What is a cortado coffee?

If you’re a coffee aficionado and send time in a lot of coffee bars, you might have noticed a new name popping up on menus – the cortado. It’s a small, strong black coffee, shot through with steamed milk in a half and half ratio. It’s popular in Portugal and Argentina as well as its place of origin, Spain. It is now making its way to the UK. The name comes from the Spanish ‘cortar’, meaning ‘to cut’, as the coffee is ‘cut through’ with milk.

It’s slightly different from anything else on the menu – it’s less milk than a latte, doesn’t use frothed or textured milk like a cappuccino or a flat white and is smaller and milkier than a macchiato. You might not see it on menus nationwide, but specialist coffee shops are making room for it. In the USA, the same drink is sometimes confusingly called a ‘Gibraltar’ but here it seems to be firmly a cortado.

Why are cortados so popular?

already on the market, you’d be forgiven for thinking there isn’t really room for another! Apparently, the preparation method of the cortado results in the steamed milk reducing any acidity in the coffee. The pairing gives a strong but rich flavour.

Can I make a cortado at home?

You can indeed! You’ll need to have the equipment to make an espresso, and to steam the milk. Just make a regular espresso shot (around 30ml) from your favourite freshly ground coffee beans. Pour it into a cup – glass cups are traditional for cortados. Steam the milk without letting it get too frothy. Pour out the same quantity of milk as you used for your espresso (around 30ml) and pour it over the espresso. And enjoy!

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