Cortado vs Latte | Stop Using These Incorrectly

Are you one of the many people who have been using these terms (cortado vs latte) incorrectly? Well, I can’t blame you, because they are so similar, that it is easy to confuse. By the end of this, you won’t mix the terms up again and you will be correcting anybody who confuses the two. 

While there have been many variations of espresso and milk that have been created over time, it is important that you are using the right terminology to not look like a rookie when talking about your espresso choices!

Let’s start with the main reason that these two drinks are mixed up. They are both made with espresso and steamed milk. If you’ve ever seen art made from the steamed milk being added, then you are looking at either latte art, or cortado art. 

Below are some examples of the latte art that is seen in lattes and cortados. 

In order to make either of these well, first you need great espresso! Read our article here to see the best tools to make great espresso.


What is a cortado?

In order to make a cortado, you need to understand the ratio of espresso to milk. Cortados are unique because they contain a 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk. This means for every ounce of espresso you add, you will also add 1 ounce of steamed milk. 

This make the drink much more concentrated than a latte, and when you taste the drink, you will be able to tell the difference. A cortado will have a more acidic, bitter, espresso taste to it. 


The term cortado comes from Spanish decent (where the cortado comes from). Cortado in Spanish translates to “to cut”. The term is referring to the milk being “cut” into the espresso. It is assumed that the drink originated near Madrid, and it is unknown when exactly the first cortado was made. 

Cortado Variations

As time goes on, people have put their own unique twists on cortados. Let’s take a look at some of the variations that people have made to cortados.

Cortado Variations
Iced Cortado
Hazelnut Cortado
Oat Milk Cortado
Iced Caramel Cortado
Iced Vanilla Cortado
Double Cortado

What is a latte?

The espresso ratio of a latte is lower than a cortado. While a cortado has a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk, a latte only has a 1:3 ratio (in many coffeehouses this in even more diluted to 1:4 or even 1:5). This dilutes the espresso to make the bitter flavor of the espresso easier to taste. Espresso is an acquired, “mature” taste that takes time to get used to. A latte adds a higher amount of steamed milk in order to make that acidic taste more bearable. 

While cortados contain steam milk, lattes also contain a small amount of milk foam at the top of the beverage. This is what makes it much easier to make latte art it a latte vs a cortado. 

Latte Variations

Latte Variations
Iced Latte
Mocha Latte
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Chai Latte
Matcha Latte
Piccolo Latte
Turmeric Latte

Size of cortado vs size of latte

When you look at a cortado vs a latte, you should be able to tell fairly quickly whether you are looking at a cortado or a latte. The traditional size of both of these drinks is one of the most distinguishable features of these drinks and here’s why.

Cortado Size

Cortados are traditionally served in clear 4 oz glasses called a Gibraltar (cortado cup). The key here is that a cortado is served as a 4 oz drink. Of course, this drink isn’t always served in a glass and can be served in to-go cups. While traditionally, this drink is served at 4 ounces, it is definitely possible to order and make a larger size and still be classified as a cortado. 

Using a 4 oz glass, it is actually really easy to measure out the correct ratios in order to make a cortado. Here are the steps you need to follow in order to make a cortado.

Using these steps, making a cortado at the correct ratios should be fairly easy!

Latte size

Lattes can be enjoyed at a variety of different sizes. There is no standard to how large a latte should be. Coffee shops serve lattes in 6, 8 , 12, 16, and even 20 ounces (venti). 

The reason lattes are usually served in larger sizes is because their ratio of espresso to milk is lower than a cortado. With a lower espresso ratio, you would have to drink more of “diluted” latte to equal the same amount of espresso as you would have had in a cortado. 

How to order a cortado

You won’t see a cortado on any menus at Dunkin’, Starbucks, or most coffee shops that you may frequent, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t order one. If you want to order this drink at any coffee shop, just ask to order a double shot of espresso with 2 oz of steamed milk added on top.

Cortado vs latte conclusion

It is very easy to get confused with all of the different espresso based drinks that are available, but just know that each drink was created for their own reasons! 

You can easily taste the difference between these two drinks. A cortado is going to have less steamed milk and will be more bitter than a latte. The cortado will be made with a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk and the latte will be made from a 1:3 ratio, making it less concentrated than the cortado. Keep in mind that typically, a cortado is a smaller drink at 4 oz and a latte is usually served at around 12 ounces.