two lattes

Cortado vs Latte: An Espresso-Based Showdown

When it comes to espresso-based drinks, the Cortado and the Latte are two of the most popular choices among coffee enthusiasts. Both drinks consist of espresso and milk, but the ratios and preparation methods differ. Understanding the differences between these two drinks can help you decide – at least in your world – who wins the battle of Cortado vs. Latte.

Originally a Spanish drink, the classic Cortado consists of 1 oz (1 shot) of espresso and an equal amount of steamed milk. This 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk yields a bold and balanced flavor profile. The milk is steamed to a temperature that is slightly cooler than a latte, which helps preserve the espresso’s taste and aroma.

Most American coffee shops use 2 oz (a double shot) of espresso and between 1 and 2 oz of steamed milk when making a Cortado. This slightly larger American-style version is actually called a Gibraltar.

Cortados are typically served in small glasses and they are a popular choice among those who prefer a stronger coffee taste without the bitterness of a straight espresso shot.

A Latte – formally known as a Caffe Latte – is a much milkier drink. The ratio of espresso to milk is typically 1:3, resulting in a creamy and mild flavor profile. The milk is steamed until it reaches a temperature of around 150-155°F, which creates a velvety texture and adds sweetness to the drink.

Lattes are a popular choice for those who prefer a sweeter and milder coffee taste. In fact, the drink was created to appease customers who wanted a less intense coffee experience.

As James Hoffman writes in The World Atlas of Coffee, “I am always careful to describe the drink as a caffe latte rather than just a latte, because many people travel to Italy and if they order a latte there, they will suffer the humiliation of simply receiving a glass of milk.”


Understanding Espresso-Based Drinks

Espresso-based drinks are made by combining a shot of espresso with varying amounts of steamed milk, milk foam, and flavorings. They can be tall, short, creamy or dark. They are popular all over the world and are enjoyed by coffee lovers of all types.

There is an array of espresso-based drinks. But here, you’re going to learn a bit about the three most common: Espresso, the Latte, and the Cortado.


Espresso is a strong and bold coffee drink that is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans under high pressure. The result is a small, concentrated shot (of espresso) that is rich in flavor and caffeine. Espresso shots are the foundation of all espresso-based drinks and are typically served in small cups.

The Latte

The Latte is a creamy and smooth coffee beverage that is made by combining a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a layer of milk foam. Many people choose to customize their Lattes with flavored syrups, sweeteners, and other ingredients. The Latte has more milk than the Cortado, which gives it a milder flavor profile.

Additionally, a Latte can be hot or iced, and can come in various sizes.

The Cortado

The Cortado originated in Spain and Portugal and is made by combining a shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk. “Cortado” means “cut” in English, which refers to the process of cutting the intensity of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk. Cortados are typically served in small glasses and have a strong and bold flavor.

Cortados are prepared by steaming milk to a microfoam consistency and pouring it over a shot of espresso. The milk foam layer is minimal, allowing the espresso to really shine through. Cortados are often served in a Cortado glass or a Piccolo glass, which is a small glass that holds approximately 4.5 ounces of liquid. You might also know this as a Gibraltar glass.

Cortado Vs Latte: A Comparison

The Cortado and the Latte are two very popular espresso-based drinks that can be found on almost all coffee shop menus. While they share some similarities, they have several key differences that set them apart. Let’s compare the Cortado and the Latte:

Flavor and Texture

The Cortado is known for its bold flavor and smooth texture. It is made with a single shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk, which balances the bitterness of the espresso and adds a touch of sweetness.

The Latte is creamy and mild. It is made with a shot (or two) of espresso and a large amount of steamed milk, which creates a rich flavor and a velvety texture.

Lattes can also be iced, in which case the milk isn’t steamed. Many people like to customize their Lattes with flavored syrups, sweeteners, and different types of milk (Almond, Oat, Soy, etc).

Preparation and Serving Size

Cortados and Lattes are prepared differently. The Cortado is made by pouring a shot of espresso into a small glass and adding a small amount of steamed milk on top. The Latte, on the other hand, is made by pouring a shot of espresso into a larger glass and adding steamed milk and a layer of foam on top.

