What is Cortado Coffee? With Recipe for Making a Cortado

A “Cortado” is a Spanish word that comes from the word ‘cortar’ which means to CUT. By cutting refers to milk slicing through the espresso.

Cortado coffee constitutes milk and espresso as the major components. An espresso is a concentrated coffee solution that exhibits distinct characteristics such as sweetness, bitterness, body, and acidity. Cortado coffee focuses on the aspect of the coffee flavors and acidity as the dominant traits.

The espresso is the base of everything as it starts with shots of extracted coffee, which is more or less constant.

What is A Cortado Coffee?

A Cortado coffee is therefore an espresso-based beverage that constitutes steamed milk and extracted espresso. Cortado is more similar to a less foamy cappuccino than an espresso macchiato.

There are several variations including Cortado condensed or bonbon i.e. (espresso with condensed milk) and also Leche y Leche (espresso with condensed milk and cream on top). Unlike other coffee drinks for example cappuccino uses frothed milk, a Cortado uses steamed milk.

TIP 1: Steamed milk-this is the milk science art of heating milk without creating a lot of foam. Steamed milk is usually creamy with very light or thin foam and used in Cortado, lattes, mochas, or even house-brewed coffees.

TIP 2: Frothing milk-this is a milk heating technique of creating a smooth texture and a heavy foam. Frothing milk has more texture of air in it and is used for topping up cappuccinos.

For one to achieve a proper milk steaming technique to create a thin creamy light foam you should start with a clean cold pitcher and a cold milk, therefore, the colder the milk, the higher chances of more smooth foam.

How to Make A Cortado at home

In preparing a Cortado, several important factors need to be adhered to so as to achieve a well-balanced taste. Of the beverage and they are as follows-:

  • Properly steamed milk that has achieved the required temperatures.
  • A perfect shot of espresso.

The required amount of temperature required in a Cortado is about 60˚c i.e. (140 F) to 70˚c i.e. (158 F). This will perfectly cut through the espresso reducing the acidity while it retains the coffee flavor.

A perfect espresso will also constitute a super perfect Cortado by making a proper extraction from the espresso machine. Quality shot of espresso is achieved by extracting the desired amount of coffee I.e., 2 oz. /60 ml/doubles shot for a period of 20 seconds to 30 seconds.

Important Tips to Make the Coffee Taste Great

1. Always ensure that proper tools, machine and equipment’s are used. For example-good condition espresso machine, pitcher and the glass onto which the beverage coffee is served

2. Always ensure that your milk is heated to the required temperatures (60˚c). excessive heating of milk denatures the bioavailability of calcium, destroys proteins and vitamins at large. High temperatures escalate the denaturation in the whey proteins, reduces the viscosity (makes the milk light). Whole milk is regularly used but you can also use skimmed milk, soy milk, Oat milk and almond milk. Maintain the milk temperatures helps retain the flavor profile of your coffee in a Cortado and hence not leaving our milk scotched

3. The extracted coffee espresso should be well prepared adhere to the set standards and guidelines to achieve all the desired characteristics of a perfect espresso.

4. Always use a thermometer to mitigate or control the temperature levels so as milk is heated to the desired Celsius avoiding the issue of burnt aroma which makes it difficult to digest.

5. Avoid over extraction of coffee (espresso)-This is when water flows through the coffee too slowly allowing undesirable elements to be extracted. Over extraction is normally caused by too fine coffee grind, high dosage, long brewing time, high water temperatures and engineering problems of the espresso machine (e.g. overheating water) thus leading to over developed coffee flavors that leads to bitter or burnt coffee.

6. Avoid under extraction of coffee (espresso)-under extraction is experienced when little flavors is pulled from the coffee caused by water flowing through the coffee too fast for the desired elements to be extracted. This is normally caused by low water pressure, short brewing time, low dosage of coffee ground, too course coffee grind and engineering problems of machine (e.g. the machine not heating well)

How to Take/Consume Cortado Coffee at Home

Just like other coffees Cortado is consumed with the same level of proportionality as the other only that Cortado is much stronger than the other coffee such as cappuccino mocha cafe latte Malindi macchiato etc.

Different people or consumers who consume Cortado perceive the beverage differently in terms of serving i.e. the glasses as they tend to retain the coffee to milk ratio as the same in either a bigger or a small glass cup. Cortado is supposed to be consumed slowly and with great elegance as they are meant to be sipped graciously.

The beverage is soft and strong at the same time as you can feel the taste of the espresso and the smoothness of the milk. Cortado is served in a Gibraltar glass/ Cortado glass which measures about 4.5 oz. (135 ml). Therefore, this should always be the right /correct serving glass.

Cortado Coffee Recipe

SERVES: ONE SERVING60 ml / 2 Oz fresh cold milk
PREP TIME: 2 MINUTES16 grams ground coffee
Cortado Coffee Recipe

Espresso temperature is determined by the espresso machine water temperature. The boiler water temperature is between 116 ˚c to 121 ˚c and that released from the group head under normal operation is between 90 ˚c to 96 ˚c. Extracting espresso at a higher temperature will result in a more bitter coffee whereas extracting over a cooler temperature would create a more sour taste.

With all these temperature aspects in play, you are assured or guaranteed a perfect Cortado coffee. If you made your Cortado with a one-to-one ratio but with steamed micro-foamy milk a high temperature would then morph it into a flat white.

