When it comes to coffee drinks, there are a ton of different options to choose from. But among the most popular are cortados and cappuccinos.

Quick Answer: What is the difference between a cortado and a cappuccino?

The main difference between a cortado and a cappuccino is that a cortado contains two espresso shots with an equal amount of steamed milk, while a cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.

Cortado vs. Cappuccino: All the Differences You Need to Know

Though they may seem similar, these drinks have some significant differences. So, which one is right for you? Let’s find out in this cortado vs. cappuccino breakdown:

Cortado vs. cappuccino, how do they differ?

Before getting in-depth about all of the differences between these drinks, you can have a look at the table below for a quick overview:

Flavor notesSlightly sweet, well-balancedA smooth and creamy flavor
Espresso?Yes, two espresso shotsYes, one espresso shot
Milk added?Yes, 2 ounces (60 ml)Yes, 2 ounces (60 ml)
Caffeine content136mg of caffeine68mg of caffeine
Number of calories38 calories38 calories
Topping?No toppingMilk foam topping and a dusting of cinnamon or cocoa powder

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between these delicious coffees.

Now it’s time to go over them to figure out which will ultimately fit you better. Let’s get into it!

Is a cortado stronger than a cappuccino?

A cortado is stronger than a cappuccino because it contains more coffee. A standard cappuccino is usually made with one espresso shot and two ounces of steamed milk and foamed milk, while a cortado is made with two ounces of steamed milk.

The extra espresso shot will give the cortado its signature flavor, which is more robust while still having a slightly sweet and well-balanced profile.

A cappuccino, on the other hand, has a more smooth and creamy flavor profile because of the milk foam addition.

Homemade cappuccino.

There are different ways to make a cappuccino that will completely change the flavor profile, while a cortado is only made in one specific way.

For example, a wet cappuccino has a lot more steamed milk and only a tiny amount of milk foam. This version will be closer in flavor to the cortado, with a milk-forward taste.

On the other end of the spectrum is the dry cappuccino, which uses almost all milk foam and just a tiny amount of steamed milk for a stronger drink.

Wet vs. dry cappuccino comparison side-by-side.
Wet cappuccino on the left. Dry cappuccino on the right

You can check out the side-by-side comparison in this article to learn more about these cappuccino versions.

What is the difference in milk used between a cortado and a cappuccino?

Both drinks are made with the same amount of milk. The biggest difference between the milk used is in the preparation.

They are both made with steamed milk, but a cappuccino is traditionally topped with foamed milk, while a cortado is not.

Dusting a cappuccino with cinnamon.

A cortado is made with 2 oz (60 ml) of steamed milk, while a cappuccino uses only 1 oz (30 ml) of steamed milk and 1 oz (30 ml) of foamed milk.

The milk preparation will yield a different drinking experience and will give both drinks a different flavor profile:

Is there a flavor difference between these drinks?

There is a subtle but detectable flavor difference between a cortado and a cappuccino.

A cortado contains more espresso than a cappuccino, so it has a slightly stronger coffee flavor. The milk in a cappuccino creates a richer, creamier texture, while the milk in a cortado gives the espresso added sweetness and creaminess.

The flavor in both drinks can change by using a different kind of milk or milk alternative or by adding a sweetener to the mix, such as vanilla syrup, to make a French vanilla cappuccino:

Homemade French vanilla cappuccino.

So, depending on the flavor profile you’re looking for, you might already know which might fit you better.

How many calories are in a cortado vs. cappuccino?

A cortado and a cappuccino have around the same number of calories- made with whole milk, they both have 38 calories.

If you’d instead use low-fat milk or a milk alternative, the number of calories will change.

You’ll also increase the calories if you use a sweetener such as syrup or sauce.

Tip: Check out various homemade add-ins you can use to spice up your home brews in this article!

Is there a caffeine difference between a cortado and a cappuccino?

A cortado has a higher caffeine content than a cappuccino. A cortado contains 136mg of caffeine, while a cappuccino has 68mg of caffeine. (Source)

This is because a cortado is made with a double espresso (also called doppio espresso).

Single and doppio espresso next to each other.
Single espresso on the left. Doppio espresso on the right

You can always order a cappuccino with an extra espresso shot to increase its strength and caffeine content.

Which is better? A cortado or cappuccino?

It depends on what you’re looking for. A cortado is stronger and has more espresso flavor, while a cappuccino is creamier and sweeter.

The milk in a cortado helps to mellow the bitterness of the espresso and make it more drinkable for people who don’t like super-strong coffee. And because there’s more espresso in a cortado, you can still taste the espresso flavor.

So, if you like a strong coffee flavor, go with the cortado. If you prefer something a little sweeter and creamier, go with the cappuccino.

A side-by-side comparison between a cortado and a cappuccino.
Cortado on the left. Cappuccino on the right

I prefer drinking a cortado because I like the smooth mouthfeel of the steamed milk and because it uses a doppio espresso instead of a single shot.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you like. If you’re not quite sure which would better fit you, why not try them both to see which has the better flavor?

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the cortado and cappuccino compare to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!


So there you have it! The next time you go to order a cortado or cappuccino, you’ll know what to expect.

If you’re looking for a strong coffee, go for a cortado. And if you want something lighter and sweeter, get a cappuccino.

And if you can’t decide, just ask your barista to surprise you. Whatever you choose, enjoy it!

And if anyone tries to tell you that a cortado is just a small cappuccino, you can set them straight.

Do you like drinking espresso-based coffees? Check out some of my favorite recipes below and give them a try!

Espresso-based recipes to try

Picture of Jeffrey, Author at Your Dream Coffee

On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about! You can learn more about me here.

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