Flat White Vs Cortado - Two Great Coffees Compared! Read This!

Flat White Vs Cortado – Two Great Coffees Compared! Read This!

If you are looking for an article that details Flat White Vs Cortado fairly and accurately then this is the article for you.

Both of these coffee drinks are strong, contain a reasonable amount of milk and are well-balanced, rich and just the right amount of creaminess.

Keep reading to find out about both drinks and use that information to find out which is best suited for your own personal coffee preference.

Flat White Vs Cortado – A Comparison

While a cortado coffee and a flat white may look very similar, they are in fact two very different coffee drinks.

A cortado, for example, is made with a double espresso and an equal amount of textured milk with a small amount of milk foam. A flat white is made with a double ristretto and steamed milk in a coffee to milk ratio of 1:2. A flat white coffee has a very thin cap of foam.

  • Cortado coffee: Double espresso with an equal amount of textured milk and a small layer of milk foam
  • Flat white coffee: A double ristretto with twice as much steamed milk as there is coffee. A small layer of milk foam is added on top.

Both drinks are great for a little latte art. A flat white uses a coffee to milk ratio that is the same as a latte but has a more prominent coffee flavor due to using a different and stronger type of espresso, a ristretto.

A Ristretto is a smaller and stronger espresso with a 1:1 coffee to water ratio and ⅔ Oz (20 ml). The result of using a ristretto is a stronger coffee taste than a cafe latte but not quite matching that of a cortado yet still maintaining a degree of the creaminess of a latte.

A cortado is a strong coffee both in taste and caffeine, yet balanced with the bitterness and acidity of the coffee toned down. With 150 mg of caffeine it is slightly stronger than a cortado.

Flat White Vs Cortado
A Flat White

Read: Cortado Vs Espresso

What Is A Flat White

A flat white coffee drinks has its origins in New Zealand and Australia. It’s brewed with a double ristretto and whole fat steamed milk with a coffee to milk ratio of 1:2. Using a double ristretto instead of a double espresso gives the drink a robust coffee flavor.

The use of steamed milk and fine cap of milk froth make it perfect for latte art. The drink is very popular down under and in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, where you will find many Australian expats and holidaymakers.

What Does A Flat White Taste Like?

A flat white is delicious and balanced with a strong coffee flavor that is complemented with the creaminess of whole fat milk. It’s rich, cream and with velvet-like texture. It’s pretty caffeinated too with a 130 mg caffeine punch.

What Type Of Milk Is Best For A Flat White?

Traditionally, a flat white coffee is made with whole fat milk. The extra fat helps to give the drink a slightly thicker and richer texture and mouthfeel and adds to the creaminess.


any milk can be used be it low fat, no fat or whole fat. Alternative milks like oat milk, almond milk and soy milk add a different taste and a lighter texture. Coconut milk is a great choice and one of my favorite non-dairy milks.

Alternative milks are notoriously more difficult to work with for coffee drinks due to the curdling problem. Pro baristas and coffee shops use the Barista brand which is adapted for steaming and frothing. I highly recommend using this brand if you love alternative milks in your coffee.

Flat White Coffee
Flat White Coffee

Read: Cortado Vs Cortadito

How To Make A Flat White At Home

Making a flat white is easy and using a home espresso machine is a must; it’s much better. Getting a strong ristretto like shot from a moka pot is just not possible.

Simply weigh 40 grams of fresh dark roasted coffee beans. Grind them to a very fine powder like grind size and brew a 40 ml (1.33 Oz) ristretto.

Steam your whole fat milk and add 2.67 ounces (80 ml) of milk and add it to your double shot of ristretto, add a small amount of microfoam. Viola, you have a perfect flat white.

Variations Of A Flat White

It is very uncommon for a flat white to be flavored with syrups of flavored milk or coffee beans.

Some popular variations are oat milk flat white, a flat white with almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk. The only great variation is in the use of different types of milk.

 What Is A Cortado?

A cortado is a Spanish coffee drink that originates in the Basque Country and can be seen in coffee shops all over Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

It’s a small coffee drink served in a 4.5 to 5 oz (135 to 150 ml) Gibraltar glass.

The name “Cortado” is derived from the past participle of the verb “cortar” meaning to cut and also from corto, meaning short, which is also derived from the cortar verb. This is exactly what you get: a short coffee with the bitterness and acidity cut out of it.

It’s a strong tasting and balanced coffee made with a double espresso and an equal amount of textured milk. It’s a pretty caffeinated drink with 150 mg of caffeine.

A Cortado And Chocolate

Read: Cortado Vs Latte

What Does A Cortado Taste Like?

A cortado is tasty, delicious and delightful. It’s strong yet very smooth and silky with a perfect balance of espresso and milk.

It’s a very enjoyable coffee and a perfect coffee for those that enjoy milk in their coffee but find a latte too milky or with too weak of a coffee taste.

All the bitter tastes and acidity are toned down with the presence of the milk.

It’s the perfect coffee if you are looking to lose weight or count your calories as it only has 15 to 30 calories. which makes it the lowest calorie count of any coffee with a notable amount of milk.

A cortado is also a perfect coffee with milk for your specialty grade coffee beans as you will notice the nuances and different notes from the coffee cutting through the milk.

What Type Of Milk Is Best For A Cortado?

A traditional cortado is made with whole fat milk. Having worked in a few coffee shops, restaurants and hotels during my 12+ year stay in Spain I can personally guarantee you that it is UHT milk and not fresh milk that is used to make not only a cortado but all coffee drinks in Spain.

