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How Do You Make a Perfect Cortado?

Coffee drink Cortado in cup

How Do You Make a Perfect Cortado?

If you have an affinity for coffee and are looking to take your home brewing up a notch with ease, the cortado is a must-make. This Spanish classic coffee beverage is really the ideal balance between espresso and milk and adds a rich and creamy experience. It's much less intense than sipping on a straight up shot of espresso but more robust than your classic latte. If you've enjoyed a classic latte and want to decrease the amount of milk you're using, a cortado is going to be a game changer. Grab your gear and your favorite coffee (we're kind of biased because we love to use our Brazil on espresso) and let's get to crafting. 

So, what actually is a Cortado anyways?

By definition, a cortado is an extremely well known coffee drink that first originated in Spain. The name "cortado" is derived from the Spanish word "cortar," which translates to the phrase "to cut." and when you're making this drink, you're essentially using your milk to "cut" your espresso. We are big fans of this method as it leaves you with a flawless balance of strong coffee and smooth milk. 

What you'll need to get brewing:

Ingredients:

  • Freshly ground coffee beans (preferably a medium to dark roast)
  • Fresh milk (whole milk is recommended, but you can use alternatives like oat milk or almond milk)

Equipment:

  • Espresso machine or a Moka pot 
  • Milk frother or steam wand
  • Coffee grinder (if you’re using whole beans which we recommend)
  • A small glass (traditionally, a cortado is served in a 4-6 oz glass)

Let's Make a Cortado:

Step 1: Prep Your Espresso

  1. Grind Your Coffee Beans: You'll want to first start this process by grinding your coffee beans to a fine consistency, think something similar to table salt. Your grind size is very important. *Pro Tip: Using freshly ground coffee beans will make a significant difference in flavor.

  2. Brew the Espresso: If you're using an espresso machine, we like to use about use 18 grams of coffee to yield a double shot of espresso. This will result in around 2 ounces of coffee. If you're using a Moka pot, you'll want to fill the bottom chamber with water and the filter basket with fresh coffee grounds, then brew in the device as usual.

Step 2: Steam Your Milk

  1. Heat Your Milk: Heat milk and then pour into a pitcher. You'll need about 2 ounces of milk to make your cortado.

  2. Froth Your Milk: Use a steam wand to froth the milk until it reaches a smooth, velvety texture. If you don’t have a steam wand, no worries! Use a handheld milk frother instead or shake heated milk in a jar. 

*Pro-Tip: We love to use Whole Milk or Oat Milk for the most creamy or velvety texture.

Step 3: Combine Your Espresso and Steamed Milk

  1. Pour Your Espresso: Pour the freshly brewed double shot of espresso into a small glass.

  2. Add Your Steamed Milk: Gently pour the steamed milk over the espresso, and make sure you achieve a 1:1 ratio. Your milk should seamlessly blend with the espresso, creating a uniform drink with a slight layer of microfoam on top.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Homemade Cortado!

You deserve this treat! Take a second and appreciate the process of making such a beautiful coffee drink and try to notice the unique flavor profile that your coffee beans have brought to the table. The cortado's true beauty lies in its simplicity and balance. 

Tips for Crafting Perfect Cortado Every Time

  • Use High Quality Coffee Beans: Make sure to use high-quality and freshly roasted coffee beans to achieve the best flavor. Need some? We've got you covered. 
  • Milk Temps: Try to avoid overheating your milk. Shoot for around 150°F (65°C) to keep the distinct sweetness and texture. 
  • Have Fun: The best part about the coffee world is testing! Feel free to play around with different types of milk, roasts and flavor profiles. You might be surprised at what you fall in love with. 

When you decide to finally make a cortado at home, we hope that you take the time to cherish and enjoy the process. Even better if you show your friends what you can make! I promise, if you serve these at the next dinner party, people will be highly impressed. 

If you've already mastered this art, feel free to share your favorite cortado-making experiences any helpful tips you have in the comments below. 

>> WATCH US MAKE A CORTADO FOR YOU! 

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