What Is A Cortado? The Difference Between Cortado vs. Macchiato

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Cortado is a Spanish coffee that is made of espresso and mixed with the same quantity of warm milk to give a pleasant taste.

It is a delight in most Spanish-speaking countries where coffee drinkers consider it a beverage to kick start the day.

In this guide, you will learn about the Cortado, how to make it, and why you might choose it over other espresso-based drinks.

What Is A Cortado?

It is a beverage made of espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of hot milk or in the ratio 1:2, to give an exceptional taste with reduced acidity.

cortado recipe

Cortado is a Spanish word which means to “dilute or cut.”

The Cortado is popular in Spain and Portugal, but the drink can be found in cafes throughout the world especially in Latin America. Coffee shops typically serve a Cortado without adding sugars or flavors, because it is meant to be hot and sipped slowly.

How To Make A Cortado

When making a Cortado at home, you will need to be familiar with making shots of espresso and have the best espresso machine and tools necessary to make espresso drinks. Once you have that down, it’s quite simple.

According to the Allegro Coffee company, for the classic Cortado you will need:

  • 4 – 6 oz. of milk
  • 2 shots of espresso


  1. Pull 2 shots of espresso.
  2. Steam the milk as if you were making a latte.
  3. Add your 2 shots of espresso to your serving cup, add 2 oz. of the milk, and sip slowly to enjoy.

The Cortadito by Confectionalism

  1. Make 2 shots of espresso
  2. Combine 4 tablespoons of sugar with 2 tablespoons of your hot espresso in a mug. Mix like crazy to incorporate air. The mixture will eventually turn to a light golden brown. This mixture will be used to sweeten your Cortadito. You could skip this step and use sweetened condensed milk to make a Cuban Cortadito.
  3. In a new serving cup, mix your 2 shots of espresso with enough of the mixture above to meet your satisfaction.
  4. Steam and froth enough milk to dilute the espresso (about 4 – 6 oz.).
  5. Pour into your cup and enjoy!

Cortado vs. Macchiato & Flat White

The Macchiato and flat white are widely-loved espresso drinks which have their own unique flavor and preparation methods.

It should also be noted that espresso drinks are typically classified by the ratio of milk added to espresso, so they are similar with slight differences.

The Macchiato is an Italian coffee with a smaller amount of foam on top. It’s made with less steamed milk and has a relatively bitter taste and some level of acidity.

Flat white coffee has the same ratio of espresso and steamed milk but with a different texture. The drink has more of a sweet milk flavor with the espresso dominating the overall flavor.

Final Thoughts

If you’re not a fan of deep flavor and bitterness, the Cortadito might be the best place to start. You can slowly reduce the amount of sweetness to your liking.

In the end, I think it may be worth experimenting with similar drinks such as the Macchiato until you find a drink that suits you best.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.