A cortadito coffee, that is a cuban specialty.

Cortadito Coffee: Recipe, Tips & Delicious Variations

Cortadito coffee is a Cuban-style espresso drink that has gained popularity in Cuba and other Latin American countries. This delightful beverage combines the bold flavor of espresso with the creaminess of steamed milk, creating a perfect balance for those who love their coffee, strong yet smooth. 

Throughout this guide, we will touch on all the unique aspects of a cortadito coffee and why it should be on every coffee enthusiast's radar.

Table Of Contents:


1. The Origins of Cortadito Coffee

The word "cortado" comes from the Spanish verb "cortar," which means to cut or divide. In the context of cortadito coffee, it refers to cutting or diluting the intensity of espresso with milk. This popular beverage has its roots in Cuba, where the locals initially enjoyed it before becoming a hit across Latin America and eventually appearing in North American coffee shops.

A Blend of Cultures

Cuba's rich history and diverse cultural influences have significantly shaped its culinary traditions, including its approach to coffee. As European settlers arrived in Cuba during colonial times, they brought along their love for strong espresso drinks like cafe con leche (coffee with milk). Over time, these traditional beverages were adapted using local ingredients and techniques - giving birth to distinctively Cuban creations such as cortadito coffee.

2. Anatomy of a Cortadito Coffee

  • Espresso: At its core, the cortadito starts with an intense shot of freshly brewed espresso. The choice of beans and roast profile can greatly influence the final taste, so it's essential to select high-quality coffee that suits your preferences.
  • Sugar: Cortadito is typically sweetened with sugar added directly to the espresso shot. This creates a rich, caramel-like flavor that compliments the boldness of the coffee.
  • Milk: Steamed milk is then poured into the espresso mixture, creating a velvety texture and mellowing out its intensity. Depending on personal preference or dietary restrictions, different types of milk or milk alternatives can be used in cortadito (more on this later).

In essence, a cortadito coffee offers an enticing blend of strong espresso flavors tempered by creamy sweetness - making it an irresistible treat for any time of day.

Cortadito coffee is a Cuban specialty made with espresso, steamed milk, and sugar. A tasty treat for any time of day, cortadito coffee is simple to prepare and enjoy. Now, let’s learn how to make cortadito coffee so you can enjoy it in your home.

A perfect cup of freshly brewed coffee, after the brewing process.

Key Takeaway: Cortadito coffee is a Cuban-style espresso drink that blends bold espresso flavors with creamy sweetness, creating an irresistible treat for any time of day. Drawing on Cuba's rich cultural history and diverse culinary influences, coffee lovers have embraced this delightful beverage as a delicious way to "cut" the intensity of strong espressos.

3. How to Make Cortadito Coffee Recipe 

Making a delicious cortadito coffee at home is simple and easy. To make a tasty cortadito, follow these easy steps, and you'll soon be savoring your own Cuban-style espresso.

  1. Select your favorite coffee beans: To make the perfect cortadito, start by choosing high-quality beans. This will ensure that your drink has an incredible flavor.
  2. Brew an espresso shot: Use an espresso machine or stovetop Moka pot to brew a strong shot of espresso. If you're unsure how to do this, check out our guide on how to brew the perfect espresso.
  3. Add sugar: While the espresso is still hot, add one teaspoon of sugar (or more if desired) and stir until it dissolves completely. This step creates what's known as "espumita," which gives cortadito its signature sweetness.
  4. Steam milk: In a separate container or pitcher, steam about two ounces of milk using either an electric frother or by heating it gently on the stove while whisking vigorously. Be sure not to overheat the milk - aim for around 150°F (65°C).
  5. Pour steamed milk into a cup with espumita: Slowly pour the steamed milk into your cup containing the sweetened espresso mixture. The ratio should be approximately equal parts coffee and milk. 
  6. Garnish (optional): If you want to add a touch of elegance, sprinkle some cocoa powder or cinnamon on top of your cortadito before serving.
  7. Enjoy: Now that you've crafted the perfect cortadito coffee, sit back and savor its rich flavor and creamy texture.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of milk or sugar amounts until you find the ideal balance for your taste buds. And don't forget to share your newfound love for cortadito coffee with friends and family - it's a great way to introduce them to the world of specialty coffees from Golden Cava.

