Everything You Need To Know About A Cortado

By : Lucy
September 11, 2021

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

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. 

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. 

True Story of Cortado

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. 

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.    

Cortado X other Coffee Drinks: How is it different?

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. 

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. 

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. 

References:

CORTADO COFFEE |BARISTA TRAINING | HOW TO MAKE CORTADO COFFEE By CHEF ISSA

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