Cortado vs Cappuccino

Comparing Cappuccino and Cortado

Cappuccino is the same as Cortado, right? They both are made from espresso and milk so what can be the difference?

Well, not so fast…

They do share the same ingredients.

But… They are anything but the same. The Cortado has a strong coffee taste while the Cappuccino tastes sweet and smooth.

Let’s find out why these two beverages have the same ingredients yet taste so very different! Find out at the end which might be the better of the two!

Cortado vs Cappuccino

What is a Cortado?

Originating in Spain, a cortado is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.

A Cortado is an espresso-based beverage. It consists of espresso and steamed milk in equal parts. That makes it one of the strongest tasting beverages that contain steamed or foamed milk and espresso.

The ratio between milk and espresso in a Cortado is a straight 1:1.

What does that mean?

It’s a very tasty beverage that has a distinct coffee taste. The bitterness is ‘cut’ by the steamed milk. That’s also where the name comes from. “Cortado” is the Spanish word for “cut” or “dilute”. And it’s a remarkably good description as the espresso is cut in its bitterness by the sweat milk.

Cortados can also be made with other non-dairy milk such as almond milk or soy milk. They are typically served in a small glass or cup.

You won’t be able to find a large Cortado as it’s a 1 to 1 mix. It’s typically served as a 4 oz drink. 2 oz espresso (two shots) and 2 oz of steamed milk. At most you could possibly have a Cortado as a 6 oz drink but anything above that would be a little on the high side of caffeine in your coffee!

If you prefer you can also order an iced Cortado. The ratios stay the same between the espresso and milk. The iced Cortado is served over ice cubes. The milk is cold and therefore not as creamy and sweet as steamed hot milk!

Cortado at Coffee Shop served in a glass cup

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What is a Cappuccino?

If you see someone drinking a light-brown coffee with white milk foam “artwork” on top out of a standard coffee cup, that person is likely drinking a cappuccino. Cappuccino is a combination of espresso and steamed milk, and it is usually served in six- to eight-ounce cups.

More often than not, cappuccino is one-third espresso (a shot of espresso), one-third steamed milk, and one-third milk foam. There are varying amounts of foam vs. steamed milk used in a cappuccino which then results in what is called a dry or wet cappuccino!

The amount of steamed milk and milk foam is the main difference between a cappuccino and a latte! It is not only tasty but is very attractive as well; the more artistic the barista is, the prettier your cup of cappuccino will be in the end.

Cappuccino is associated with Italian coffees since it is said to have originated at an Italian monastery celebrating a victory in Vienna. And just what is espresso? It is merely a very hot and very strong coffee that is a result of having steam forced through ground coffee beans. If you like your coffee strong, you’ll love espresso, and you’ll love cappuccino even more.

Cappuccinos do not only come as hot coffees, you can also order an iced cappuccino at coffee shops like Starbucks, Costa, or Nero. Iced cappuccinos have become a lot more common in the last few years.

Enjoying a Cup of Cappuccino

You might also be interested in: Does Cappuccino Have Caffeine? Is it More than in a Cup of Coffee?

What are the Differences between a Cappuccino and a Cortado?

First, a cortado is an espresso mixed with steamed milk. It is made with a double shot of espresso and at least 50 percent milk. Some baristas use more milk for a softer, smoother drink, but these two coffees have similarities. Besides their names, the two coffees are served differently.

A cappuccino has three equal parts: one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and the last third milk foam. The steamed milk produces micro-foam that floats on top of the espresso, making the drink foamy and delicious. You can try either drink to see what you prefer. They’re both good for you.

In short, the Cortado has more coffee compared to a Cappuccino. Therefore, it tastes a lot stronger. If you prefer a nice kick from your coffee, then the Cortado is your choice. If you like the coffee to be smoothed out with a lot of milk then pick the Cappuccino. A Cappuccino tastes sweeter compared to the Cortado.

That being said, the Cortado does not taste bitter. The steamed milk cuts through the bitterness and gives the Cortado a strong espresso taste without being bitter.

Another big difference is the foam. The Cortado barely has any while the Cappuccino has the most foam out of all espresso and milk beverages. The foam helps to give the Cappuccino a much smoother finish.

The foam also causes the Cappuccino to feel a lot more airy and lighter. The Cortado, on the other hand, does have less milk but it’s mostly just steamed milk. It feels smoother while it’s also stronger.

You might also be interested in: Piccolo Latte vs Cortado – What are the Differences between them?

Make a Cortado at Home

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Final Thoughts

Both Cappuccino and Cortado share the same ingredients. They are made with espresso and milk. The main differences are the amount of milk that is used and also how the milk is prepared.

Cappuccino consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 milk foam. This gives the beverage a smooth and velvety taste.

The Cortado simply consists of 1/2 espresso and 1/2 steamed milk. You can add a little foam on top but you overall have a 1 to 1 ratio between milk and espresso. It’s easy to understand that the Cortado, therefore, has a much stronger coffee/espresso taste compared to the Cappuccino.

There’s no straightforward recommendation which of the two beverages is better. It does depend on your mood and overall preferences.

If you prefer a stronger coffee taste then it’s clearly the Cortado. The Cappuccino provides you with a smoother finish.

We like both but do prefer the Cortado earlier in the day and the Cappuccino in the early afternoon. Yet, there’s also a good time to finish a delicious lunch with a nice cup of Cortado.

So, we’re really not sure that there is a universal recommendation. Try them both and then, like us, enjoy either whenever you feel like drinking a Cappuccino or a Cortado!

Cappuccino vs Cortado
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