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What Is a Cortado? Spanish Gibraltar Coffee Explained

The amount of coffee recipes available to coffee aficionados these days are almost endless. Among those is none other than the Cortado recipe, which is often mentioned on the local coffee shop menu among other coffee drinks. But what is a Cortado?

What Is A Cortado And Why Should I Try it?

Coffee Cortado with beautiful latte art

The Cortado coffee is a smaller coffee drink, made with one part espresso and one part milk. The ratio of espresso to milk is done for a very specific reason, as it basically reduces the overall acidity that is usually in an espresso shot. It is also worth noting that the Cortado is made with steamed milk.

The Cortado originates from Spain. The word Cortado is Spanish for “cut”, which means the acidity of the coffee is “cut” with milk.

Since the Cortado uses steamed milk, you may wonder if it is the same compared to most Italian milk foam drinks. The answer is no, because the warm milk is a lot less steamed compared to average Italian coffee drink. Espresso and steamed milk can be used to create a variety of beverages, but the way the warm milk is steamed and to what degree is what makes the Cortado unique.

How to Make a Cortado at Home

Since you need a shot of espresso to make a Cortado, we do urge you to master the art of espresso making before you attempt this particular coffee drink. However, once you can make a shot of espresso with the greatest ease, your can attempt the Cortado yourself.

To start, you will need to ready your espresso grounds. Buy a suitable selection of coffee beans and then grind, measure and tamp them to ensure a proper espresso grind consistency. Then, make sure you add the ground to the portafilter and place them in the espresso machine.

For the Cortado, you will need at least two shots of espresso. You should extract your two shots of espresso in the normal extraction time, so you can use a pre-existing setting if that is present on your espresso or coffee machine.

Next, you can choose the type of steamed milk you will add to your Cortado. While some prefer full fat dairy milk, others prefer something more exotic such as coconut or almond milk. Then, add the steamed milk on top of the espresso and make sure you get the desired 1:1 ratio for the Cortado.

Some of the more experienced coffee aficionados also experiment with the Cortado. In fact, they even add additional flavors,but you must make sure you maintain the espresso to milk ratio to ensure you still get a Cortado.


Make your espresso using:

Don’t forget to grab a milk frother

What Is the Best Way to Try a Cortado?

If you have your heart set on trying the Cortado, then there is a recommended way to taste these unique coffee drinks. To have a Cortado, we recommend sipping it quite slowly, as caffeine content can be high in these. For the true aficionados, you could also accompany your drink with a glass of water. So, after each little sip of your coffee drink, you can keep your taste palate cleansed.

Please note that when you drink the Cortado, you best serve it in a glass. This is the way the beverage is supposed to be served, which obviously makes a nice difference from the regular cup.

There is a special glass that can be purchased for the Cortado, which could certainly help to get the amounts right and get the maximum aroma and flavor.

Finally, we recommend mastering the brewing process to ensure you can enjoy your coffee as best as you can. For example, if you steam your milk in the wrong way, then the coffee drink will not taste the way it should. Getting your shot of espresso just right is also recommended, as the right strength, flavor and aroma makes this beverage great.

There are many accessories you can purchase to make your job easier, but the right grinder, espresso machine and steam wand will make all the difference. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need barista equipment that costs thousands of dollars. Instead, you can get some affordable options that come with the typical 15 bars of pressure for the best possible extraction.

If you are a beginner, we do recommend looking into espresso machines with presets. The benefit of presets is that you often find your favorite beverages with the right extraction time on the preset.

So, even if you have no idea on espresso extraction time for specific drinks, the presets can make this a lot easier.

Of course, you do not absolutely need presets, because extraction times are relatively easy to master. Even if you deviate from the normal espresso extraction time for a certain coffee drink, a few practice runs is usually all that is required.

Finally, also make sure you have the right coffee beans for your drink. Some coffee beans are more suitable for espresso than others.

Is the Cortado Sweet?

The Cordato is sweeter than certain other coffee beverages. Since it is quite similar to the taste of the flat white with simply a different texture, it retains that sweeter taste. And the best thing of all is that you don’t even have to add any sugar!

You do have to take into consideration that the Cortado is a little stronger than the flat white, which makes it the perfect drink for anyone who loves the sweetness of the white, but wants something with a little bit more kick.

But What’s The Difference?

We already mentioned that the main difference between the Cortado and other milk drinks with steamed milk mainly lies in the way milk is steamed and the overall ratio of milk. Next, we will elaborate a little on common Italian milky coffee types and how they are different from the Cortado.

How Is It Different from the Flat White?

The flat white and the Cordato are often confused, and it is not difficult to see why. After all, the flat white and the Cordato are made in very similar ways. Nevertheless, there is a crucial difference in the amount of milk.

Both flat white and Cordato are made with the same amount of espresso, but the amount of milk is different. In fact, the flat white has more milk than the Cordato, which results in a much thicker texture. Because of the larger texture, it is also much easier to manipulate and create some remarkable artwork.

How Is It Different from the Latte?

There are some similarities between the Cardota and the latte as well. Once again, the difference does not lie with the amount of espresso, but in the amount of milk. Compared to the Cardota, latte has more milk. In turn, this gives the latte a more diluted character and less strong in terms of caffeine compared to the Cordato.

How Is It Different from the Gibraltar Coffee?

When you try to find the difference between your coffee in the typical Gibraltar glass and the Cortado, you will be searching forever. After all, the two beverages are actually the same. All you really need to remember is that Gibraltar is another name for the Cortado.

How Is It Different From the Cappuccino Or Macchiato?

Once again, there are many similarities between the Cortado, the cappuccino and the macchiato. And once more, the difference between all these beverages does not lie with the espresso, but with the milk amount.

Macchiato has a little less milk than the Cortado, which makes it smaller than the Gibraltar. Of course, this also means that the macchiato has a bit more caffeine as it is less diluted by the milk. In turn, the cappuccino comes with more milk and more milk foam, which in turn results in less caffeine but also a slightly different texture.


Conclusion: Is It Worth Trying?

There are many reasons why coffee lovers should try this unique espresso drink, but at the end of the day, it is all down to personal preferences. Some coffee lovers prefer their milky coffee drinks, while others like to taste the full flavor of their chosen coffee beans.

So, if you like your milky coffee, then the Cortado should be on top of your list. It is also a nice addition for anyone who likes to experiment with coffee flavors.

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