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Coffee Types

What is a Cortado Coffee?

As the world evolves, so do the coffee types. Nowadays, the menus in different cafés like caffè Nero, costa coffee, and Starbucks are full of different varieties of coffees. There is cafe au lait, cappucino, Americano, and more. It’s always good to learn about the history of these coffees. One exciting type of coffee is coffee cortado.

Cortado coffee is a beverage preferred by espresso coffee drinkers who need milk to cut through the acidity and intensity of Espresso. The drink shares similar characteristics with a café au lait, cafe con Leche, piccolo latte from Australia, cappuccinos, macchiatos from Italy, and flat white coffee.

There is nothing as exciting as enjoying a cup of coffee whose history you know about. This article will discuss Cortado coffee’s history and the differences between cortado coffee and other coffee beverages. Let’s first understand what cortado coffee is.

cortado coffee.


The Origin of Cortado Coffee

“Cortado” is a Spanish word that means “cut” in English. When you hear the name cortado cortado or cafe cortado, it means that coffee is cut with something, which in this case is milk.

Cortado coffee originates from the Basque region in Spain and the Portuguese region of Galicia. There are several variations of Cortada coffee. Some examples are Cortada condensada, Gibraltar, and cafe con leche condensada.

The drink is known as Cortado on the U.S. East Coast and Gibraltar on the West Coast. Cortado coffee was first served on the West Coast in 2005. Today It is pretty popular all over the United States in places like Miami, San Francisco, and California.

Cortado coffee has also spread to other countries worldwide. In the process, it’s picked up different names, such as the French Noisette. This name was given to the coffee because of its color, similar to hazelnut. The coffee was also called Cuban Cortadito because of the condensed milk used to make it.

One of the most popular versions of Cortado coffee is Gibraltar coffee, invented by the Blue Bottle Coffee Company. The name comes from the glass used to serve Cortado coffee, also called a Gibraltar.


Difference Between Cortado, Latte, Cappucino, Macchiato, and Flat White

The difference between the coffees that require steamed milk to prepare is the ingredients used to make them. Cortados, Lattes,Cappucinos,Macchiatos, and Flat Whites is:

  • The number of Espresso shots used
  • The type of milk used
  • The servings of coffee used
  • Any quantities of milk foam used for those who like textured coffee


Coffee Type Espresso Shots/ Ounces Steamed Milk Used Milk Foam Coffee Serving
Cortado 2 shots 2 ounces lightly textured milk Thin layer 4 ounces cup
Latte 2 shots 8 ounces or more Thin layer 8 ounces cup
Cappuccino 1 shot 5 ounces lighter and more textured milk Thick layer 6 ounces cup
Macchiato 2 shot 1 ounce Thin layer 3 ounces cup
Flat White 1 shot 4 ounces Thin layer 5 ounces cup


What is Cortado Coffee Made of ?

Cortado coffee is an espresso beverage made by ensuring the Espresso and milk ratio is similar. It requires steamed milk and Espresso at a ratio of 1:1.

The milk used in Cortados is just enough to cut through the Espresso. It is supposed to reduce the bitterness associated with Espresso drinks and give the beverage a light texture and flavor.

The milk used to make this coffee also gives it a unique texture. Although some people think Cortado is made using microfoam milk, it isn’t. It is mainly prepared using regular steam milk, which creates the foam you pour over the coffee like what you see with Machiattos and Cappuccinos.

It’s pretty similar to the Cortadito, a Cuban espresso drink made using steamed milk and pre-sweetened Espresso.

The use of steamed milk is a common characteristic of Spanish drinks. The way Cortado is prepared differs from the Italian culture of making lattes using Espresso and a generous amount of milk. It also has a thinner froth layer than what you see in latte coffee drinks.

When making cortado coffee, you only need to pour a dollop of steamed milk over espresso coffee or Espresso Con Panna ( an espresso shot with a dash of whipped cream).


How to Make Cortado Coffee at Home

Cortado coffee is easy to make at home. You can prepare it whenever you need to drink a different type of beverage.

For you to make cortado coffee, you’ll need:

  • Espresso machine
  • Freshly roasted coffee beans
  • A coffee bean grinder
  • Steamed milk
  • A coffee mug or Gibraltar glass


Here is a step-by-step guide with instructions on how to make the cortado coffee beverage using an Espresso Machine.
1. Grind your freshly roasted coffee beans.
2. Fill the filter of your Espresso machine, Portafilter, with ground coffee.
3. Make the surface of the coffee grounds even.
4. Tamp your coffee down using vertical motions until the grounds stop giving way.
5. Flush the water and wait for your coffee to brew.
6. Extract a double shot of your Espresso into a coffee mug.
7. Steam the milk in a frothing pitcher using your steam wand until a layer of light, airy foam forms on top.
8. Pour 2 ounces of the steamed milk into your Espresso using a wiggle motion to perfect the coffee’s blend.
9. Pour the Cortado into a small glass. You can also use latte art, a type of foam art, to create an interesting design on the surface of the Cortado.
10. Serve the Cortado on a ceramic saucer and enjoy.

Any barista will tell you that the key to making an excellent cup of cortado cafe is making sure that the espresso to milk ratio is the same. You can choose to add the flavor of your choice without altering the Espresso to milk ratio. The steamed milk temperature should also be between 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also make cortado coffee using ristretto shots. Ristretto is a highly concentrated type of Espresso. And although you can make your Cortado coffee with any milk of your choice, whole milk is recommended.

The caffeine concentration in cortado coffee is usually high, and the drink is meant to be sipped slowly. Enjoy it whenever you need a quick caffeine kick.


Different Ways to Serve Cortado Coffee

Baristas will tell you there are many different ways of serving Cortado coffee. You can add some flavor to it by swirling some caramel in it. You can also use different types of milk, such as coconut milk, oat milk, and almond milk.

You can also use sweeteners like honey in Cortado coffee. It is often used to make Honey Bee Cortado in place of sugar. Syrups are also used in coffee shops and various recipes to sweeten and add a different flavor to Cortado coffee. Some examples are vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel-flavored syrups.

Cortado coffee is usually made using an espresso machine and served in small glasses known as Gibraltars. These glasses have a metal wire handle and a metal ring base.

When serving Cortado coffee in a cup, you should choose a 4.5-ounce cup size. That’s the recommended serving size for Cortado coffee because it can hold the quantity of Cortado needed in a serving. Cafe Cortado is also served with a Cortado spoon which you can use to blend in the coffee and froth.

Even as you consider the equipment you need to make Cortado coffee, know that the freshest coffee grounds are the primary ingredient in a cup of excellent cortado coffee. Therefore, in the list of equipments you need to make Cortado Coffee, include a coffee grinder. An espresso machine with a built-in coffee grinder is the best pick.



Cortado coffee is easy to make and can boost your alertness level when you want to stay awake. This is a result of the high caffeine concentration in espresso coffee.

You don’t have to wait until you go to the coffee shop to have this unique coffee drink. Now you know Cortado’s history and how to make Cortado coffee, you can have it at home whenever you like.


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