Cortado vs Latte: The 3 Main Differences

By Brooke Davis •  Updated: 01/18/22 •  7 min read

If you enjoy coffee, you are most likely aware of the popular latte drink, but you might not know all about the cortado. Both coffee drinks have an espresso shot base, with steamed milk added to them. The milk is added after the double shot of espresso but in different quantities.

The main differences between a cortado vs. latte are the size of the drink and the coffee to steamed milk ratio. A cortado has equal parts milk and espresso. A latte has more milk than espresso shots, approximately 1/3 espresso, and 2/3 milk. There is also microfoam at the top of a latte, but not on a cortado.

There are various types of other coffee drinks available these days. Both lattes and cortados are popular coffee beverages for coffee lovers.

Cortado vs Latte
Cortado vs Latte

It can get confusing knowing which drink is which, so understanding the fundamental differences can help immensely.

Cortado vs. Latte: The Main Differences

The cortado is much smaller in size than the latte. The total amount of a cortado is about 4 ounces. The latte is quite a bit bigger, with a range of 6 to 20 ounces, depending on how big you want your coffee.

The composition of the cortado is equal parts milk and espresso shot.

Baristas steam the milk, and usually, there are no sugar or other flavors added to this Spanish drink. Traditionally, the cortado has no milk foam on the top.

The latte is made from more milk than espresso shots – one shot of espresso to two parts milk. However, this ratio has changed slightly, and sometimes more steamed milk is added. Too much dairy can often hide the coffee flavor and aroma of the espresso coffee.

Baristas also steam the milk and microfoam for lattes, but there is usually a layer of milk froth on the top.

Lattes have become quite trendy regarding latte art. These can get quite detailed and are made by manipulating the milk foam and steamed milk as it is poured into the coffee glass. The microfoam on top creates an open space for baristas to try new latte art designs.

The flavor of a cortado is quite strong but mellowed down a bit by the milk cutting the espresso. It has a lovely bold and stronger espresso taste due to the 1:1 ratio of coffee and milk. Sometimes there is slightly less milk added. The latte has a somewhat sweeter taste because of the high amount of steamed milk and is much milder than the cortado.

However, this can change based on the type of milk. Whole creamy milk will typically give the creamiest milk foam and the mildest flavor of the coffee. Sugar or flavors can be added to lattes, varying according to personal taste.

The Origin Of The Cortado And The Latte

The Origins of Cortado and Latte
The Origins of Cortado and Latte

The cortado comes from Spain. Cortado is the Spanish word meaning “to cut” because the steamed milk cuts the shot of espresso to make it smoother. Although the cortado originates in Spain, credit has been given to Cuban Americans from about the 1960s.

You may come across the name “Gibraltar coffee.” Gibraltar is another name used for the cortado. It is named after the specific type of Gibraltar glass used to serve cortado.

In French coffee shops, you may encounter the word “noisette” for a cortado, which means hazelnut. This word refers to the hazelnut-like color of the coffee drink. Another name for the cortado is the “cordito,” which is a Cuban word.

Occasionally, they add a little splash of condensed milk to sweeten the coffee and give it a rich, silky flavor.

The latte originates from Italy – the land of espresso. Latte is the Italian word for “milk.” In Italy, a latte is called a café latte, which translates into coffee and milk. It is consumed in coffee shops and with breakfast, similar to cappuccinos.

Cortado and lattes are trendy espresso-based drinks with slight geographical location differences. Cortados tend to be more prevalent in Spain and Latin America. On the other hand, lattes are enjoyed more in Italy and Europe. Both the cortado and latte variations are also liked in America and many other parts of the world.

Which coffee drink is your favorite depends on your taste buds. If you prefer a stronger coffee flavor without too much sweetness and less foam, then a traditional cortado served in a glass tumbler is the espresso drink for you. Alternatively, the classic latte is better if you enjoy some sweetness in your coffee with a more creamy, mild taste and milk foam.

The size of the coffee drink may also alter its popularity. Cortados are smaller, so it’s an ideal drink to have if you don’t want too much coffee, as it is light but still maintains a bold flavor. Lattes are bigger, so you may want to take your time finishing this delicious creamy favorite drink.

Cortado vs Latte Calories

Cortado vs Latte Calories
A cortado has fewer calories than a latte because it contains less milk

If you want to be health-conscious while having your favorite coffee, you should consider a few things when comparing a cortado vs latte.

Milk is the main factor to consider.

While one to two espresso shots are used in these two coffee drinks, there are almost no calories.

Most coffee shops will typically use whole milk, non-fat milk, or 2% milk when brewing coffee with an espresso machine.

Just looking at calories alone, a cortado will have around 16 to 36 calories compared to about 93 calories for a latte.

Based on calories, and if your goal is to lose weight, then a cortado is the best option.

However, trying other types of milk, like soy milk, oat, or almond milk, can bring the calories down but will change the traditional taste of these drinks.

In terms of holistic health and enjoying a great coffee, both cortados and lattes are equally good options.

Lattes will always have more calories because of the steamed milk volume difference. It might be more important to pay attention to added sugar or flavor content.

People Also Ask

Is a cortado just a small latte?

Is a cortado just a small latte

A cortado and small latte are two different coffee drinks. The main difference between them is that a cortado has a 1:1 ratio of espresso and milk, whereas a latte has a 1:2 ratio of espresso and milk.

Is a cortado the same as a flat white?

Cortado vs Latte vs Flat White

Although the cortado and flat white have a similar appearance, they are different because the milk in cortado is not textured. The flat white is thicker and more velvety than a cortado which is smooth in texture.

What does Starbucks call a cortado?

What does Starbucks call a Cortado

Cortado is not an official drink at Starbucks. To order it, you can ask the Starbucks barista for a double espresso shot with 2 ounces of steamed milk on top, maintaining the 1:1 milk to espresso ratio of a cortado.

Conclusion

While cortados traditionally come from Spain and lattes originated in Italy, both drinks are trendy. The primary difference between a cortado vs. latte is how much milk they each contain and the drinks’ size and composition.

Both have espresso as their base, but a cortado has a 1:1 ratio of a straight espresso shot to milk, while a latte has a lot more steamed milk than espresso. There is also usually foam added to a latte, compared to little or no milk foam for cortados. You could always add an extra shot of espresso if you prefer something more robust.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortado
  2. https://www.roastycoffee.com/cortado-vs-latte/

Brooke Davis

Hi everyone, my name is Brooke and I’m a Barista and freelance writer. I love brewing coffee and my favorite coffee drink is without doubt an Americano (espresso with added hot water). When I’m not busy making or writing about coffee you’ll find me hanging out at the beach with friends in California where I am currently residing.

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