What is a Cortado Coffee? + The Easiest Coffee Cortado Recipe

You’re in a coffee bar and a cortado coffee is on the menu. This makes you wonder: what is this type of coffee? And how to make a cortado at home?

Cortado coffee has grown from unknown to wildly popular in just a few years. That’s why we’re going to break down the best cortado coffee recipe and explain to you what it is.

Key Takeaways
Cortado is coffee from Spain, made with espresso and warm milk with a ratio of 1:1.
The milk is steamed, but there’s no foam or froth.

Enjoy reading about this special type of coffee!

What is a Cortado Coffee?

Cortado coffee is (or café cortado) is coffee from Madrid (Spain) made from a double espresso and warm milk with a ratio of 1:1. The milk is steamed, but there’s no foam.

The equal amount of milk makes the cortado taste less acid. An espresso has a lot of acidity.

It’s also notable that the warm milk is steamed, but doesn’t have the froth or foam like a cappuccino does.

Why no milk froth? Because the coffee is meant to be blended well. 

The espresso and hot milk mix fantastically, better than with frothed milk. In addition, the espresso retains its crema layer without the faom.

Where does the word ‘Cortado’ come from?
Cortado means ‘to cut’ and comes from the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar. It means that the espresso is ‘cut’ with milk.

Served in a small glass

Originally a cortado is served in a small glass.

Cortadito: different countries, different standards

Something about the café cortado is funny: there are numerous variations which vary from country to country.

After it became popular in Spain, it went to Portugal. After that, Cuba:

Sometimes a country makes their own version of the cortado. For example Cubans naming it a cortadito.

The difference? The milk. In Cuba fresh milk was often unavailable.

Therefore they used sweetened condensed milk. This type of milk was widely available.

If you’d order a cortado in several different countries, you’d never get the exact same coffee.

The coffee you get it a result of how good the milk is steamed, the temperature of the milk and espresso and of course the coffee beans.

What beans are used is just as important as how the milk is steamed. When it comes to coffee there are a lot of different variables to get it just right. It’s hard!

How to make a coffee cortado?

A coffee cortado is not so hard to make. Follow this easy cortado recipe for the best result:

Follow these 5 simple steps to make a delicious cortado:
If you want to make a coffee cortado, you will need an espresso machine with a forther, coffee beans and milk.
The espresso
Make an espresso with the machine set to the right espresso temperature and make sure to use the best coffee beans available.
The milk
The milk needs to be warm, but not foam. The amount of milk should be corresponding to the amount of espresso. You can use oat milk, soy milk or preferably whole milk. Make sure to don’t froth too long. This will make foam of the milk. It just needs to be warm!
Pouring the milk
When you made your espresso and the milk is warm, it’s time to start pouting. It is important not to pour too quickly. Slowly add the warm milk to the espresso.
Serve your cortado
Traditionally in Spain cortado is served in a glass. However, in some countries in South America, cappuccino cups a more commonly used. Choose your favorite glass and serve it!

How to drink a café cortado?

There are multiple ways of drinking a coffee. A ristretto for instance is often finished quicker than its preparation time. Cortado isn’t meant to be finished so quickly.

Drink cortado slowly. Take only one sip at a time.

Why? There is a lot of caffeine in this coffee. Therefore, slow drinking is recommended.

In many coffee bars you also get a glass of water with it. This is to flush the roof of your mouth for a while. Often a sip of water after each sip of coffee to neutralize the taste.

Nigel Hooijmans

Nigel Hooijmans

I have tested over 20 espresso machines and tasted hundreds of kinds of specialty coffee. What is left is a lot of knowledge which I'd like to share. On BlackBlackCoffee.com you'll read honest opinions about real products.

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