What is a Cortado Coffee? (A Delicious Recipe!)

Cortado coffee is a popular espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Spain and is now enjoyed in many countries around the world.

The word “Cortado” means “to cut” in Spanish which essentially means to cut the bitterness and robust flavors of Espresso with the addition of a small amount of milk. It’s made by combining a single or double shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk, usually in a 1:1 ratio.

This perfectly balanced beverage pairs well with breakfast or can be a refreshing afternoon snack. However, what sets a cortado apart from other espresso milk-based drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, or macchiatos, is its ratio.

If you’re a coffee lover looking to try something new or different, cortado coffee is definitely worth a try.

Cortado coffee

The Flavors and Qualities of Cortado Coffee

Steamed milk balances out the espresso flavor in the cortado coffee with its sweetness and creaminess.

In a cortado, milk is used to soften out the intensity of espresso without overwhelming its distinctive flavors. Therefore, a cortado has a smoother, less bitter taste than an espresso straight shot.

Ultimately, a cortado offers a smooth, creamy texture with the boldness of espresso. The milk is not as prominent as in other milk-based espresso drinks like lattes or cappuccinos, so the coffee flavor remains the star of the show.

I like Cortado as it very is easy to make, you just need steamed milk whereas Cappuccino and Latte require foaming and textured milk which are hard to achieve.

How to make Cortado Coffee | The Recipe

Indulge in the rich and smooth taste of cortado coffee with this simple recipe. A perfectly balanced blend of bold espresso and warm, creamy milk, this Spanish-inspired drink is the perfect pick-me-up for any time of day.
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Author: Johny Morrisson


  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee Grinder (Optional)
  • Milk Steamer
  • Thermometer (Optional)


  • 2-2.25 oz A double Espresso Shot
  • 2 oz Milk (1/4 cup)


  • Prepare a double Espresso shot: Start by brewing two shots of espresso using your espresso machine. Use freshly roasted and finely ground coffee beans for the best flavor.
  • Steam the Milk: While the espresso is brewing, pour 1/4 cup of whole milk into a steaming pitcher. Using a thermometer, heat the milk to around 140°F (60°C) or until it reaches a silky texture with small bubbles.
    Use 2 oz of milk the same amount as Espresso so the ratio of Espresso to milk remains 1:1
    Steam the milk
  • Mix the Espresso and Milk: There's no trick here, simply add the steamed milk over double shot Espresso, give a gentle stir and you are done.
    Mix the espresso and milk


To make a perfect cup of a cortado; the espresso and steamed milk are combined in equal parts. Compared to other beverages like lattes or flat whites, it typically comes in four-ounce servings.
The natural sugars in milk give the classic cortado its mild sweetness despite the absence of any sweeteners.
If you prefer a sweeter drink, try the Cuban version, the Cortadito, which is sweetened with condensed milk or sugar. This drink is perfect for those who want the balance of milk and espresso with extra sweetness.

Cortado vs Flat white

Cortados and flat whites are both delicious milk-based espresso drinks that are easy to confuse because they look and taste the same.

But essentially Cortado isn’t exactly the same as Flat white.

Flat White is a slightly larger drink and has a 1:2 ratio of Espresso to Milk, while a Cortado contains exactly the same amount of milk and Espresso.

The Flat white originated from Australia and is served with micro-foamed milk with a creamy texture.

While the cortado originated in Spain and has equal parts of Espresso and simple steamed milk.

The main difference between Cortado and Flat White is the texture of the milk used. The Cortado is simple and smooth and while flat white is creamy and thicker.

Cortado vs Flat white

Cortado vs Latte

Cortado and Latte are two espresso-based drinks that differ in the ratio of espresso to milk.

Cortado has equal parts of espresso and milk, giving it a more prominent espresso flavor and smoother texture. Latte has a higher ratio of milk to espresso, making it a sweeter, creamier, and more filling drink.

Cortado is served in smaller cups, while Latte is served in larger ones, perfect for sipping and relaxing.

Cortado vs latte

Cortado vs Cappuccino

One key difference between cortado and cappuccino is the foam content. Cortados typically have no foam, while cappuccinos always have a layer of thick foam on top.

In a Cappuccino, equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam are layered on each other, creating a distinct separation of flavors and textures.

Cortado vs Cappuccino

Also Read: Cortado vs Macchiato

How is Cortado coffee Served?

A smaller glass of 4 ounces is frequently used to serve cortado coffee. The glass can have a handle or not at all, and it is often thicker than a typical coffee cup.

The Cortado can be served simply or with a thin layer of decorative foam.

In some coffee shops, the Cortado may also be served with a tiny spoon on the side for mixing the espresso and milk before drinking.

Also Read: Why is Espresso Served with Water

Final thoughts on Cortado coffee drink

I’m a huge coffee fan and love to try different kinds of coffee drinks

Espresso and lightly heated milk make a straightforward but delectable combination that produces a robust and rich flavor ideal for coffee enthusiasts who prefer a strong but well-balanced beverage.

Cortado is a superb choice for a midday pick-me-up or as a morning treat because the tiny serving size lets you fully savor the flavor without feeling overwhelmed.

Drinking Cortado is a distinctive and gratifying coffee experience I constantly look forward to.

Also, read the recipe for other Espresso Based Drinks


Is Cortado Coffee Sweet?

Traditionally, cortado coffee is not sweetened. The only ingredients are espresso and lightly steamed milk; the milk’s natural sugars provide a little sweetness though.
However, a sweeter variation of the Cortado is also served in some Cafes, known as Cuban Cortadito, which is sweetened with condensed milk or a little sugar.

Can you make Cortado without a Machine?

Traditional Cortado requires an authentic Espresso shot which is not possible without a machine.
However, you can make a cortado coffee without an espresso machine, although it may not have the exact same flavor and texture as a traditional cortado.
Just brew a strong cup of coffee with a French Press or Moka Pot using high coffee to water ratio and top it with steamed milk.

Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.