Cortado Vs. Latte - What's the Difference?

Coffee is a drink that is enjoyed daily by millions of people around the world, and though most coffee drinks share an ingredient, espresso, that doesn't mean all coffees are the same. Two beverages made at home or coffee shops are the Cortado and the Latte. These drinks appeal to two different coffee drinkers, though, so what is the difference?

Cortados are generally made by mixing milk and espresso in an equal one-to-one ratio. Some people also add foam to Cortados, but this isn't always the case. On the other hand, Lattes are made with one part espresso and three parts milk. Lattes also usually come with a layer of microfoam on top.

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Though both the Cortado and Latte are made using the same ingredients, there are many differences between these two drinks. Depending on which coffee store you buy your coffee at, you might notice differences between drinks sharing the same name. Different brands have different methods for making these drinks while sticking to general guidelines.

What Is A Cortado?

It is suspected that the Cortado was first discovered in Spain, where its name was derived from the Spanish word "Cortar," meaning "cut." Cortados are described as being an espresso that has been "cut" with an equal amount of milk or a drink that consists of two halves, the one half of the beverage being espresso and the other being milk.

Coffee purists prefer this drink because the espresso's taste is still prominent. Many coffee stores and baristas make this drink by using only a single shot of espresso, but some offer you the choice of a single or a double shot.

Cortados are also usually made with warm milk with no foam, but this drink has variations as some people add a thin layer of microfoam on top. Since a cortado is an equal amount of milk to espresso, it is, of course, quite a small drink, but one that packs a punch if that is what you prefer.

What Is A Latte?

With almost every coffee shop worldwide selling lattes or their variation of the traditional Latte, it's understandable why the popularity of this drink has grown. Due to the high milk content of this drink, it is generally a bit sweeter than other espresso-based drinks and is, therefore, the go-to morning coffee for many people.

The Latte is a mixture of milk and espresso with a layer of foam or microfoam traditionally served at a ratio of one part espresso to three parts milk. However, since the Latte's rise in popularity, there have been shops that make lattes in a much different way, with as much as four parts milk if you prefer an even bigger and milkier coffee.

Lattes also have other variants at different stores that include sweeteners or flavorings to add to the taste of the milk beverage.

What Are The Differences Between Cortado And Latte

As mentioned above, a couple of factors make up the differences between a latte and a cortado. These factors include taste, size, espresso to milk ratio, and even the foam content. Below is a more in-depth list of the differences between a latte and a cortado.

The Ratio Of Milk In The Coffee Drink

The amount of milk used in Cortados and Lattes is the most significant difference between the two.

Cortados, as mentioned earlier, are made with the same amount of milk as espresso. This ratio means that the average Cortado would consist of a mixture of one or two ounces of milk and one or two ounces of espresso, depending on whether you are making a traditional or modern cortado.

On the other hand, Lattes have a lesser ratio, and the ratio of one part espresso to three parts milk is seen as a guideline when making a modern Latte. The amount of milk used in a Latte can differ significantly depending on where you buy your drink, with some shops selling larger variations on one part espresso to four parts of milk.

The Ratio Of Espresso In the Coffee Drink

Another one of the most significant differences between the Cortado and the Latte is the amount of espresso used to make this drink.

Traditionally a Cortado is made using only a single shot of espresso. However, some coffee shops allow you to choose between a single or a double shot espresso, with the double shot espresso generally giving you two ounces of espresso.

Lattes are much more variable, with some shops having a single shot Latte and others having a double shot Latte as their base menu item. Most coffee shops do, however, allow you to choose between getting a single or double-shot Latte. The amount of espresso in your Latte may also depend on other factors, such as added flavorings.

The Size Of The Coffee Beverage

Since these two drinks have different amounts of espresso and milk, it is natural that these beverages would have a size difference.

Cortados tend to be smaller drinks when compared to Lattes and are usually served in four-ounce cups for both single and double Cortado. If you buy a double cortado, your mug should be full to the brim compared to a single shot cortado that should be about half full. These specifications do also change for different shops.

Though the traditional Latte comes with a one to three ratio espresso to foamed milk, some shops sell Latte sizes anywhere between eight ounces and upwards of twenty ounces. Since the formula for making a latte is generally seen as a guideline, it is easy to see why Lattes can come in such big sizes.

The Amount Of Foam In The Coffee Drink

Another differentiating factor between lattes and Cortados is the foam used to make these drinks.

Traditionally, Cortados are made without foam or microfoam, making it a simple espresso and steamed milk mixture. However, there are a lot of coffee shops that make Cortados like flat whites meaning that the milk is steamed, and air is added to produce a fine layer of microfoam that crowns the Cortado.

