How To Make Cortado With And Without A Coffee Machine

How To Make Cortado With And Without A Coffee Machine

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 20:52

Learning how to make cortado at home with and without a coffee machine will leave you with no excuse for not satisfying your tastebuds with a delightful and delicious Spanish coffee.

It’s a quick and easy coffee to make, so no excuses.

Keep reading for the details and get making a great cortado!

What Is A Cortado?

A cortado is a Spanish coffee drink with its origins in the Basque Country. While it is a drink available in a specialty coffee shop in North America, UK and Australia, it is served in every single coffee shop and restaurant in Spain.

It’s a 4-ounce (120 ml) and made with a double shot of espresso and an equal ratio of espresso and steamed milk. That’s two ounces of milk (60 ml) and two ounces of espresso (60 ml).

The type of milk used is steamed milk that has not been frothed, also known as texturized milk. Typically, it is served in a 4.5 to 5-ounce Gibraltar glass.

A Cuban cortado is often made with sugar mixed into the espresso drink to sweeten it. If sugar is not used, condensed milk is used.

The baby brother of a cortado is the cortadito which is the same beverage but only half the size as it is made with only a single shot of espresso and the same ratio between the espresso and the milk of 1:1.

How To Make Cortado
Making At Cortado At Home Is Easy

Read: Cortado Vs Flat white

How To Make Cortado

Making a cortado at home is very easy and no more difficult than making any other espresso based coffee drink. Let’s talk about the equipment and ingredients that you will need.

Equipment And Ingredients Needed

  • An espresso machine.
  • A ceramic conical burr coffee grinder.
  • Freshly roasted whole coffee beans.
  • Whole milk.

How To Make Cortado – Instructions Step by Step

Step 1: Pull Two Shots Of Espresso

Grind your freshly roasted whole coffee beans to a very fine grind size. Use 40 grams of coffee grounds to brew your double shot, sticking to the coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5 for shots of espresso.

Pull your shots into a Gibraltar glass if you have one or a 4-ounce (120 ml) glass or cup.

Step 2: Making Your Steamed Milk

To steam milk of such a small quantity of 2 ounces (60 ml) is very difficult; froth 4 ounces (120 ml) even if you are only going to use half as much. Steam your milk with your steam wand in the same way as you would when steaming milk for a latte; just skip the part where you froth the milk.

Step 3: Pour Your Milk In Espresso

Pour your milk into your glass or cup with espresso shots and pour 2 ounces of milk. Viola, your cortado is ready. Serve and enjoy.

How To Steam Milk For Cortado

Steaming milk for a cortado is easy, very easy. Let’s talk about this for a moment since it is texturized milk and not the same steamed milk that you use in a latte.

  • 1. Fill your milk jug with whole milk (or any milk of your choice).
  • 2. Purge and clean your steam wand.
  • 3. Stretch, aerate, texturize and emulsify your milk by forcing a little air into it. A little, not a lot. Your goal is not to make frothy milk.
  • 4. Dip your milk wand deeper to heat your milk. Position your milk to the side of your milk jug. When you start to see a whirlpool forming you have the perfect point. Keep heating until your jug is too hot to hold, but hot enough to touch.
  • 5. Bang your milk jug on the counter top once or twice to free any trapped bubbles.
  • 6. Polish your milk by swirling your milk jug in the same way that you would swirl a glass of red wine. This helps to give a shine to your milk, hence the name polishing. More importantly it helps to give a more even distribution of the creaminess.
  • 7. Pour your steamed milk over your espresso shot.

That is how easy it is in 7 simple steps.

How To Steam Milk For Cortado
Steaming Milk For A Cortado

Read: Cappuccino Vs Cortado

How To Make Cortado Without A Coffee Machine

Making a cortado without a coffee machine is a little more challenging but most certainly possible. For the best results and to get a high quality strong coffee base you will need to use a moka pot.

Equipment Needed For Making A Cortado Without A Coffee Machine

  • A moka pot coffee maker.
  • A ceramic conical burr coffee grinder.
  • Freshly roasted whole coffee beans.
  • Whole milk.


Grind your coffee beans to fine powder like grind size for your moka pot. Instead of using the regular 1:10 coffee to water ratio, use a 1:8 ratio for a stronger coffee.

Use 20 grams (2/3 Oz) of ground coffee and 160 ml of water. (4.66 oz). For one person, you will have an excess of coffee and even an excess for 2 people. It is difficult to make a small amount of coffee in a moka pot.

For the best results, preheat your water to 70C (158F).

While your moka pot is brewing, add 2 Oz (60 ml) of milk per person or per cortado that you wish to make to a saucepan and heat on your stovetop at a low to medium heat. When you start to see steam rising from your milk, regardless of which type, it is at the perfect temperature.

Pour 60 ml (2 Oz) of your moka pot coffee into a Gibraltar glass or a 4-ounce cup. Pour your warm milk in an equal amount into your coffee.

Note: The golden rule of heating milk in any form is: if you boil, you spoil.

Cortado Ratio

The cortado ratio is a 1:1 ratio of freshly brewed espresso to milk. The ratio to make the double espresso used to make the coffee base of a cortado is the same as a regular espresso and uses a coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5

How To Order A Cortado At Starbucks

The world’s most popular coffee shop currently does not have a cortado on their menu, not even in America where it is a specialty drink and where a large Latino community reside and would likely request it.

To order this espresso drink at Starbucks, ask for a double espresso and 2 ounces (60 ml) of steamed milk with no froth added.

Due to this drink not being on the menu, it is likely that you will be charged and billed for an espresso macchiato.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Make Cortado

What Makes A Cortado?

A cortado, the famous Spanish drink, is made with a double espresso shot as the base and steamed milk in an equal amount. Some make the mistake of calling it the espresso version of a latte without the milk foam. However, a latte has a single shot of espresso and twice as much milk as there is espresso.

A more accurate comparison would be to compare it to cappuccino without the milk foam as a cappuccino has espresso and milk in equal amounts.

What Is The Ratio For Cortado?

A cortado has an espresso to milk ratio of 1:1. It’s 50% espresso and 50% milk. It’s a good strong coffee with an ample caffeine kick. Even though it is small, it most certainly gives you a caffeine boost due to the two shots of espresso.

How Many Shots Are In A Cortado?

There are two shots of espresso in a cortado. It’s made with a ratio of espresso to milk of 1:1. 

Read: Cortado Vs Latte

 A cortado is made with warm milk. The milk is steam but not frothed, a process known as texturized. It, the milk is created to produce a rich velvet-like texture without the froth.

The amount of milk in a cortado is 60 ml (2 oz). The total size of the beverage is 120 ml (4 Oz) and is served in a 5-ounce Gibraltar glass.

Should You Stir A Cortado?

You can enjoy a cortado as it is with or without stirring it and with or without adding sugar. I’ve lived in Spain for 12 years and worked in a few coffee shops. The Spanish sometimes stir their cortado, some add sugar and some enjoy it as it is. 

Do as the Spanish do and simply do what is best for you and your taste preference. 

Final Thoughts – How To Make Cortado

Knowing how to make cortado will add to your home barista repertoire of skills. If you have not yet invested in a quality home espresso machine and are serious about coffee, it is something to think about while you are brewing your moka pot coffee as the base.

A moka pot makes great coffee but as an espresso substitute it falls short due to the lack of crema, which plays a contributing factor in the overall flavor of all espresso based drinks.

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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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