Cortado is a drink not many people know of, but it’s just as worth enjoying as other popular espresso-based drinks like the latte and cappuccino.
After trying it out many years back at a specialty coffee shop, I knew I had to learn how to make one in my own kitchen. So I spent the next day perfecting my take on this delicious drink that balances the bitterness of espresso and the sweetness of the milk.
Today, I’m sharing with you a simple recipe for making the classic cortado coffee. With just two ingredients and an espresso machine, you can create a rich caffeinated drink with a satisfying blend of espresso and milk in one cup.
What is a Cortado Coffee?
A cortado coffee is a beverage that’s made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk. By diluting the strong flavors of espresso while adding just enough sweetness from the steamed milk, you can create a perfectly-balanced cup without losing any of the original taste.
The cortado comes from Spain, with its name originating from the Spanish verb “cortar” which means “to cut,” describing how the espresso is cut with milk after being brewed.
What I like about cortado coffee is that it strikes the right balance between espresso and milk. You can take your time sipping and enjoying your cortado during your morning ritual or over an unhurried conversation with someone.
But since it comes in smaller servings with less milk compared to latte and cappuccino, cortado can also be perfect for busy people who need their caffeine fix fast and on the go. This is also a reflection of how cortado coffee is prepared, which is fast and simple to make.
Equipment & Ingredients for Cortado Coffee
Here are the things that you will need to make cortado coffee:
- Espresso machine: used to produce the shot of espresso for the recipe. If you don’t have an espresso machine, click here for more ways to brew espresso at home. However, it would be best if you had the espresso machine’s steam wand to make microfoamed milk. Milk froth is not good with cortados unfortunately.
- 16 grams of ground coffee: I recommend medium or dark roast coffee that has been ground finely for best results. Light roast taste too acidic for me in a cortado, the sweetness of the steamed milk doesn’t pair well.
- 120 ml of whole milk: this will be mixed with the espresso to balance the drink’s bitterness and sweetness.
Now that you have what you need, it’s time to jump into this easy homemade cortado recipe.
Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cortado Coffee
Learning how to make your own cortado can be both rewarding and enjoyable. This classic coffee drink has stood the test of time due to its delicious taste and ease-of-preparation features, so give it a try today.
Here are the steps to making your own cortado coffee at home.
This is for 2 servings, as cortado is a single espresso with steamed milk at 1:1 ratio. Some recipes call for a double espresso with an equal amount of milk, but that is actually a flat white.
1. Prepare the Portafilter.
- Using a digital scale like the Timemore Black Mirror Basic Plus, measure 16 grams of ground coffee and put it into the portafilter.
- Use a tamper to compact the ground coffee tightly.
2. Pull 2 shots of espresso.
- Place the portafilter on the espresso machine.
- Pull just under two ounces of espresso into gibraltar glasses.
- You can also use make a single-shot cortado if the double shot is too much. Use a double-spout portafilter, and run the shots into 2 glasses.
3. Steam the milk.
- Pour the milk into the milk pitcher and start steaming with the tip of the steam wand just below the milk’s surface to aerate the milk. Don’t do this for too long though, otherwise you’ll increase the volume of the milk too much and get milk froth at the end.
- After a few seconds, submerge the wand and angle the pitcher to make a vortex in the milk. Do this until it reaches a temperature of around 150°F to 155°F. There should only be a thin layer of silky microfoam after you steam the milk.
4. Pour the milk onto the espresso.
- Pour the milk gently and slowly into the glass of espresso until full.
- Add a latte art if you want to and enjoy your cortado immediately while still light and smooth.
What kind of cup should you serve a cortado coffee in?
Cortado coffee is served in a Gibraltar glass, a 4-ounce rocks glass specifically made for a cortado. Some cafes serve it in a small ceramic mug, but I like the Gibraltar glass serving style the best.
Barista Tips for Making Cortado Coffee
The process is simple, but perfecting your cup of cortado also requires time and effort to master. To help you get better in no time, here are some additional tips for making your cortado coffee:
- You can also use non-dairy milk options: If you prefer non-dairy or vegan cortados, you can substitute whole milk with almond milk and oat milk.
- Use fresh beans: If you can, grind your own coffee beans for maximum freshness when you pull your espresso shot.
- Learn to make other espresso-based drinks: Once you’ve mastered making cortado coffee, it’s easier to learn other espresso drinks with milk such as lattes, cappuccino, and flat white.
There you have it, you can now fix your own cortado coffee at home. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a slow morning or need a quick caffeine boost on the go, cortado has got you covered. And with the added bonus of being able to impress your friends with latte art (once you’ve mastered it), what more could you want?
So grab your Gibraltar glass, fire up that espresso machine, and start brewing a tasty cortado today.