A cortado is a beverage that consists of espresso coffee mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. Importantly, the milk in a cortado is generally not frothy or foamy, but more dense.
The word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar (to cut), in the sense of "dilute". Cortado is a well known drink in Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and also in London.
Other names and variations
A cortado is also known as tallat in Catalan, ebaki in Basque, pingo or garoto in Portuguese and noisette in French. In the United States the meaning of the name can vary by region but on the East Coast it is generally known as a cortado. In the Czech Republic, Costa Coffee sells cortado under the marketing name corto classic.
In Cuba, it is known as a cortadito, usually served in a special glass, often with a metal ring base and a metal wire handle. There are several variations, including cortado condensada, café con leche condensada or bombón (espresso with condensed milk), and leche y leche (with condensed milk and cream on top). Brought to the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, by Cuban-Americans in the 1960s, the drink is now found throughout the city, and is an important part of everyday culture, particularly among Cubans. However, the cortadito is a drink distinct from Cuban-style coffee, which includes sugar in addition to milk, and has its own brewing method as espresso.
On the West Coast of the United States, a variation known as a gibraltar is served in many shops. When a distinction between a gibraltar and a cortado is made the gibraltar generally has slightly more milk, approaching 3 parts milk to 2 parts espresso. It also has a richer, more velvety texture and a cooler, lukewarm temperature. The name gibraltar originated in San Francisco, California, where roasters – first Blue Bottle Coffee Company, later Ritual Coffee Roasters and others – started the cortado trend by serving the drink in Libbey Glass Company glassware by the same name.
However a cortado is made in non Spanish-speaking countries, it should be distinguished from the Italian caffè macchiato, cappuccino, or a flat white. A macchiato has only a small amount (a spot) of milk foam added, while a cappuccino has both foam and milk. A flat white is generally made with the same 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk, but uses steamed and textured (e.g. microfoam) milk, resulting in a hotter and lighter drink, more closely related to a latte.
A similar drink in Australia is known as a piccolo latte, or simply a piccolo. This is a single ristretto shot in a macchiato glass that is filled with steamed milk in the same fashion as a cafe latte. A larger drink, popular in Portugal, is the galão, which uses 1:3 proportions but is otherwise similar to a cortado.
- Nguyen, Tien (February 10, 2011), "Drink This Now: Cognoscenti Coffee's On-the-Menu Cortado", LA Weekly
- Strand, Oliver (March 4, 2010), "A Cortado Is Not a Minivan", T: The New York Times Style Magazine
- Shilcutt, Katharine (August 8, 2013), "What's The Difference Between a Flat White and Cortado?", Houstonia
- "Nápoje" [Drinks] (in Czech).
Corto classic. Jemná a krémová káva, ze dvou shotů směsi Mocha Italia, s mléčnou pěnou zdobenou technikou latté art.
- Daniel Young (March 2009), Gibraltar, San Francisco's Cult Coffee, Comes to London, archived from the original on January 2016
- "What is a Piccolo Latte?", Cafe Culture, August 15, 2011
- The dictionary definition of cortado at Wiktionary