How To Make A Cortado? – Step-By-Step Instructions For Home Baristas




Italians are both well known and acknowledged for their contribution to coffee, Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin Americans also have their contribution that deserves to be amongst the well-known coffee drinks – a Cortado.

You might have heard of it, seen it on a menu, thought about ordering one, or even tried to make one yourself but were left with a question how to make a Cortado?

This is where we come in. We covered everything from its origin, to key brewing elements, and even included a step-by-step guide that will help you make and enjoy a delicious Cortado from the comfort of your home. So, let us get started.

What Is A Cortado?

A Cortado is a somewhat smaller-sized coffee beverage made out of espresso and steamed milk in a 1:1 ratio. As a result, it has a much lower acidity than a “regular” espresso. Since it is made out of steamed milk, there is almost no milk froth in it.

Cortado – Origin & History

The word “cortado” draws its origin from “cortar” – a Spanish verb meaning “to cut”. It symbolizes the way that milk cuts through the espresso. It is also a past participle of “cortar” that symbolizes the dilution of the espresso shot. Cortado was first created in the Basque country of Spain. Its popularity began to spread throughout Cuba and the northern Portugal region of Galicia.

It first gained its popularity in the US due to the Blue Bottle Coffee Company located in San Francisco. It was sold as a Gibraltar as early as 2005. The “Gibraltar” name came from the small glass with a narrow bottom and a wide opening in which the Cortado was served. After that, it soon spread throughout the nationwide coffee shops.

Cortado On A Menu In A Coffee Shop

How Do You Pronounce Cortado?
Cortado is a Spanish word and is pronounced COR-TA-DOH.

Is It The Same As Cortadito?

Although it does sound similar, no it is not. A Cortadito or a little cortado is a Cuban espresso-based beverage with a bit of milk. As opposed to Cortado, a Cortadito is made using sweet condensed milk instead of steamed fresh milk. It first appeared at a time when condensed milk was much easier to get to than fresh milk. It is widely enjoyed across Cuba and even in Miami US.

How To Make A Cortado – Step-By-Step

When you have an espresso machine, and possibly one with a steamer, a cortado is very easy to make:

AuthorPatriciaDifficultyBeginner

Yields1 Serving

1

The first thing you want to do is grind your coffee beans. Do this right before you start the brewing process to ensure that your coffee does not go stale.

2

Add the grounds to the portafilter and tamp them down. This is to ensure the maximum contact between water and coffee.

3

Prepare your glass. Warm it up by pouring some hot water into it. A Gibraltar glass is the best for a Cortado.

4

Now, make a single or a double shot of espresso – depending on how big of a Cortado you want to make. Place the filter basket into its position and turn the handle counterclockwise to lock it in its position. Dispose of the water in the glass and place it beneath the spout. Once you have everything in position, turn the machine on.

5

As your coffee is dripping out, steam the milk using the steam wand. Add about a third of milk to your frothing pitcher and insert the steamer into the center. Submerge it down into the milk and keep it that way until you notice that the pitcher is getting warm to the touch.

6

Pour the steamed milk into the glass with espresso in a 1:1 ratio. That is it. Once you complete all these steps, serve cortado immediately while it is still hot.

Ingredients

Directions

1

The first thing you want to do is grind your coffee beans. Do this right before you start the brewing process to ensure that your coffee does not go stale.

2

Add the grounds to the portafilter and tamp them down. This is to ensure the maximum contact between water and coffee.

3

Prepare your glass. Warm it up by pouring some hot water into it. A Gibraltar glass is the best for a Cortado.

4

Now, make a single or a double shot of espresso – depending on how big of a Cortado you want to make. Place the filter basket into its position and turn the handle counterclockwise to lock it in its position. Dispose of the water in the glass and place it beneath the spout. Once you have everything in position, turn the machine on.

5

As your coffee is dripping out, steam the milk using the steam wand. Add about a third of milk to your frothing pitcher and insert the steamer into the center. Submerge it down into the milk and keep it that way until you notice that the pitcher is getting warm to the touch.

6

Pour the steamed milk into the glass with espresso in a 1:1 ratio. That is it. Once you complete all these steps, serve cortado immediately while it is still hot.

Cortado Recipe

Can You Make One At Home?

Yes, you can. The process is not too complicated to complete so even if you have no training, you will be able to make yourself a delicious Cortado serving in only a few minutes.

A Glass Of Cortado

Can You Make It Using Instant Coffee?

You can try, but you won’t get the same results. Instant coffee is derived from brewed coffee beans. To make coffee with it you only need to add hot water to it. As a result, your brew will have a watered flavor and can often be a bit sour – it is nothing like using freshly ground dark roast coffee beans.

Tips & Tricks You Might Find Helpful

Here are some tips and tricks you might find helpful when making a Cortado:

  • if and when possible, use a conical burr grinder to grind your coffee beans. This is because the said grinder does not get heated during the process, meaning, it does not affect the flavor of your coffee grounds.
  • when tamping the coffee do not use too much force. If you press too hard, you will get a compact coffee puck and the pressurized water coming from the espresso machine won’t be able to get through all the grounds inside the filter basket.
  • before you start steaming the milk make sure that the steam wand is perfectly clean. In case it has any leftover milk inside the tube, the steam won’t be able to get through, into your pitcher. To check, simply release a bit of steam into a kitchen cloth or a thicker sponge to clean any residue (be careful not to burn your hands as steam inside the wand is at a high temperature).
  • since it is quite hard to steam the small amount of milk you need for a Cortado, you will likely have some leftovers. For this reason, it is a good idea to make a Cortado when making other espresso/milk-based beverages.

