How to Make a Cortado? Try This Simple Recipe at Home

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If you are part of the coffee junkie population, then you’ll have your days of being adventurous and trying something new from the coffee menu. Sure, you’d have your usual cup of brew on those typical days, but every so often, you’d like to try a cup that’s new in name and looks.

The Cortado is something new, and it would be fascinating to find out what it is and what makes a great Cortado recipe.

What is a Cortado? 

There is no specific resource of the Cortado’s origins aside from it hailing its roots from the Basque Country in Spain. It comes from the Spanish word ‘cortar,’ which is translated as “to cut.” This refers to the steamed milk cutting through the espresso’s intensity.

While in the process, it also tones down the drink’s acidity while keeping the coffee’s flavor.

If you look into the menu and decide to have a cortado, expect a hot coffee drink served in smaller sizes. This afternoon drink is popular in Portugal and Spain and across Latin America.

This drink will have warm milk and espresso. Note that the warm milk should be steamed, and it doesn’t have that much foam or froth, unlike other Italian coffee drinks. It is then typically served in a small glass or metal but never on a ceramic.

There are also several Cortado variations. An espresso mixed with condensed milk is called Cortado Condensada, and if it comes with cream on top, it is referred to as a Cortado Leche y Leche.

How to Make a Cortado?

A cortado or “un Cortadito” is one of the most straightforward coffee recipes you can make. With the right ingredients and tools, you can even do it in the comfort of your home. Here are the components and steps you need to make a Cortado: , 1-2 ounce of milk, a stainless-steel pitcher, a steam wand, and your serving glass.


  • Stainless-steel Pitcher
  • Steam Wand
  • Serving Glass


  • 1 ounce Espresso
  • 1-2 ounce Milk


  • Pour your milk into the pitcher. Put the pitcher under your steam wand with it should only touch the bottom of your pitcher. When you turn your steam wand on, move it, so it is below the milk’s surface. Heat the milk until steam. Please do not allow it to get foamy. A little Cortado trick is to use 2% milk because it is easier compared to whole milk. It also gives you that more decadent flavor.
  • Pour the warm espresso into a glass.
  • Add 1-2 oz of steamed milk into your espresso cup. If you want your beverage to be creamier and the flavorless bitter, then increase the milk serving. Additionally, you can also top your Cortado with a little milk foam for additional creaminess.
  • Serve your Cortado immediately.

Cortado vs. Macchiato/Cappuccino

Cortado is an excellent choice if you can’t decide between a Macchiato and a Cappuccino. When based on the beverage spectrum specific to espresso, the Cortado is between these two milky drinks.

These three drinks usually have a similar amount of espresso, but the amount of milk makes them unique beverages. The traditional macchiatos would have less milk compared to a cortado. The cappuccinos, meanwhile, have more milk added to it. Between the two, Cortado can be identified to be more similar to the less-foamy Cappuccino.

Cortado vs. Flat White

The flat white that came from Australia is a beverage made of micro-foamed milk and two espresso shots. It is also usually served in smaller cups, and what makes it stand out will be its textured milk. Texture milk is very common in Italian coffee.

The difference between the Cortado and the Flat White is barely noticeable. If you are very keen, you’ll feel the variance in the milk’s consistency, which translates to the Cortado’s milk not being textured. It is smoother while the flat white is thicker and more velvety in the mouth.

Cortado vs. Gibraltar

A little surprising but the Cortado and Gibraltar are the same. It has the same content, and the process of making it is also the same. The name Gibraltar is the underground name for the Cortado. It was invented by the company Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, California, in the year 2005; the main difference with the traditional Cortado is this variation is served in a 4.5 ounce Libbey “Gibraltar” glass tumbler, thus the name.

Cortado vs. Latte

Between a Cortado and a Latte, the difference will be in its size when served and the espresso ratio to the milk.

In Cortados, equal parts of espresso and milk are used, and there is very minimal microfoam to zero foam when being served. On the other hand, Lattes have more steamed milk on it and are always served with a layer of microfoam.