The Cortado is served in a small glass, usually around 4 oz, while the Latte is served in a larger glass, usually around 8 oz. This is the case for a classic Latte. Again, Lattes can come hot or iced and in various sizes.

Making Iced Lattes


Both Cortados and Lattes can be customized to suit personal preferences. Some people prefer their Cortado with slightly more milk, while others prefer it with less.

Lattes, however, provide a backdrop for much more customization. Many people opt to add sweeteners and flavors like vanilla, caramel, or mocha.

So, if customization is your thing, this round of Cortado Vs Latte definitely goes to Latte.


The Cortado and the Latte have different nutrition profiles. The Cortado is a low-calorie drink, with only around 50 calories per serving. The Latte, however, is a higher calorie drink, with around 120-180 calories per serving, depending on the size and ingredients used.

For some perspective, there are 190 calories in a Grande (16 oz) Iced Vanilla Latte from Starbucks.

When it comes the nutrition round of Cortado Vs Latte, the Cortado takes the cake.

Differences and Similarities

The main differences between cortado and latte are the ratio of espresso to milk, the serving size, and the flavor profile. Cortado has a higher ratio of espresso to milk, a smaller serving size, and a bolder flavor profile. Latte has a lower ratio of espresso to milk, a larger serving size, and a creamier flavor profile. However, both drinks are espresso-based and can be customized to suit personal preferences.

In conclusion, the difference between cortado and latte comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the bold flavor and small serving size of cortado, while others prefer the creamy texture and larger serving size of latte. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual’s taste buds to decide which one they prefer.

Health and Nutrition Facts

When it comes to health and nutrition, there are some major differences between the Cortado and the Latte. While both drinks contain espresso and milk, the ratio of these ingredients varies, which affects the calorie and nutrient content.

Calories and Serving Size

A Cortado is typically served in a smaller cup (4 oz), which means it has a smaller serving size than a Latte. As a result, it contains fewer calories. A Cortado made with 2 ounces of espresso and 2 ounces of milk has about 50 calories. A Latte typically has anywhere from 120-180 calories. But again, the calorie count will increase if you add flavorings, syrups, or sweeteners.

Caffeine Content

A Cortado generally contains more caffeine per ounce than a Latte because it has a higher ratio of espresso to milk. But that doesn’t mean it contains more caffeine overall. Caffeine content depends on the amount of espresso used.

For reference, the average espresso shot has around 64 milligrams of caffeine.

Of course, many people order Lattes with extra shots of espresso. Iced Lattes in particular can contain varying amounts of espresso. Many coffee shops serve 2 shots of espresso in a 16 oz Iced Latte, and 4 shots of espresso in larger sizes. A Venti Iced Latte at Starbucks contains 3 shots of espresso. More espresso = more caffeine.

Sweeteners and Syrups

Both Cortados and Lattes can be sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners, which increases the calorie count. If you want to reduce the calorie content, you can use a sugar substitute like Stevia or Splenda.

If you like to add flavor to your drinks using syrups, keep in mind that these syrups can add up to 100 calories per serving. If you’re counting calories, be mindful of how much syrup you use.

Nutrition Facts

Cortados and Lattes both contain calcium, which is important for bone health. Milk is also a good source of protein and vitamin D.

If you are lactose intolerant or vegan, you may want to choose a non-dairy milk like almond milk or soy milk. These milks have fewer calories and less fat than regular milk, but they may not contain as much calcium or protein.

There are also a number of health benefits linked to drinking espresso (and coffee in general). Some of these benefits include:

Cortado Vs Latte: The Final Scoop

In summary, the differences between the Cortado and the Latte lie in the milk ratio, texture, and volume. A Cortado has equal parts espresso and steamed milk, while a latte has more milk and a layer of foam.

In the battle of Cortado Vs Latte, it comes down to personal preference. Some folks prefer the rich flavor and boldness of a Cortado, while others prefer the creaminess and sweetness of a latte.

There’s a reason the Cortado and the Latte are both so popular – they are both delicious. And they offer different taste experiences. If you’re still trying to decide which one is for you…experiment with both. There’s no doubt you’ll find a version that satisfies your soul.

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