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Cortado Vs Cappuccino: Difference Between Origin, Flavor, Bitterness, and More…

  • 6 min read

Looking for the perfect espresso-based coffee drink? Our guide breaks down the differences between the two, including the ingredients, preparation methods, and taste profiles. Read on to discover the right espresso for you.

We all love a hot cup of coffee in the morning, and if you are like us, we know you do too. However, if you are a new coffee lover, this new world can be exciting until you go to a coffee shop and can't figure out the menu.

Today, there are a ton of coffee drinks available, and it can be challenging to understand the difference between cortado and cappuccino. In this comparative guide, we'll discuss the key differences between cortado and cappuccino and their preparation methods as well.

What is a Cortado?


A cortado is a type of coffee drink, and it's made with a single shot of espresso and small amounts of steamed milk. A cortado's milk to espresso ratio is 1:1, meaning the amount of espresso equals the amount of milk.

This popular beverage originated in Spain. In fact, the word cortado is a Spanish word that means “to cut.” The idea behind this name is to cut the intensity of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk.

A cortado is served in a small glass, and you can have it during breakfast or lunchtime.

What is a Cappuccino?


A cappuccino is among the most popular types of coffee drink in the world, and it's made by mixing espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. A cappuccino is typically made with:

  • One-third of espresso.
  • One-third of steamed milk
  • One-third of foamed milk.

Just like the cortado, the cappuccino is made with a single shot of espresso. However, unlike the cortado, the cappuccino is topped with both steamed milk and foamed milk. Some of the toppings added to a cappuccino are chocolate, whipped cream, and cinnamon.

Pro Tip: A cappuccino made with two shots of espresso is referred to as a double cappuccino.

The Differences between Cortado and Cappuccino

The Differences between Cortado and Cappuccino

  • Origin

A cappuccino was first made in Italy before being introduced to the rest of the world. The name cappuccino came from the Capuchin friars, members of the Franciscan orders of monks. The coffee drink was called cappuccino due to its color resemblance to the Capuchin robe. However, some historians claim that the name originated from an Austrian name, Kapuziner.

On the other hand, a cortado originated in Spain, where it is served to date. This coffee drink was named “cortado,” which means “to cut.” This is because the espresso and the milk that made the drink were cut in half.

  • Foam

Cappuccinos are made with a thick layer of foam on top, while cortados are made with milk and espresso only.

  • Time

You only need around 20 – 30 seconds to make a cup of cortado. On the other hand, a cup of cappuccino can be made in around 30 – 40 seconds. The difference is not that much.

  • Flavor

The amount of milk added to these drinks determines the flavor of the coffee. A cortado has a strong espresso flavor because less milk is added.

A cappuccino has a mild espresso flavor because it has more milk. The milk quantity in cappuccino also gives it a sweet flavor as compared to cortado.

  • Acidity and Bitterness

Cortados are more acidic and bitter than cappuccinos. This is due to the higher amount of espresso that makes a cortado.

  • Caffeine Content

The cappuccino has low caffeine content as compared to the cortado because it's made with more milk. However, the difference is minimal.

  • Milk-to-Espresso Ratio

The cortado has a milk-to-espresso ratio of 1:1, which means the milk and espresso are in equal amounts. On the other hand, the cappuccino has a ratio of 1:1:1 for steamed milk, foamed milk, and espresso.

The milk-to-espresso ratio in these two drinks indicates that the cappuccino has more milk as compared to the cortado.

  • Milk Texture

The milk of the cappuccino is steamed and whipped to create a thick foam. This foam is used to top the drink. The cortado does not require a lot of foam, so the milk is heated to a silkier texture.

How to Make a Cortado?

If you are thinking of making a perfect cortado at home, you'll need an espresso and steamed milk.

Step 1: Brew a shot of espresso into your espresso cup.

Step 2: Steam the milk until you see small bubbles.

Step 3: Pour your milk over the espresso shot.

Step 4: Stir gently to mix.

Step 5: Enjoy it hot.

How to Make a Cappuccino

If you want to make a perfect cappuccino at home, you'll need espresso, steamed milk, and foamed.

Brew a shot of espresso into your espresso cup.

Step 1: Steam the milk until you see a thick foam on top.

Step 2: Pour your milk over the espresso shot.

Step 3: Stir gently to mix.

Step 4: Sprinkle your favorite topping.

Step 5: Enjoy it hot.

Cortado or Cappuccino: Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between a cortado and a cappuccino can be tricky since they are both made with milk and espresso. However, you can go for a cortado if you want a drink with a strong coffee flavor. On the other hand, a cappuccino may be the best option if you want your coffee with lots of foam.

Experimenting with these two drinks will help you decide the one that suits your personality and taste.

Tips for Making the Best Cortado or Cappuccino

When preparing your cortado or cappuccino, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use freshly ground espresso beans for the best flavor
  • Stir your coffee gently to mix the ingredients
  • Use high-quality cream
  • Ensure that your cappuccino has an even layer of foam on top
  • Preheat your espresso cup before pouring the espresso to help maintain the temperature of your coffee
  • Add your cocoa powder or flavored syrup to the espresso before putting the milk

Wrapping Up

Despite the fact that they are both coffee drinks, the cortado, and the cappuccino are not the same. If you are struggling to distinguish between the two, the above guide will help. Not only will you understand the difference between a cortado and a cappuccino, but you'll also know how to prepare each drink at home. Try them both to figure out the one you prefer between two.