming milk using an electric steam wand. You should strive to use 2 ounces of milk for every cup of coffee in your cortado to achieve a one-to-one milk-to-coffee ratio.

Use the steam wand to remove any built-up steam in your machine. To thoroughly clean the wand, use a moist cloth or sponge and a tiny amount of steam. Use a barista-style almond, oat, or coconut milk frothing pitcher and insert the wand into the center. Keep the wand submerged in the milk until the pitcher exterior is warm and there is a thin layer of foam on top.

STEP №5 – Pour the steamed milk over the Espresso

Carefully pour the milk into the espresso and stir to incorporate the flavors. There are no gimmicks or fancy methods that you can use here. All you need is a basic, precise pouring technique to achieve your aim.

STEP №6 – Serve right away

Finally, arrange the beverage and serve it.

How to Drink a Cortado?

Take your time sipping them to get the most enjoyment out of cortados. Since the caffeine dosage is so high, they are often served in a 5-7-ounce cup and are designed to be consumed. You’ll get a complimentary glass of water to wash your palate between sips if you’re lucky.

Advantages of the Cortado

Cortados are one of the most caffeinated beverages you can create outside of plain espresso. They include a double shot of espresso in a 4-ounce cup. You may get the energy boost you need without consuming a full cup of coffee or a giant, creamy latte if you’re up late working or studying. Conversely, it’s not overpowering like a shot of plain espresso. Cortados are a popular choice among discerning coffee drinkers.

In addition to being more convenient to prepare than espresso, cortados also have a distinct flavor and aroma of their own. There are many popular alternatives at cafes that don’t need you to make your drink, but the cafe cortado is the most popular choice at home where you have to make your drink.

Your milk frothing technique is critical to creating smooth, creamy espresso beverages like those served by your barista. For many individuals, creating their lattes and cappuccinos at home is a frustrating experience because of the lack of microfoam, a crucial ingredient in the foaming process.

Cortados at Starbucks

The espresso cortado is supposed to be available at Starbucks, but … it isn’t. If the barista doesn’t know how to make the drink, you’ll need to explain the process to them. Ask for a double shot of espresso with 2 ounces of steamed milk on top when placing an order for this specialty drink.

This drink may be billed as an espresso macchiato or another beverage since it is not approved as “Starbucks cortado”.

What Is a Cortadito?

It’s a Cuban espresso drink known as a “cortadito” (small cortado). In contrast to the cortado, which uses freshly steamed milk, the cortadito uses sweetened condensed milk. Because fresh milk was more challenging to get by in Cuba at the time, the condensed milk used to make the Cuban cortadito was created. It’s still prevalent in the United States, particularly in Miami.

Differences Between Drinks

The cortado is not interchangeable with any other coffee drink, even though it is a coffee beverage. Although there are other coffee beverages to pick from, the cortado is the most energetic.

Cortado Vs Macchiato / Cappuccino

What is the difference between cortado vs Macchiato? A cortado is an espresso drink between a macchiato and a cappuccino in terms of the general flavor profile. Generally speaking, these beverages contain roughly one espresso shot.

The most significant difference between these beverages is the quantity of milk. Because it contains less milk, the macchiato has a smaller serving size. In addition, the macchiato is a little more potent because of this. Contrast this with a cappuccino, which contains a higher proportion of milk and foam. In addition, the volume is more significant, and the caffeine content is a bit less intense.

Cortado Vs Flat White

What is the difference between Cortado vs Flat White

What is the difference between cortado vs flat white coffee? The flat white is another drink commonly used to compare the cortado. The quantity of espresso is the same, but the amount of milk is somewhat different. Compared to a cortado, the flat white is closer to a latte in flavor and appearance. In terms of espresso content, the flat white contains more milk and is thus thicker than the cortado, which has less milk and is therefore thinner. As a result, flat whites tend to be a little fancier in their presentation.

Cortado Vs Latte

What is a Cortado vs Latte coffee

What is the difference between Cortado vs Lattee coffee? Compared to a cortado, a latte is richer in milk and cream. The 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk gives the whole story. Espresso requires three frothy heated milk shots to make a cup of coffee. So the coffee’s taste is less powerful and smooth, highlighting the sweetness and creaminess of milk as its most prominent attributes.

The way you serve it makes a difference as well. Starbucks and other coffee shops will no longer serve cortado-sized cups. Instead, they’ll use cups from 6 ounces to 20 ounces. Its texture and composition allow baristas and coffee shops to experiment with novel taste combinations. The following are some of the most prevalent variations:

  • Vanilla Hazelnut Latte. It is a drink with hazelnut syrup, vanilla syrup, espresso, steamed milk, water, ice, and whipped cream.
  • Mudslide Latte. That is a mix of espresso flavored syrup, Irish cream syrup, chocolate sauce, 2 espresso shots, milk, and whipped cream.
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte. It combines pumpkin spice syrup, an espresso shot and steamed milk, and whipped cream.
  • French Vanilla Latte. You need just 1 shot of espresso, steamed milk, and sweet french vanilla syrup.

As you can see, they can transform the classic latte into a sweet treat. Starbucks is a good illustration of this, but we all know what coffee lovers and addicts think of it.

Coffee Bombon, which is based on the basic espresso cortado but is widespread in Murcia, Spain, is another drink variation. To prepare this at home, you’ll need a shot of espresso and three tablespoons of condensed milk.

Otherwise, the cortado and the latte are two very different beverages.

Cortado Vs Gibraltar

In a bit of a storyline twist, here we go. Although Gibraltar has a different name, it’s really an espresso cortado that has been dubbed that way in the past. The Blue Bottle Coffee Company in San Francisco, California, gave “Gibraltar” to their coffee blend. Gibraltars get their name from the glass they’re served in: the Libbey “Gibraltar” Glass.

Gibraltar is similar to an espresso cortado in its components and proportions. However, it is served at a different time of the day. The second name was merely coined because the glass in which Gibraltar is served is named after it. Many third-wave coffee shops picked up on this tendency over time.

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