what is a cortadito coffee

How to Make Cortadito Coffee at Home

If you’re a coffee enthusiast who enjoys exploring different coffee varieties, you’ve probably come across Cortadito coffee. This delightful Cuban espresso-based drink has gained popularity worldwide for its rich flavor and balanced strength. In this article, we’ll take you through a step-by-step guide on how to make Cuban cortado coffee at home. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to enjoy a perfect cup of this unique coffee right in the comfort of your kitchen.

What is Cortadito Coffee ( Cuban cortado) ?

Before we delve into the brewing process, let’s first understand what Cortadito coffee is. Cortadito is a traditional Cuban coffee beverage made by combining a shot of strong espresso with a small amount of steamed milk and a touch of sweetness. The word “Cortadito” in Spanish translates to “cut,” referring to the way the espresso is “cut” with the milk.

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What’s the Difference Between Cortadito and Cortado?

Cortadito and Cortado are two popular coffee beverages with slight differences that set them apart. Cortadito is a Cuban coffee, made by combining a shot of strong espresso with steamed milk and a touch of sweetened condensed milk. This results in a sweeter and creamier flavor profile. On the other hand, Cortado is a Spanish coffee, consisting of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It lacks the sweetness of Cortadito, allowing the bold espresso taste to shine through. Both drinks offer a delightful coffee experience, but the choice between them depends on whether you prefer a sweeter, Cuban-style coffee or a more straightforward, Spanish-style espresso.

Gathering the Ingredients and Equipment

what is a cortadito coffee

To make the perfect Cuban cortado, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:

A. Ingredients

  • Freshly roasted coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • Whole milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk

B. Equipment

  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder
  • Tamper
  • Steaming pitcher
  • Measuring spoons
  • Coffee cups or small glasses

Grinding and Brewing the Coffee

A. Grinding the Coffee Beans

Start by grinding the coffee beans to a fine consistency. For Cortadito coffee, a medium-dark roast works best, as it provides a well-balanced flavor profile.

B. Brewing the Espresso

Once your coffee beans are ground, use your espresso machine to brew a shot of espresso. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for brewing, as each machine may have its specifications.

Steaming the Milk

A. Preparing the Steaming Pitcher

Pour the desired amount of whole milk into the steaming pitcher. A 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk is common for Cuban cortado coffee, but feel free to adjust the milk quantity based on your preferences.

B. Steaming the Milk

Place the steaming wand just below the surface of the milk and turn on the steam. As the milk begins to froth, lower the pitcher to heat the milk thoroughly. Be cautious not to overheat the milk, as it can affect the taste.

what is a cortadito coffee

Mixing the Cortadito

A. Adding Sweetness

In a small cup or glass, add a teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk. This will provide the perfect amount of sweetness to your Cortadito.

B. Combining Espresso and Milk

Pour the freshly brewed espresso into the cup with sweetened condensed milk. Next, gently pour the steamed milk over the espresso, allowing the two to combine harmoniously.

Savoring Your Homemade Cortadito Coffee

Congratulations! You’ve successfully made your Cortadito coffee at home. Take a moment to enjoy the delightful aroma before taking your first sip. The rich and velvety texture of the steamed milk, along with the robust espresso, creates a unique coffee experience like no other.


Making Cortadito coffee at home allows you to savor the authentic flavors of Cuba and impress your friends and family with your barista skills. With just a few simple steps, you can transform your kitchen into a cozy café. So, the next time you crave a delicious coffee indulgence, remember this guide and treat yourself to a homemade Cuban cortado.


Can I use alternative milk options for Cuban cortado coffee?

Absolutely! While whole milk is traditional, you can experiment with almond milk, oat milk, or any other milk alternatives to suit your dietary preferences.

Can I make Cortadito without an espresso machine?

While an espresso machine provides the most authentic taste, you can use strong coffee brewed with a Moka pot or French press as a substitute.

What coffee roast works best for Cuban cortado?

A medium-dark roast with its balanced flavors is ideal for Cuban cortado coffee, but you can explore other roasts to find your favorite.

Is Cuban cortado a dessert coffee?

Cortadito is more of a daytime drink, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up. Its sweetness and strength make it a delightful choice after a meal as well.

Can I enjoy Cuban cortado cold?

While traditionally served hot, you can let your Cortadito cool down and enjoy it over ice for a refreshing iced coffee variation.

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