types of espresso drinks

What is a Cortado Coffee: Balanced Coffee Beverage

If you’re a coffee enthusiast always looking for unique and balanced coffee beverages, cortado coffee might just become your new favorite drink. This exquisite espresso-based creation is known for its rich, smooth flavor and the perfect harmony of coffee and milk. In this article, we’ll delve deep into cortado coffee. We’ll explore its origin, preparation methods, and why it has become a popular choice among coffee lovers worldwide.

The Origin of Cortado Coffee

Cortado coffee hails from Spain, where it has been a tradition for generations. The word “cortado” itself means “cut” in Spanish, which perfectly describes the essence of this coffee – a shot of espresso “cut” with an equal amount of steamed milk. This elegant combination results in a coffee beverage that retains espresso boldness while achieving a balanced and velvety texture.

Cortado Coffee vs. Other Espresso-Based Beverages

It’s essential to differentiate between cortado coffee and other popular espresso-based beverages like cappuccinos and lattes. While a cappuccino typically contains equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, and a latte is primarily milk with a small amount of espresso, the cortado stands out with its equal ratio of espresso to steamed milk. This unique composition provides a distinctive flavor profile that appeals to those seeking a bolder coffee experience without compromising on smoothness.

Must Read: Start Your Day Right with Sunrise Batch Iced Coffee

Health Benefits of Cortado Coffee

Apart from its delicious taste, cortado coffee offers health benefits. Coffee antioxidants can improve cognitive function, and moderate coffee consumption is associated with reduced risks of certain diseases. However, it’s essential to enjoy cortado in moderation as excessive caffeine intake may cause adverse effects.

what is a cortado coffee

Preparing a Delicious Cortado Coffee

Preparing a delicious cortado coffee is an art that requires attention to detail and a passion for creating a perfectly balanced beverage. To make this exquisite coffee at home, you’ll need high-quality espresso beans, a reliable espresso machine, and a milk frother.

Follow these steps to craft a delightful cortado

Select the Right Beans: Choose premium espresso beans that suit your taste preferences. Look for beans with rich flavor notes, such as chocolate, caramel, or nuts, to complement espresso intensity.

Grind the Beans: Grind the espresso beans to a fine consistency, to ensure a smooth and flavorful extraction. Aim for a consistency like table salt.

Measure the Coffee: Use a scale to measure the precise amount of coffee grounds for a double shot of espresso. The standard measurement is around 18-20 grams of coffee.

Preheat Your Equipment: Preheat your espresso machine and cups to ensure coffee maintains its optimal temperature.

Pull the Espresso Shot: Place the coffee grounds into the portafilter, level them, and tamp them down firmly. Attach the portafilter to the espresso machine and begin extraction. Aim for a 1:1 ratio of coffee to liquid, resulting in approximately 1.5 ounces of espresso.

Steam the Milk: While the espresso is brewing, froth the milk using a milk frother or steam wand. For a cortado, you’ll need equal amounts of steamed milk to match the espresso volume.

Pour the Milk: Carefully pour the steamed milk into the espresso, starting with a slow, steady stream to achieve the right balance between coffee and milk.

Create Latte Art (Optional): For an added touch of elegance, try creating latte art on the surface of your cortado using frothed milk.

Serve and Savor: Your delicious cortado coffee is now ready to enjoy! Serve it in preheated cups and savor the harmonious blend of bold espresso and creamy milk.

Enjoying a Cortado: Best Practices

To truly savor the essence of a cortado coffee, it’s best enjoyed without added sweeteners or flavors. The simplicity of the beverage allows you to appreciate the delicate balance between the robust espresso and the smooth milk. Many coffee aficionados prefer to enjoy their cortado in the morning or early afternoon. This is when they can fully appreciate its flavors without additional indulgences.

Tips for Making the Perfect Cortado at Home

what is a cortado coffee

Creating a delicious cortado at home is achievable with practice and attention to detail. Invest in high-quality espresso beans, a reliable espresso machine, and a milk frother to replicate the coffee shop experience at home. Experiment with different milk types and temperatures to find your ideal cortado combination.

Cortado Variations to Explore

While the traditional cortado follows a specific recipe, creative baristas and coffee shops often offer delightful variations of this classic beverage. Some may infuse the milk with unique flavors, while others might experiment with different coffee bean origins to add distinct dimensions to the drink. Exploring these variations can be a delightful adventure for coffee lovers.

Cortado vs. Cappuccino: A Comparison

While both a cortado and a cappuccino contain espresso and steamed milk, their ratios and textures set them apart. A cappuccino’s frothy milk foam gives it a lighter texture, while a cortado’s velvety steamed milk offers a more substantial mouthfeel. Choosing between the two often depends on personal preferences and desired coffee intensity.

Cortado vs. Flat White: Understanding the Differences

A cortado and a flat white may seem similar at first glance, but they have distinct characteristics. A cortado’s equal parts of espresso and steamed milk create a bolder flavor. In contrast, a flat white has a higher milk-to-espresso ratio, resulting in a creamier taste.


Q: Does cortado coffee contain more caffeine than regular espresso?

A: No, cortado coffee has the same amount of caffeine as regular espresso since the ratio of espresso to milk remains constant.

Q: Can I add sugar or syrup to my cortado?

A: While it’s a matter of personal preference, true cortado enthusiasts usually enjoy it without added sweeteners to savor coffee’s natural flavors.

Q: Is cortado suitable for lactose-intolerant individuals?

A: Yes, cortado can be prepared with lactose-free milk or non-dairy alternatives, making it a suitable option for those with lactose intolerance.

Q: Can I drink a cortado in the evening without disrupting my sleep?

A: As cortado contains less milk than other coffee beverages, it has a lower overall caffeine volume, making it a relatively safe choice for evening consumption. However, individual caffeine tolerance may vary, so it’s helpful to know your body’s response to caffeine.

Q: How did cortado coffee get its name?

A: The name “cortado” comes from the Spanish verb “cortar,” which means “to cut.” It refers to the equal parts of espresso and steamed milk that “cut” the coffee intensity.


Overall, the cortado coffee offers a delightful and balanced coffee experience that is enjoyed by coffee enthusiasts throughout the world. Its simple yet sophisticated composition, along with the social and cultural significance it holds, makes it a cherished beverage for many. Whether you’re a seasoned coffee connoisseur or a curious coffee lover, trying a cortado is an experience worth savoring.

With its roots deeply ingrained in Spanish culture, the cortado is more than just a coffee; it’s a tradition that fosters connection and camaraderie among coffee lovers. So the next time you enjoy a cortado, take a moment to relish not only the taste but also the rich history and cultural significance that accompanies each cup.

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