In today’s world, there are a variety of different coffees you can order, making it overwhelming to stray from your well-known and loved cappuccino.
One of the reasons why we all stick to our usual is because we don’t actually know the difference between types of coffees. You might be asking yourself what's the difference between cortado, latte, and espresso anyway?
In this article, we explain the difference between a cortado and a latte, how to make them yourself, and why you should try ordering one the next time you’re at a cafe.
What’s the Difference?
We’re sure that if you’ve ever been inside a coffee shop, you’ve seen latte and cortado on the menu but been too comfortable with your regular order that you’ve skipped right past them.
Luckily for you, your coffee knowledge is about to expand and you’re going to see just how similar these two drinks are to your usual favorites.
What is a Cortado?
The cortado coffee originates in Spain and is known for its 1:1 milk to coffee ratio. The cortado is a small drink, with equal parts steamed milk to espresso and gets its name cortado, which roughly translates to “cut,” from the milk “cutting” through the strong espresso.
The other distinctive quality about the cortado is that it’s served in a glass tumbler rather than a porcelain or ceramic mug.
There are some variations to this drink, though. Some cafes foam the milk (it’s meant to be steamed), and others will adjust the ratio to 2:1, using a double espresso instead of a single.
What Does it Taste Like?
The cortado can be an intense drink considering the milk to coffee ratio. Most people are used to a more milky coffee like a cappuccino. This is because the ratio is 2:1, with the milk making up most of the drink.
However, because it’s so small, the cortado can be sipped gently and you can properly enjoy the fullness and richness of the coffee flavor.
What is a Latte?
Now, onto the latte.
The latte is most similar to the cappuccino, in that the milk to coffee ratio is unequal, with the milk being more prominent.
The latte, much like the espresso, originated in Italy. The cafe latte emerged after the espresso, becoming a popular breakfast drink thanks to the dairy to help give you some protein in the morning.
The lattes that we’re all familiar with now are spin-offs of the original latte, but still ring true in that they’re espresso-based drinks with majority milk in them.
The distinctive factor of a latte is the smooth milk on top of the espresso. Unlike a cappuccino, but like a cortado, the latte uses steamed milk for a smoother texture.
This has led to the popular trend of latte-art, where you can create designs on the top of the smooth steamed milk layer.
What Does it Taste Like?
The latte can be a rich, creamy, and filling drink due to its high dairy content. If you’re drinking it with full-fat milk it can sometimes even be quite sweet due to the fat content.
The espresso flavor in latte gets fairly muted by the flavor of the milk, so it’s not nearly as strong as the cortado.
How to Make Each Drink
Now that we’ve explained what each drink is, it’s time to show you how to make them.
First Step: Coffee
This might seem like an obvious point considering there’s only coffee and milk in these two drinks, but the type of coffee you use is crucial.
The coffee flavor with a lighter roast is still noticeable, but a darker roast really pierces through the milk to make for a tastier drink.
How to Make a Cortado
You need to extract an espresso, so we recommend using a Moka pot, Aeropress, espresso machine, or a pod machine.
We don’t recommend using a french press or drip coffee machine as it will most likely either be too grainy or too weak.
Once you’ve extracted your espresso, you want to steam your milk. We really recommend you use full-fat milk as the richness cuts through the intensity of the espresso, but you can use whatever you prefer.
If you have a steamer at home, now is the chance to use it. You want to gently steam your milk so it’s hot but not boiling. You can also use a milk frother if there’s a setting that just steams it.
Combine the two in a glass tumbler so you can see the two layers, but feel free to mix them together.
And like all espresso-based drinks, it’s best served hot, so drink and enjoy.
How to Make a Latte
Like the cortado, you’ll want to start off with an espresso again.
Now for the milk: the most important thing about a latte is the milk. Similar to the cappuccino, the latte also uses the ratio of 2 parts milk and 1 part espresso.
For a latte, you want to steam all the milk, ensuring it’s nice and hot.
Once you’ve steamed your milk, pour both liquids into a porcelain or ceramic mug. If you’re feeling fancy you can even dust some cocoa powder or cinnamon on top.
So now that you know about these two espresso-based options, let’s explore a few more that are similar.
In the same world of cappuccino, latte, and cortado, we’ve also got the flat white and macchiato.
The flat white and latte are interchangeable, but when ordering from a shop just be sure to read the menu because one of them might have a small layer of foam on top of the steamed milk.
The macchiato is more similar to a cortado but even stronger. It’s an espresso with a tiny bit of foam that marks it, just to take the edge off of the espresso.
Black Coffee Drinks
If you like the intense taste of strong espresso and don’t want a watery coffee, here are two perfect options for you.
Similarly, black-eyed coffee is based on the same principle but instead of one shot of espresso, it’s two, so you really get that extra zing to your day.
Now you know the difference between a cortado and a latte and you have a bit more knowledge about coffee orders in general.
The next time you’re going to order your standard cappuccino, maybe opt for a cortado instead.
Cortado vs Latte FAQs
We’ve answered three of the internet’s most popular questions about these drinks below just in case you have the same questions.
Is Cortado Stronger Than Latte?
A cortado is not necessarily stronger than a latte.
If we’re basing this off the traditional coffee recipes, then both the drinks have just one shot of espresso each. In most cafes now you can order a double shot in any drink though.
If you’re talking about flavor profile, then yes, the cortado is stronger because there is less milk to dilute the flavor.
Should I Sweeten a Cortado?
You should drink your coffee the way you like it.
We like adjusting our flavor profiles by actually using flavored beans or grounds such as our Gingerbread Latte roast as it provides some different notes which take away the harshness of pure espresso.
What’s The Difference Between a Latte, Cappuccino, and Cortado?
The biggest difference between a latte, cappuccino, and cortado is the milk to espresso ratio.
Cortados are typically equal parts milk to espresso, while a latte and cappuccino are more similar. Both have 2 parts milk and 1 part espresso, but a cappuccino has a thick layer of foam, whereas a latte is just steamed milk with a tiny layer of foam.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
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