Cortado vs Latte: Which to Choose?

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Your favorite coffee shop has dozens of espresso and milk-based drinks on its menu. Millions of coffee lovers are enjoying either a Latte or a Cortado right now. While the former is served everywhere, the cortado is recently catching up and becoming more popular than ever.

If you are keen to learn more about the differences and similarities of these two styles, please follow our guide. We will make the cortado vs latte decision easier for you if you fancy any of these milky “shots.”

When we say “shots,” we do mean espresso. And if you are reading this, the chances are high that Italian and Spanish coffee drinks can lift your spirits as much as they can lift ours. So, let’s dive straight into this and find out more!

What is a Latte?

What is a latte

While this coffee drink is originally from Italy, it was popularized in the US by various coffee shops and chains. “Caffe e Latte” is the original Italian phrase meaning “Coffee and Milk.” Still, “Caffee e Latte” over time got shortened to a latte.

This Italian coffee creation contains 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk with a thin microfoam layer on top. Of course, you can order this in various sizes and customize it with different amounts of espresso shots. Single, double, or triple espresso shots, depending on how much strength and caffeine you prefer.

The cafe latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks, similarly to a cappuccino. Of course, it is perfect for every occasion because it’s more balanced and milder than straight espresso. You could enjoy a latte any time during the day.

Lattes get much love because of the perfect combination of the distinct espresso taste and the smooth and creamy steamed milk. This gives the beverage its harmonious and well-balanced taste profile. Baristas and coffee chains around the world did their best to create customized lattes with all kinds of syrups and flavors possible.

Whether a pumpkin spice latte, a caramel brule latte, or a blonde vanilla latte you are all covered.

You see, everything is possible with lattes. The different creations are only limited by your creativity and imagination. A latte is a perfect playground for all the talented (home) baristas to create stunning latte art and unique patterns.

What is a Cortado?

The cortado is a small coffee drink from Spain, made with an equal amount of espresso and steamed milk. Traditionally it is served with no foam layer on top in a cortado glass. Still, local variations exist, and some shops do it with a skinny foam layer.

Cortado coffee

Although it is a small drink, yet still quite strong with bold and intense espresso flavors. This intensity is balanced by the texture and taste of the steamed milk. It is a smooth drink that is stronger than a cappuccino but less strong and acidic than straight espresso.

Cortado vs Latte: Highlighting the Differences

After a brief introduction to what a cortado and a latte are, it is time for us to compare these two espresso drinks.

The latte contains significantly more milk than the cortado, which is the main difference between cortado and latte. More milk results in larger serving sizes and more calories for the latte.

A cortado and a latte are both espresso drinks containing milk, similarly to a flat white vs cortado. While the latte usually has a layer of micro-foam on top, foam is missing from the traditional cortado.

How much larger is a latte than a cortado?

A latte is double the size of a cortado. Lattes vary in volume, though, and you can get a latte in 8 to 12 oz sizes. Cortados are served in small glasses and are 3-4 ounces altogether, with equal parts of espresso and milk and no foam.

So if you prefer less milk and fewer calories, the cortado would be the better choice. And if you are someone who enjoys an espresso with lots of milk, then we would recommend the latte for you.

The fact is that latte is milkier than a cortado.

How do they taste?

The latte has sweeter notes, a weaker coffee taste, and is less acidic. In comparison, the cortado is all about balance. A cortado displays the strength and bitterness you would expect from an espresso. This is balanced by a touch of sweetness in the steamed milk. You can taste the coffee, and you taste the milk.

What is a Cortado vs a Gibraltar?

These two coffees are the same. Gibraltar is just another name for the same drink because it is often served in a glass tumbler, the four-and-a-half-ounce Libbey Gibraltar Glass.

Blue Bottle opened its first-ever coffee shop in a renovated garage in San Francisco in 2005. It was this coffee shop that started serving Cortados in a Gibraltar glass and called it as such. Gibraltar has been kept off the Blue Bottle menu because it was for insiders only. The regulars wanted more of it and asked for it by name.

The cortado or Gibraltar eventually became a cult drink and is mainly called a Cortado on the East Coast and a Gibraltar on the West Coast.

Final Thoughts: Cortado vs Latte

So which one do you prefer?

We have shown you what is a cortado and a latte and that these two drinks are very similar. Although there is some difference between cortado and latte, its not huge.

You could always ask for a Cortado with extra milk and a thin layer of foam to make it a Latte. You could even drink them side by side to enjoy the coffee flavor.


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