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Cortado Recipe - How To Make It

0 commentPost by : Jess Palmer
Cortado Recipe - How To Make It

What is a cortado?

The Cortado is a specialty coffee drink which is fast gaining in popularity.  Despite this, it is still sometimes misunderstood.  If you like your coffee short, punchy and balanced; this could be your new favourite recipe. First, though, you need to understand just what makes this small but mighty drink so appealing.

The origin of the cortado

Originating from the Spanish Basque Country, the name ‘cortado’ literally translates to ‘cut,’ referring to the way milk is used to cut through the intensity of the espresso.

Steamed milk, with its natural sweetness, has long been used to counteract espresso’s bold, bitter flavors.  And while milkier drinks like the latte make espresso palatable for those who find espresso alone too much, the cortado is very much a drink for espresso fans.

Cortado recipe

A cortado is commonly served at a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk.


  • Double espresso shot.
  • 2oz steamed milk.

How to make a cortado

  • Grind enough coffee for a double espresso.
  • Extract a double espresso shot into a 4oz cup or glass.
  • Gently foam and steam a small portion of milk (or plant-based milk).
  • Pour 2oz of milk into the espresso, leaving a thin layer of foam on top.

Points to note

  • A glass is the preferred way to serve a cortado.
  • Milk for a cortado tends to be very lightly textured.
  • Dairy or plant-based milk can be used for this drink.
  • Latte art is encouraged, it shows particular skill in such a small glass!


What size is a cortado?

As with all coffee recipes, the size of a cortado may vary from place to place.  Most commonly, a cortado is a 4oz drink.  You cannot order a small or a large sized cortado, it comes as one size.  The key to the recipe is the 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk.

What makes a cortado special?

The key to the cortado’s popularity is in its simplicity.  It has a universal appeal, combining the sweetness of milk with the powerful flavor of espresso in perfect balance. It is both not to strong, nor too milky; not a drink to knock back in one go, or one that makes you feel full and sluggish.

Is a cortado the same as a flat white?

A cortado is similar to a flat white but the crucial difference is in the size (and therefore the ratio of milk to espresso).  A flat white is usually 6-8oz, while the cortado is only 4oz.

What’s the difference between a cortado and a macchiato?

The difference between a cortado and a macchiato again lies in their size.  Both are small, powerful drinks but the macchiato (usually around 3oz) is smaller and stronger with less milk to cut through the espresso.

What’s the best type of coffee to use for a cortado?

A bold and complex coffee sits very well in a cortado. The small amount of milk will allow the coffee to shine, but its intensity is mellowed nicely.

Looking for other recipes? Read our article about coffee drinks explained.

notNeutral VERO Cortado Glass (4.25oz/125ml) $28.00

Featured in this article

notNeutral VERO Cortado Glass (4.25oz/125ml)

Enjoy a delectable cortado or Old Fashioned in the VERO glass - an elegant, modern vessel designed with pronounced facets for a stylish look and comfortable grip. Don't forget to show off your craftsmanship with beautiful latte art; its interior curve is perfect for pouring.