Making cortadito coffee is a simple and delicious way to enjoy your favorite espresso-based drink. Crafting a special taste for your cortadito coffee can be done with the perfect milk selection. Next, we'll explore the different types of milk available for use in making this delightful beverage.

Want to make a cortadito coffee? We can show you how.

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Key Takeaway: This article provides a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect cortadito coffee, from selecting high-quality beans to stirring in sweetened espresso and steamed milk. With practice, you'll be able to whip up this Cuban specialty like a pro - so don't forget to share your newfound barista skills with friends and family.

4. Types of Milk for Cortadito Coffee

When making cortadito coffee, you have the freedom to choose from a variety of milk options to suit your taste and dietary preferences. The type of milk used can significantly impact the flavor and texture of your cortadito, so it's essential to consider what works best for you. 

Luckily, we will take a more detailed look at the different kinds of milk that can be used in cortadito coffee - ranging from traditional cow's milk to condensed or evaporated milk, and even non-dairy options such as almond or oats.

a) Regular Cow's Milk

Regular cow's milk is the most common choice when making a cortadito due to its availability and creamy texture. Whole-fat or reduced-fat options both work well depending on your preference for richness in flavor.

b) Condensed Milk

Condensed milk is another popular option as it adds sweetness along with creaminess to your cortadito coffee. This thickened sweetened version of cow's milk provides an indulgent twist that many people enjoy.

c) Evaporated Milk

If you prefer a slightly lighter but still rich taste in your cortadito coffee, evaporated milk is an excellent alternative. It has had some water removed through the evaporation process, which results in thicker consistency than regular cow’s milk without added sugar.

d) Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

For those who are lactose intolerant or prefer plant-based options, there is a wide range of non-dairy milk alternatives available that can be used in a cortadito coffee. Some popular choices include:

  • Almond milk: A creamy and slightly nutty option made from ground almonds and water.
  • Oat milk: Known for its rich texture and mild flavor, oat milk is an excellent choice for those seeking a dairy-free alternative with similar consistency to cow's milk.
  • Soy milk: Made from soybeans, this non-dairy alternative has a smooth texture and subtle taste that complements the bold flavors of espresso well.
  • Cashew milk: Another nut-based option, cashew milk offers a thick consistency with a natural sweetness that works well in cortadito coffee.

Cortadito coffee can be enjoyed with various types of milk, from almond to coconut and even oats. With an abundance of choices, it's a cinch to craft the ideal flavor combo for your mug. Now, let's take a look at some of the benefits that come along with drinking cortadito coffee.

A hot cup of coffee with steamed next and coffee beans next to it.

Key Takeaway: Cortadito coffee can be made with a variety of milks, from regular cow's milk to condensed or evaporated varieties and even non-dairy alternatives such as almond or oat milk. Each type has its own unique flavor profile and texture that will enhance the cortadito experience, so it is important to pick the right one for your taste buds.

5. Benefits of Drinking Cortadito Coffee

Cortadito coffee is not only a delicious and popular beverage, it also offers several health benefits that make it an excellent choice for your daily caffeine fix. In this section, we will explore some of the advantages associated with drinking cortadito coffee.

Antioxidant Properties

Coffee contains antioxidants, which are essential in fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation within the body. These antioxidants can help improve overall heart health by protecting against cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack. 

The combination of espresso and milk in cortadito coffee enhances these antioxidant properties, making it a healthy choice for your morning routine (source).

Mental Alertness & Focus

The caffeine found in cortadito coffee provides a natural energy boost that can help you stay alert throughout the day. This increased mental focus makes you more productive at work or during other activities requiring concentration (source). Furthermore, studies have suggested that regular caffeine intake can improve memory and cognitive performance over time.

Mood Enhancement

Drinking cortadito coffee may also positively affect your mood due to its ability to stimulate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin (source). These chemicals play a crucial role in regulating emotions, so enjoying a cup of cortadito could potentially lead to feelings of happiness and well-being throughout the day.

