cortado coffee

What Is a Cortado? The Hot Coffee Drink That Everyone’s Sipping

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Our world consumes over 2 billion cups of coffee every single day.

New Yorkers consume 7 times more coffee than other United States cities, and coffee is the most valuable legally traded commodity in the world, second only to oil.

After espresso machines became famous in 1901, Italy invented the cappuccino. While there were coffee drinks containing cream and sugar before it, the first evidence of the cappuccino came from the 1930s.

Even though coffee is unanimous with Italy, it was Cuban-Americans who invented the cortado in the 1960s.

But what is a cortado? And how does it compare to similar drinks like the latte, the flat white or caffe’ macchiato?

Keep reading to learn all about the hot new (ish) coffee drink that everyone loves!

cortado coffee in glass cup

What Is a Cortado?

A cortado contains equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk. Usually, it’s made using 1 shot of espresso and the same amount of milk, but it can also be made with 2 shots.

The coffee cortado differs from place to place, as some coffee shops use slightly more milk than espresso. Others use 2 shots of espresso with an equal amount of milk, to make the drink bigger.

Cortados are traditionally served in small cups made of metal or glass rather than a ceramic cup.

The cortado drink is intended for sipping slowly and should be enjoyed as part of a calm and relaxing morning.

coffee on black background

From Where Is the Name Derived?

The word cortado comes from the Spanish word cortar. It means “to cut.” The steamed milk cuts the espresso to reduce the intensity and acidity of the drink.

The Spanish origin is essential in understanding the makeup of this drink, because it contains little to no foam, unlike many popular espresso drinks.

Most Italian coffee drinks contain some foam or froth. Spanish coffee beverages, however, don’t usually come with the same “textured” milk. The reason for this is so that coffee drinkers can enjoy the smooth, silky texture of the steamed milk mixing with the espresso, without any separation.

Cortado vs. Flat White

cortado vs flat white

Because the two drinks are similar, many confuse the two, but they are very different coffee drinks.

The flat white originated in Australia, and you can now find it in staple coffee shops all over the world. It’s a fan favorite for people who want to enjoy an espresso drink, but one that doesn’t have a huge amount of milk dominating the flavor and the cup itself.

A cortado is smaller than a flat white, so it has a stronger taste.

It’s important to remember that when it comes to coffee drinks, milk dilutes coffee and adds another flavor.

A flat white consists of 2 shots of espresso, topped with micro-foamed milk. The use of textured milk is reminiscent of Italian-styled drinks, much like the latte.

The difference between the two drinks is subtle and pertains mostly to the consistency of the milk that’s used.

The milk in a cortado is not textured like the milk in a flat white. Instead, baristas use only the smooth, steamed milk and not the velvety foam.

Cortado vs. Macchiato

Macchiato means “marked.” While some people confuse the two drinks, a macchiato is just an espresso that’s dotted, or “marked,” with a little bit of milk foam.

The foam accounts for around 25% of the drink’s volume, so it’s just a dollop.

The cortado, on the other hand, is equal parts of milk and espresso.

How Is a Cortado Made?

Every barista should know how to make a cortado, and cortado is also a drink you can learn to make on your own!

You need an espresso machine to make a cortado, as it’s made with espresso, not regular drip coffee or French Press coffee. Once you have your beans, milk, espresso machine, and steamer, you can make a cortado in the comfort of your own home!coffee

First, brew a double shot of espresso. cortados are typically served in a small glass or metal cup, so use that if you have one. Once your espresso is brewed or brewing, steam your milk.

Pour your steamed milk slowly over the espresso, so as not to let any of the upper foam fall into your glass. Pour just enough so that the amount of milk equals the amount of espresso.

Allow for an extremely thin layer of foam to come out on top.

Sip it slowly, and enjoy a cortado!

If you want to add any sugar, vanilla, honey, or any other flavor to your cortado, add it to the espresso BEFORE you pour your steamed milk.

How Should You Drink Your Cortado?

There is an occasion for every type of coffee drink. When it comes to a cortado, you’re meant to enjoy it slowly.

The reason for using steamed milk without foam is to acquire the perfect consistency as the milk and espresso mix together.

The cortado was invented to be sipped graciously, while relaxing in the morning, engaging in conversation, or preparing oneself for a long day.

Now You Know what a Cortado is

The cortado is a delicious coffee drink that you can craft and enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Even though coffee drinks have been around for hundreds of years, the cortado is one hot new drink that’s been making waves across cafes everywhere.

It’s the perfect sipping drink, and the marriage between espresso and smooth steamed milk is delicious. Plus, you can add honey and vanilla to give it some added sweetness, making it the perfect after-dinner drink to finish a long day.