The latte and the cortado are both popular espresso-based drinks, but they are different in terms of preparation and taste.
What is the difference between the cortado and the latte? The short answer is that a latte has more milk and a layer of foam on top, while a cortado has a small amount of milk, with little to no foam.
In this article, we will compare the differences between these two popular drinks, including their origin, preparation, taste, and serving size. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a curious beginner, this article will give you a deeper understanding of these two classic espresso-based drinks.
What is a latte?
A latte is a type of coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. It originated in Italy and the name “latte” is short for “cafe latte” which means milk coffee in Italian. To make a latte, a shot of espresso is poured into a cup and steamed milk is added with a thin layer of microfoam on top. The espresso to milk ratio can vary but, most commonly, it is in the 1:4 to 1:6 ratio
Out of all the milk based coffee drinks, the latte has the highest ratio. This makes it perfect for anyone who prefers a creamier drink with a less intense espresso flavor.
The latte is probably the most popular coffee drink out there and there are many variations of the latte available. For instance, Starbucks offers flavors like caramel, vanilla or pumpkin spice! Nowadays, the word latte is even used to describe milk based drinks that do not even have coffee like the matcha latte.
While the preparation and exact ratio of a latte can vary depending on the coffee shop, there are few characteristic that all versions of the latte share:
- High espresso to milk ratio makes the latte a less intense coffee drink. The ratio can vary but it is usually in the 1:4 to 1:6 range.
- Thin layer of milk foam on top.
- Large serving size.
What is a cortado?
A café cortado is a type of coffee drink that originated in Spain. It is similar to a café latte, but with less milk and a stronger espresso flavor. It is typically made by mixing 2 shots of espresso and equal parts steamed milk. This means that the cortado is only around 4 oz which is a pretty small serving size compared to other espresso drinks. It is usually served in a small glass.
The word cortado means “cut” making reference to the milk cutting back on the espresso’s acidity. What makes cortado different from other milk based coffee drinks is the smooth texture of the drink as the milk has little to no foam. These are the characteristics that all cortados share:
- Equal parts espresso and milk. Generally, made with 2 shots of espresso.
- Almost no foam on top.
- Serving size is usually 4 oz.
Cortado vs Latte side by side
The latte or cafe latte is a coffee drink that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. Originally, the latte was a morning drink in Italy and mainly consumed at home. Of course, nowadays there is no specific time to consume a latte. It is without a doubt one of the most popular coffee drinks that you can find at almost any coffee shop in the world.
The cortado is a traditional espresso drink that originated in Spain. It is a popular morning drink, and it’s typically served in a small glass. Although the cortado is now consumed in many parts of the world, it is nowhere near as popular as the latte.
Both the latte and the cortado are made with 2 shots of espresso and milk. The difference is in the espresso to milk ratio.
Espresso to milk ratio
The cortado uses 2 shots of espresso and equal parts milk. Thus, the cortado is only a little above 4 ounces. Pretty small compared to other coffee drinks. Due to the high espresso concentration, this drink has a very strong taste and people who do not particularly enjoy the taste of espresso may find it overwhelmingly bitter.
On the other hand, the cafe latte has a higher milk content. Traditionally, the ratio was 1 part espresso to 3 parts milk. However, in reality, we see lattes with a ratio anywhere between 1:3 to 1:6. That’s a lot of milk! This makes the latte a much creamier, mellow and even sweet drink.
If we are talking about the amount of caffeine per ounce, then the cortado is the more caffeinated drink. This is because half the content of the cortado is espresso while only a third or less of the latte is espresso.
However, if we compare serving sizes, the caffeine content in both drinks should be the same. Both the latte and cortado use a double shot of espresso.
The main difference between the milk in a latte and a cortado is the amount and texture. In a latte, there is a larger amount of steamed milk, which is typically frothed to create a creamy, velvety texture. In contrast, in a cortado, there is equal parts milk and espresso and the milk is not frothed, only steamed. This creates a more liquid and less creamy texture.
The latte has a more prominent milk flavor and a smoother, sweeter taste. The cortado has a very strong espresso flavor, it is not as sweet and it has a more liquid texture.
You will probably have a favorite drink based on your personal preference. If you really like to taste the coffee in your drink, you will probably enjoy the cortado more. However, if you prefer a sweeter and less bitter drink, a latte may be a better choice.
