Cortado vs Latte – A Direct Comparison

Whether you enjoy a nice strong drink where the taste of espresso dominates your palate or a mellower, more gentle one that you can sip on for quite some time, the world of coffee has you covered. 

The cortado and latte are two such drinks. 

They both contain espresso shots and milk, though they appeal to taste buds that are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Let’s take a deeper look into the difference between a cortado and a latte.

Cortado vs Latte – A Quick Comparison :

Cortado is made up of only one espresso shot with an equal amount of steamed milk to cut it while maintaining the strength of the espresso.

Latte is a creamy beverage that involves steamed milk being poured over espresso shots, ending in a well-integrated and mellow coffee beverage.

Cortado has Spanish and Portuguese Origins

Cortado means Cut in Portugese

The cortado was first discovered in Spain, accounting for its name which means cut in Spanish and Portuguese. 

The name fits perfectly as the drink is sliced directly into two different elements,

  • Steamed Milk
  • Espresso

Nowadays, the cortado is sometimes excluded from the menu at coffee shops and are lesser known though any barista who knows his stuff is familiar with the drink. 

Sometimes cortado is called by another name such as Piccolo or Gibraltar.

Cortado Consists of Steamed Milk and Espresso

Composition of Cortado Coffee

A cortado is designed with the purist in mind. 

Cortado is a great option for those who want to experience the full power of the espresso without masking its bold flavor. Going easy on the milk allows the espresso shots to make a strong appearance.

Did You Know : The espresso is the center of attention in the cortado.

Generally, only a single shot of espresso is used instead of a double. 

In order to preserve the strength of the espresso, only a little milk is added, making the end result equal parts of both elements.

One thing that makes a cortado different from many other coffee beverages is that it contains no foam.

The main goal of the cortado’s makeup is to allow you the chance to savor the flavors in the espresso without interference.

Cortado is Served in a 4oz Cup

4oz Cortado Cup

A traditional cortado is small and served in a small cup that is often made of glass and holds 4oz. 

Though the amount of milk added is very small, it’s still possible to execute beautiful latte art on top with the steamed milk if the barista if skilled and experienced.

Latte - A Coffee with Milk

Meaning of Caffe Latte in English

The latte first originated in Italy and has become one of the most popular espresso beverages on the coffee scene.

Traditionally, latte is referred to as a Caffé Latte. This translates to coffee with milk. However, here in the United States, it’s often shortened to simply latte.

Various countries put their own spins on this espresso drink, and America takes credit for the version we are familiar with today. 

The latte first gained popularity as a coffee in Seattle during the 1980’s and it’s fame spread through the 90’s.

A Latte has A Layer of Foam on the Top

Composition of Latte Coffee

A latte is a milder option compared to a cortado.

The espresso shots are diluted by exquisitely steamed milk foam (sometimes called micro-foam) in order to create a creamy beverage without much a kick, while still allowing you to taste the espresso.

Lattes are comprised of espresso, steamed milk and an unimposing layer of milk foam. 

Lattes must be well-mixed with espresso and milk foam mingling easily with one another. The parts of this drink are well integrated with one another, making the end result creamy and smooth.

The different elements of a perfectly done latte should be practically indistinguishable.

It’s important not to confuse foam with micro-foam. 

Milk Foam - Regular vs Micro Foam

Regular milk foam, which is used for cappuccinos is thicker.

Micro foam consists of very small bubbles that are not filled with as much air. The consistency of micro-foam is what makes it possible for the elements of the latte to mix.

Read More : Latte vs Cappuccino – The 2 Most Common Coffee Compared

There are Many Ways to Served A Latte

Barista Pouring a Latte Ary

Lattes can be served in many sizes such as 8oz, 12oz, and 16oz. However, at more casual cafes they can go up to 20oz or even higher. 

In fine shops, a latte is served in a ceramic cup with a matching saucer, at more casual places a mug of some sort is often used.

The micro-foam used for lattes makes this the easiest drink to do execute beautiful designs on top of. The latte art portion was always my favorite part.

No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, one of these options is sure to satisfy your coffee craving.

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About Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee is a former barista who discovered the power of coffee while maintaining a rigorous dance and writing schedule. She trained as a barista in the third-wave coffee industry, receiving in-depth instruction about how to assemble traditional espresso drinks and perfecting her latte art skills.