The Art of Crafting the Perfect Cortado: Unveiling the Best Coffee for a Rich and Authentic Experience

Are you tired of your regular cup of joe and craving a unique coffee experience? Look no further than the delicious and invigorating cortado. But what exactly is a cortado, you may wonder? This article has got you covered! Get ready to discover the art of making the perfect cortado, explore its delightful variations, and learn whether it's the same as a latte or Gibraltar. Plus, we'll let you in on a little secret: the best coffee cortado. So grab your favorite mug and prepare to indulge in a truly exceptional coffee experience.

How to Make Cortado

How to make Cortado coffee?

Making a cortado is a simple process that requires only an espresso machine with a steam wand or a milk frother if the machine doesn't have a steam wand. You'll also need high-quality roasted coffee beans or ground coffee and your choice of milk, such as dairy milk, soy milk, or almond milk.

Related Article: Aeroccino Vs Steam Wand

Now that you have all the necessary ingredients, let's start making our cortado.

  • Begin by placing the roasted coffee beans in the espresso machine and extract double shots of espresso.
  • Next, steam your desired milk using the steam wand. If your machine doesn't have a steam wand, heat the milk to 130F to 150F and froth it with a milk frother. The milk should have a light texture and not be too foamy.
  • Slowly pour the steamed milk over the espresso, and your delicious cortado is ready to be enjoyed.
During the preparation process, remember to maintain an equal espresso-to-milk ratio of 1:1, as this is the key to a well-balanced cortado.

If you have a coffee machine at home, making a cortado is fairly easy. You can serve it in traditional Gibraltar cups or in a simple 8-ounce coffee mug.

Common Variations of Cortado

Due to its simplicity, cortado doesn't have many variations in terms of ingredients and preparation methods. However, some baristas and coffee shops have experimented with the original recipes.

Here are some common variations of cortado.

Cortado Condensada

Cortado Condensada is a delightful variant of coffee made with steamed condensed milk instead of regular milk. This gives it a sweet and slightly denser texture compared to the average cortado.


Cortadito is the Cuban version of cortado. It involves whipping sugar with a single shot of espresso and topping it with condensed milk. Unlike the traditional cortado, cortadito is sweeter and has a hint of caramel flavor. It creates a sweet and flavorful drink with the goodness of coffee.

Leche y Leche

Leche is the Spanish word for milk, and "Leche y Leche" means it contains two types of milk. Leche y Leche consists of condensed milk at the bottom, an espresso shot in the middle, and hot milk on top. The quantity of milk used is approximately the same as the espresso shot, maintaining a 1:1 ratio. Visually, it is a beautifully layered drink with condensed milk at the bottom, espresso in the middle, and warm milk on top.

Cortado vs Latte

You may be wondering how a cortado differs from a latte. Here are the key distinctions:

  • A cortado has a 1:1 milk to espresso ratio, while a latte has a 2:1 milk to espresso ratio.
  • A cortado is typically served in a small 4-ounce glass, while a latte can be served in various sizes and containers.
  • The milk in a latte is textured to create microfoam, resembling wet paint. The milk in a cortado is steamed but not textured.
Due to its lower milk content, a cortado allows the bold flavor of the espresso to shine through more prominently compared to a latte. Many people consider the cortado as an elevated version of the latte because of its flavor profile. Additionally, cortado has fewer calories than a latte due to its lower milk content.

Cortado or Gibraltar?

One reason cortados can be confusing is that they are referred to by different names in different regions. As cortados gained popularity, they often adopted new names in different places. For example, in Australia, a cortado-like drink is called a piccolo, while in Cuba, it's known as a cortadito. In France, a similar drink is called a noisette. In the United States, the names cortado and Gibraltar seem to be used interchangeably.

A cortado in a glass on a counter in front of a coffee roaster.The traditional 4-ounce glass is essential for serving a cortado.

The Cortado and Its Taste

A traditional cortado is unsweetened and consists of only two main ingredients: espresso and steamed milk. It has a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk and is best served in small glass cups known as Gibraltar.

Cortado is a perfectly balanced drink, with all the flavors harmonizing well. That's why it doesn't require added spices or flavored syrups like caramel, peach, strawberry, or blueberry. Instead, variations are created by using different types and quantities of milk. For example, Cuban cortado has condensed milk topping, while baristas experiment with oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk to add new flavors.

Best Coffee to Use for a Cortado

The quality of a cortado largely depends on the coffee beans and the skill of the barista. Since the coffee beans significantly influence the taste and flavors of your cortado, it's important to choose suitable ones.

Start by selecting coffees with chocolatey and nutty profiles, such as our house blend or the Brazilian coffee mentioned earlier. These types of coffee provide richness and a full-bodied flavor that ensures a satisfying cortado.

A cortado is made from an espresso shot, so choosing a coffee that is great for espresso is usually the best option. Opt for heavy-bodied coffees instead of delicately flavored ones, as the latter may get overshadowed or altered by the milk. Fruity coffees may not pair as well with cortados because their acidity can be more pronounced. Such coffees are better suited for brewing methods like the V60 or Chemex.

Creating the perfect espresso shot is both a science and an art. If you need help understanding how to produce better espresso shots, don't hesitate to reach out. Our dedicated Coffee Academy is designed to assist coffee lovers in getting more out of their coffee experience.

Where to Find Cortado Glasses

A cortado isn't complete without being served in a cortado glass. While you can use any small glass you prefer, here are some typical glasses used for this drink:

And that's it! Let us know about your cortado-making experience in the comments below.

In conclusion, if you're a coffee lover looking for a balanced and smooth experience, look no further than the cortado. With its simple yet elegant recipe, it allows the rich flavor of the coffee to shine through while still providing the perfect amount of creamy texture. Whether you prefer a classic cortado, a twist with different variations, or a debate over cortado vs latte, one thing is for sure - this Spanish delight is here to stay. So grab your favorite coffee beans, perfect your milk-to-espresso ratio, and indulge in the art of making a perfect cortado. And when it comes to serving this exquisite beverage, don't forget to invest in the proper cortado glasses to truly enhance the experience. Cheers to your next coffee adventure!

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