Cortados are espresso-riched while lattes are loaded with milk, usually topped with peppermint or caramel syrup.

Cortado vs. Cortadito

The sweet Cuban drink, Cortadito, is made with the crema from a Moka pot and mixes it with sugar. This froth is whipped until it comes very thick. Afterward, it is divided among the saucers after the Moka pot is done brewing. Another variation of Cortadito is by adding foamed milk or frothed condensed milk to balance the coffee’s bitterness.

Compared to the Cortado, the milk is not as thick, and the beverage is served with minimal microfoams to zero froth.

Best Coffee Beans for Cortados

For a flavorful Cortados blend, you have to use high-quality coffee beans. These coffee beans impact the taste, aroma, and flavor of your drink.  The best coffee for Cortados will be those that belong in the nutty and chocolatey profiles because of their rich flavor. You have to go for the heavy-bodied and robust flavor and not the weak, delicate types because you don’t want the essences to be altered and reduced when the steamed milk is incorporated.


This is the top choice when you want that full coffee flavor in your drink. The richness in flavor of these coffee beans is extremely the opposite of traditional coffee because it is somewhere between tarty and fruity. You have to be careful with mixing fruity coffees because they don’t blend well with milk if not done correctly. If you force the pairing, the tendency is for the taste to become sour.


These beans are larger than the usual, and they give that woody flavor that has a thicker texture. This woody taste can perfectly compliment steamed milk when it is frothed to the right consistency.


Following Arabica, this coffee bean is second in the most-produced kind of coffee. This is the top choice in making Cortado because of its high caffeine content. Compared to Arabica, Robusta has twice the caffeine content but with lower acidity. It is also proven to produce that smooth taste with almost a chocolatey taste.

How do you drink your cup of Cortados?

Cortado is best enjoyed when you slowly sip it so you can savor its flavor richness. It comes served in 5-7 ounce cups and is usually served with a glass of water so you can rinse your palate every after sip.

The best occasion for a cup of Cortado

Cortado is the best cup of beverage if you’re tired and you want to sip on a creamy, flavorful drink.

Enjoy it with your family over long casual conversation, and take your time to catch up with each other while leisurely sipping your drink. You can introduce the concoction to them, too, and exchange thoughts about its taste and flavor.

A shot of energy in the form of a cup of Cortado can also be what you need after a full, yummy meal when you’re feeling sluggish.

Quick Cortado Recipe with Honey and Vanilla

Quick Cortado Recipe with Honey and Vanilla

You’ve decided that you like how the Cortado tastes like, and it is something that you’d want to enjoy frequently. You also want to make it a little sweeter and incorporate another flavor into the beverage. If you want something creamy, floral, and rich, try this quick Cortado recipe infused with Honey and Vanilla.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 1 person


  • 2 shots Espresso
  • 2 ounces Steamed Milk
  • 1/4 ounce Vanilla Syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Honey Syrup


  • Brew your espresso.
  • Steam your milk.
  • Add the vanilla and honey syrup in the coffee.
  • Mix your coffee-syrup properly.
  • Add equal ratios of milk into the coffee-syrup mix.
  • Leave a thin layer of milk foam on the top.
  • Serve or drink.
Keyword coffee, cortado, recipe


The Cortado recipe is fast becoming a favorite today. Although it has been enjoyed for hundreds of years already, it is just starting a new wave today in cafes and modern coffee shops. It is a delicious and comforting beverage.  It is the ideal hot beverage when you want to take your time and enjoy every sip.

This is a “don’t rush me” drink.

The union of the steamed milk and the solid espresso is a delicious treat. You can also spice it up by adding some syrup of your choice to achieve a sweeter drink.  This is perfect to cap a stressful day. It will call you to be still and savor the flavor in every sip.

Charles Vallena
Charles is the author and managing editor of A self-admitted coffee addict, he drinks 2-4 cups of coffee a day to get his fix. In the morning, you'll often find him brewing his freshly grounded arabica coffee beans on his french press coffee. Read more about the site here.

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