Knowing how to tell the difference between a Cortado Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino will help you get the exact drink that you are seeking to meet your coffee taste and requirements.
These three coffee drinks may look similar, but that is where the similarities end.
The quick answer for those seeking it: They are all made with different coffee to milk ratios and two of the drinks use a different kind of steamed milk and only one has large fluffy layer of milk foam.
Keep reading for the details.
Cortado Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino A Summing Up Their Differences
The biggest and most obvious difference between these three espresso drinks is the milk ratio, more commonly expressed as the coffee to milk ratio and the way in which the warm milk is made.
If you are a fan of strong coffee with a more prominent coffee flavor, a cappuccino or a cortado is the better choice for you.
If you enjoy a weaker tasting and lighter coffee with a rich creamy texture, a caffe latte is a much better choice for you.
The difference in flavor is caused by the milk ratio, which are:
- Cortado coffee: 1:1 espresso to milk ratio.
- Cappuccino: 1:1:1 ratio of steamed milk, espresso and milk froth.
- Latte: 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk.
Knowing the ratios it is easy to understand why there is a stronger coffee flavor in both a cortado coffee and a cappuccino.
What Is A Cortado?
Let’s start off with detailing a cortado coffee since it is probably the drink that you are the least familiar with out of the three coffee drinks.
A cortado is a classic Spanish coffee drink that is sold in every coffee shop in Spain, Portugal, the British enclave of Gibraltar and all over Latin America.
The short coffee drink is made with a double shot of espresso and an equal amount of textured milk. Textured milk is simply steamed milk that has not been frothed. The small but rather strong coffee is capped with a thin layer of milk foam and with latte art becoming increasingly more common.
The drink is served in a 4.5 to 5 oz (135 ml to 150 ml) Gibraltar glass.
This coffee beverage is also known as Gibraltar in other parts of the world.
Due to the small size, it is not available at Starbucks. You can hack the menu by asking for a doppio (a double espresso) and an equal amount of textured milk. You will likely be billed for an espresso macchiato.
Or you could ask for a double cappuccino with no froth, which is pretty much what a cortado is with the only difference being the type of steamed milk used; textured milk Vs steamed milk.
A traditional cortado coffee is made with whole milk and with no added flavored syrups or anything else.
It is one of the coffee drinks that has the least variations. A cortado can be made with condensed milk and evaporated milk, or with sugar in Cuba. The practice of using condensed milk and sugar is to mask the strong bitter taste of the local coffee.
In Spain, a leche manchada, milk with a tiny stain of coffee, can be considered as a variation of a cortado. It is very common for a modern coffee shop in Spain to offer a cortado made with oat milk, almond milk, soy milk and other types of alternative milk.
A language quirk to be aware of is the use of the “ito” suffix. A cortadito is not always a smaller version of a cortado. In certain parts of Spain, a cortadito is a smaller cortado made with a single shot of espresso and an equal amount of textured milk. In Cuba, a cortadito is the same as a cortado; there is no difference.
Read: Cortado Vs Espresso
How To Make A Cortado
A cortado is easy to make and is best made at home with a home espresso machine to get the perfect espresso shot.
You replicate the traditional way of making a strong coffee base by using a moka pot coffee. I advise adjusting the coffee to water ratio when using your moka pot and using a 1:8 coffee to water ratio instead of a 1:10 to get a stronger shot.
Pro Tip: Pre heat your water to 70C (158F) and add it to your water chamber. This will create a better tasting moka pot coffee.
Create the textured milk by using the steam wand of your espresso machine and heat the milk without frothing it.
If you don’t have a steam wand, heat your milk on the stove at low to medium heat until you start to see steam rising.
Add your milk to your coffee for a great homemade cortado.
What Does A Cortado Taste Like
A cortado is a strong espresso-based coffee drink with a prominent coffee flavor with the bitterness of the espresso toned down due to the milk content.
The milk created a light creaminess too, but only lightly. Expect a great tasting cup of coffee with a balance of coffee and milk.
What Is A Latte?
A latte is probably the most popular and best-selling coffee drink worldwide. In America the demographic that enjoys a latte the most are Asian Americans aged 25-39 years old.
It’s a single shot of espresso with twice as much milk with a neat topping of frothed milk and latte art.
A latte is a coffee drink that can be varied in many ways to suit your own personal coffee taste and likes.
You can flavor it with various flavors of coffee beans or coffee syrups and flavored milk or creamer too.
You can also order your latte to be made with alternative milks like oat milk, coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk and more.
Popular flavored lattes include:
- Salted Caramel.
- Pumpkin Spice.
There is a taste and flavor for everyone!
Read: Cortado Vs Latte
How To Make A Latte
Making a latte is easy and can be perfected with an espresso machine.
With a home espresso machine weigh 20 grams of coffee beans and grind them to a fine powder like grind with a ceramic conical coffee grinder. The finest setting on your grinder is likely to be the best setting.
