What Is a Cortadito? (Recipes & How to Make One)

Kirkland Gee
July 26, 2023

Cortadito Coffee Recipe

The cortadito, while popular in many Latin American communities, is not nearly as present in the third-wave/specialty community as its near cousin, the cortado. That said—it shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s a rich, delicious beverage with a lot of history on its own.

The cortadito is a traditional Cuban coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. The name "cortadito" literally means "little cut," referring to the fact that it is a small, strong coffee that is often served in a demitasse cup. 

The drink is known for providing a strong espresso flavor while providing a lot more sweetness than the cortado or other small coffee drinks. It’s always sweetened, sometimes with sugar—other times with sweetened condensed milk. It's a simple, delicious coffee drink that’s perfect for those who like small coffee & milk drinks but want a little touch of sweetness..

What Is The Difference Between a Cortado And a Cortadito?

A cortado and a cortadito are two similar coffee drinks, but there are two key differences between them:

Origin: A cortado is a Spanish coffee drink that consists of a shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk, while a cortadito is a Cuban espresso drink that also contains steamed milk but is sweetened with sugar.

Preparation: A cortado is made by adding a small amount of steamed milk to a shot of espresso, while a cortadito is made by adding a small amount of sugar to a shot of espresso before adding the steamed milk

How To Make A Cortadito At Home

You don’t need to be a professional barista to make a cortadito at home. All you will really need is:

  • An espresso machine or Moka pot
  • Your coffee of choice (pulled as a double shot of espresso)
  • Milk (or dairy alternative)
  • A sweetener (sugar or a sugar substitute like stevia)

The cortadito coffee is not any more difficult to make than a latte, a café cubano, a café con leche, or any other espresso drink. It’s not a basic cup of coffee, but it’s not too much.

Tools Needed to Make a Cortadito at Home

There are a few different ways you can make a cortadito at home. Ultimately, all you need is to be able to make:

  • A concentrated coffee (think espresso, but we can also do something similar with an Moka Pot, especially useful if you’re brewing in-bulk.)
  • Steamed milk (which we can also create without a proper espresso machine)

The easiest way to make this drink is with a traditional espresso machine. This will get you both the espresso and the ability to steam the milk. But not everyone has an espresso machine at home, so we’ll show you a second way in a minute.

If you do have an espresso machine, you can follow these basic steps.

Try Using An Aeropress

If you don't have access to an espresso machine, an Aeropress can be a great way to make a concentrated coffee. You can check out our espresso recipe for the specifics, but it basically works the same way—you make a concentrated coffee with your Aeropress and then add your sugar and steamed milk.

If you don't have an Aeropress, click the link below to get yourself one so you can start making cortaditos at home!

Get Your Aeropress

Step-By-Step Instructions for Making a Cortadito With An Espresso Machine

Once you’ve chosen your favorite espresso, we can get to work. 

  1. Weigh out between 16-18 grams of your chosen coffee (depending on your preferred espresso recipe)
  2. Brew your espresso! For a cortadito, you’ll probably want a traditional espresso ratio of 2:1 (32-36 grams of water out, depending on your initial dose. If you want to explore something different, you could pull a ristretto, instead (1:1 ratio). Sometimes in small beverages like this, this can provide a stronger coffee flavor.
  3. In a demitasse (or any ~4.5 ounce glass) add your desired amount of sweetener and your espresso
  4. Vigorously stir the coffee and sugar until no granules remain
  5. Measure out 3-4 ounces of milk into a steaming pitcher and begin steaming on your machine
  6. When steaming, you want the get the temperature between 140-150℉. This will pull the most sweetness out of your milk.
  7. Pour your steamed milk over your sweetened espresso and enjoy!

How to Make a Cortadito Without an Espresso Machine

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can make this same drink with a Moka Pot or an Aeropress instead. It won’t be quite as intense a flavor as you’ll get with proper espresso, but it works in a pinch.

The steps are almost identical to the above, but instead of the espresso brewing steps, you can follow your favorite Moka pot recipe.

Then, for the milk, just heat it up in the microwave, on the stove and use a milk frother. Easy!

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