How to Make a Cortado

How to Make a Cortado

February 22, 2021

Love espresso, but need just a bit of milk to cut through the bitterness and acidity? Then a cortado is your coffee drink of choice. These little drinks are made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk, perfectly blended together for a bold, yet balanced cup.

What You'll Need

  • 1 Tbsp (14 grams) finely ground espresso beans
  • 2 oz of milk (plus more for steaming)
  • Espresso machine
  • Milk steaming wand or other milk frothing device
  • Milk steaming pitcher
  • Coffee grinder (optional)
  • Kitchen scale (optional)
  • Ember Mug²


  1. Pull 2 espresso shots (2 oz) directly into your Ember Mug².
  2. Steam milk.
  • Note: you may need 4-6 oz of milk in your pitcher to achieve the right texture, but you’ll only use 2 oz in the finished product.
  • Submerge a steaming wand just under the surface of the milk. Keep the wand submerged and angled to the side of the pitcher in order to create a vortex. This will help evenly texture the milk and prevent large bubbles.
  • Steam milk to about 140°F (usually when pitcher begins to feel slightly too hot to the touch comfortably, but not burning).
  1. Tap pitcher on counter to break up any bubbles and swirl milk in pitcher. To cut through the espresso properly, you’ll need a smooth, velvety microfoam with no visible bubbles. If you do have large bubbles or any stiff, airy foam on top, use a spoon to skim it off.
  2. Pour 2 oz of milk over espresso in your Ember Mug², allowing it to blend throughout the espresso.

Due to their small size, cortados cool quickly. If you want a little more time to sip and savor, we recommend enjoying your cortado at 135°F in a temperature-controlled Ember Mug!

Want to take your coffee knowledge a bit deeper?

What is a cortado?

A cortado is a small espresso-based drink that gets its name from the Spanish cortar or “to cut.” As the name suggests, the small amount of milk is meant to “cut” through the espresso, blending throughout the drink and balancing the bitterness. Not to be confused with its close cousins, the macchiato and the flat white, a cortado truly is its own thing. Flat whites are similar, but contain a few more ounces of milk. And whereas a macchiato simply tops espresso with milk foam, a cortado incorporates steamed milk throughout the espresso and doesn’t feature foam.

While drinks like lattes and cappuccinos can vary in size, cortados are almost always the same size at any coffee shop. By its nature, a cortado is one part espresso to one part steamed milk, so there’s not much room for variance here. Because most cafés make cortados with a double shot of espresso (about 2 oz), a cortado is almost always 4 oz.

For a deeper dive into the different drinks on your favorite cafés menu, see our full guide to The 7 Most Popular Espresso Drinks.

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