Cortado vs Latte: What’s The Difference?

The Best Answer:

Both the cortado and the latte are espresso-based drinks, but they are different regarding how much milk and caffeine they contain. Typically, a cortado has less milk and more caffeine than a latte.

Coffee lovers are always looking for that perfect cup of coffee. Some people prefer cortados, while others go for lattes. There are many variations between these two types of coffee, but cortados and lattes are arguably the most popular at this point.

So what is the difference? This article will break down cortado vs. latte to help you decide on which one to get next time you’re craving some caffeine!

What is a Latte?

Cortado vs Latte

Before breaking down the differences between the two drinks, let’s first find out what exactly we mean when ordering a latte or a cortado!

The latte is a typical coffee drink in Italy, but it quickly became popular worldwide after Starbucks started making variations of it in Seattle back in the 1980s, more specifically in 1986.

These days, latte is by far the most popular drink at Starbucks. It can be ordered in many different ways to suit your taste buds, making latte very unique compared to other coffee drinks.

The latte usually contains 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk in most countries around the world. The original drink is made with only a single shot of espresso, although these days, you can order it with a double shot if you want that extra bit of caffeine and coffee flavor.

The fact that it contains more milk than coffee gives it a distinct milk flavor and creamy mouthfeel, and that’s why so many people love it. So if you are someone who enjoys a lot of milk in their coffee, then the latte is definitely for you.

Are latte and latte macchiato the same thing?

This is a very common question when talking about latte variations, and many people can’t quite tell the difference. That’s very normal because the difference between the two drinks is relatively small and has more to do with the structure of the coffee drink.

The barista first pulls the espresso shot, pours it in the cup, and then steams the milk to make a latte. The milk is there added on top of the espresso shot with a layer of micro-foam on top.

In contrast to this, to make a latte macchiato, the barista first steams the milk and adds it in the cup and then pulls an espresso shot and pours it on top of the milk, thus creating a small dot of coffee, like a coffee stain, on top of the milk.

One could argue that a latte macchiato is a reversed latte!

What is a Cortado?

Cortado vs Latte

A cortado is a type of coffee that consists of espresso combined with steamed milk. Cortados are the definition of balance between milk and espresso in the cup.

They are typically made using two shots of espresso and topped with that same amount in steamed milk.

This style developed in Spain and Portugal and is very different from cortados found in Central America, which are typically more significant with a higher ratio of steamed milk to foam.

Indeed, the cortado is popular in the United States and Canada, where customers usually ask for it with a little more milk than usual.

Are a cortado and a cortadito the same?

A cortado is a coffee beverage made from espresso and steamed milk. It’s considered a “cortadito” in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

However, this isn’t the case because they’re just different names for one drink! In Spanish-speaking countries throughout Latin America, you’ll often hear a cortado being ordered as either “cortadito” or just “cortado.” Same drink!

A cortaditio is only different from a cortado when you order it from a Cuban ventantita in Miami! These small coffee shops sell only Cuban-style coffee, and a cortadito for them is a pre-sweetened espresso topped with steamed milk.

So you can be sure that if you order a cortadito there, your coffee will taste very sweet!

Why is a cortado served in a glass?

In most countries, the cortado is usually served in a 5-7oz glass or a Gibraltar glass if you are in the U.S. There is a variety of reasons that the cortado might be served in a glass, and it can vary from country to country.

In some places, a small cup is used, but other times it may just be part of the espresso drink itself being poured into an empty wine glass or even shot glasses! Of course, some people have their own opinions on why this is the case, but there is no honest answer to why this occurs.

There are a few general reasons that might help you understand why cortados (and other coffee drinks) may be served in different shaped glasses depending on where they’re ordered or what culture uses them;

  • A glass can give off aromas and make it easier to taste the coffee.
  • A glass can help keep in some of the aromas and smells released if served with a metal base or holder.
  • The thickness of the glass acts as insulation, so your hand doesn’t get too hot while holding onto it! This would be especially useful during colder months when you may not want to feel the heat of your drink.
  • A Glass can help you see the different layers that form when coffee is poured into it, allowing for a more aesthetically pleasing experience! This may be especially important in places where people look for an Instagram-able picture with their cortado or other drinks.

Cortado vs. Latte: What’s The Difference?

Cortado vs Latte

And here is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Now that we have broken down what a latte and a cortado are, It’s time to compare the two drinks!


  • They are both espresso-based drinks; the coffee they contain is in the form of espresso made by either an espresso machine or espresso capsules.
  • They both contain milk. Typically, full-fat dairy milk is used but feel free to use any other alternative.
  • They both have a layer of micro-foam on top, in contrast to other drinks with a lot of foam or even sometimes whipped cream.


  • The cortado has more caffeine than the latte since it contains two espresso shots, while the latte typically only includes one.
  • The latte has more milk and thus tastes sweeter to the cortado and has a creamier mouthfeel.
  • The cortado has a more robust, intense coffee flavor because it contains less milk than the latte.
  • The latte has more calories than the cortado because of the higher quantity of milk.

As you can see the two drinks have both similarities and differences so at the end of the day it all depends on which one suits your taste best. If you are someone who loves a lot of milk in their coffee, then definitely go for a latte!

If, however, you prefer a balance in your cup, then the cortado is perfect for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cortado vs Latte

Is a cortado the same as a flat white?

Not quite! But the two of them are similar, so it’s easy to get confused.

A cortado has two espresso shots with just enough whole milk to turn the deep brown coffee into creamy tan liquid. This drink is traditionally served in a glass cup and tastes slightly sweet due to its condensed foam that sits on top.

On the other hand, a flat white is similar to a cortado with just slightly more steamed milk. It comes topped with velvety microfoam, which means that it has lots of tiny bubbles of air mixed in throughout the beverage to enjoy both the flavor and the texture of your coffee.

Is cortado stronger than espresso?

That depends on what you mean by more robust. For example, a single shot of espresso and a cortado made with the same single shot has the same amount of caffeine.

However, the cortado has milk, giving your coffee a sweet flavor and a creamy texture. It is therefore not as bold or intense in flavor as the espresso.

What does cortado mean in Spanish?

The cortado derives from the Spanish cortar, meaning “to cut through” or “slice.” This refers to the process of the milk cutting through the espresso when the barista pours it.

Last Thoughts

So, which do you prefer? After all, it’s all just a matter of personal preference when it comes to coffee, isn’t it?

Suppose you’re still undecided, which would be the perfect opportunity to grab one of each and try them side by side! Better yet – whip up some coffee art in honor of this heated debate. The barista will love it (and maybe even give you an extra shot)!

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