Things To Pay Attention To

As the three key elements to making a Cortado are coffee roast, grounds, and milk, you need to pay additional attention to:

  • roast type – since a Cortado is based on espresso, a dark coffee roast will give you the best results.
  • ground size – for the perfect espresso shot, you need a fine coffee grind. Be careful not to make a super-fine grind as the water won’t be able to saturate all the grounds evenly and you won’t get the desired flavor.
  • milk type – for a Cortado you should use whole milk because of its richness. However, you can try oat and coconut milk too if you prefer non-dairy milk.

What If You Don’t Have A Coffee Machine?

You can make a Cortado even if you don’t have a coffee, more precisely an espresso machine. To get 2 cups of Cortado using a Moka pot:

  1. Add water to the bottom chamber – make sure that it does not go past the safety pressure valve.
  2. Add ground coffee to the filter basket and place it atop the bottom chamber – use about 1 tablespoon for every cup you want to make.
  3. Attach all the parts and place the Moka pot atop a stovetop burner – keep its lid open so you know when the coffee is done brewing (i.e. when the small chimney in the middle of the pot starts to spurt).
  4. Pour coffee into your glass until it is half full.
  5. At this time you want to make “steamed” milk. Now since you don’t have an espresso machine you don’t have a steam wand either. So, use a stovetop pot to heat the milk and submerge a manual milk frothing wand into it. Turn the further on and leave it like that until your milk gets hot.
  6. Now, since Cortado does not have any milk forth in it, pour the “steamed” milk from your pot keeping the froth at bay using a tablespoon.

Generally, Cortado is not sweetened, but, you can add sugar if you prefer. In case you do, it is best to add sugar into your cup before you start to brew coffee so you can dissolve it and make a nice crema out of it.

Can You Make It Using A Nespresso or Keurig?

Yes, you can. You need to brew 2 shots of espresso (2 oz) and then add the same amount of steamed milk. However, keep in mind that these espresso machines are pod brewers, meaning, they use coffee capsules not coffee grounds. As a result, your brew will have a somewhat milder flavor.

What About An AeroPress/French Press?

Technically, you can use both of these brewing methods. The important thing to know is that a real espresso is a highly concentrated coffee that only an espresso machine can make (the way it is supposed to be). While these methods may come in handy, you won’t get the same results. If you are truly passionate about espresso, it is worth investing in a machine.

How Do You Drink A Cortado?

Corrado is meant to be enjoyed slowly, in small sips as it is usually served in a 5 to 7 oz cup. Usually, you will additionally get a glass of water alongside it so you can cleanse your palate and savor the flavor of every sip you have.

Why Is It Served In A Glass?

This is because a coffee shop in San Franciso wanted to make a coffee drink that can fit into a Gibraltar glass. Once they did this, a lot of coffee shops followed the same practice.

A Gibraltar Cup Emptied Of A Cortado

How Is It Different From…

Here is a bit more detailed preview of how Cortado is different from other espresso-based beverages:

…A Macchiato

Much like Cortado, a macchiato is made using a single shot of espresso. However, the difference is in the amount of milk – to make a macchiato you need only a dollop of milk to top the espresso. As a result, macchiato has a stronger “punch” than Cortado.

…A Cappuccino

Cappuccino, on the other hand, is made using the same parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. It has a much larger volume than Cortadoand a lower caffeine percentage.

…A Latte

While Cortado is often mistaken for a latte, a latte is made using a single shot of espresso and almost double the amount of steamed milk. Finally, it is topped with a bit of milk froth. This means that it is much more diluted with milk and is less potent in caffeine.

…A Flat White

A flat white is more similar to a latte, due to its high milk percentage, but, it is served in a somewhat smaller 5 oz cup – much more like a Cortado. So, what is the difference? Again, the milk. It has more steamed milk than a Cortado. Its strength fits perfectly between the two options (the Cortado and latte).

… A Gibraltar

Plot twist – Gibraltar and Cortado are the same beverage. As we explained previously, Cortado is served in the Gibraltar cup – hence the name.

To Wrap It Up

There you have it! Now you know everything there is about the Cortado and how you can make it with an espresso machine or using other alternative methods. You should give it a try as it is very easy to make even if you are a beginner. Since it has the same amount of espresso and milk, you will get the caffeine punch you need without the strong espresso flavor.

Remember, Cortado is all about the texture, taste, and overall experience. So, make sure that you have enough time to enjoy it slowly, one sip at a time.



Patricia
As a former cook and a pastry chef, Patricia knows how to recognize fresh ingredients and appreciates their quality above all else. Her ideal day is spent at a local farmer’s market looking for the fruits, vegetables, and herbs she can combine and use to make meals for her loved ones. She is also a big coffee enthusiast and enjoys trying out different coffee brews while traveling.