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How To Make A Cortado: The Ultimate Cortado Guide

The Takeaway

Espresso machine making a cortado

Just a heads up, this article is way longer than our normal features on Hello Joburg, but we thought you needed an in depth guide to do this classic coffee drink justice. Plus we’ll be releasing similar ‘How to Guides’ in the future so keep your eyes open.

As a caffeine addict, it’s a dread to go on your day without a cup of this warm Joe. It doesn’t matter if you want it for the taste or a boost of energy, as a coffee lover will gladly take a sip of this at any time of the day.

Cortado might be a familiar drink you’ve noticed at least once in your favorite coffee shop. You’ve probably contemplated on getting one, but you thought it’s better to stick with your regular order. Now, you’re probably thinking: what is the cortado beverage all about?

Get to know about this mini explosive drink, and why it’s so well-known worldwide.

What is a cortado?

The spunky hot drink is a popular coffee beverage that has Spanish origins. It is made with equal parts of espresso and milk, and poured in a smaller-sized cup.

Espresso naturally has a high acidity level, which causes its bitterness. It’s not everyone’s favorite brew, especially those who prefer their coffee sweet. This paved the way for the creation of the very famous Cortado that many coffee enthusiasts have their eyes set on.

To cancel out the bitter taste of the heavy espresso, milk is mixed into the cup. It is effective in toning down the strong taste of caffeine.

The cortabo is noticeable for its small size compared to other regular-sized servings in your local coffee shop.

Another thing that many love the cortado for is its simplicity. The ingredients are just half espresso and half milk, but many people acknowledge the calm, light, and thin texture for giving the harmony and balance of flavors.

Birth of the cortado: an origin story

Cortado came from the Spanish word “cortado,” which means “cut” in English. The drink is all about figuratively cutting through the espresso with the use of milk. 

Spanish drinks’ notable characteristic is having little to no foam in their beverages, and it applies to cortado too.

Different coffees on a table with books

Brewing the cortado: D.I.Y.

Before learning how to make your next favourite caffeine drink, start by checking if you have the equipment and ingredients with you.

  • Espresso machine
  • You need one to create espresso, the main event in the espresso-based drink.
  • Whole coffee beans
  • It’s recommended to use freshly roasted coffee, one that’s between seven to 14 days old.
  • Milk
  • Take your favourite milk to mix in with the espresso to match your taste buds! Whole, 2%, Macadamia, Soya, Almond, there are many options available.

Now that you have all your equipment and ingredients ready, you can start making your homemade cortado. Here’s a simple three step recipe we prepared as a guide to help you along:

1. Start by brewing a double shot espresso.

Depending on the instructions of your espresso machine, prepare the double shot espresso. Use a small cup with a capacity of at least 120ml.

2. Steam the milk.

Steak your milk (or milk alternative) after extracting the espresso. Steam 120ml of milk but note that you’ll only use 60ml, but it’s better to steam more as milk tends to burn, which can reduce the amount.

3. Pour over the milk in the espresso shot.

Pre-measure the milk and make sure it is 60ml before pouring it over your espresso shot, as you want your cortado to have the accurate equal ratio of each ingredient.

Pro tip: best coffee to use in your cortado

The coffee beans’ quality makes up most of the taste of this drink as it provides the main flavour.

To get the richness of the espresso shot, use coffee that has more of a chocolate or nutty kick. Avoid beans that are fruit-based. They don’t pair well at all with whatever milk you decide to use, and they can even taste sour.

Drink cortado like a hipster

This milk and espresso drink can be seen in a sophisticated light, and the cortado will taste best if you sip it slowly. Coffee doesn’t have to be a rushed morning drink at all times, as it is better to bask in the experience of savoring the taste and texture.


We hope that you enjoyed this new format ‘How to guide” as much as we enjoyed drinking all the coffee while compiling it. If you have any suggestions for our next how to guide then PLEASE comment in the comment box below and we’ll get right on it.

* This article is in partnership with Cozy Coffee. 

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