Have you seen a cortado on a coffee shop menu and wondered what it was? This Spanish drink has taken the coffee world by storm, appearing on menus from coast to coast — next to the trusty latte, of course. So what separates a latte from a cortado, and which do you prefer?
Keep reading to find out all about lattes and cortados.
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What is a Latte?
Let’s start with the basics. Lattes are an Italian coffee creation made from espresso shots and generous amounts of steamed milk. The steamed milk is lightly frothed, creating a microfoam layer that sits at the top of the cup. The size of the beverage ranges from 6 and 20 ounces. You can order a latte with one to three shots of espresso, depending on how much caffeine you’re looking for.
Lattes are popular because they combine the intense espresso flavor with a lot of smooth, creamy milk to create a mellow espresso taste. To help you create exactly what you’re craving, you can also add a range of flavored syrups.
What is a Cortado?
This espresso drink was crafted in Spain and is now popular all over the world. “Cortado” means “cut” in Spanish, and this drink is an espresso shot cut by steamed milk. It’s essentially equal parts espresso and steamed milk with no added flavors or sugar. This means one shot of espresso is matched with equal parts milk, making the drink about three or four ounces altogether. This drink packs a powerful espresso flavor but still has a milky balance.
The cortado may be made without foam or with a small layer of microfoam. Unlike the Italians, the Spanish prefer less foam in their coffee drinks. This less-frothed milk gives the drink a silky texture and a nice balance between the espresso and milk.
Highlighting the Differences
The main difference between lattes and cortados is the size of the drink and the ratio of espresso to milk. Let’s quickly review:
Cortados are made with equal parts steamed milk and espresso, and they may contain no foam or a small amount of microfoam. Lattes have quite a bit more steamed milk and are almost always topped with a solid layer of microfoam. Cortados are espresso-forward, while lattes are milk-heavy and may be made with caramel or peppermint syrup.