Cortado v Macchiato - Two European Coffees Compared!

Cortado v Macchiato – Two European Coffees Compared!

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 21:04

When people compare and look for the difference between a Cortado Vs Macchiato they often confuse the drinks because at Starbuck and other coffee chains they look very similar.

This article gets down and details both drinks, and by the time you are finished you will know with great clarity their differences, and which is most suited to you.

Cortado V Macchiato

Before we get down and start detailing these two coffee drinks, let’s talk about both of them individually and what they are – the differences should be clear.

Let’s start with a cortado.

What Is A Cortado?

A cortado is the classic Spanish coffee beverage with its origins in the Basque Country. It is available in every single Spanish coffee house, restaurant and everywhere that sells coffee!

It’s a strong coffee with a very ample caffeine content due to the double shot of espresso which is toned down with the equal amount of texturized milk.

As a side note, texturized milk is steamed milk with no froth.

There are variations of a cortado with the cortadito, the baby brother of a cortado which is made with a single espresso shot and an equal amount of texturized warm milk.

In Cuba and other parts of Central and South America a cortado is made with condensed milk to overcome the rather strong coffee and the bitter notes. When condensed milk is not used, sugar is added not just to sweeten the drink but to tone down the bitterness of the coffee.

The ratio of coffee to milk is always 1:1 and is always a double espresso. This is something that I wish to emphasize as some coffee blogs state that a cortado is an espresso drink with one shot of espresso coffee.

I’ve lived and worked in Spain for 12 years and in a few coffee shops, restaurants and hotels. I’ve made tens of thousands of cortados for Spanish people; it is always two shots of espresso for a cortado and a single shot of espresso for a cortadito. Both have an equal amount of steamed milk.

It is undoubtedly the national coffee drink and a large part of Spanish coffee culture.

What Is A Cortado
A Cortado

Read: Cappuccino Vs Cortado

What Is A Macchiato?

A macchiato, often called an espresso macchiato, is an Italian coffee beverage and like a cortado is an espresso-based drink and has the highest possible ratio of espresso to milk than all other coffee drinks have.

It’s a shot of espresso with a dash of milk, just a splash is made. Italian baristas make it with just a teaspoon of steamed milk.

It’s a very strong tasting coffee drink with the taste of the espresso dominating the drinks.

The name of the drink translates to stain, hence why only a stain of milk is used. Milk after meals and a shot of espresso after midday is frowned upon in traditional Italian culture, a cheeky new drink was created that tones down the strong taste of a potent black coffee with a small permissible and almost insignificant amount of milk.

What Is The Difference Between A Cortado And Macchiato?

The stand-out difference between a cortado and a macchiato is the amount of steamed milk used. A macchiato is made with a teaspoon of milk and often a dollop of foamed milk on top of a shot of espresso.

A cortado is a much larger drink with two shots of espresso and an equal amount of texturized milk.

There is a difference in milk used as a cortado is made using texturized milk and a macchiato is made using steamed milk, often a dollop of foamed milk is added too. It depends on the coffee shop serving the drink.

A Macchiato

Read: Cortado Vs Cappuccino

When To Opt For A Cortado

This particular brew is one with a potent caffeine kick because of the double espresso base and if you are in need of good strong tasty coffee in the morning or an afternoon pick me up a cortado will be your better choice due to the ample 150 mg of caffeine.

If you enjoy a slightly sweeter and creamy coffee, a cortado is your choice. If you are not a fan of bitterness in your coffee, you can either add sugar or make it with condensed milk.

It is also a great choice if you love to sip your coffee drinks and enjoy a sweet vibe and smoother texture.

When To Choose A Macchiato

The traditional macchiato drinker is someone that loves the strong, bold and bitter flavor of well-made espresso. The tiny teaspoon dash of milk cools down the acidity and takes the edge off the brew.

The dash of milk helps to create a smoother taste.

Cortado V Macchiato Caffeine Content

The comparison between both drinks is simple to deduce which has more caffeine as one drink is created with a single shot of espresso while the other is made with a double shot of espresso.

  • Cortado: 150 mg of caffeine.
  • Macchiato: 75 mg of caffeine.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cortado V Macchiato

Why Is Cortado So Small?

A cortado is so small because it is supposed to be small. The word cortado, is derived from the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar, which means to cut. Used within the context of coffee, it means to cut short, to make a smaller coffee. The word corto, meaning short, is also from the same verb cortar.

Which Is Stronger Macchiato Or Cortado?

A macchiato has the stronger coffee flavor due to having only a dash, literally only a splash of milk is used meaning it is a very dominant and prominent espresso flavor.

Where caffeine is concerned, a cortado has much more caffeine than a macchiato as it is made with a double shot of espresso compared to a single shot of espresso of a macchiato.

Is Macchiato Stronger Than Flat White?

A flat white due to being brewed with a double ristretto has a higher caffeine content than a macchiato. It’s 130 mg Vs 75 mg.

A macchiato due to the very high ratio of espresso to milk has the strongest coffee taste.

Read: Cortado Vs Latte

What Is A Cortado Called At Starbucks?

A cortado is not on the menu at Starbucks, which is very unfortunate. To get one, order a doppio, which is a double espresso, and ask the barista to add an equal amount of steamed milk.

You will likely be billed for an espresso macchiato or a flat white as these drinks are the most similar. to a cortado.

Is Macchiato The Strongest?

Between a macchiato and a flat white, a macchiato has the most dominant espresso flavor. It is not the strongest in terms of caffeine content.

What Type Of Coffee Is Typically Used In A Cortado Or A Macchiato?

Both a cortado and macchiato use espresso as their coffee base, with a cortado using a double espresso shot and a macchiato a single espresso shot.

Final Thoughts – Cortado V Macchiato

If you have read this far, you know which of these two drinks, Cortado Vs Macchiato is best suited for you and why these two drinks are different and what makes them so different.

Join our cool coffee community and join in by telling us which of these two drinks you prefer. Join us on Facebook/Meta.

Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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