Cortado is derived from the Spanish verb cortar. If you are in the kitchen, it means to cut (dilute) perhaps a beverage. For instance, a one-ounce espresso shot in Cuba or Spain is cut with heated sweet condensed milk. Cortado is growing fast and has contributed to the popularity of coffee drinks.

The cortado hails from Spain; in Spanish, it means “cut.” This refers to how the espresso is cut with an equal part of steamed milk. They’re generally served in 5-7 fl oz cups.

What is Cortado Expresso?

Cortado expresso is a well-known hot coffee beverage. It is perfectly balanced with 1:1 expresso and hot milk. Milk is added to reduce the acidity of the expresso. Also, the milk used is steamed not frothy like other coffee beverages.

At first glance, you might assume the Cortado expresso is similar to other coffee drinks. However, on closer inspection, you’ll notice subtle differences. For instance, the:

  • Macchiato has a little milk foam, but no steamed milk
  • The flat white has more milk
  • Cappuccino has more foamed milk compared to steamed milk
  • Latte is made with steamed milk and milk foam

Let’s take a moment to talk in detail about each coffee drink. We will begin with the Cortada versus the flat white.

Cortado vs Flat White

Flat White Cortado

I have noticed many confuse these two drinks. At first glance, they do look alike. To be clear, the flat white originated in the outback, Australia. In a nutshell, it consists of a double shot of espresso and micro-foamed milk.

The milk is foamed so that the texture is a velvety smooth style embraced from Italian coffee. Also, the flat white is a bit thicker than the cortado. It’s a small latte, served in a 5.5-ounce cup.

Cortado vs Macchiato

Macchiato vs Cortado

Most coffee drinks are similar with slight variations of expresso or milk. The Italian word Macchiato means (stained or marked coffee). In this instance, the beverage has a double shot of espresso with a splash of milk. Also, it comes with a small spoonful of foam on top of the drink.

Cortado vs Latte


Latte is the most popular Italian coffee, which has been in existence since the 17th century. The term comes from the Italian word caffe latte, which literally means “hot milk and coffee.” A latte can have a variety of syrups, most notably cream, sugar, whipped cream, and sometimes vanilla or chocolate syrup.

Latte lovers will appreciate a delicious cup of steaming, frothed milk with a layer of frothy milk foam. There is also a version of this latte that includes a thin layer of frothed milk. The frothed milk is in the bottom of the cup before steaming it. This allows the milk to seep into the cream and to provide extra body to the cup.

Cortado vs Cappuccino


Cappuccino is a popular coffee rich in flavor and texture. It is prepared with shots of espresso and steamed milk. Traditional Italian cappuccino has more milk than cortado. So, if you like sweetness in your coffee, then a cappuccino is your best option. Cortado has warm milk, but cappuccino uses more milk foam.

Cortado vs Piccolo


The Piccolo is an Australian latte coffee. It has a single ristretto shot in a macchiato glass. Also, it is filled with espresso and steamed milk like a café latte. There are variations of piccolo latte around the world as the quantity of milk is according to taste. In Portugal, it is used as 1:3 proportion and is similar to the cortado, but in large size.

Further Reading

How To Make A Cortado Expresso?

It is easier if you have an espresso machine at home and a grinder. There are many brands available. You can check out the best espresso machines for more detail. The following are the ingredients and steps to make a cortado expresso with your preferred milk.


2 shot expresso
2 ounces milk
Honey (optional)
Vanilla syrup (optional)


Pull two shots of espresso.
First, grind your coffee beans. Next, use an espresso machine to extract two shots into a small cup.

Steam your milk.
Froth about four ounces of lightly textured milk even though you’ll use two.

Pour milk into your espresso.
Pour two ounces of milk into your espresso.

Serving and Drinking

Your cortado expresso is now ready. Enjoy by sipping it slowly to savor the taste and deliciousness of the cortado expresso. Note, it should be served in a 5 ounce to 7-ounce cup. Also, you can change up the taste by adding more milk or adding flavors like vanilla or honey.

Final Thoughts

All of the above drinks are made of delicious roasted expresso. It’s easy to create one every morning especially if you have an espresso machine at home. Cortado espresso is delicious and can inspire a day that is active and energetic.

Espresso Machine

Around the world, people drink different espresso beverages. They may appear similar; however, they are quite different in taste. As you have read, some like to use whipped milk, hot or steamed milk, condensed milk, or froth on the top of the coffee.

So, relax and enjoy this intense yet sweet drink.

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Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.