Cortado vs Latte. Bold Or Smooth, The Choice Is Yours

cortado vs latte

A cortado is a coffee drink made with milk and espresso, and so is a latte. But that’s where the similarity ends. What makes a cortado and latte different is the amount of milk and espresso either is made of.

Cortados and lattes also differ in a couple of other ways. Cortados are smaller cup-sized drinks, and lattes as you can imagine can fill a tall glass.

Lattes are served warm or over ice and are sometimes flavored with syrups and sweeteners. Cortados, on the other hand, are more robust and always served warm without sweeteners.

Let The Cortado vs Latte Battle Begin

Many coffee lovers enjoy visiting their local coffee shop to indulge in one of their favorite concoctions. Whether it’s one espresso shot or several, espresso-based drinks are here to stay. Coffee recipes are practically endless, but what separates cortados and lattes from one another?

What Is A Cortado?

cortado espresso beverage
Cortado in a traditional Gibralter glass.

A traditional cortado is prepared warm and is made of espresso coffee and steamed milk. It is typically served in a glass small cup called a Gibraltar glass and a matching saucer.

Cortados are prepared with equal portions of espresso shots and milk. With two espresso shots being the traditional amount used. Steamed milk is added after the espresso is brewed.

This results in a bold flavor that has a less milky texture than a latte. Since cortados don’t have sweeteners, they deliver a punchier espresso flavor than a latte.

Where Does The Cortado Originate?

The cortado originates from Spain and is popular in cafes. It was created as an alternative to the large cappuccinos that were becoming popular in Italy.

How Big Is A Cortado?

Cortados are often served in a small glass or cup, usually around 4 ounces or 120 ml.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Cortado?

Both Lattes and Cortados can be made with decaf shots. But generally speaking, a cortado will have less because it is made with fewer espresso shots. 

Cortado recipes call for 2 espresso shots bringing the caffeine to about 128mg total.

How Does A Cortado Taste?

The cortado’s texture is smooth and creamy.  The equal ratio of coffee to milk gives the espresso room to breathe.

Depending on the type of espresso used, the coffee notes and flavors will pop. You’ll easily taste the caramel and malt notes even without adding sweetener.

What Is A Latte?

latte espresso beverage
Latte art is lovely, but the taste is too hard to resist!

A latte, like a cortado, is also made with espresso and steamed milk. But I would call lattes milk forward since they are made of so much more milk than a cortado. 

This is not a bad thing, by the way. Especially if you are looking for bigger espresso-based drinks to enjoy. You can always add more espresso for an extra bold flavor or caffeine punch.

Where Does A Latte Originate?

The latte comes from Italy and was created as an alternative to bitter and robust espresso drinks. Such as cappuccinos, which were becoming popular there.

How Big Is a Latte?

Lattes are often served in a tall glass or cup, usually around 12 ounces or 360 ml. That’s 3 times the size of the delicious cortado.

How Much Caffeine Does A Latte Have?

Need a kick? Drink a latte.

Lattes can be made with decaf espresso shots like any other if caffeine is not in your plans. Still, a caffeinated latte will usually have more than a cortado because it is made with more espresso shots (depending on size).

Small lattes start with a double shot of espresso, bringing the same amount of caffeine to the party as a cortado (128mg).

But not all lattes are created equal, and the bigger they are, the more shots they have. So it is not uncommon to experience them with 3 or 4 espresso shots doubling the amount of caffeine found in a cortado to 256mg or more.

How Does A Latte Taste?

A latte has a mild espresso flavor with a sweetness from the milk. Since sweeteners and syrups are often added, lattes can take on another assortment of flavors. Vanilla, mocha, and hazelnut are popular choices.

The texture is smooth and soft, with a perfect hint of espresso flavor. Drink lattes hot or cold. An iced latte is particularly refreshing on a warm summer afternoon. Latte art is always a welcome sight too.

Cortado And Latte Coffee Profiles

FeatureCortadoLatte
Size4oz.8-12oz
Shots22 or more
Caffeine128mg128mg often twice that
CaloriesLess 100200 or more
OriginSpainItaly
FlavorBold, balanced, maltyMilky with a hint of espresso
TextureBold & creamySmooth & silky
Served inClear glassCeramic cup
SweetNoOptional
FlavorsEspresso & MilkAdd syrups, vanilla etc.

Cortado Vs. Latte, Which Is Better?

Both cortados and lattes are incredible coffee drinks that can be enjoyed at any time of day. The difference between a cortado vs. latte comes down to the amount of milk, the number of espresso shots, and the variety of flavors you desire.

A cortado should top your list if you want to drink coffee with a bold espresso taste and less sweetness than other flavored ones. However, the smooth, creamy texture makes them a joy to savor.

Suppose you want to go the extra mile and experiment with flavors and sweeteners. In that case, a latte gives you an infinite amount of options to make the perfect drink.

Have a latte warm or cold, depending on your mood. More espresso shots mean more caffeine and energy for the day.

If you’re looking for a sweeter drink, a latte is the way to go. Either way, you can’t go wrong with these delicious espresso drinks!

Cortado vs Latte Frequently Asked Questions

How many shots of espresso does a latte have?

Lattes start with a double shot of espresso and go up from there.

How many shots of espresso does a cortado have?

Cortados have a double shot of espresso and are made with equal amounts of steamed milk.

Which has more milk a cortado or latte?

Lattes have more milk than a cortado. Traditional lattes start with 8 ounces of milk (or more). Cortados are made with about 2 ounces of steamed milk.

Do Cortados Have Sugar?

No, traditional cortados do not have sugar.

Do Lattes Have Sugar?

Traditional lattes do not have sugar. However, like some other coffee drinks, lattes are often dressed-up with flavors and sweeteners.

How is cortado pronounced?

cor-tah-doh

How is latte pronounced?

lah-tay

Is a cortado healthier than a latte?

This is a bit hard to answer, but if we are asking from a calories perspective, lattes have more calories than a cortado since they have more milk. Coffee shops usually serve lattes in 8 to 12oz glasses. So you are looking at 4 times the amount of calories in a latte.

Depending on the type of milk used, a latte can have 200 calories or more compared to a cortados 36.

I have to mention protein here though. If you are planning your meals then you are also likely to be counting nutrients other than just calories. 8 ounces of whole milk brings 7g of protein to the table.

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