What is Cartado? Difference: Cortado vs Flat White vs Macchiato vs Cappuccino

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You may hear the name Cortado while someone ordered it in your coffee shop but never tried because you were unsure what actually Cartado is?-no wondering. 

You are not alone there.

Even though many of us do not know about this coffee as the coffee formula came from Spain.

Without further ado, let’s dig deeper into main topics

What Is a Cortado?

Cortado is a coffee drink that consists of espresso and warm milk where the milk is steamed but not frothy or textured for reducing acidity and intensity of the coffee. And, the espresso and milk ratio is mostly 1:1 and it is different from Italian based espresso drinks.

Little to no foam is the specialty that makes Cortado separate from other popular espresso drinks.

Undoubtedly, you will love the silky, smooth texture of the warm milk mixing with the espresso without the two separating if you want espresso-based drinks with a strong coffee taste and also want to reduce the chance of acidity in your stomach.

Through this coffee originating from Spain, this drink is becoming popular gradually in cafes all over the world. 

So, for drinking Cortado, you do not need to find any expensive coffee shop far away, you can order a cup of Cortado in even nearby local coffee shops.  

What is the mystery behind its naming 

Think what does it mean by “Cortado”? In Spanish, the word “cortar” means “to cut” and Cortado is the past participle form of the Spanish verb cortar. And, this coffee is very popular in Spain.

When making cortado coffee, the steamed milk is cut in a small amount for the purpose of reducing acidity and intensity of the coffee. So, when someone orders Cortado refers to making coffee by cutting acidity and intensity.

So, the coffee was named Cortado based on regionality. 

Cartado simple recipe

You can make cortado drink at home easily because of its simplicity made by combining an equal amount of espresso and steamed milk, more specifically uses one shot of espresso and an equal amount of milk.

In different coffee shops, you may find a slight variation of espresso and milk 1:1 ratio and some cafes serve you a doppio with an equal amount of milk to make the drink a bit larger.

The way Cortados are served is different from how the typical coffee shop serves beverages because Cortados are traditionally served in small cups made of glass or metal rather than a ceramic cup.

This drink works perfectly to make you relax from all the distractions you have so it is meant to be sipped slowly and enjoyed as part of a relaxing any time. 

How do you drink cortado                                  

Like another espresso, Cortado is served in a small glass with very little, if any, forth. In some cafes, you may get slightly more milk than espresso or get a doppio with an equal amount of milk to make the drink a bit larger.

There is no other better way to experience drinking special coffee is when with a group of friends.

As you are more comfortable with your favorite Italian coffees, you may think you will miss the milk foam on it. But, in reality, the opposite will happen which means lack of foam in the cortado allows the espresso and milk to perfectly combine and make a balance of flavor in the cup. Perhaps, this Spanish awesome creation will make you forget all about your cappuccinos and lattes when you realize the Cortado power. 

How to order Cortado in Spain

If you like to order Cortado in a Spanish coffee shop, you could ask for a cortado con poca leche which means “a coffee with a little milk”. Alternatively, you can also order as cafe manchado (sometimes refers to Cortado) which means a cortado that has been stained with milk.

Be mindful while ordering because if you mistakenly order leche manchada instead of cafe manchado you will end up with a completely different beverage.

How the Cortado Compares with another espresso

Some serious coffee lovers who frequently visit cafes may precisely identify the difference between espresso and macchiato or latte and cappuccino quite easily but for average coffee drinker can hardly separate Cartago.  

If we consider the espresso spectrum, Cortado will fall between a short macchiato and cappuccino.

Cortado Vs Flat White

Both flat whites and cortados are the two different versions of espresso drinks, and it’s easy to mix up the two because they are similar to look and taste. Although the difference is very subtle, it’s all about the consistency of the milk that is used.

Flat White is popular in Australia and New Zealand and now getting its popularity all over the world because people want to drink espresso without the milk dominating the cup and flavor. Furthermore, it is a small latte made with Italian style textured milk and foamed milk ensures every sip is smooth.

Though Cortado uses the same amount of espresso Flat White uses, the milk in a cordate is not texture. So, it is smooth and less thick. As Cortado is smaller than a Flat White, it’ll provide a stronger taste.

Cortado Vs Macchiato

Although there are many similarities between Cortado and Macchiato they have differences as well. 

The Macchiato is an Italian classic espresso with a small amount of foamed milk on top and served in an espresso glass. The popularity is increasing among drinkers who want to enjoy the richness and flavor of espresso but at the same time want to reduce sweetness and fattiness. It has more foam.

In Cordato, it uses little to no foam and serves in a 150–200 ml (5–7 fl oz) glass and the milk should only be steamed. People like it who want a strong taste but want to reduce the acidity and intensity of the espresso.

Milks in Macchiato vs Cortado Vs Cappuccino 

Only serious coffee drinkers or barista can precisely define the difference among Macchiato, Cortado or Cappuccino in the blink of an eye because all the drinks are very similar and close in charities as all they contains an equal amount of espresso only variation is the amount of milk added to it. 

For an equal amount of drinks, milk amounts vary like:

  • Short machanto contains less amount of milk than Cortado milk amount (Macchiato > Cortado)
  • Cappuccino contains a higher amount of milk than Cortado milk amount (Cappuccino > Cortado)

Another similar drink called Gibraltar

You might hear another similar type of drink called Gibraltar invented by the people at Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. As time passed, its popularity increased a lot in San Francisco and it has been serving insiders for years. 

The specialty of the drink is how it serves in a Gibraltar four and a half ounce glass tumbler filled with two shots of espresso and steamed milk. This is why it was named Gibraltar. So, you can not call these types of drinks Gibraltar unless it served in the iconic mug.

Last but not least

Crazy coffee lovers are unstoppable and never left behind on exploring new tastes and flavors of different coffees all over the world. So, I can say certainly go for the cortado because it is the perfect balanced drink to sip and enjoy a slow morning, and having the right amount of caffeine helps wake you up comfortably.

Who knows, you could fall in love with Cortado and it would become your regular drink. 



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