What is a Cortado?

The coffee culture in the UK has evolved significantly over the years, with an array of coffee types becoming increasingly popular. One such coffee that has captured the attention of coffee aficionados is the Cortado. This article explores what a Cortado is, its origins, how it differs from other coffees, and why it might be the perfect choice for your next coffee subscription.

Origins of the Cortado

The Cortado hails from Spain, where its name literally means "cut" in Spanish. This term refers to the method of cutting the espresso with a small amount of warm milk, to reduce the acidity and intensity of the coffee. Unlike a latte or a cappuccino, a Cortado contains less milk, making it a strong yet balanced choice for coffee lovers.

The Perfect Balance: Espresso and Milk

A Cortado is typically made with a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk. This balance is what sets it apart from other espresso-based drinks. The milk in a Cortado is steamed, but not frothy and texturized as in a latte. This creates a smooth and silky texture, allowing both the coffee and milk to share the spotlight.

How to Make a Perfect Cortado

To make a Cortado, you start with a high-quality espresso shot. The espresso should have a rich and robust flavour, which is essential for balancing the milk. The milk is then heated to the same temperature as the espresso, ensuring a harmonious blend. The key is to achieve the perfect harmony between the strong espresso and the creamy milk.

The easiest way is to use an espresso machine. First, pull a shot or two of espresso. In most coffee shops when you ask for a Cortado, the barista will pull you a double shot, which is about 56 grams. Then you get 110ml of your milk of choice (dairy or non-dairy) and you steam it, which adds air. Just pour that on top. 

An easy 3 step guide for making a cortado

1. Make an espresso 

what is a cortado coffee drink

2. Steam Milk

what is cortado

3. Pour the milk over Espresso 

what is a cortado coffee

Cortado vs. Other Coffees

What makes a Cortado unique is its simplicity and balance. Unlike a latte, which has a larger milk to coffee ratio, or an Americano, which is diluted with water, a Cortado offers a direct yet smooth coffee experience. It's ideal for those who find a straight espresso too strong but still want to enjoy the full flavour of the coffee.

Cortado Vs Flat White

The flat white is now a staple in cafes all over the world. Originating from Australia and/or New Zealand, the flat white has become the favourite for those coffee lovers who want to taste the notes of the coffee without having an espresso shot. 

A Cortado is smaller than a Flat White so it’ll provide a stronger taste. The milk dilutes the coffee taste, so the more milk you add the less of the coffee you will taste. 

How to Drink your Cortado Coffee

Generally, a cortado is served in a small glass or cup where the drink completely fills to the brim. If you order a cortado in a coffee shop you will typically get this in a short ridged glass with a medium lip. 

Can You Make a Cortado Without a Coffee Machine?

Even if you don't have an espresso machine at home, you can still make yourself a barista quality cortado at home and bring that cafe experience to life. The key is the 1:1 ratio of the drink. You could use your moka pot first to create an espresso. If you have not got a milk frother to froth the milk you can microwave the milk to make it warm (or put it on the stove) and use a handheld frother or a whisk to aerate the milk and give it a frothy texture.

Avoid using instant coffee for this, as the taste will be far too bitter. 

The most delicious thing about a cortado is how the milk cuts the bitterness of the espresso while still letting your taste buds pick up all the juicy notes from your coffee. 

Why Choose a Cortado for Your Subscription?

Choosing a Cortado for your coffee subscription brings a touch of Spanish elegance to your daily routine. It’s perfect for those who appreciate a strong coffee flavor without the overpowering intensity of an espresso. With its simple yet sophisticated profile, a Cortado is an excellent choice for both morning and afternoon coffee breaks.

Best Coffee to Use for a Cortado

Like any good coffee, thee quality of your at home Cortado is largely dependent on the quality and type of coffee beans you use. The cortado is short and the coffee taste does not get diluted by the milk in the same way a flat white does. This means that the flavours shine through a lot more and you will be able to taste the quality of the coffee and its flavour notes a lot more clearly. Having great coffee is important with a short based coffee drink. 

We would recommend using coffees that have chocolatey and nutty profiles, such as our Ugandan RISE House coffee or a good Brazilian or Colombian coffee.  This type of coffee will provide a richness and full bodied coffee that’ll ensure your Cortado doesn’t disappoint. A coffee that also has some notes of fruit or other flavours will also make your cortado full bodied but more interesting. 

A Cortado is made from an espresso (or double!) shot and so the heavy bodied coffee will be a winner for any cortado. 



The Cortado, with its rich history and balanced flavor profile, is more than just a coffee; it's an experience. For those looking to explore different types of coffee through their subscription, the Cortado offers a unique taste that is both bold and smooth. It's a testament to the beauty of simplicity in coffee making, and a must-try for every coffee enthusiast.

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