Cortado coffee drink

You may have seen the cortado drink in the menu of your favorite coffee shop or you've come acrosss a recipe you didn't understand. And you keep asking yourself what a cortado is and if you can brew it yourself. Well yes you can. We’ll show you how to. 


This is a popular beverage that contains espresso and milk. It is served in small sized mugs. The ratio that creates a balance between the espresso and milk is 1:1, that is half espresso and half milk). The purpose of adding this quantity of milk is to reduce the acidity in the espresso drink.

Are you a coffee aficionado like us? Then you probably take a copious amount of caffeine in a day. We think it will be nice for you to take a break and learn the difference between these tasty beverages. Note that the milk used for cortado drinks is warmed (steamed) but it doesn't contain foam or froth like other Italian coffee drinks.

Many coffee enthusiast have become obsessed with the cortado because it has a simple structure. Because of its small size, you cannot alter the ratio of this drink- its non negotiable factor. Even some large coffee chain stores only serve cortado in that predetermined cup.  Like we mentioned, cortado is served in a small glass that's made of glass or metal. It is not always decorated with foam art like latte. This is because cortado is not really a flair or making a presentation. It's all about the harmony between different flavours.  


The word ‘cortado’ was derived from the word ‘cortar’ which means ‘to cut’ in Spanish. This drink is rightly named because the steamed milk is used to cut through the espresso- dilute it.  Note that ‘cortado’ is the past participle of the word ‘cortar’ and it means the dilution of espresso and other coffee drinks. It was created in Basque, Spain. Since then, the cortado has spread popularity all through the Galicia region of Portugal. 

The people in the northern part of Portugal don't even use much milk as they do in cafe au lait. The milk is just enough to balance the strong espresso with creaminess. Cortado has little or no foam which is the main look of most Spanish drinks. If you like coffee with milk, you don't have to worry. The fact that cortado does not contain any foam is what allows the steamed milk to cut through the espresso and blend properly. What's the result of the combination? A powerful espresso drink with light milk.  


To make a cortado, you need an espresso machine. This is because espresso is the foundation of the beverage, you need to get this drink right. We are going to tell you how to make a honey bee coffee but this recipe is for the plain cortado. 

  1. Start by grinding, measuring, and tamping the coffee grounds. 
  2. Put the portafilter containing the coffee grounds into the espresso machine. 
  3. Pull 2 shots of espresso. After the extraction process, steam your milk (you can go with oak, almond, or coconut milk or the regular whole milk. 
  4. Pour the steamed milk into the espresso. Do this carefully to ensure that the ratio of espresso to milk is correct- 1:1 and that's it! You have made yourself some cortado.  

Remember that if you want to make any coffee drink, you need freshly roasted coffee beans not stale ones if you want to get the best. Stale beans will spoil the entire drink. Yuck. That's why you should ensure that you buy whole coffee beans that are freshly roasted from reputable roasters like us. Make sure you grind the bean just before brewing so that the coffee won't lose its aromatic compounds and flavors. 

Freshly roasted coffee beans in AustraliaFreshly roasted coffee beans in Australia


If you are brewing espresso for the first time, don't worry the cortado is simple to make as you saw. It's a savory drink you’ll love to master. As far as serving is concerned, you can do so in a coffee mug of your choice or a 5 to 7 oz cup. Some people prefer to use two 1oz of ristretto shots to get the concentrated flavor that comes with the high extraction ratio used for stereo. 

Since the foundation of Cortado's drink ratio is between espresso shots and milk, you can get creative with the drink, by adding some flavoring. As long as you keep to the espresso and milk ratio, you are good to go. This is where the Honey bee variation of the cortado recipe comes in. 


So you decided that cortado is your new favorite coffee drink but you want to add a little sweetness, some extra flavor- something creamy and rich. Then you are reading the right recipe. You can add honey syrups or vanilla to flair this drink.  

What you’ll need 

  • 2 shots of espresso 
  • For this recipe, we’ll be using 60ml of steamed milk 
  • 0.7 ml of honey syrup
  • 0.7 ml of vanilla syrup It will take 6 minutes to prepare the drink. 

Yes we know it's long but it's worth the wait. 

  1. Pull a double shot of espresso 
  2. Steam the milk properly 
  3. Add either the vanilla syrup or honey syrup or both to the coffee if you have a sweet tooth. 
  4. Mix it up. Next, add equal parts syrup mixture and milk into the coffee. 
  5. Leave a thin layer of foam on the drink. 

What if you own a Nespresso machine and you want to make a hot cup of cortado? Can you? The answer is a vibrant YES.


You need: 1 Nespresso pod, A mug, cold milk and milk frother.


  1. Fix the Compatible Nespresso pod into your machine and brew coffee into your cup (40ml).
  2. Pour your milk into any barista frothing device and foam it properly.
  3. Add the frothed milk into your coffee.
  4. Then scoop 2 or 3 spoons of milk foam on the coffee. 
  5. That's it, enjoy your cortado!

The cortado drink is meant to be sipped slowly while you are relaxing on the couch or want to take a quick sip of coffee before leaving for the office. This drink is meant to be sipped slowly since it's highly caffeinated. Whether you are taking the honey bee variation or the classic cortado, it should still be sipped slowly while talking to a friend or preparing for yourself for a new day in the office. You can take it with a glass of water like Turkish Coffee to cleanse your palate after each sip. 


It's important that though the cortado is a beverage, it is not interchangeable like any other coffee beverage. We understand that there is a list of coffee drinks to choose from but we don't think there is any drink that is as spunky as the cortado drink. 

Let's tell you the differences 


A cortado falls between a cappuccino and a macchiato. These drinks contain the same amount of espresso (one shot of espresso). The difference between the drinks mentioned above is the quantity of steamed milk used. Cappuccino contains more milk and foam and the caffeine content is reduced while the cortado contains less milk, making it smaller in volume. Since it doesn't contain much milk, it packs more of the espresso, resulting in higher caffeine content. 


Colorado is often compared with flat white. This is because they contain the same amount of espresso but the amount of milk is not the same. Flat white contains more milk and is thicker. Besides, a flat white is all about the presentation just like the latte. 

Flat white originated from Australia while cortado originated from Spain. We are next-door neighbors in the spectrum of milky coffee drinks. In other words, the flat white’s milk is steamed more, it has a velvety microfoam texture while the cortado works fine with warm or hot milk with a thin layer of foam or none.


Cortado is sometimes mistaken for a latte. However, latte does contain the same amount of espresso as cortado but it has more milk and is all about the presentation. Lattes don't contain much caffeine like cortado because the steamed milk will dilute the espresso more. 


Cortadito is different from cortado. Cortadito is made by mixing cream from Moka pot coffee with some sugar. Then the mixture is whipped to create a thick froth. It is truly a sweet Cuban specialty you may want to try. Some cortadito lovers add frothed condensed milk or the usual frothed milk to the already sweetened coffee. 

Voila, now you know everything about this delicious drink. Whether you are curious about the coffee shop menu are you want to make a cortado at home, just make sure you go through this post properly so you don't miss a point and order freshly roasted coffee beans from Coffee hero.

Enjoy your drink!

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