Judging from the names, a Cortado, and a Cortadito sound like the same drink. While they are related, these two espresso drinks are not the same.
This post dives deeper into the similarities and differences between the Spanish-origin Cortado and Cuban-origin Cortadito. In the end, you will be able to tell them apart and it will be easier to make an order.
With that out of the way, let’s get things rolling.
Table of Contents
The Spanish-origin Cortado is an espresso drink containing equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk without foam. On the other hand, a Cortadito is the Cuban relative of the Spanish Cortado. It’s prepared with equal amounts of presweetened espresso and steamed milk.
From the definition, you can easily tell the difference between a Cortado and a Cortadito. But there is more. Let’s get deeper and compare the origin, preparation, servings, and taste.
|1:1 Espresso and steamed milk
|1:1 Presweetened espresso and steamed milk
|Number of espresso shots
|63 mg – 126 mg
|63 mg – 126 mg
|59 for a 2 shot Cortado
|Vanilla syrup Honey syrup
|Intense espresso taste yet sweet
|Extremely sweet and strong espresso flavor
History shows that the Cortado comes from Spain’s Basque Country. The Spanish origin is confirmed by the drink’s name, which in Spanish means“to cut”.
The drink gets its name from the act of cutting or diluting espresso to tone and balance the flavors and acidity.
On the other hand, the Cortadito is one of the four Cuban coffee drinks, among cafe Cubano, Colada, and Café Con Leche.
The Cortadito was invented in Florida by Cuban Americans in the 1960s. While Café Cubano and Café Con Leche have spread to other places, the Cortadito is most popular in Miami.
That’s why it’s rare to find a Cortadito in your nearest Starbucks or coffee shop. The only Starbucks that serves Cortadito is the Coffee Ventanita in Miami. Below is how Starbucks Cortadito
“Our signature espresso roast topped with steamed milk with some added sweetness and a little bit of foam”
In Cuban culture, drinking coffee is about socialization and not about the drink. Cuban coffee drinks are also known to be very strong for using dark roasted beans, which is why brown, white, or demerara sugar is added.
A Cortado contains one or two shots of espresso and an equal amount of steamed milk without foam. The milk is steamed carefully without introducing foam. This makes sure the milk cuts through the drink forming a perfect blend.
On the contrary, a Cortadito is made with an equal amount of presweetened espresso and steamed milk. The milk is not frothed or foamed.
The use of presweetened espresso is common in Cuban coffee drinks. This is done either by whipping sugar in a small amount of espresso or adding sugar to the water in the Moka pot. When sugar is whipped in a little espresso, you get an espuma.
Instead of steamed milk, condensed milk, or evaporated milk is used.
Preparing a traditional Cortadito at home is very easy since there is no need for an espresso machine or frothing equipment. Even in Cuban coffee shops, espresso is made with a Moka pot.
Here is the thing:
The tradition of cutting espresso with milk started when some people found espresso to be very strong.
Cortaditos on the other hand are extremely sweet but still pack a punch. When presweetened espresso is added, steamed milk is used and not condensed milk. Condensed milk is preferred when the espresso is not presweetened.
While the milk and sugar tone down the espresso flavors and acidity, the espresso flavors are still vibrant.
Both Cortado and Cortadito are small-sized drinks. Also unlike most other espresso drinks, they are available in just one size.
Since they are made with 1 or 2 shots of espresso and an equal amount of steamed milk, the two drinks are served in 3-4 Oz glass cups.
For the Cortadito, it is typically served in a demitasse cup or tacitas. In some places, Cortado is referred to as Gibraltar Coffee when served in a Gibraltar cup.
A Cortado and a Cortadito contain the same amount of caffeine. That is 63mg for one shot and 126 mg for double shots.
When it comes to calories, Cortadito takes the lead. First, Cortadito is made with presweetened espresso, or sugar is added. Sometimes condensed or evaporated milk is added.
Since most Cortadito recipes use 4 tablespoons of sugar, there are 60 calories from the sugar. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of sugar has 15 calories.
There are even more calories from steamed milk. According to the USDA 250ml of whole milk contains 152 calories.
While a Cortado and a Cortadito sound like the same drink, they are different. Here is a recap of the differences.
- The Cortado originated in Spain while the Cortadito was invented by Cuban Americans in Florida
- A Cortado is made with 2 shots of regular espresso.
- Cortaditos contains 2 shots of presweetened espresso.
- Cortadito can be made with steamed milk, evaporated, or condensed milk.
- Cortadito’s espresso is typically made with a Moka pot.
- A Cortado has a balanced espresso and milk taste, while a Cortadito is extremely sweet.
- Because of presweetened espresso, a Cortadito has more calories.
And that is all for the differences between Cortado and Cortadito. Now, it will be easy to order any of the two drinks. Order a cup of Cortadito when you want a sweet and calories-heavy drink and Cortado when you want a balanced drink.
Frequently Asked Questions
A cup of Cortado containing 1 shot of espresso contains 63 mg of caffeine and 126mg for a double shot.
A cup of Cortadito containing one shot of presweetened espresso will have 63 mg of caffeine and 126mg in case of a double shot.
Since a Cortadito is made with dark roast beans, the caffeine amount may be lower since research shows dark roast coffee beans have slightly lower caffeine.
Cortadito is the diminutive of Cortado. In Spanish, Cortado is the past participle of cortar, which means to cut. In the context of coffee, Cortado means to use milk to cut or dilute espresso.
Unfortunately, Starbucks does not have Cortadito on its menu. The only Starbucks that sells Cortadito is the coffee Ventanita in Miami.
If you want to get Cortadito from Starbucks, the only way is to describe the drink. In this case, a single or double shot ristretto shots and equal amounts of condensed milk. You can also ask for packets of raw sugar.
A Cortadito is a 2oz – 4oz drink depending on the number of shots. The standard Cortadito serving contains 2 shots of presweetened espresso and 2 ounces of steamed milk.
Yes, a Cortadito is the Cuban version of the Spanish Cortado.