Cortado vs Latte: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: by: Amanda T

cortado vs latte

If you haven’t heard of a cortado, you aren’t alone. It’s a recently introduced Spanish espresso drink, and we will tell you all about it. In contrast, its espresso relative the latte is a pretty popular drink already in the U.S., one that we may not know has a close Spanish cousin. We are here to help you better understand what a cortado and a latte are, and the differences between these two similar drinks.

What is a Latte made of?

Lattes are an Italian coffee creation made from espresso shots and generous amounts of steamed milk. The steamed milk creates a little foam layer that sits at the top of the cup. The size of the beverage ranges from 6 and 20 ounces. The amount of shots going into the drink depends on the proportions/size of the cup. It typically ranges from 1 to 3 ounces of espresso, however, some consumers prefer adding even more than that.

Lattes are popular because they combine the intense espresso flavor with a lot of creamy milk to create a mellow espresso taste. They also have options for many flavor add-ins to help you create exactly what you’re craving.


Image credit: Takeaway, Wikimedia

What is a Cortado made of?

This espresso drink was crafted in Spain and brought to the U.S. not too long ago. It is also an espresso drink with steamed milk, but it has aspects that separate it from a latte. It’s essentially equal parts espresso and steamed milk with no added flavors or sugar. This means one shot of espresso is matched with equal parts milk, making the drink about three or four ounces altogether. This drink packs a powerful espresso flavor but still has a milky balance.

The name “cortado” comes from “cortar,” Spanish for “to cut.” The espresso is “cut” with the steamed milk to reduce acidity and intensity. Its Spanish origins are important for understanding how the drink is made. The cortado doesn’t have any foam, because traditionally the Spanish, unlike the Italians, don’t like foam in their coffee drinks. This non-frothed milk gives it a silky texture and a nice balance between the espresso and milk.


Image credit: Alfonso Salgueiro Lora, Wikimedia

Highlighting the Differences

The main difference between the latte and cortado is the size of the drink, because of the different amounts of steamed milk used. There are some other considerable differences that could help you decide which one you would prefer. Let’s review them.

  • Lattes are much creamier and richer.
  • A cortado has a more intense espresso flavor than a latte.
  • A latte is a larger beverage than a cortado.
  • Cortados aren’t typically altered with sugar or flavors, while lattes often have flavors added.

Note: see our top 10 latte makers of 2019 here. We reviewed dozens of models to make this list.