Bone Health Support

  • The calcium content in milk, an essential component of cortadito coffee, can help support bone health by promoting the growth and maintenance of strong bones. Particularly for those vulnerable to bone-related issues such as osteoporosis, consuming cortado coffee can provide a beneficial support system.
  • Additionally, some studies have suggested that moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of fractures in postmenopausal women (source).

Incorporating cortadito coffee into your daily routine provides you with a delicious and satisfying beverage and offers numerous health benefits to improve your overall well-being. Give it a try today.

A cortadito coffee, that is a cuban specialty.

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Key Takeaway: Cortadito coffee is a great way to get your daily dose of caffeine while also providing antioxidant properties and improved mental alertness. Plus, it can even help enhance your mood and support bone health - making this delicious beverage an all-round winner.

6. Variations on Cortadito Coffee

If you're looking to spice up your cortadito coffee experience, there are plenty of variations you can try. From adding different spices and flavors to experimenting with various types of beans, the possibilities are endless. This section will explore some popular twists on the classic cortadito coffee recipe that will delight your taste buds.

A. Spices and Flavors

One simple way to add a unique touch to your cortadito is by incorporating spices or flavored syrups into the mix. Some popular options include:

  • Cinnamon: Sprinkle a pinch of ground cinnamon over the top of your finished cortadito for a warm, aromatic twist.
  • Nutmeg: Grate fresh nutmeg over your drink for an earthy flavor that pairs well with espresso.
  • Vanilla syrup: Add a splash of vanilla syrup for added sweetness and depth in flavor.
  • Hazelnut syrup: For those who love nutty flavors, hazelnut syrup is an excellent addition to any cortadito coffee.

B. Different Types of Beans

Your choice of coffee beans plays a significant role in determining the overall taste profile of your cortadito. By trying out different bean varieties from around the world, you can discover new flavors and create custom blends tailored specifically to suit your preferences. 

Here are some suggestions worth exploring:

  1. Colombian coffee: Known for its balanced flavor and medium body, Colombian beans are a great option for those who prefer a milder cortadito.
  2. Brazilian coffee: With low acidity and nutty undertones, Brazilian beans can add an interesting twist to your cortadito experience.
  3. Ethiopian coffee: For something more exotic, Ethiopian beans offer fruity notes and floral aromas that can elevate your cortadito to new heights.
  4. Guatemala coffee: Guatemala is renowned for its diverse coffee-growing regions and the exceptional beans they produce. Guatemalan coffee beans are known for their vibrant acidity, medium to full body, and a rich, well-balanced flavor profile. 
  5. Panama coffee: Panama is a specialty coffee destination, celebrated for its unique coffee varietals. Panama beans are appreciated for their bright acidity, medium body, and exquisite flavor notes. Panama's high-altitude farms and meticulous processing methods contribute to the distinctiveness of their coffee beans.

The world of cortadito variations is vast, so don't be afraid to get creative with your coffee recipes. Whether you're adding spices or experimenting with different types of beans, the key is finding what works best for you. 

Cortadito coffee is a delicious and versatile espresso-based drink that can be enjoyed in many different variations. With its origins steeped in Cuban culture, it's no wonder this unique beverage has become so popular. 

A green lush image, with coffee plants.

Key Takeaway: This article offers creative ideas to enhance your cortadito coffee experience. You can try adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla syrup and experiment with various bean types such as Colombian, Brazilian, and Ethiopian. 

7.What is the Difference Between a Spanish Cortado and A Cortadito?

While both Cortado and cortadito are espresso-based drinks, they differ in their preparation, ingredients, and cultural origins. This section will explore these differences to help you understand what sets them apart.

Cultural Origins

The Cortado, which means "cut" in Spanish, originates from Spain. It is popular across Europe as well as Latin America. On the other hand, the cortadito has its roots in Cuba and is widely enjoyed throughout Cuban communities in Miami and other parts of the United States.