Foam is much more critical when making a Latte. Traditionally a Latte is made with espresso and some foamy milk. This means that the milk is heated up to optimal temperature while quite a lot of air is introduced to create foam.

Lattes are made with different variations depending on the coffee shop you choose to buy the drink at and can vary depending on personal preference. Some coffee shops sell Lattes the traditional way with a lot of foam on top, and others make Lattes with less foam and more microfoam.

One of the easiest and most simple ways to tell if your beverage is made with foam compared to microfoam is by looking if it has latte art on top. Latte art is made by pouring milk with microfoam into espresso at a specific angle to create white shapes on top of the drink.

The Taste Of The Coffee Drink

Since the amount of foam and milk in these two beverages differ quite a bit, it is easy to understand why the taste will also be different.

If you are looking for a more potent beverage, a Cortado will probably be the drink you choose. With the beverage being made with only a small amount of milk, the prominent flavor you will be experiencing when you drink a cortado will be that of the espresso itself.

Because milk is used to cut the espresso used in a Cortado, this is a drink preferred by many coffee enthusiasts who like espresso's taste with a little bit more creaminess. This drink is not recommended at all for people who don't like espresso but is suitable for an espresso lover looking for a change.

Because Lattes can be significantly customized, the taste of a Latte can differ greatly. If you are looking to buy a standard or traditional Latte, you can expect a milky or creamy flavor with a bit of coffee. The amount of milk used in a conventional Latte makes it great for having a coffee without an overwhelming coffee taste.

If you are looking to buy an upsized Latte, it is vital to know that many coffee shops increase the amount of milk without increasing the amount of coffee. For most shops, the bigger your beverage is, the milkier it will taste.

There is also the added variable of flavorings added to your Latte. Adding flavored syrups to your Latte has become quite popular, and doing so can significantly change the flavor of your Latte. If you wish to have coffee without the taste of coffee, this is probably the type of drink you should be ordering.

How To Make A Cortado Vs. A Latte

Seeing as you might want to try these two different drinks to find out which you prefer, making them at home might be an excellent place to start. If you have some basic tools like a Moka pot or Espresso machine, you can brew these delicious coffee drinks in the comfort of your own home if you wish. Below are instructions on how to make these drinks at home.

Cortado – Making a cortado at home is a straightforward process if you have the right tools. You will need an espresso machine or Moka pot, a stainless steel milk pitcher, or a small pot, and lastly, you will need a cup to serve your drink in.

To start making a cortado, you will need to grind your coffee beans and place the ground coffee in your portafilter or your Moka pot filter. Next, secure your portafilter in place or insert your Moka pot filter in the area between the top and bottom halves.

Once your filter of choice is securely in place, you can start extracting your preferred espresso, or in the case of a Moka pot, secure the top to the bottom and place your Moka pot on your burner. While your espresso is busy brewing, you can start heating up your milk using a frothing wand or a small pot on the stove. You can also wait until your coffee is made if you wish.

Make sure not to add too much air into your milk, if any, to ensure the closest recreation of what you would be receiving in a coffee shop. After your coffee has been poured into a cup, proceed to add the same amount of milk into the cup as well. After your milk has been added, the Cortado is complete.

Latte – If you wish to make a latte at home, the steps to creating this fantastic coffee start similar to that of the Cortado. Prepare your coffee beans, grind your beans, and add them into your filter of choice.

When your beans are in the filter, you can secure the filter in place and start brewing your coffee. If you have a persoanl espresso machine, you can prepare your milk by adding a bit of air and letting your milk heat up with the frothing wand. The amount of foam you make can change due to your personal preferences.

If you do not have an espresso machine with a frothing wand, it would be easiest to use a pot to warm up your milk and introduce air to your milk by using a French press. To do this, pour your milk into a French press and repeatedly push and pull the filter until enough foam has formed for your liking.

Once you have prepared both your coffee and your milk, add your coffee to a cup that is at least eight ounces in volume and proceed to fill up the cup with your foamy milk. You can also do this in a bigger cup, depending on your preference.

If you wish to make latte art on your coffee, you will need an espresso machine with a frothing wand and should not add too much air to your milk to ensure a silky texture.


Whether you are looking for a stronger or milkier coffee, there will always be a coffee to suit your tastes. The Cortado is perfect for more experienced coffee drinkers or someone who prefers a bit more of a kick. However, if you are looking for a coffee that you can customize to your exact specifications or want a sweeter coffee, the Latte is also there to fill that need.

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