Pull your shot. The brew time should be 25 seconds with a 5-second variation. If it is too slow, you may need to adjust your grind size and make it slightly larger. If your brew time is too quick, adjust your grind size and make it slightly smaller to allow for greater contact between the hot water and coffee grinds.
If you are using a moka pot, instead of using a 1:10 coffee to water ratio, use a more focused 1:8 for a stronger coffee base for your homemade latte.
Steaming your milk with the steam wand on your home coffee machine and froth the milk and pour twice as much milk as espresso.
What Does A Latte Taste Like?
A latte has more steamed milk than espresso and thus is a great coffee drink to enjoy if and when you want a beverage with a very light coffee taste.
It’s made with a single espresso shot and twice as much steamed milk, which gives it an ample caffeine kick behind the light rich, creamy and velvet texture.
What Is A Cappuccino?
A cappuccino is a milk-based espresso beverage with equal parts of espresso, milk and foamed milk froth.
A whole third of a cappuccino is made of foamed milk which provides the light airy bubbly mouthfeel when enjoying and sipping the strong coffee base.
A cappuccino, like a latte, has many possibilities and variations. You can let your coffee creations go wild here with flavored coffee beans, flavored syrups and spices added to the drink.
You can also make a cappuccino with all kinds of dairy milk from whole fat to half fat, to non-fat milk and even heavy cream and whipped cream. It’s also very common for coffee lovers to use alternative milks.
I love a cinnamon cappuccino with oat milk, and as a treat, a heavy cream cappuccino with chocolate shavings on top.
Just as you can enjoy an iced latte, you can enjoy an iced cappuccino too.
A very popular variation is a cappuccino with chocolate, which is known as a mochaccino.
How To Make A Cappuccino
Making a cappuccino is easy. It’s all about getting the espresso shot and steamed milk in the correct ratios and topping with an equal amount of milk foam.
Simply brew an espresso using a home espresso machine or a moka pot and then steam your milk using a steam wand or milk frother. Pour an equal amount of milk onto your espresso shot and scoop your milk foam on top.
Optional is to top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or chocolate.
What Does A Cappuccino Taste Like?
A cappuccino has a strong coffee taste with a light airy mouthfeel from the layer of microfoam. It is a strong coffee with the bitterness of the espresso muted by the sweetness of the milk.
Cortado Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino Caffeine Content
The caffeine content of these three coffee beverages is as follows:
- A Cortado Coffee: 150 milligrams of caffeine.
- A Caffe Latte: 75 milligrams of caffeine.
- A Cappuccino: 75 milligrams of caffeine.
Cortado vs Latte Vs Cappuccino Calories
The amount of calories in each of these drinks when served traditionally and without any additional flavorings, syrups or toppings and with whole fat milk is as follows:
- A Cortado: 15 calories.
- A Latte: 100 calories.
- A Cappuccino: 70 Calories.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cortado Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino
Is A Cortado The Same As A Latte?
No, both a cortado and a latte are distinctly different drinks. A cortado coffee is made with a double shot of espresso and an equal amount of steamed textured milk.
A latte is made with a single espresso shot and has a coffee to milk ratio of 1:2 and is made with steamed milk and a layer of milk foam.
Is Latte Stronger Than Cappuccino?
No, a cappuccino has a more focused coffee to milk ratio of 1:1 while a latte has a ratio of 1:2 which means there is a stronger coffee taste from a cappuccino than a latte. The amount of caffeine is the same in both drinks as they both have a single shot of espresso as their base.
Is A Cortado Stronger Than A Latte?
Yes, a cortado is made with coffee to milk ratio of 1:1 while a latte has a ratio of 1:2 and thus a cortado has the more dominating coffee flavor. A cortado, due to being made with a double shot of espresso compared to the single shot of espresso of a latte.
Do You Sip Cortado?
Yes, a cortado is a coffee drink that is designed to be sipped and savored. In all my years, 12+ and counting in Spain, I have yet to see a person gulp down a cortado or to drink it quickly.
Is A Cortado A Single Or Double Shot Of Espresso?
A cortado is made with a double espresso with an equal amount of hot milk. No milk foam is added on top of a cortado.
Is A Cortado The Same As A Flat White?
A cortado and a flat white are very similar coffee drinks. The main difference is a flat white is made using slightly more milk and the coffee base is a double shot of espresso and not a double espresso.
The type of hot milk is also different; a cortado is made with textured milk while a cortado is made with steamed milk.
Final Thoughts – Cortado Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino
Having the knowledge of how a different a Cortado Vs Latte Vs Cappuccino means you will know which of these coffee beverages will suit your coffee needs and when.
Fine example is when I want a cappuccino but really don’t want the airy mouthfeel, a cortado it is. And when I want rich creamy coffee, it’s hello to well-made latte!
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