Piccolo Latte vs Cortado – What are the Differences between them?

You hear ‘piccolo’ and think of a type of flute?

Not so fast…

We’re not discussing musical instruments but one of the hidden coffee gems that you might not have heard of. We are talking about the Piccolo Latte and how it compares to a Cortado.

Living in the US, these are not that commonly seen espresso coffees. Yet, you can find them in specialty coffee shops and they are both a beverage you should try when you get a chance.

So, what are Piccolo Latte and Cortado? They are both small espresso drinks with milk. Usually, they come in sizes of less than 4 oz.

Yet, what is the difference between a piccolo latte vs cortado? A piccolo latte is nothing else than a small (tiny really) latte. The cortado is similarly a small espresso drink with the difference being that your piccolo latte typically contains one shot of espresso while the Cortado is made with two shots. Therefore, the Piccolo Latte has more milk while the Cortado has more espresso.

This gives the Cortado a stronger taste while the Piccolo Latte ends up being a smoother, milkier beverage.

Let’s have a closer look at each of these delicious espresso beverages. 

Piccolo Latte vs Cortado

What is a Piccolo Latte?

A piccolo latte is a coffee drink that consists of espresso and steamed milk. The milk is poured into a small cup or glass, then the espresso is poured in on top.

It is simply a small Cafe Latte with a single shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk. It is usually served in a small 3 to 4 oz glass or cup. It is quite similar to a cappuccino but has less foam and more milk. 

The Piccolo Latte tastes stronger than a regular latte as it contains less milk. The espresso shot is usually around 1 oz of liquid and then there are 2 to 3 oz of steamed milk. A regular latte has more like 4 to 5 oz of milk or even more!

The lower amount of milk being used lets the espresso shine. It allows the flavors of the espresso to come out more strongly and therefore the Piccolo Latte provides a lot more coffee flavor compared to larger lattes.

Delicious Piccolo Latte

Also of interest: Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Espresso – What Are The Differences? and Different Types of Latte Flavors – Most Popular Flavored Lattes Explained

How is a Piccolo Latte Made?

A piccolo latte is made by adding a small amount of espresso to milk that has been steamed and then poured into a narrow glass. The drink gets its name from the Italian word for “small,” because it is a smaller version of the latte.

Piccolo lattes are often served with a dusting of cocoa or cinnamon on top. You can also request your Piccolo latte with a shot of your favorite syrup to adjust the taste to your liking.

Is Piccolo Latte Hard to Find?

Piccolo lattes are hard to find in some areas. The small coffee is made with espresso and steamed milk. It has a stronger coffee flavor compared to a typical latte or cappuccino. That’s probably why it hasn’t been widely adopted.

As it’s not a very popular espresso drink, it’s hard to find. You usually have the most luck finding the beverage in smaller specialty coffee shops. Large coffee chains like Starbucks do not list it on their menu.

How to make a Piccolo Latte at Home 

A piccolo latte is a small espresso with steamed milk and foam. The milk is poured into a narrow glass, so the coffee foam can be seen on top. Piccolo lattes are often served in cafes as part of a set with a pastry or another drink.

Making a piccolo latte at home is easy. All you need is an espresso machine and some steamed milk. Fill the espresso machine’s filter with ground espresso and tamp it down. Brew espresso and pour it into a glass. Steam some milk and pour it over the espresso. Add foam to the top by using a handheld frother or an automatic frother on your espresso machine. Serve immediately.

Freshly prepared Piccolo Latte

Also of interest: Macchiato vs Latte – Espresso and Milk in Different Ways and What is Café con Leche? Is it just a Fancy Caffe Latte?

What Is a Cortado?

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

You might be thinking, “Hey, aren’t these the same ingredients as in a Piccolo Latte?”

Yes – they are.


The difference is the ratio. Where you have a ratio of around 1:2 to 1:3 of espresso to milk in a Piccolo Latte, you have a straight 1:1 ratio in a Cortado.

The result?

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 types of milk such as almond milk or soy milk. They are typically served in a small glass or cup.

Cortado at Coffee Shop served in a glass cup

Also of interest: Macchiato vs Cortado – Comparing these two Delicious Espressos with Milk as well as Flat White vs Cortado – What is Different with these Espresso Drinks?

Piccolo Latte vs Cortado – The Showdown!

Piccolo latte and cortado are espresso-based coffee drinks that are gaining in popularity. They are both very popular in Europe, and they are starting to become more popular in the United States.

They are both made with espresso and milk, but the key difference is that a Piccolo Latte is made with a bit more milk than a Cortado. This results in a drink that is creamier and has a more balanced flavor.

The Cortado has its origins in Spain, where it was developed as a drink for people who wanted the flavor of espresso but didn’t want it to be too strong. A Cortado is an espresso drink that’s made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The milk is poured over the espresso, which creates a layer of foam on top.

A Piccolo Latte is basically a small latte. It’s made with espresso and steamed milk, and it’s served in a small cup or mug. The Piccolo Latte is less common but can be found in some cafes in the United States. It is essentially a mini version of the latte, with less milk.

So which one should you order? If you want a creamy, balanced coffee drink, go for the Piccolo Latte. If you prefer a stronger coffee taste then the Cortado is your choice!

Make a Cortado at Home

Also of interest: Flat White vs. Latte vs. Café au Lait

Final Thoughts

It’s impossible to declare one of these delightful drinks the winner over the other. You might prefer the silkier taste of the Piccolo Latte or the strong coffee taste of the Cortado. Or, you might like both and pick one or the other depending on your mood.

You can personalize both of these drinks as you want. Add a shot of flavored syrup or switch out the dairy milk for a non-dairy variant like soy milk or oat milk.

Our suggestion? Try them all. All these different variations are just too delicious to not try and consume regularly!

Cortado vs Piccolo Latte
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