Cafe Cortado Recipe for Coffee Lovers

cafe cortado recipe

Cafe Cortado Recipe for Coffee Lovers

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Did you know that the cafe cortado, an espresso-based drink, is rapidly becoming the go-to choice for coffee enthusiasts worldwide? If you’ve ever wondered how to make cafe cortado at home, you’re in luck. I’ve simplified the process, so you can enjoy this delicious homemade cafe cortado recipe without needing to be a professional barista.

This beloved traditional Spanish coffee combines the robust flavour of espresso with the smoothness of steamed milk, creating a drink that’s both bold and beautifully balanced.

It’s the perfect way to bring a touch of Spanish coffee culture into your kitchen.

This recipe allows you to craft the perfect espresso-based drink, achieving that seamless blend of strength and smoothness that defines a true cafe cortado.

Ready to get started? Grab your espresso machine, and let’s dive into the world of Spanish coffee!

What is a cafe cortado?

Let me tell you about the unique charm of Spanish cortado coffee. This delightful espresso coffee has its roots in Spain, offering a beautiful blend of robust espresso and a splash of milk.

cortado coffee definition

The cortado coffee definition is simple yet intriguing. It’s all about balancing the intense flavour of espresso with the creamy smoothness of milk.

Unlike lattes or cappuccinos, which can be milk-heavy, the milk-infused espresso in a cortado is just enough to cut through the espresso’s boldness.

Typically, a cafe cortado maintains a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk, enhancing the coffee’s natural flavours while smoothening its bite.

This results in a drink that’s both vibrant and smooth, making it a fantastic choice for those who love their coffee strong but not overpowering.

Interestingly, the traditional Spanish cortado coffee is often served in a small, clear glass, allowing its minimalistic beauty to shine.

There’s no need for elaborate toppings or fancy foam art—its appeal lies in its simplicity and purity.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Before starting your cafe cortado, gather the right ingredients to ensure you get that authentic taste. Let’s dive into what you’ll need.


I always make sure to find beans that are noted for their bold taste and aroma. An espresso machine is ideal for brewing the perfect shot of espresso.

Don’t you have an espresso machine? No worries—you can use a stovetop espresso maker instead.

fresh espresso beans

The quality of your espresso significantly affects the final result. Make sure your beans are finely ground to get the most out of each shot.


Next, choose quality whole milk. This not only adds a creamy texture but also balances the strong espresso flavor.

If you prefer dairy alternatives, make sure your choice steams well. Options like oat milk or almond milk can work beautifully too. The milk should complement the strong espresso to achieve that perfect balance.

When heated properly, the milk will bring out the best in your coffee, ensuring you get that smooth, delightful finish.

Remember, the best ingredients for coffee are key to crafting an exceptional cafe cortado.

Step-by-Step Cafe Cortado Recipe

Cafe Cortado

Cafe Cortado is a traditional Spanish coffee that combines a shot of robust espresso with a splash of steamed milk. This simple yet delightful drink balances bold coffee flavors with creamy smoothness, perfect for any coffee lover.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course beverage, Breakfast
Cuisine Spanish


  • Freshly roasted espresso beans
  • Whole milk (or non-dairy alternatives like oat milk or almond milk)
  • Step-by-Step Guide to Follow to Make the Recipe:
  • Prepare your espresso:
  • Use freshly ground espresso beans.
  • Brew a strong shot of espresso using an espresso machine or a stovetop espresso maker.
  • Steam Your Milk:
  • Steam the milk to a smooth and creamy consistency, avoiding too much froth.
  • Combine and serve:
  • Pour the espresso into a small glass.
  • Gently add the steamed milk, maintaining a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk.
  • Optional: Sweeten to taste with sugar or sweetener.


If you don't have an espresso machine, a stovetop espresso maker works well.
For a non-dairy version, ensure your milk alternative steams well and complements the espresso's flavor.
Keyword cafe cortado recipe, espresso drink, homemade cafe cortado, Spanish coffee

Creating a cafe cortado can seem daunting, but it’s quite simple if you break it down. Let’s walk through this easy espresso recipe together!

Step 1: Prepare Your Espresso

First, we need to make a strong and flavorful espresso shot. Use freshly ground espresso beans for the best result. Whether you have an espresso machine or a stovetop espresso maker, aim for a rich, dark shot.

Step 2: Steam Your Milk

Next, steam your milk to the right creamy consistency. It’s important to know how to steam milk correctly to avoid too much froth. You’re aiming for smooth and velvety milk here.