Procedure of Making a Cortado at Home

  1. Using a portafilter, make a fine grind and dosage of 16 grams of espresso from beans to ground.
  2. Gently tamp the dosed port filters to achieve a uniform ground level that kills the air space that fills the porter.
  3. Mount the dosed porter filter into the group head and initiate the extraction switch/knob. Using a timer allows the espresso to run for about 20 seconds to 30 seconds in a Gibraltar glass so as to achieve the 2 Oz / (60 ml) unit/quantity.
  4. Using a steaming jar and a milk thermometer, steam cold milk to attain a standard temperature of 65 ˚c (1401 F).
  5. Pour your heated milk gently to cut through the espresso and fill it to the brim. Ready to drink.
  6. Serve the cortado.

How much milk is there in a Cortado?

The ratio of a Cortado is served in a proportionate amount of milk to coffee in the ratio of 1: 1 (60 ml to 60 ml). A Cortado is a constitute of equal proportion of milk and espresso coffee and therefore the required amount of milk in a Cortado is 60 ml (2 oz.) as that of an extracted espresso.

This renders the beverage a good balance coffee in terms of strength, flavors, and taste. This ratio leaves Cortado a strong coffee beverage with outstanding distinct characteristics compared to other coffees.

What is the temperature of Cortado milk?

A Cortado is well defined by its characteristic, special method of preparation and temperature element. Without ascertaining the temperature, it may hinder the quality or standard balance in the coffee. Cortado temperature is achieved by steaming cold milk in a cold pitcher using an espresso machine with an aid of a well-calibrated milk thermometer.

Before steaming, the thermometer should be dipped into the cold milk and eventually initiate the steaming process to bring a rise in temperature of the Milk to the required 60˚c to 70 ˚c. With this temperature’s coffee flavors are well balanced or retained. Consequently, one cannot mention temperature without mentioning that of an espresso.

Differences between Cortado and other Coffee

Cortado is a species of coffee that varies from other types of coffees with a minimal variation in terms of either temperature, nature of milk used during production, and finally, the quantity amounts a coffee to milk ratios. Also, the aspect of acidity, sweetness, and strength of coffee i.e. (strong or weak) makes a Cortado different from the other coffees.

Below are some of the major differences between a few selected coffee variety-:

Cortado vs Mocha Coffee differences

CortadoMocha Coffee
Cortado is not a chocolate-flavored coffee beverage.This is a chocolate-based or flavored variant of the café latte.
Cortado is strong due to a uniform ratio of milk to espresso coffee of 1 :1.This is less strong due to variation of milk to coffee espresso e.g. 5:1. It has more milk than coffee.
Cortado is less hot in temperatures as the maximum temperature required is 60 ˚c whereby one can easily hold Cortado glass without getting burnt.Mocha has a higher temperature more than Cortado as handling the mocha coffee glass is difficult due to hand burns.
Cortado is less in quantity volume.Mocha has more volume due to more milk added to espresso.
Less sweet.Sweeter due to the chocolate flavors or variant added not forgetting more milk facilitates the same.
The differences between Cortado and Mocha Coffee

Cortado vs Cappaccino Differences

Cortado is an espresso-based coffee beverage that is prepared STEAMING cold milk which forms a light foam that cuts through the espresso.A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee beverage that is prepared by FROTHING cold milk which forms a thick of heavy foam (froth).
Has a thin micro-foam.Has a thick layer of micro-foam.
Has more amount of milk than a cappuccino for the same type of cup used.Cappuccino has less amount of milk than a Cortado since more of the milk is frothed up to create a thick foam.
The diffences between Cortado and Cappaccino

Cortado vs Espresso Differences

Cortado is less acidic as steamed cold milk cuts through the espresso to bring balance. The milk added neutralizes the acidity element which affects the acidic percentage in coffee.Espresso is more acidic in the sense that no external factor is added thus the coffee retains its original characteristic.
Cortado has milk as its major constituents.Espresso doesn’t have milk.
Has a thin micro-foamy top surface.Espresso has a rich persistent hazelnut-colored crema on top of a dark coffee.
Cortado is more in quantity than espresso as it has milk and espresso.Espresso is less in quantity as compared to Cortado as it is just espresso nothing added on to it.
Cortado is less strong than espresso as milk tends to impact the elements in coffee.Espresso is stronger as it is as there are no external factors to dilute the strength of the coffee.
The diffences between Cortado and Espresso

Cortado vs Espresso Macciato Differences

CortadoEspresso Macchiato
Cortado has a topping of a micro-foamy layer of thin smooth froth that is achieved by steamed milk cutting through espresso by means of free pour.Macchiato has a topping of a thick froth that is achieved by adding using a spoon on top of espresso.
Cortado is less strong in taste as steamed milk added impacts the coffee characteristics.Macchiato is much stronger as only froth toppings is added to the espresso i.e. no milk added.
Constitutes coffee espresso and steamed milk.Constitutes coffee espresso and froth toppings.
The diffences between Cortado and Espresso Macchiato

Cortado vs Cafe latte Differences

CortadoCafé latte
Cortado has less milk content.Café latte has more milk content.
Cortado is served mostly on small Cortado glasses or Gibraltar glasses i.e., with measurements of about 135 ml. as espresso to milk, the ratio is 1:1 (60 ml: 60 ml).Served in bigger glasses or cups as compared to Cortado as milk content is more in café latte e.g.  1: 2 ratios (175 ml to 225 ml).
Strong in taste.Less strong in taste due to more milk quantity.
The diffences between Cortado and Café latte

Leave a Comment