This article is for anyone who’s ever wondered what a cortado is and how to make it.

A cortado can be described as espresso with just the right amount of milk, making this drink perfect for those coffee lovers out there that prefer their coffee on the lighter side.

I’ll tell you all about where this drink comes from, what ingredients are used in its preparation, and then provide you with some easy steps on how to pour your own at home! So grab your favorite mug and enjoy reading this article!

What is a cortado?

A cortado is a perfect drink for anyone who needs a little pick-me-up in the afternoon but doesn’t quite want to consume an espresso.

The word “cortado” means cut or chopped in Spanish. It’s basically an espresso cut with steamed milk—anywhere from two to four ounces worth of milk is poured over the same ounces of brewed espresso.

This drink can be sweetened with additional sugar, depending on preference.

As a cortado is an espresso drink made with equal parts of milk and espresso, it’ll be perfect for people who want to try an espresso-based drink.

Furthermore, for people who don’t really like coffee, this particular type typically appeals to them more because it’s not nearly as intense in flavor as a straight-up cup of black coffee.

What ingredients are used to make a cortado?

A cortado is made with two simple ingredients and is the perfect coffee to make at home. To make it at home, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Espresso coffee
  • Whole milk

I’ll talk about the best ways to make espresso at home, the amount used, and its caffeine content below. But first, let’s talk about the milk used.

Most of the time, whole milk is used to prepare a cortado. The full flavor it has is the perfect addition to the robust espresso coffee.

If you prefer using low-fat milk, feel free to do so. Another way to make this coffee is with dairy-free milk.

Dairy-free milk tastes great and is lower in calories. There are many different versions out there that all have their unique flavor.

It’s a great way to make different versions of this drink without changing much. I like to use almond or oat milk, and they taste great in this recipe.

Do you have a favorite milk alternative you like to use? Let me know in the comments below so that I can give it a try!

How many shots of espresso are in a cortado?

There are two shots of espresso in a cortado with an equal amount of steamed milk.

That is typically, but your preference may vary. The reason might be because it’s less intense in flavor than its coffee counterparts, allowing you to take your time with it and appreciate the subtle nutty and chocolate flavors more carefully.

For this reason, you can also prepare this drink with a single shot of espresso and the same amount of steamed milk. It’s all up to you.

I like to use the amount listed in the recipe card, which is two espresso shots. But I like my coffee strong. If you prefer a less robust coffee, then a single shot might be the way to go.

What is the caffeine content of a cortado?

Because a cortado uses two espresso shots, the drink’s caffeine content comes out to 136 mg.

When using a single espresso shot, the caffeine will be cut in half, resulting in a drink with 68 mg of caffeine. (source)

For me, this is the perfect way to start the day and gives me enough energy to go for a few hours at least.

The best way to make espresso coffee at home

As this coffee recipe requires espresso coffee, I’ll guide you through some of my favorite ways to brew espresso coffee at home. Have a look below for a few brewing techniques you can use:

  • The best way to brew espresso is with an espresso machine.
  • You can also brew great espresso-like coffee with a Moka pot.
  • An AeroPress can also create amazing espresso-like coffee.
  • Use your Nespresso or Keurig machine to brew the espresso coffee for you.

These are some of my favorite ways to make the basis for this recipe.

Ideally, you should brew the espresso shots with an espresso machine. But the machine is quite expensive, and most don’t want to go through the trouble of learning how to make coffee with it.

If you have one at home, I suggest pulling two great espresso shots for this recipe. It’ll turn out amazing.

AeroPress and Moka pot, ready to use.

A few other options are using a Moka pot or AeroPress to brew espresso-like coffee. The flavor these coffee brewers produce come close to the real deal and is a much cheaper alternative to an espresso machine.

Tip: If you want to learn to brew coffee at home, you can check out my beginner’s guide to brewing coffee.

And last but not least, you can use your Nespresso or Keurig machine. Choose two of your favorite espresso pods and brew them. Preferably, use a strong coffee pod, as this will make the coffee even better.

Yield: 1 Serving

5-Minute Cortado

Homemade cortado.

This easy-to-make cortado recipe will have you enjoying a strong espresso-based coffee in just five minutes!

Prep Time 3 minutes
Additional Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • Two espresso shots (2 oz or 60 grams)
  • Whole milk (2 oz or 60 grams)


  1. The first step to brewing a cortado is making the espresso coffee. Choose a coffee brewer you like the most.
  2. Brew two espresso shots.
  3. Meanwhile, steam the whole milk.
  4. Then, grab a small espresso glass.
  5. Pour the freshly brewed espresso coffee into the glass.
  6. Top it off with the steamed milk.
  7. You can finish the coffee with a sweetener you like.

Now, all there's left to do is enjoy your homemade cortado!


Remember, you can also substitute the whole milk for dairy-free milk. It's a great way to lower the calories!

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Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 34Total Fat: 1.8gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 2.5gSugar: 3gProtein: 1.8g

Best way to drink a cortado

Most people prefer to drink their cortado as soon as possible. It’s the best way to keep that amazing flavor intact.

Now, the best way to drink one would depend on someone’s preference. Personally, I prefer mine as is or sweetened at most by just a little bit of brown sugar.

Though if you’ve got strong tastes for coffee, then adding cream will probably suit your taste buds better! Experiment and find out whichever you enjoy more!

I prefer giving the cortado a quick stir before drinking, but you can also drink it straight away, without stirring.

The espresso and milk have already been slightly mixed either way. I just like to stir it, so I’m sure all the flavors are well combined for each sip.

How many calories are in a cortado?

Depending on the milk you’re using, the number of calories will change. A cortado is normally made with whole milk.

A cortado made with whole milk has 34 calories. The espresso coffee has virtually no calories, so it all comes from the whole milk.

If you want to lower the number of calories, you might want to use low-fat milk or a milk alternative instead.


The cortado is an awesome coffee drink that can be enjoyed for its taste or to get some caffeine.

If you want to make the best cup of this drink, use quality espresso and milk and switch it up with a little sugar-free syrup on top or any other sweetener you like.

I hope you’re able to enjoy making your own cortado at home!

If there’s anything else you want to know about the cortado, please leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions!

Have a look below for even more espresso-based coffees you can give a try. It’s a great way to learn more about coffee.

More coffee recipes

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