Step 3: Combine and Serve

Now comes the fun part! Pour your espresso into a small glass. Gently add the steamed milk, maintaining the right ratio, so you’re crafting the perfect cafe cortado. It should be a seamless blend.

Optional: Sweeten to Taste

If you prefer a touch of sweetness, feel free to add a bit of sugar or sweetener. Sweetening coffee is totally up to you, and it can add a nice twist to your drink.

Benefits of Drinking Cafe Cortado

Drinking a cafe cortado comes with numerous advantages. It’s not just about enjoying a smooth coffee experience.

There are also compelling reasons why this espresso-based drink is a favorite for many coffee lovers.

Lower Acidity

One of the significant health benefits of cortado is its lower acidity. The addition of milk to espresso creates a less acidic espresso drink, making it gentler on your stomach.

If you’ve ever experienced discomfort from acidic coffee beverages, a cafe cortado could be your perfect solution.

Rich Flavor

A cafe cortado offers a rich, full-bodied flavor that coffee connoisseurs adore. The balance between the espresso and milk results in a smooth coffee that stands out among other espresso-based drinks.

Not only is it delicious, but it also packs in the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption, such as improved mental alertness and a boost of antioxidants.


Embracing the art of making a cafe cortado at home can be incredibly rewarding and deceptively simple. With just a few quality ingredients and the right technique, you can master the cafe cortado and indulge in a piece of Spanish coffee bliss without stepping foot outside your kitchen.

As your home barista journey unfolds, don’t hesitate to experiment with the process. Maybe tweak the espresso-to-milk ratio or try different types of milk to see how they complement the rich espresso. Becoming your own barista allows you to tailor the drink to your precise taste, making your coffee experience uniquely enjoyable.

Ultimately, mastering cafe cortado making at home brings you closer to savoring the true essence of Spanish coffee culture. So, why not bring a bit of that refined, harmonious blend of espresso and milk into your daily routine? Let each sip be a reminder of the rich tradition you’ve made a part of your everyday life.


What is a cafe cortado?

A cafe cortado is a traditional Spanish espresso-based coffee drink that combines a shot of strong espresso with a splash of steamed milk. This creates a rich and balanced beverage that highlights the robust flavor of the espresso while smoothing it out with a touch of milk.

How do I make a cafe cortado at home?

To make a cafe cortado at home, you’ll need freshly roasted espresso beans, quality whole milk (or a suitable alternative), and an espresso machine. Brew a shot of espresso, steam the milk to a creamy consistency without creating too much froth, and then combine the two in a small glass. For a step-by-step guide, you can check out the detailed recipe instructions.

What’s the difference between a cafe cortado and a latte?

The main difference lies in the ratio of espresso to milk. A cafe cortado typically has a higher concentration of espresso in milk compared to a latte. This results in a stronger coffee flavor in the cortado, whereas a latte is milkier and has a creamier texture. Additionally, a cortado is smaller in size and usually served without any toppings or froth.

Can I use non-dairy milk to make a cafe cortado?

Absolutely! While whole milk is traditionally used, you can opt for non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk. Just make sure the alternative milk steams well and complements the strong taste of the espresso.

What equipment do I need to make a cafe cortado?

Ideally, an espresso machine is recommended to brew a strong and flavorful shot of espresso. However, you can also use a stovetop espresso maker if an espresso machine is not available. For steaming milk, a steam wand on an espresso machine works best, but you can also use a handheld milk frother or a stovetop steamer.

Is a cafe cortado less acidic than other espresso drinks?

Yes, a cafe cortado tends to be less acidic than other espresso drinks like an espresso shot or a black coffee due to the splash of milk added to it. The milk helps to neutralize some of the acidity, making it easier on the stomach.

Can I sweeten my cafe cortado?

Of course! While a traditional cafe cortado is not sweetened, you can add sugar, honey, or your preferred sweetener to taste. Just make sure to add it while the coffee is hot so it dissolves well.

What are the health benefits of drinking a cafe cortado?

Drinking a cafe cortado can provide several health benefits due to the antioxidants found in coffee, which can help improve mental alertness and protect against certain diseases. Additionally, the presence of milk in a cortado can make it gentler on your stomach compared to other, more acidic espresso drinks.
I'm a coffee enthusiast who loves getting into the heart and soul of Denver's coffee scene. My mission? To share my passion for coffee with you by providing expert tips, revealing hidden gems, and anything else that will make your coffee experience more enjoyable. When I'm not out exploring new cafes or experimenting with coffee recipes, you can find me sharing my discoveries with other coffee enthusiasts like yourself.
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