Latte Vs. Cortado: A Symphony Of Espresso And Steamed Milk
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Cortado coffee, a beloved beverage among coffee enthusiasts, is gaining popularity for its unique characteristics and exquisite flavour profile. Originating from Spain and now embraced by coffee lovers worldwide, the cortado is a harmonious combination of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. This drink is enjoyed for its creamy texture and mild yet distinct coffee taste, making it a favourite choice for those who prefer a smaller, less intense coffee experience.

What Is A Cortado Coffee?

Cortado coffee is a beverage that originated in Spain and has gained popularity around the world. It is made by combining equal parts espresso and steamed milk, resulting in a small, balanced, and smooth drink. The word "cortado" translates to "cut" in Spanish, referring to the technique of "cutting" or balancing the strong taste of espresso with the creamy texture of milk.

The key characteristic of a cortado is that the milk is steamed to a velvety consistency with a touch of foam and then poured into the espresso, creating a harmonious blend of flavours. This combination results in a coffee that is less concentrated than a traditional espresso but still maintains the boldness and depth of flavour that espresso is known for. The cortado is typically served in a small glass or ceramic cup, allowing the drinker to appreciate its aesthetic appeal while savouring its delightful taste.

Traditional Cortado Coffee

The most unique part of the traditional cortado is its unsweetened nature. Unlike other coffee drinks where sugar or flavoured syrups are commonly added, the cortado is traditionally enjoyed in its purest form. This allows the natural flavours of the espresso and the creamy milk to shine through without any additional sweetness.

The absence of sugar or sweeteners in a traditional cortado highlights the quality of the coffee beans and the skill of the barista. It allows the drinker to fully appreciate the nuances and complexities of the espresso, from its aroma to its tasting notes. The unsweetened nature of the cortado also allows for a more authentic and unadulterated coffee experience, emphasizing the true essence of the drink.

Cortado Vs. Latte

Cortado and latte are both popular coffee beverages that feature a combination of espresso and milk, but they differ in their ratios and overall taste profiles. Here are the main differences between cortado and latte:


Cortado has an equal ratio of espresso to steamed milk, typically a 1:1 ratio. This means that the amount of milk used is equal to the amount of espresso. In contrast, a latte has a higher milk-to-espresso ratio, usually around 3 parts milk to 1 part espresso or even more. The higher milk content in a latte gives it a creamier and milder taste compared to the bolder taste of a cortado.

Milk Texture

In a cortado, the milk is steamed to a velvety texture with a small amount of foam on top. The steamed milk is poured into the espresso, resulting in a balanced and smooth drink. On the other hand, a latte is known for its creamy and frothy milk. The milk in a latte is typically steamed with more air to create a thick layer of foam, which is then poured over the espresso.

Strength of Flavour

Cortado maintains the strong and robust taste of espresso while still offering a touch of creaminess from the steamed milk. The equal ratio of espresso and milk allows the flavours to complement each other without overpowering each other. In contrast, the higher milk content in a latte leads to a milder and more diluted espresso flavour. The focus of a latte is on the smoothness and richness of the milk, with the espresso acting as a supporting element.

How To Make Cortado Coffee At Home?

To prepare a delicious cortado, start by brewing a double shot of espresso using freshly ground coffee beans. Simultaneously, steam cold milk using the steam wand of an espresso machine. Aim for a velvety texture with a small amount of foam. Pour the espresso into a small cup and slowly add the steamed milk in equal parts, creating a distinct separation between the espresso and milk. Serve immediately, and feel free to experiment with ratios and garnishes to suit your taste.

Here is the recipe:


 1 shot of espresso 

 1 ounce of warm milk


 Espresso machine

 Coffee grinder

 Milk frother or steam wand

 Espresso shot glass or small cup


 Start by grinding your coffee beans to a fine to medium-fine consistency. The exact grind size may vary depending on your espresso machine, so it's best to refer to the manufacturer's guidelines.

 Preheat your espresso machine by running water through it without coffee grounds. This helps ensure the machine is at the proper temperature for brewing.

 If using a manual espresso machine, use an espresso tamper to evenly press the coffee grounds into the portafilter. The grounds should be evenly distributed and level. If using a semi-automatic or automatic machine, simply fill the portafilter with the coffee grounds without tamping.

 Insert the portafilter into the espresso machine and initiate the brewing process. Aim for a single shot of espresso, which typically yields around 1 fluid ounce (30 millilitres) of liquid. The extraction time and temperature may vary based on your machine, so follow the manufacturer's instructions for the best results.

 While the espresso is brewing, warm the milk. If you have a milk frother or steam wand, you can use it to heat and froth the milk simultaneously. Aim for a temperature of around 140°F to 150°F (60°C to 65°C). If you don't have a frother, you can warm the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

 Once the espresso is ready, pour it into a small cup or espresso shot glass.

 Slowly pour the warm milk over the espresso, aiming for an equal ratio of milk to espresso. The milk helps mellow the intense flavour of the espresso while adding a creamy texture.

 If desired, you can use a spoon to hold back the foam while pouring, allowing mostly steamed milk to enter the cup. This creates a more traditional cortado with less foam.

 Serve the cortado immediately while it's still warm. You can enjoy it as is or sprinkle some cocoa powder or cinnamon on top for added flavour.

Note: Remember, the exact measurements and techniques may vary based on personal preference and the equipment you have on hand. Adjust the recipe accordingly to suit your taste. Enjoy your delicious cortado coffee!