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Jack Merriman

Content Marketing Manager

How to Brew a Cortado

A cortado is equal parts espresso and steamed milk in a small, roughly 4oz, cup or glass.

The recipe is very simple: You’re going to create a small, milky, espresso-based drink using a ratio of 1 part espresso to 1 part milk. Grab a small 4oz cup, mug, or glass, and brew a double shot of espresso. As a guide for your espresso, we suggest using 18 grams of finely ground coffee and brewing 36 grams of liquid espresso in about 26 to 30 seconds.

Where does the name Cortado Come From?

The name ‘Cortado’ stems from the past participle of the Spanish word ‘cortar’, meaning ‘to cut’. This refers to the drink’s preparation method: a shot of espresso ‘cut’ with a small amount of hot steamed milk. Originating in Spain and Portugal, the Cortado has gained global popularity for its balanced flavour especially in modern specialty coffee shops, where it’s commonly seen on the menu.

What Coffee Beans to Use for a Cortado?

You can use any type of coffee bean to brew a cortado. Whether it’s arabica or robusta, a single origin or blend, a light roast or dark roast, they’re all fair game. Like most coffee drink recipes, a Cortado is just a method of preparing a coffee, and doesn’t require one specific type of coffee.

For a strong, flavourful, rich and chocolately cortado with a little bit of bitterness, we suggest using a dark roasted coffee. However, for a lighter, sweet and fruity cortado, go for a more medium or lighter roasted coffees. Single origins and blends are both fine – a blend will give you a more rounded and traditional flavour profile whereas a single origin will have more distinct characteristics and flavour notes.


What Espresso Ratio to Use?

In our recipe we’ve suggested a 1:2 espresso ratio for your cortado – 18 grams in, 36 grams out. This is a good suggestion for medium roast coffees, but you can feel free to experiment with the ratio based on your preferences. Darker roasted coffee will likely taste better with a shorter ratio, as lower extractions will likely have less bitterness. Whereas a lighter roasted coffee will benefit from a longer ratio to increase the extraction and get some of the sweeter and more interesting flavours from the coffee.


How to grind for a Cortado

Grind size shouldn’t really differ between your milk drinks, unless you’re purposefully changing the taste of your espresso by using a different coffee or a different ratio. For a cortado, as with a typical standard double espresso, your grind size will be on the finer end and should resemble something similar to caster sugar. If your coffee flows too quickly, you’ll want to grind finer, and if it’s too slow you’ll want to dial slightly coarser.


Steaming your milk for a Cortado

Steaming the milk properly is the hardest part of brewing a cortado due to the small size and little room you have to pour your latte art pattern. You want to steam the milk to a thin texture, similar to a flat white, so as to not make a think layer of foam on top of the drink. As you’ll only be pouring a very small amount of milk into the finished drink, you want to use your smallest milk jug possible to avoid wasteage. View the video above and skip to 01:52 for a live demo of how to properly steam your cortado milk.