Cortado Vs Latte: Which One Should You Go For?

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There are so many benefits of being a coffee enthusiast. You get so keen to try different kinds of coffee all the time until you finally find the one you can have for the rest of your life.

However, here’s the sad part. In most coffee shops, there are a lot of different names given to different variations of coffee, so it becomes confusing and hard to remember the difference. 

For example, let us look at these two kinds of coffee – Cortado and latte. Both these drinks are equally popular, but what is their real difference?

In this article, we will aim to make things a bit simpler and easier for you by discussing latte and cortado one by one and mentioning some core distinctions between the two coffee drinks. Let’s begin! 

What is a Cortado?

Cortado is a Spanish word meaning ‘cut’ or ‘trim.’ This traditional espresso coffee drink has got its roots in Spain and is made with equal parts of espresso, cut by steamed milk. 

It has a less milk foam and no added sugar or flavor, unlike other coffee beverages available at coffee shops.  

However, the popularity of this coffee drink has gone global because of its creamy coffee and milk combination with a dense, silky texture. 

Cortado is mainly preferred by people who want a stronger espresso shot without losing the actual taste of the coffee, thus creating a perfect balance between the hot milk and the espresso. For example, if you are making your way to drinking straight espresso shots, you should begin with cortado to become prepared! 

How to make a cortado?

Preparing a cortado coffee includes the following steps:

  • Using high-quality coffee beans, pull a double espresso shot.
  • Foam the milk using a frother, and heat it. 
  • Now, pour the foamed milk into the espresso shot, ensuring both ingredients are in an equal ratio. 
  • The cortado is ready! 

Pros

  • Features a strong and rich espresso flavor.
  • Silky-textured due to less-frothed steamed milk.
  • A perfect balance of milk and espresso.

Cons

  • A little harder to find at every local coffee shop.
  • Served in small glasses.
  • Too strong for beginners.
  • Takes more time to prepare than regular coffee.

What is a Latte?

Let’s move back to the basics. A latte is an Italian coffee variation (it comes from the Italian word ‘latte’ meaning ‘milk’), made from a generous amount of creamy milk froth poured over espresso shots. 

Steamed milk is poured over fine coffee grounds and then brewed with hot water under pressure, which produces espresso. The milk is lightly frothed to form a thick layer of microfoam on top of the drink, which is used to create latte art.

You can order your hot or cold latte with milk choices like almond, soy, oat, etc., with your desired flavored syrups like peppermint, pumpkin spice, caramel, and others. 

Also, you can choose the quantity of your espresso from one to three shots, depending on your caffeine intake. 

Related Read: Are Lattes Hot Or Cold? [ Disclosing the perfect temperature ]

How to make a latte?

Preparing a latte involves the following simple steps:

  • Make your desired amount of espresso using high-quality coffee beans.
  • Now heat a generous amount of milk, depending on the size you want of your latte.
  • Combine the two slowly, leaving the milk foam on the top.
  • Enjoy as it is, or add syrups of your choice to make flavored lattes. 

Pros

  • Tastes delicious with a smooth, creamy texture.
  • Can be prepared with so many different flavors.
  • A thick layer of foam creates latte art.
  • Perfect for beginners due to its less robust espresso coffee taste. 

Cons

  • Higher in calories due to added flavor and sugar.
  • More on the expensive side.
  • Unsuitable for lactose intolerant people due to increased milk content. 

Related Read: Best Nespresso Pods For Latte 2023 (+ Delecious Recipes Included)

Cortado Vs. Latte – What is the difference?

It is the size of the drink and the ratio of espresso to milk that distinguishes a cortado from a latte. Since cortado contains less milk, it tends to be thicker than lattes. Its strong flavor is complemented by a bit of creamy and silky texture, making it ideal for intense coffee lovers. 

On the other hand, a latte contains more milk than a cortado, so it has a thinner texture. As a result, it is an ideal coffee drink for those who want a creamy and smooth cup of coffee.

Let’s review the primary factors that differentiate a cortado and a latte. 

Composition

Though both the coffee drinks are made with milk and espresso, they do not contain an equal amount. 

A latte consists of 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, and a thin layer of microfoam. Whereas, in a cortado, there are equal parts espresso and milk, used in the same ratio- 1/2 each. 

Taste

When it comes to coffee and milk, you know what to expect. Cortados and lattes are both milky drinks, but the cortado has a stronger coffee flavor, slight bitterness, and a pinch of sweetness.

In contrast, a latte has a much light-intense flavor due to higher milk quantity. 

Size of the drinks

While most coffee drinks are served in a few popular cup sizes, that is not true in all cases.

While a latte is served anywhere between 8-16 oz, sometimes even 30 ounces, the serving size of cortado coffees is only 4 oz, with no option of anything larger unless you order two cortado drinks simultaneously! 

The most significant difference between these two coffees is the size of the drink. Cortados are traditional espresso drinks with equal amounts of coffee and milk. Hence, altering its size will disturb the ingredient ratio and its rich flavor in turn. 

Milk content

The milk content is one of the key differences between a latte and a cortado. 

Typically, there is 6 oz of steamed and frothed milk in an 8 oz of latte coffee cup. Whereas, in a cortado, the amount of milk and espresso are equal with a ratio of 1:1, which is the reason behind its stronger flavor and no foam topping. 

