How to Make a Cortado

The cortado is a Spanish espresso-based coffee that’s perfect for those who like their drinks sweet and creamy. It has the same amount of caffeine as an Americano or latte but with less water so it tastes more intense and rich.

how to make cortado

You’ll need just three ingredients to make this delicious drink at home – steamed milk, espresso shots, and sugar (or honey). We’ve included some recipes below if you want to try out different variations!

how to make cortado

What is cortado coffee?

Cortado is a hot beverage made of two ingredients, which are steamed milk and espresso. It originated in Spain. As such, it has shades of brown and white. As such, it is best described as a type of espresso. 

While it may seem to be like other espresso drinks, there is a difference.  The word cortado comes from the Spanish word that means to cut. And this is a befitting name since the milk seemingly cuts through the espresso. 

how to make cortado

The milk shouldn’t separate from the espresso. It is steamed and has a very light texture, which is a soft and beautiful contrast to the intense shots of espresso. It plays the role of downing down the acidity of the espresso shots and has no foam. 

In traditional Spanish cafes, it is possible to choose how you take your milk, including condensed milk. The other name for a cortado is a Gibraltar, and this is because of the small glass cup it is poured and served in.  

If you like espresso but would prefer it to be a little creamier than usual, then a cortado will help you strike the perfect balance. It has 2 shots of pulled espresso and 2 ounces of milk. It has the strength of espresso and the rich creaminess of the milk. 

As such, the taste is a luxurious silk touch with a strong bitterness from the pulled espresso.

Cortado vs Flat White

how to make cortado


A flat white is from Australia and New Zealand and has been brewed since the 1980s. However, it didn’t stay there for long. It quickly became a staple in many cafes around the world. Cortado, on the other hand, originated in Spain. A cortado is usually served in smaller glasses than the cups in which a flat white is served. 

A cortado has a more pungent taste than a flat white. The two both have two shots of espresso. And perhaps this is where the confusion comes in. The difference comes in the consistency of the milk used. The milk in a cortado is not as textured as the milk in a flat white. A cortado will have a smooth taste, while a flat white will have a heavier texture, and the foam will give a thicker and more velvet-like taste. When you look at a flat white, it has more foam than a cortado. 

A cortado is more robust as it is mixed with a ratio of 1:1. At the same time, a flat white is made with a ratio of 1:2, with more milk. Also, to create the foam necessary for a flat white, more heat is needed, and as such, it is hotter. More milk in a flat white means it is creamier than a cortado, but it also means that more calories go with it. It also depends on the type of milk that you use. 

Cortado vs Macchiato

A cortado is made by cutting two shots of espresso with steamed milk. Whereas a macchiato is made using a single shot of espresso. A macchiato has between 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk to make a bit of foamed milk that you see floating on top. While both are espresso and milk beverages, the two are different.  

The main difference comes in the amounts of milk used. The dash of milk used to make a macchiato is just enough to cut through the espresso, add some creaminess without changing the taste of the espresso too much. Whereas a cortado has half milk and half espresso, and this makes it creamier. 

The milk in a macchiato is foamed, and the milk in a cortado is steamed. The other difference comes in size. A macchiato is usually 1.5 ounces, while a cortado is traditionally served in a glass that’s about 4 ounces. 

Cortado vs Cappuccino

The two drinks are both coffee with a variation of coffees with different types of hot milk. They are both espressos, and they both have milk added to give the outcome. In comparison, a cortado is made of ½ espresso and ½ steamed milk and absolutely no foam. However, a cappuccino is made of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk to top it off and give the foamy characteristic look cappuccino is well known for. In contrast, a cortado is made of 1/2 espresso and 1/2 steamed milk and absolutely no foam.

A cappuccino is often served in a cup that is about 6ounces big. At the same time, a cortado is served in a glass that is about 4.5 ounces. The other difference between the two drinks is that a cappuccino has foamed milk which needs to be made using very high heat. A cortado has no foam, and as such, it is not served as hot. Also, a cortado is sweeter than a cappuccino. 

How to make cortado coffee

You can make a cortado at home even if you’re not a barista. This recipe should take you about 4 minutes in total to prepare. It is enough to make one serving. If you want more than one, you will need to multiply the quantities of ingredients and equipment required. 


You will need two shots of milk and two shots of espresso.


You will need an espresso-making machine and a cortado glass.


  1. Start by making the espresso. Pull two shots using a high-quality coffee grind. Make sure that you pull into a cup that is at least 4 ounces. This way, you can add the milk into that cup, and you don’t have to transfer anything. It’s best to use a traditional cortado glass which is also known as a Gibraltar glass.
  2. Then steam the milk by frothing 4 ounces of milk so that you wind up with 2 ounces of steamed milk. As you steam milk, some of it may burn, two, and this is why you need to make more than you want to end up with. It is vital to make sure that you measure the quantities and stay true to them.
  3. Then, pour the 2 ounces of steamed milk into the 2 ounces of espresso. And serve.

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