A cortado is an espresso cut with a small amount of warm milk. The word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar (to cut). In Spanish-speaking countries, a cortado is similar to the Italian caffè macchiato, where a small amount of warm milk is added to "cut" (literally "stain") the espresso. In the United States, the ratio of milk to coffee is between 1:1 and 1:2, and the milk is added after the espresso.
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 its name varies largely by region. On the East Coast, it is generally known as a cortado, and on the West Coast, it is called a "Gibraltar." 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.
In Cuba, it is known as a cortadito. It's usually served in a special glass, often with a metal ring base and a metal wire handle. There are several variations, including cortado condensada, cafe con leche condensada or bombon (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 separate from true Cuban style coffee, which includes sugar in addition to milk, and its own brewing method.
However a cortado is made, in non Spanish-speaking countries, it should be distinguished from the Italian caffè macchiato or cappuccino – a macchiato has only a small amount of milk foam added, while a cappuccino has both foam and milk. 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 then 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.
- "Drink This Now: Cognoscenti Coffee's On-the-Menu Cortado", LA Weekly
- "A Cortado Is Not a Minivan", The New York Times Style Magazine, March 4, 2010
- Daniel Young (March 2009), Gibraltar, San Francisco's Cult Coffee, Comes to London
- "What is a Piccolo Latte?", Cafe Culture, August 15, 2011
- The dictionary definition of cortado at Wiktionary