If you love coffee, then you’ve probably heard of a cortado and flat white — two delicious drinks that may look similar but come with distinct tastes and textures.

While these drinks have popularized worldwide in recent years thanks to the rising specialty coffee culture, many people are still unsure which one they would rather enjoy or the differences between them.

Quick Answer: What is the difference between a cortado vs. flat white?

The main difference between a cortado and a flat white is in the ratio of espresso to steamed milk. A cortado is made with a double espresso shot and an equal amount of steamed milk, while a flat white uses double the amount of milk and is topped with microfoam milk.

Cortado vs. Flat White: All the Differences You Need to Know

The good news is that both these coffee drinks pack a punch and are full of flavor, so it really comes down to personal preference (or what type of mood you’re in!).

But before it’s time to determine which suits YOUR taste buds more, let’s look at the differences between cortados and flat whites.

Cortado vs. flat white, how do they differ?

Before getting into too much detail, you can have a look at the differences between these delicious coffees below:

Comparison:Cortado:Flat white:
Flavor notesSlightly sweet, well-balancedSmooth with a slight bitterness
Espresso?Yes, two espresso shotsYes, two espresso shots
Milk added?Yes, 2 oz (0.06 l)Yes, 4 oz (0.12 l)
Caffeine content136mg of caffeine136mg of caffeine
Number of calories34 calories68 calories

Now that you’ve seen the differences between these drinks in the overview above, it’s time to learn about these delicious coffees:

Is a cortado stronger than a flat white?

A cortado is stronger than a flat white because it uses less milk. This means that more of the espresso flavor comes through in your cup, and there are fewer notes from the added milk.

  • Cortados typically consist of one part espresso to one part steamed milk with almost no foam on top.
  • Flat whites contain two shots of espresso and enough steamed milk to fill the remainder of your cup with only microfoam floating on top (usually a 6 oz glass).
Cortado coffee.
Homemade cortado

A cortado’s greater ratio of espresso adds strength without creating an overwhelming bitterness like some coffee drinks can have with too much espresso.

What is the flavor difference between a cortado and a flat white?

The main difference in taste between these two drinks lies in their respective ratios.

The flat white has twice as much milk as espresso, whereas the cortado contains equal parts of both ingredients.

Generally speaking, the cortado will have a more intense flavor since there are more espresso shots than its counterpart.

Meanwhile, flat whites are usually creamier due to their higher ratio of steamed milk to shots!

Homemade flat white.
Homemade flat white

Overall, both beverages offer unique flavor profiles – whether you prefer something strong or something velvety smooth, you’ll find what you’re looking for with either option!

Depending on the coffee flavor you’re looking for, you might already know which coffee you’d prefer to order next time.

Below, I’ll get into even more details about these drinks:

Is there a difference in milk preparation?

Yes, there is a difference in milk preparation between a cortado and a flat white.

A cortado is traditionally made with equal parts of milk and espresso, while a flat white contains double the amount of steamed milk compared to espresso.

The milk is steamed for a cortado and typically won’t contain any foam. The cup size for this beverage should be small—typically no larger than four ounces.

Steamed milk.

A flat white begins similarly but requires more technique to achieve its signature microfoam layer on top that blends perfectly with the coffee below it.

The microfoam will play a crucial role in terms of texture when compared to a cortado.

While a cortado will have a stronger and smoother taste, a flat white has a bit more texture and milkiness to it.

How many calories are in a cortado vs. flat white?

Regarding calories, cortado and flat white are two popular coffee beverages that people enjoy for different reasons.

While they may seem similar in many ways, they can quickly add up in terms of calorie intake if you’re not aware of how much is actually in each cup:

  • On average, a cortado contains about 34 calories when made with whole milk.
  • A standard-sized flat white contains 68 calories when made with whole milk.

The number of calories will change when you one of these drinks with a different kind of milk or a milk alternative, such as oat milk:

Oatly oat milk.

However, a flat white will always have more calories, as double the amount of milk is used.

Is there a caffeine difference between a cortado and a flat white?

When it comes to the caffeine difference between a cortado and a flat white, most people assume there is some variation in the amount of caffeine.

However, you’ll be happy to hear that this assumption is incorrect; both coffees actually contain approximately 136mg of caffeine per serving, just like a latte can contain.

Three espresso shots stacked on top of each other.

However, it’s important to consider that how much caffeine you get from these two drinks can depend on a variety of factors, including the type of coffee beans used, their origin (single-origin or blend), grind size, and brewing method.

Additionally, some cafes may add extra espresso shots depending on how strong your drink is supposed to be made, which can also increase the level of caffeine in your beverage.

But when comparing this to an 8-ounce serving of brewed coffee containing 80-100mg of caffeine, you’ll surely get a big boost from either of these drinks!

Which is better, a cortado or a flat white?

While both a cortado and a flat white are espresso-based drinks, they have distinct differences that make them unique.

When it comes to deciding which drink is better, between a cortado and a flat white, the answer ultimately depends on your preferred taste preference.

A side-by-side comparison between a cortado and a flat white.
Cortado on the left. Flat white on the right

If you’re not quite sure which would be the better pick for you, I suggest the following:

  • Opt for the smaller cortado if you want something robust with plenty of espresso kick.
  • Those wanting something sweet that packs a good punch could go for the larger portioned flat white instead!

Both drinks offer options depending on what kind of experience you’re after, so finding your favorite shouldn’t be difficult!

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the cortado and flat white 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!


After exploring the differences between a cortado and a flat white, it’s clear that these two espresso-based drinks are quite different.

One has more milk than the other, which imparts a unique flavor and texture to the beverage.

Ultimately, choosing between one or the other will depend on your preferences.

Some may prefer more steamed milk and less coffee, whereas others may enjoy their coffee with a splash of velvety texture.

Whatever beverage style you choose, its unique flavor profile will make it a delicious addition to any morning routine!

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