What is a Cortado?
A cortado is a type of espresso-based coffee drink from Spain. The name “cortado” translates to “cut,” referring to the small amount of milk used in the drink. A cortado consists of an espresso shot with an equal amount of steamed milk (no foam or microfoam). The result is a creamy and flavorful beverage that has become popular all over the world.
About the Cortado
|Coffee : Milk Ratio||1 : 1|
|Type of Milk||steamed|
|Cup||glass espresso-style cup|
|Sugar or Added Flavors||optional|
|Notes||if you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use a Moka Pot, AeroPress, Cezve, L’OR, Nespresso, or “no-machine-needed” espresso coffee sticks|
How To Make a Cortado
Making a cortado requires only two ingredients: espresso and milk.
No Espresso Machine Needed
Making an espresso-based beverage can be intimidating. However, you don’t need to take a barista class and buy a thousand-dollar machine to make delicious espresso. For less than $40, you can buy an alternative coffee-making system that”ll wow you!
Espresso Machine Alternatives:
Spillin’ the Beans Espresso Making Alternatives
An AeroPress creates pressed espresso and only takes one minute (seriously!). A Moka pot is a traditional Italian way of brewing espresso on the stove. It’s not only inexpensive, but it’ll look great in your kitchen as it comes in a variety of colors.
Then, you’ve got the option to use a cezve or ibrik. It’s a simple stovetop pot used for Turkish coffee-making. The key to espresso-making with the cezve is to have a super fine ground coffee, as it’s boiled into the mix and not filtered.
Step-by-Step Coffee Making
- Grab an espresso cup or small glass
- Pull an espresso shot from your espresso machine or Nespresso machine OR use an alternative espresso-making method (three options above)
- Steam milk (whole or a milk alternative will work) – note: you want the milk to be approximately 90°F/32°C
- Slowly add the not milk to the cup to taste (equal parts work well and the ratio is traditional, but adjust to your preferences)
- Give the beverage a very gentle stir so the milk is incorporated with the espresso but leaving a layer of milk at the top
The result should be a smooth and creamy beverage with a balanced flavor profile with notes of sweetness from the milk and bitterness from the espresso.
The Best Cup for a Cortado
When it comes to the best cups to use for a cortado, there are three main options
- Traditional ceramic cups, which offer great insulation
- Glassware, which looks attractive but gets hot quickly
- Thermal cups, which are great for keeping your drink hot while you’re on the go
Cortado, Cortadito, Macchiato
There’s often confusion between different types of coffee drinks, such as cortados, macchiatos, and cortaditos.
Here’s how they differ:
Macchiato – A macchiato is made with only one shot of espresso topped with foam rather than steamed milk like a cortado
Cortadito – The Cuban version of a Cortado and is sweet. A Cortadito is made with the addition of sugar and evaporated milk.
A Cortado is a simple beverage with espresso and steamed milk, while its Cuban counterpart, the Cortadito, kicks things up with sugar and evaporated milk
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cortado
A cortado is a simple Spanish coffee made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk.
Both the cortado and macchiato are made with espresso and steamed milk. However, the macchiato is a shot of espresso with just a touch of steamed milk or milk foam on top (instead of equal parts, like the Cortado).
The Cortadito is a Cuban version of the cortado. While the Cortado has espresso and steamed milk, the Cortadito is sweetened with sugar and sometimes uses evaporated or condensed milk instead of plain.