Cortado vs Latte: What is The Basic Difference Between These Two Brews?

If you are a coffee lover, the latte is no stranger to you. But have you ever tried a cortado? Both the cortado and latte consist of steamed milk and espresso. So what is the difference between cortado vs latte?

Many people confuse the latte with the cortado, but they have some differences. In this article, Wikihome will give you all information about cortado and latte, as well as how they differ from each other.

Let's get right into the details!

Can you tell the difference between a cortado and a latte?

Can you tell the difference between a cortado and a latte?

Cortado vs Latte Overview 

Before pointing out the differences between a cortado and a latte, you should take a look at these two brews. Here is some information about the cortado and the latte for your reference.

What is a cortado?

A cortado Coffee

A cortado coffee

A cortado (1) is a coffee beverage that originated in Spain. The name "cortado" comes from the Spanish verb "cortar" which means "to cut" in English. This name represents how people make this drink. They add the steamed milk into the espresso to "cut" the acidity of the espresso. 

After its creations, the cortado quickly became popular all over the world. Some coffee shops put the cortado on the menu under the name "Gibraltar coffee."

In a cortado, warm milk and espresso are in equal proportions. Normally, the barista will put two shots of espresso in a 4oz cup, then add 1-2 ounces of steamed milk. 

There will be very little or no foam on top of a cortado. Because the Spanish don't prefer foam in their drinks. Besides, there is no addition of sugar or flavors in a cortado.

The texture of a cortado is smooth and silky due to the balance between espresso and milk. This beverage has a bold and rich flavor of espresso combined with a creamy feel of milk. 

The small serving size of this drink also contributes to its strong coffee taste. A cortado tastes stronger than milky coffee drinks like the flat white but milder than a macchiato. 

However, it's rather hard to find a cafe that can make the true cortado. Besides, this beverage can be intense with those who don't like much espresso. 

What is a latte?

A latte coffee

A latte

A latte is also an espresso-based drink, but it comes from Italy. The exact name of this beverage is "caffè latte" with the Italian word "latte" meaning "milk". Simply put, caffè latte is a type of Italian milk coffee. 

The Italians created the latte a very long time ago. Since then, lattes have been one of the favorite coffee beverages of every coffee lover. 

A latte consists of espresso and a lot of steamed milk, topped with a foam layer. The common ratio between espresso and milk in a latte is 1:3. Lattes have many serving sizes ranging from 6 to 20oz. 

Due to a large amount of milk, the flavor of a latte will depend on the used milk. The common milk used for making lattes is whole milk or reduced milk. With this milk, the latte will have a creamy flavor with a mild taste of espresso. 

Lattes have the natural sweetness of steamed milk, but you can add sugar and other flavors if you like. There are many variations of latte such as hot buttered latte, pumpkin spice latte, or matcha latte. 

Another outstanding feature of this drink is the pattern of the foam called the latte art. The latte art can represent the talent and skill of the barista. The popular foam patterns are hearts, leaves, swans, etc. 

But if you want a drink rich in espresso flavor, a latte will not be strong enough. It is also too milky with some people. 

Differences between Cortado vs Latte 

Although cortado and latte have the same basic ingredients, they are different drinks. You can see the table below to know the differences between a latte and a cortado. 

 

Cortado

Latte

The ratio of

espresso to milk

1:1

1:3

Foam layer

Have very little foam or no foam layer

Always have a foam layer

Serving size

Small size

Large size

Coffee taste

Strong

Mild

Addition of sugar and other flavorings

No

Yes

Origin

Spain

Italy

So, the main differences between a cortado and a latte are the ratio of espresso to milk, serving size, foam layer, and additions.  

The ratio of espresso to milk

To make a cortado, you will need to mix equal parts of espresso and milk. Meanwhile, in a latte, 1 part of espresso will go with 3 parts of the milk. 

This difference in ratio leads to the difference in the taste of these two brews. The coffee taste of a cortado is bold and rich. On the other hand, the large amount of milk has significantly diluted the espresso in a latte. So, a latte tastes milder than a cortado. 

Serving size

Generally, a standard cortado has a capacity of 4oz. Some shops may serve larger portions, but the maximum capacity is about 6-7oz only. 

Nevertheless, most lattes will have at least 2oz of espresso and about 6-8oz of steamed milk. Thus, the serving size of the latte is larger than that of the cortado.

