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What is a Cortado Coffee? (And How to Make One)

Cortado coffee in small glass

There are many types of coffee out there and when it comes to ordering at a coffee shop, these terms can be very overwhelming. Most people that order coffee only know about black coffee, latte, and cappuccino. If you have found yourself in line thinking what is a Cortado Coffee? Then this is the article for you. 

We are going to take a look at the Cortado Coffee, how the coffee came about, how to perfectly create the coffee, and other similar types. If you like to try unique coffees, take a look at this article about the Dalgona coffee.

What Is a Cortado Coffee?

A Cortado coffee is a well-loved small-sized coffee drink that consists of two simple ingredients, espresso, and warm milk. The warm milk in this coffee is steamed, but minus the heavy froth or milk foam that other coffee beverages have. It uses a 1:1 ratio between the milk and the espresso. 

The reason behind why the measure of milk is 1:1 is to minimize the acidity of the espresso. It’s the perfect drink for those who don’t like to drink strong coffee, but still like to have a small coffee taste. 

The Cortado coffee has popped up all over the world and is even offered in major coffee chains such as Starbucks. Now the flavor would differ depending on the type of coffee bean used, so you might end up getting a different taste depending on where you order from. 

It is also worth noting that this type of coffee is always served in a small glass or metal cup. This is a standard size for that coffee and is generally followed all over the world. Check out the differences between a latte and cortado here.

The Origins of Cortado Coffee

There is not much information about Cortado Coffee except that it came from the Basque Country of Spain. The word “cortado” is derived from the Spanish word “cortar” which means “to cut”. 

The term cortado is rightfully named as such for the reason that the milk is cutting through the caffeine strength of the espresso. The milk balances out the intensity of espresso while retaining the flavor of the coffee. 

For the most part, cortado coffee is served with very little to no foam since this is the most common characteristic of Spanish drinks. As mentioned before, the ratio of espresso and warm milk is 1:1. This ratio creates a robust but creamy drink. 

How Do You Make a Cortado Coffee?

Things You Need to Make a Cortado Coffee

How to Make a Cortado Coffee

The most important part of making a cortado coffee is the expresso machine. In view of the fact that the foundation of the drink is an espresso, you need to be able to get access to the machine in order to make the perfect drink. (You can take a shortcut and use a coffee pod, but the flavor might be considerably weaker).

How to Make a Cortado Coffee

A Cortado Coffee is a well-loved small-sized coffee drink that consists of two simple ingredients, espresso, and warm milk. The warm milk in this coffee is steamed but minus the heavy froth or milk foam that other coffee beverages have. It uses a 1:1 ratio between the milk and the espresso. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Coffee, Cortado
Yield: 1 Cup
Author: The Finest Roast
Cost: $5


  • Expresso Machine
  • Coffee Grinder


  • 17 Grams Ground Coffee
  • 2 Shots Expresso
  • 3 Ounces Milk


  • The first thing that you need to do is to prepare your coffee. It’s best to grind your own coffee instead of buying the pre-ground coffee. 
  • Start by grinding the coffee beans, then measuring them properly. Compress the freshly grounded espresso beans using a tamper.
  • Put the portafilter containing the compressed espresso grounds into the espresso machine.
  • Pull out a double shot of espresso. 
  • When you’ve already extracted espresso shots, steam your preferred milk. You can either use whole milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.
  • Now Is the fun part, when you’ve already have your espresso and steamed milk ready, slowly pour the steamed milk on the espresso. Remember that you use the ratio of 1:1 to make the perfect Cortado Coffee.
  • And presto! You’re perfect Cortado Coffee. Sip and Enjoy!


Although this type of coffee is a very straightforward drink, you can always get creative for as long as you follow the correct 1:1 ratio. You can substitute the steamed milk with condensed milk.

The Best Way to Drink Cortado Coffee

Is there really a perfect way to drink cortado coffee? Well, you have the freedom to drink it in any way you want but the best way to enjoy it is by sipping it slowly. By doing this, not only are you able to savor the robust and creamy drink, but you’re also pacing the intake of the strong caffeine content from the espresso.  

Some places serve this coffee with a side of water in order to cleanse your tastebuds after each sip. That way you can really appreciate the flavor of the coffee.

The Best Coffee to Use for a Cortado Coffee

To make the best cortado coffee, you have to use the best quality coffee beans it. The coffee beans play a major role in the taste and flavor of the coffee drink created. To be able to get that full-bodied coffee taste, use coffee beans that have chocolatey and nutty flavor profiles. Don’t use coffee beans that have delicate flavors since the taste will be easily modified when blended in with the milk. 

Cortado Coffee Compared to Other Coffees

We know that you came to learn about this coffee, but to really understand what the drink is, you need to look at the comparisons to other coffees. Especially ones that are more popular and widely known.

Cortado vs. Latte

Another drink that people confuse cortado coffee with is a latte. Lattes are more similar to flat whites since they both have more milk content. The milk content dilutes the caffeine strength of espresso so this means that a latte is not as strong as cortado coffee. 

Cortado vs. Flat White

It is also compared to a flat white since they fairly look the same. Although cortado coffee and flat white have the same quantity of espresso, the difference is the milk ratio. Flat white contains more milk and is creamier than cortado. 

Cortado Coffee vs. Espresso Macchiato

You might be thinking that a cortado and an espresso macchiato are similar but they are different from each other. Both these drinks indeed contain espresso shots and steamed milk but what sets both of the drinks apart is the ratio of espresso and milk. 

Aside from the espresso and milk ratio, the way the drinks are served is different. An espresso macchiato is served in a demitasse cup with a saucer and a spoon while a cortado coffee is served in a traditional glass cup or metal cup.

Cortado vs. Gibraltar

A Gibraltar is actually the same drink as Cortado Coffee. The name Gibraltar originated in San Francisco, California, and was created and popularized by Blue Bottle Coffee Company. The only difference that they have is the glass that they are served in. 

Key Take-Away

The important thing to remember when planning on making your cortado coffee is the availability of an espresso machine, the kind of coffee used, and the steamed milk. Always remember that you’re better off grinding your own coffee beans instead of using pre-ground coffee in order for you to be able to get a full-bodied coffee taste.

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