The serving sizes for a latte and a cortado can vary depending on the establishment, but generally, a cortado is served in a smaller glass than a latte. A cortado is typically around 3-4 oz. A latte is usually served in a larger glass, around 8-12 oz. Although, you can actually get a 24 oz latte at Starbucks!
Which one has more calories between a cortado and a latte?
The latte has more calories than the cortado just because it uses more milk and it has a larger serving size.
Most coffee shops use 2% milk by default. For a cortado, this would mean about 38 calories per serving. On the other hand, an average 10 oz latte would have 125 calories. Of course, the calorie count quickly increases when you start to add flavored syrups to the latte.
What is the difference between piccolo latte and cortado?
A piccolo latte is a smaller version of a traditional latte. It is made with a single shot of ristretto and the ratio of espresso to milk is usually 1:3. The taste is creamy, sweet and the foam is light.
The serving size of both the piccolo latte and the cortado is around 4 oz. The difference is that the piccolo latte has more milk than the cortado making it creamier and sweeter. Not to mention, the latte still has a layer of microfoam while the cortado has no foam.
Is a cortado the same as a flat white? What about a macchiato?
A cortado and a flat white are similar espresso-based drinks, but they have some distinct differences in terms of preparation and taste. A cortado is made with a shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk, typically in a 1:1 ratio. It’s served in a small glass, typically around 4 ounces, and it has no foam on top. The taste is strong and robust, with a balance of coffee and milk.
A flat white, on the other hand, is made with a shot of espresso and a larger amount of steamed milk, typically in a 1:2 ratio. It’s served in a small cup, typically around 6 ounces, and it has a thin layer of microfoam on top. The taste is creamy, with a stronger coffee flavor than a latte and less sweetness.
A Macchiato is different from both of them, it’s an espresso-based drink made with a shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk, typically 1-2 ounces. The drink is served in a small glass, and the word “macchiato” means “marked” in Italian, referring to the small “mark” of milk that is added to the espresso. The taste is stronger and more robust than a latte or a cappuccino, and it has less sweetness and creaminess.
In summary, a cortado and a flat white are similar, but a cortado is made with less milk, no foam, and has a stronger coffee flavor. A Macchiato is different from both, with less milk and foam and a stronger coffee flavor.
If you want to learn more about the different types of coffee drink, check out our article where we talk about 30 different types of coffee drinks.
Why is a cortado served in a glass?
A cortado is traditionally served in a small glass for a few reasons. First, it allows the drinker to appreciate the color and clarity of the drink. The espresso and steamed milk are poured together in the glass, and the lack of foam on top allows the drinker to see the different layers of the drink. The glass also allows the drinker to see the crema, which is the reddish-brown foam that forms on top of a freshly brewed espresso shot.
Second, the glass is used to retain the heat of the drink, cortado is served hot, and a glass allows the drinker to enjoy the warmth of the drink.
Lastly, the glass is a traditional way to serve the drink, cortado is a traditional Spanish drink, and keeping the tradition of serving it in a glass is a way to keep its essence.
Does Starbucks have cortados on the menu?
Starbucks does not have cortado on its official menu,at least not in the US menu. There is actually a cortado in the UK menu although it is not a traditional cortado. The Starbucks cortado is made with two ristretto and milk and served in a 6oz cup. This means that this cortado is more milky than the traditional one. I mean, it would probably still taste delicious, but it might not be what you were expecting. I guess I will give it a try whenever I go to the UK.
If you are in the US, it is still possible to order a cortado at Starbucks even though it is not part of the official menu. You will need to order a double shot of espresso with two ounces of steamed milk and no foam.
A cortado and a latte are both popular espresso-based drinks that are enjoyed by coffee enthusiasts all over the world. While both drinks are made with espresso and steamed milk, they have distinct differences in terms of preparation, taste, and serving size. A cortado is made with a 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk, it’s served in a small glass, typically around 4 ounces and it has no foam on top. Its taste is strong and robust, with a balance of coffee and milk. A latte, on the other hand, is made with a 1:3 ratio of espresso to steamed milk, it’s served in a larger cup and it has a thick layer of foam on top. Its taste is creamier, with a stronger milk flavor than a cortado and more sweetness. It’s worth trying both drinks to appreciate the different flavors and experience they offer.