What is a Cortado: Interesting Facts and Recipe

Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer is our senior editor and content writer, at CoffeeVibe. Apart from writing and reading, she’s fond of the coffee brewing process and enjoys tasting new coffe read more
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Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks is our tester, who puts products through their paces. He used to be a barista and is now a full-time coffee enthusiast. He’s always testing out new gadgets, read more
Last updated: August 11, 2023
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When someone talks about a Cortado, there’s a chance that they could be talking about a different version of a cortado than what you are aware of. Even though they are rather simple drinks, many people are still left wondering, what is a cortado drink? The truth is, a traditional cortado drink is simply just a 1:1 mixture of espresso to milk. Yup, that’s it. Simple enough, isn’t it?

The traditional sense of a cortado drink is very simple, and so are the other versions that can be made. Whatever form of Cortado you are drinking, it is meant to be a slow-sipping drink that you can enjoy while relaxing at a time of your preference.


What is a Cortado: Interesting Facts and Recipe

The exact date of the origins of the Cortado drink are still somewhat unknown. What is known, is that the Cortado has Spanish origins, and was created in Spain’s Basque Country. The word Cortado comes from the Spanish verb ‘cortar,’ which means to cut. In this sense, to cut would mean to dilute, AKA, mix the espresso with warm milk. The main goal of this is to reduce the amount of acidity that’s normally included in a hot cup of coffee. Even though the exact date of the origin of Cortado’s is unknown, it is widely known that Spain is its country of origin.

Best beans and grind to make Cortado

There are multiple different types of coffee beans out there that can give you a different flavor and feel. Some types of coffee beans may have more caffeine than another, whereas some may have more flavor. All in all, different types of coffee beans can be desired by different types of people.

Despite differences in taste, there are ultimately some forms of coffee beans that are more preferable to make a cortado drink with. Some of these types of coffee beans include:

  • Robusta: This type of coffee bean falls right in line behind Arabica coffee beans as the world’s most-produced type of coffee. This type of coffee bean is very desirable for making cortado drinks due to its high content of caffeine. Robusta coffee beans have about double as much caffeine than Arabica coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans are known for giving a smooth taste, with low acidity, and some hints of chocolate.
  • Excelsa: This type of coffee bean is widely desired due to its richness in flavor. The flavor goes against the grain of traditional coffee tastes and can be described as fruity and tarty. This difference can give your Cortado drink an out-of-the-ordinary flavor that tastes quite special.
  • Liberica: Liberica coffee beans are larger than normal, and the coffee drink they produce can often be described as ‘woody,’ and more thick than usual. This woody taste can create an excellent tasting Cordato drink when mixed with some warm milk that’s frothed to the right consistency.

What about the caffeine content?

Typically, Cortados will contain a good amount of caffeine within them. A cortado drink will normally have a double-shot’s worth of espresso in it, rather than a single shot. Since there is more espresso in the cortado drink than just a single shot, this will obviously mean that there will be more caffeine. A double-shot’s worth of espresso will contain around 120 – 185 mg of caffeine in it. Contrarily, a single shot of espresso will have about 75 mg of caffeine in it.

Since the steamed milk in your Cortado drink does not have any caffeine in it, the only ingredient you will be receiving caffeine from will be from the concentrated coffee grounds. If you happen to be very sensitive to caffeine, perhaps it would be recommended to sip your Cortado drink in very slow and small increments at first.

Other coffee drinks vs. Cortado

The Cortado drink is unsurprisingly, just like many other coffee drinks out there. Since it’s a rather simple drink, it should come as no surprise that it can be compared to a bunch of other coffee drinks out there. Coffee drinks that are similar to Cortado’s are:

  • Solo Corto: In Spain, this term is used to describe a drink that just consists of a small amount of coffee, most commonly a shot of espresso. Contrarily, a cafe cortado is an espresso that has a bit of milk added to it. The difference is small, but without the milk, the Cortado would simply be an espresso.
  • Cortadito: The Cortadito is a popular coffee drink in Cuba, and can be compared to the Solo Corto. The Cortadito consists of a small beverage of coffee, with a bit of heated and sweetened condensed milk. Since milk has often been historically unavailable, many people have used the more preservable form of milk in condensed milk.
  • Cafe Con Leche: What is the difference between a Cordato and a cafe con leche? This question has likely been asked by many people before. Even though the Cortadito, Cordato, and the cafe con leche can seem the same, there are some subtle differences. In a cafe con leche, espresso is mixed with sweet condensed milk that has been heated.

How to make Cortado?

Making a Cortado really isn’t that tough of a process. All you’ll need is a few simple ingredients, and you’ll be good to go. To make a Cordato, follow these few steps;

  • Attain a double shot of espresso
  • Steam 4 – 6 oz of milk (even though only around 2 oz will be used)
  • Steam until the light foam is produced
  • Add espresso to serving cup
  • Add in steamed milk, swirl around, and serve!

In the end, your beverage should be around 4 oz. If it’s any more than this, you may have poured in a little too much steamed milk by accident.

The best occasion for a cortado

Cortado’s can be a great addition to multiple occasions. Whether you need some extra energy because you’re tired, or you just want to relax and sip on something tasty, Cortado’s can make a great addition to a ton of settings. These include:

With Family: If you have some family over, a great way to get some conversation flowing at the table could be over a good ol’ Cortado drink made fresh in your own home. Most people love coffee, and you can even surprise your coffee-loving family members as they come in the door with a fresh Cortado!

What is a Cortado: Interesting Facts and Recipe

After A Meal: Everyone knows that sluggish feeling that can come over you just after you have finished a full meal. Even though you finished eating, this doesn’t always mean that you can go straight to relaxing for the rest of the day. Sometimes, after a meal, a quick shot of some energy in the form of a Cortado is all you’ll need to get going again.

Holiday Parties: When you have some friends and family over, a great way to give your guests some extra flavor (and some extra energy) is by supplying them with Cortado coffee drinks! Especially in the winter season, a hot Cortado coffee drink can make any party guest feel right at home.


Cortado’s are perhaps one of the most famous coffee drinks known around the world today. For such a simple drink, it has undoubtedly had a lasting impact on cultures in various countries. The Cortado has inspired many other coffee drinks to take form over time, such as the Cortadito, and the Cafe con leche. A Cortado can always be enjoyed at your local coffee shop, but with the right ingredients, you can make one right in the comfort of your own home!

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