Caffeine levels

A cortado gets its intense and rich coffee flavor from the amount of caffeine in the drink, typically consisting of 136 mg in a standard 4 oz coffee cup. 

On the other hand, the caffeine content in a latte is much less than in cortado, which is only 68-80 mg in a small or medium-sized drink. 

Appearance

The difference between the appearances of both the coffee drinks is one of the primary giveaways! 

A cortado features a rich, deep brown color due to equal espresso and milk content, served in a traditional, transparent, and small glass mug to enjoy the lovely caramel tones topped with a thin creamy layer of foam. 

Whereas a latte is served in a mug, having a much lighter tan color due to higher milk content and a thick foam on top that is often decorated with gorgeous latte art. They are more towards the brighter and opaque side. 

Calorie Content

A latte can double or triple the number of calories compared with a cut, depending on the kind and amount of milk used. There are between 10 and 40 calories in a cortado and 75 to 110 calories in a latte.

For a better understanding, let’s look at this calorie table below:

Milk-typeCortadoLatte
Whole milk36 cal.108 cal.
Soy milk25 cal.95 cal.
Oat milk30 cal.89 cal.
Almond milk10 cal.30 cal.
2 % Fat mil25 cal.93 cal.
Non- fat Milk25 cal.75 cal.
Calorie Content depiction of Cortado vs Latte

Variations

This is one of the best things about coffee. You can customize whichever way you want, with hundreds of options to choose from. 

However, most coffee lovers like their drink the way it is, especially a cortado. But there are multiple variations available for this coffee type and latte as well with different milk alternatives and flavors.

Cortado variations 

Below are the cortado variations

Bombon or cortado condensada:

This drink is made with condensed milk and has a more creamy texture. 

Cortadito:

A Cuban coffee drink made with pre-sweetened espresso and hot milk, similar to a cortado. However, this drink has more espresso, with a ratio of 3:1. It is brewed in a moka pot, added sugar, and topped with steamed milk.  

Cafe con leche y leche:

Similar to a bombon, this drink has more cream and thicker foam. 

Latte variations

Below are the latte variations

Flavored lattes:

As the name says, different flavors are used in a regular latte drink, like peppermint, cinnamon, caramel, pumpkin spice, etc. 

Short latte:

Very similar to a cortado, this latte type has more espresso content in it, with very little milk (3:1 ratio) with a rich, intense taste.

Chai latte:

This variation of latte includes different spice mixes, sometimes tea, into a regular latte drink.  

Are there any similarities between a cortado and a latte?

Now that we have learned the primary differences between these coffee drinks let us look at a few similarities between lattes and cortados. 

  • Both drinks are made from only two ingredients ( unless you add sugar): espresso shots and hot milk. 
  • You can add more espresso content to your drinks based on how intense you like your coffee to be. 
  • Both lattes and cortados are often preferred cold rather than hot coffees. 

Which one is healthier? A cortado or a latte?

Latte vs. cortado is an age-old debate. It’s hard to choose between the two, but which is healthier? 

Here’s a breakdown. Cortados are espressos with a bit of milk added to them. On the other hand, lattes are typically made with steamed milk and contain a greater proportion of milk than coffees. 

Compared to a latte, a cortado contains about half the calories. A latt√© has a higher protein content than a cortado, including 8 grams instead of 4 in a cortado; thanks to the higher milk content, lattes are also higher in calcium and vitamin D. 

Therefore, a cortado is best if you want to lose weight and cut your calories. But a latte is the better choice if you want a fulfilling coffee drink to keep you stuffed till night. 

The bottom line

In summary, regardless of which coffee you choose, you are in for a milky concoction with an espresso kick.

It’s all about size and taste, Cortados are smaller and have stronger coffee flavors, while lattes come in larger cup sizes and focus on milk content than espresso.

We hope this detailed guide on cortado vs. latte will help you decide quickly the next time you visit your favorite coffee shop! 

FAQs

What is the difference between a flat white and a latte?

All the difference between these two drinks lies in their milk content. A latte consists of a thick layer of foamed steamed milk on top, whereas a flat white does not have any frothy layer but just thin, hot milk poured on the espresso shot. 

What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

While a latte consists of an espresso shot with higher milk content and a thick foamy layer on top, a traditional cappuccino contains equal quantities of distinctly layered milk, espresso, and foam. 

What is the difference between a cappuccino and a cortado?

The primary difference between a cortado and a cappuccino is that a cortado is made with higher espresso content (2:1 ratio in milk). In contrast, a cappuccino is made with only one espresso shot with steamed and foamed milk. Moreover, cappuccinos are much more creamy than cortado, which has a silkier texture. 

What do you call a cortado at Starbucks?

Cortado is not on this coffee chain’s official menu, so you might need to explain to the barista if you need one drink. Simply ask for double espresso shots with 2 ounces of milk on top, and voila! 

Do Italians drink cortado?

The drink has a Spanish origin, so it is less popular in Italy by its original name. Hence, in Europe, a cortado is more popular with the name of espresso macchiato. 

Do you sip cortado?

A cortado coffee drink is typically served in small glass tumblers, about 4 oz, so it is not intended to be gulped instantly. Instead, you can sip it slowly at your regular pace.

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