Cortado Coffee: Exquisite Recipe, Enriching Variations, and Inspiring History


Cortado, a coffee drink that has been gaining popularity in recent years, is a unique espresso-based beverage. It is made with equal parts of espresso and steamed milk, served in a glass. Unlike other espresso-based drinks, cortado has a distinct taste that sets it apart from the rest.

To make a perfect cortado, the barista must use high-quality coffee and steam the milk to the correct temperature and consistency. The steamed milk should be velvety smooth and have micro-foam bubbles to create latte art on top of the drink. This attention to detail ensures that every sip is rich, creamy, and satisfying.

Some variations of the cortado include the cortadito, which is a sweeter version made with condensed milk. The honey bee cortado includes honey as a sweetener for an extra touch of sweetness. These variations add complexity to an already delicious drink.

A perfect pairing is toasted sourdough with tomatoes from the Basque Country. The acidity of tomatoes complements the rich flavour of coffee and milk. This combination creates an explosion of flavours in your mouth that will leave you wanting more.

Cortado’s origin can be traced back to Spain where it was traditionally served in small glasses known as “cafe con leche.” Its popularity spread throughout Europe before making its way across the Atlantic Ocean to North America.

The Ingredients Needed for Making a Perfect Cortado Coffee

The perfect cortado starts with high-quality coffee beans. A fine grind size is essential to extract the best flavour and aroma from the beans. Baristas recommend using an espresso blend that has been roasted for a shorter period of time, producing a lighter roast that complements the milk.

Once you have your coffee beans make sure your equipment is clean and ready to use. Grind your coffee beans finely, about as fine as table salt or sand. This will create a smooth and rich espresso shot that pairs perfectly with steamed milk.

Cortado Coffee

One of the key elements in creating a perfect cortado is achieving balance between sweetness and acidity. To do this, you need to heat your milk properly.

The ideal temperature for steaming milk is around 140°F (60°C). This temperature allows you to achieve optimal sweetness while still retaining some of the natural acidity of the milk.

When heating your milk, make sure not to overheat it or let it boil. This can cause unwanted flavours in your drink and ruin your experience.

Steaming milk may seem like an easy task, but there’s actually quite an art to it! To achieve that smooth and velvety texture that makes a cortado so special, you need to steam your milk at just the right angle.

Start by placing your steam wand into the pitcher at an angle, then turn on the steam. As you steam, keep moving your pitcher in small circles while keeping it tilted slightly away from you. This will help create micro-foam – tiny bubbles that give your milk that velvety texture.

Barista Preparation
Barista Preparation

Now that you’ve mastered steaming your milk, it’s time to pour it into your espresso shot. This is where you can really get creative! To create a distinct layering effect in your cortado, start by pouring your steamed milk slowly into the center of your espresso shot.

As you pour, move the pitcher back and forth slightly to create a pattern on top of your drink. This will help create that beautiful layering effect that makes a cortado so visually appealing.

How to Drink a Cortado

Now that you know how to make and pour a perfect cortado, it’s time to enjoy it! A traditional cortado is served in a small glass or cup, often with toasted sourdough or other light snacks on the side. In some areas like Basque Country, they even serve them with tomatoes!

When drinking take small sips and savour each one. The balance of coffee and milk should be perfect – not too sweet or too acidic. If you’re feeling adventurous, try different variations like the honey bee cortado or cortadito!

How to Make a Delicious Cortado Coffee at Home

Making a delicious cortado coffee at home is easier than you might think. With just a few simple steps, you can enjoy this smooth and creamy coffee beverage from the comfort of your own kitchen. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Brew Your Espresso

The first step is to brew your espresso. If you have an espresso machine at home, use that to make a single shot of espresso.

Step 2: Steam Your Milk

Next, steam one ounce of milk using either an espresso machine or a frother. The goal here is to create micro-foam – tiny bubbles that will give the milk its creamy texture.

Step 3: Combine the Two

Once you’ve brewed your espresso and steamed your milk, it’s time to combine them. Pour the steamed milk over the shot of espresso in equal parts (a 1:1 ratio). This is what gives the it its signature taste and texture.

Now that you’ve made your cortado, all that’s left is to enjoy it! Sip slowly and savour the rich flavour and creamy texture of this classic coffee beverage.

Barista Espresso
Barista Making Espresso

How Does Cortado Compare to Other Similar Espresso-based Drinks?

Cortado vs. Macchiato

Cortado and macchiato are two espresso-based drinks that are often compared due to their similar ingredients. While both drinks contain espresso and steamed milk, there are distinct differences between them that set them apart.

One of the main differences between a cortado and a macchiato is the ratio of espresso to milk. A cortado typically has an equal amount of espresso and milk, resulting in a balanced flavour. In contrast, a macchiato has a higher concentration of espresso, with just a small amount of steamed milk added on top.

Another difference between these two drinks is their preparation method. A cortado is typically served in a small glass, while a macchiato is served in an espresso cup with a dollop of foam on top. The presentation may seem minor, but it can affect how the drink tastes and feels when consumed.

Cortados have been described as smooth and creamy with an even balance between the espresso and milk. The addition of steamed milk gives it just enough creaminess without overpowering the coffee. On the other hand, macchiatos have a stronger espresso flavour with just a hint of sweetness from the added milk.

Cortado vs Latte

While cortados are often compared to macchiatos due to their similar ingredients, they’re also commonly compared to lattes because they both contain steamed milk. However, there are some key differences that set these two drinks apart.

The most significant difference between cortados and lattes is their ratio of milk to espresso. Cortados have roughly equal parts steamed milk and espresso while lattes have much more steamed milk – usually around three parts milk to one part espresso. This results in a much creamier, sweeter taste than the bolder flavour.

Making Variations: Adding Flavours and Spices.

Cortado is a coffee drink that has been enjoyed by many for its unique taste profile. However, did you know that you can add different flavours and spices to make it even more special? Here are some ideas on how to do just that.

Flavoured Syrups

One way to add flavour is by using syrups. These syrups come in a variety of flavours such as vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and chocolate. Simply add a pump or two of your favourite syrup into the espresso shot before adding steamed milk. You can also use natural extracts like almond or peppermint.

Another way is to add edible flowers. Fresh flowers like lavender or rose petals can be steeped in hot water and added to the espresso shot before pouring in the steamed milk.

Adding Spices

Spices are another great way to enhance the taste of your cortado. Cinnamon is one spice that pairs well with coffee drinks, including cortado. Simply sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top of the steamed milk before serving.

Other spices like cardamom and nutmeg can also be used for an exotic twist on this classic drink. To make a cardamom-infused cortado, simply crush some cardamom pods and add them into the espresso shot before adding steamed milk.

Regional Variations

Cortado originated from Spain where it was traditionally served alongside breakfast pastries like croissants or churros. In Gibraltar, they serve their version of cortado with condensed milk instead of regular milk for a sweeter taste.

In addition, heritage radishes are often used as garnish in Spanish cafes where cortados are served as they provide a refreshing contrast to the rich taste of the drink.