Over the past few years and indeed decades, gourmet specialty coffee shops have become more popular in the town and cities all over Spain with oat milk, almond milk as well as soy milk being options of milk to be used to make your cortado.

It is not uncommon for condensed milk or evaporated milk to be requested, particularly from Cuban and other Caribbean coffee lovers. The condensed milk provides a sweeter taste.

How To Make A Cortado

A cortado, like a flat white, is best made with a home espresso machine. To make the perfect espresso shot, weight 40 grams of fresh dark roasted coffee beans and grind them to a very fine powder-like grind size.

Tamp your ground using a good even pressure of 30 kg. Pull your double shot of espresso. The brew time should take 25 seconds with a variance of plus or minus 5 seconds.

If it takes longer than 30 seconds, you will need to adjust your grind size and use a slightly larger grind to allow the hot water to flow easier through your grinds, reducing the contact time in the process.

If your brew time is quicker than 20 seconds, you will need to use a smaller and finer grind size to encourage greater contact with your hot water and increase the brew time in the process.

Steam your whole fat milk without frothing it and pour an equal amount onto your double espresso. Top with a very fine cap of foam.

How To Make A Cortado
Making A Cortado Is Easy

Variations Of A Cortado

Similar to a flat white, a cortado coffee does not have so many variations and is very uncommon for a flavored syrup, flavored beans or flavored milk to be used.

The most common variation are the alternative milks used to make this beverage. Oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk and soy milk as well as condensed milk and evaporated milk are popular choices.

Cortadito, a common variation, which in some parts, is a smaller cortado made with a single shot of espresso and an equal amount of texture milk. Worth of note is a cortadito is a quirk in the coffee world as it doesn’t always mean a smaller cortado. It varies from place to place and can be just another word for a cortado. If you are a barista, confirm with your client.

A Gibraltar, which has its origins in San Francisco, is a variation of a cortado but is made with steamed milk instead of textured milk.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flat White Vs Cortado

Does Flat White Require More Milk Than Cortado?

A cortado coffee is the slightly smaller of the two coffee drinks with a coffee to milk ratio of 1:1. A flat white has slightly less coffee, and a different and stronger type, a ristretto with a coffee to water ratio of 1:2 and thus has more milk both by ratio and by volume.

What Is The Difference Between Cortado And Cappuccino And Flat White?

The difference between these three drinks is vast. The main points that make them two very different drinks are the type of coffee used and the hot milk.

A cortado uses a double espresso shot and steamed textured milk while a flat white is made with a double ristretto and steamed milk. A cappuccino is made with a single espresso shot, steamed milk and milk foam in equal amounts. Neither a cortado nor a flat white have foamed milk.

Is A Flat White A Double Cortado?

No, these are two very distinct coffee drinks. They both look similar, but this is where the similarities end.

  • Flat White: Brewed with a double ristretto and has steamed milk added at a ratio of 1:2.
  • A Cortado: Brewed with a double espresso and textured milk.

A double cortado would be a very different drink, a quadruple shot of espresso and highly caffeinated, perhaps too caffeinated with a whopping 300 mg of caffeine.

These three drinks are very different from each other in many aspects. Let’s have a quick look at how they are made for you to get a grasp of how different they are:

  • Cortado: Spanish coffee drink made with a double shot of espresso and an equal amount of hot textured milk.
  • Flat White: An Australian coffee drink made with a double ristretto and twice as much steamed milk as there is coffee.
  • Macchiato: An Italian coffee drink which is a shot of espresso and a small dash of steamed milk.

The result of being three very different drinks is that they taste very different. A macchiato is the one that has the strongest and most dominating coffee taste. A cortado is the drink that has the most caffeine, having slightly more caffeine than a flat white. A flat white is a good choice if you like a latte but want something smaller, more caffeinated and with slightly different taste.

A cortado overall has the stronger coffee taste due to having a more focused coffee to milk ratio. In terms of caffeine content, a flat white has 130 mg of caffeine while a cortado has 150 milligrams of caffeine, making a cortado coffee more caffeinated.

No, a flat white and a ristretto are two different coffee beverages. A ristretto is a more focused and smaller coffee drink than an espresso. Essentially, it is a focused espresso that is made with coffee to water ratio of 1:1 and is only 20 ml (⅔ of an ounce).

A flat white is a coffee drink made with a double ristretto, steamed milk and a little latte art.

 Final Thoughts – Flat White Vs Cortado

Now that you know all about a Flat White Vs Cortado you can make that decision of which one to make and try, in fact, you can try both and then decide which is best in your own opinion.

Join our cool coffee community and tell us which of these two cultural coffee classics wins out for you. Find us on Facebook/Meta.

Coffee is love, it's more than love — it's a passion of mine. I've had the luck to have travelled and enjoyed the most exotic of coffee's and unique flavors, brewing methods and techniques of making the perfect coffee from Thai hill tribe coffee to Indonesian volcanic coffee, Malaysian coffee that comes in a tea bag and the array of flavors in Vietnam, from Vanilla to Orange to Coconut to Avocado to even salt coffee and the famous egg coffee. The best part of my coffee adventures is getting to mix with the locals over a nice brew and learning how they make it! I'm cited and referenced on Google Scholar for the topic of coffee. Learn more about me and Latte Love Brew by checking our About Page

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