The cortado has a small serving size

The cortado has a small serving size

Foam layer

Like other Spanish drinks, the cortado has very little or no foam on top. But there is always a solid layer of microfoam topping the latte. The barista will decorate this foam layer with nice patterns. 

Additions 

When you order a true cortado, you will receive a drink consisting of espresso and milk, and that's all. There is only the natural sweetness of steamed milk, no sugar or flavor added. 

For a latte, you can add sugar according to taste. Besides, lattes can go with many additions and flavors such as syrups, hazelnut, matcha, and so on. 

A matcha latte

A matcha latte

Cortado vs Latte: The Recipe 

Both cortado and latte are not difficult to make. You can consult our guide below to try creating your favorite drinks at home. 

How to make a cortado

How to make a cortado

How to make a cortado

Related Post: What is cappuccino coffee & How do you make it?

You can make a cortado at home if you have an espresso machine. The necessary ingredients include coffee beans and milk. 

To have the best espresso taste, you should use the coffee beans roasted specially for espresso. As you don't need to froth the milk for a cortado, you can use any milk you like. If you want a more creamy feel, whole milk or light cream is good to go. 

When you have done with the preparation, move on with the following steps to create a good cortado.

Step 1: Grinding the coffee beans to get espresso grounds. The grounds should be fine, but not powder. Then, measure the grounds you need and tamp them into a portafilter. 

Step 2: Put the portafilter with espresso grounds into the espresso machine and start brewing.

Step 3: Take 2 shots of espresso and pour them into a glass.

Step 4: Steam the milk in a pitcher

Step 5: Pour slowly 2oz of steamed milk into the espresso. Now, you have got a homemade cortado. 

The true cortado will come with no additions, but you can still add some sugar or syrup if you like. The right way to drink a cortado is to take small, slow sips.

Related Post: Cappuccino Vs Latte: What is the Difference?

How to make a latte

How to make a latte

How to make a latte

Although a latte also has espresso, you can make this drink without an espresso machine. A strongly brewed coffee will bring the same effect as the espresso. 

The basic ingredients of a latte are similar to a cortado, including coffee grounds and milk. But a latte needs frothed milk, so you should use whole milk to get the smooth microfoam. Besides, you can prepare some cocoa powder to decorate your latte.

Now, it's time to transform into a barista. You can follow the instructions below to make a perfect latte for your breakfast.

Step 1: Grind and measure the coffee grounds. If you make espresso with an espresso machine, tamp the grounds and put them into the machine. If you don't have an espresso maker, just brew a strong coffee cup.

Step 2: Depending on your cup size, add a proper amount of espresso into the cup. A tall cup will be ideal for a latte.

Step 3: Heat an amount of milk corresponding to the amount of espresso. Remember that the espresso to milk ratio is 1:3.

Step 4: Froth the milk with a frother or a whisk. It's necessary to froth until the milk is foamy.

Step 5: Gradually add the milk into the espresso cup and keep some foam to top your latte.

Step 6: Place a layer of foam on top of the cup and sprinkle some cocoa powder to decorate the latte. You are free to add sugar or any flavorings you want. 

Related Post: What is the Difference Between Latte and Mocha?

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are a cortado and a flat white the same drinks?

The flat white is also a drink many people confuse with the cortado. Despite their similar amount of espresso, the difference is in the milk. 

A flat white has more milk than a cortado. Thus, a cortado will have a stronger espresso taste than a flat white. Besides, the barista will froth the milk to a microfoam to make a flat white. So, the texture of a cortado and a flat white is different.

Which is healthier: a cortado or a latte?

The amount of milk in a cortado and a latte is different, so they will have a different amount of calories. A latte contains more milk, so it has more calories. The size of a latte is often twice the size of a cortado. Therefore, a cortado will be a healthier choice. 

Can I make a cortado with non-dairy milk?

Yes, it's possible to make a cortado with non-dairy milk like coconut milk or almond milk. Coconut milk can make your cortado sweeter and creamier. Using non-dairy milk also helps your drinks become healthier. 

Do lattes have a strong coffee taste?

No, lattes have a mild coffee taste because milk makes up a large proportion of their composition. For 2 shots of espresso, there will be at least 6oz of milk added to a latte. So, if you are searching for a drink with a strong coffee taste, lattes are not a good choice. 

Final Words

Above is all the information about cortado and latte. We hope that through this article, you can tell these two drinks apart. They are both popular coffee beverages with many similarities. However, latte and cortado still have unique characteristics. 

Thank you for reading!

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