Ingredients & Preparation

  • Cortado: A spanish Cortado consists of equal parts espresso shot(s) (usually one or two) and steamed milk without foam. The primary purpose of adding milk to an espresso shot is to reduce its acidity while maintaining its strong flavor profile.
  • Cortadito: A cortadito starts with an espresso shot mixed with sugar until it forms a creamy paste called "espumita." Then, it's topped off with steamed milk that may be regular cow's milk or condensed/evaporated milk for added sweetness. The proportion of espresso to milk can differ depending upon individual inclination however it normally runs from a half-and-half blend to three-quarters coffee.

Milk Foam & Texture Differences

In contrast to a traditional cappuccino or latte, where frothy milk foam plays an essential role; neither Cortados nor cortaditos include significant amounts of foam when prepared correctly. However, there might still be slight variations between them:

  1. A Cortado typically has a smoother, silkier texture due to the even distribution of steamed milk without foam.
  2. On the other hand, a cortadito might have some frothiness from the "espumita" created by mixing sugar with espresso. This gives it a slightly creamier mouthfeel compared to its Spanish counterpart.

To further explore these delicious coffee beverages and their variations, check out our guide on different types of coffee drinks.

The difference between a Cortado and a cortadito is that the former contains more espresso than steamed milk, while the latter has equal parts of both. On the other hand, cafecito differs from cortadito in that it uses sweetened condensed milk instead of regular milk to create an even sweeter flavor.

Here is a fresh cup of coffee with no added sugars or milk.

Key Takeaway: A cortado and a cortadito are two different espresso-based drinks, each with their own distinct cultural origins. While the former is from Spain and popular in Europe and Latin America, the latter originates from Cuba. The main difference between them lies in preparation - Cortados have equal parts of espresso shots mixed with steamed milk while cortaditos include an added "espumita" created by mixing sugar into the shot before topping it off with regular or condensed evaporated milk for sweetness.

8.What is the Difference Between Cafecito and Cortadito?

In the world of coffee, countless variations and unique drinks cater to different tastes. Two popular Cuban-style espresso beverages often compared with each other are cafecito and cortadito

While they may seem similar at first glance, there are key differences in their preparation, ingredients, and flavor profiles.

Cafecito: The Bold Espresso Shot

A cafecito is a traditional Cuban espresso shot made by brewing finely ground dark roast coffee beans under high pressure. A spoonful of sugar is added during the making, resulting in a sweet caramelized layer called "espumita" on top. This creates a sweet, caramelized layer known as "espumita" on top of the shot.

To make a perfect cafecito at home:

  1. Brew an espresso using your favorite dark roast coffee beans.
  2. Add one teaspoon of sugar per ounce of brewed coffee into your cup or glass before pouring in the hot espresso.
  3. Stir vigorously until all sugar dissolves and forms espumita on top.

Cortadito: A Soothing Blend with Milk

The cortadito takes its inspiration from both Spanish cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and Italian cappuccino but has its own distinct identity due to specific ratios used for milk and coffee components. 

It starts with a base of strong Cuban-style espresso combined with steamed milk - typically equal parts - resulting in a creamy yet bold beverage that balances sweetness without overpowering flavors. Here's how you can create your very own cortaditos:

  1. Brew an authentic Cuban-style espresso shot, as you would for a cafecito.
  2. Froth up your preferred dairy (regular cow's milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk or non-dairy substitutes) to produce a luxuriant texture and heat.
  3. Pour equal parts of the brewed coffee and steamed milk into your cup. Stir gently to combine the two components.

In essence, the main difference between these two beverages lies in their composition: while both are based on Cuban-style espresso shots with sugar added during the brewing process, cafecito is served without any additional ingredients, whereas cortadito includes steamed milk that softens its intensity.

If you're looking for an intense caffeine kick with bold flavors and sweetness from the espumita layer - go for a cafecito. On the other hand, if you prefer something smoother but still rich in taste - give cortaditos a try.

A cortado coffee will be made from these dark roasted coffee beans.

Key Takeaway: A cortadito is a Cuban-style espresso drink that combines strong, sweet espresso with steamed milk to create a creamy and bold beverage. On the other hand, cafecitos are made by brewing dark roast coffee beans with sugar added during the process for an intense caffeine kick and sweetness from the espumita layer. 


What does cortadito mean in coffee?

Cortadito, derived from the Spanish word "cortar," means "to cut" in English. In the context of coffee, it refers to a Cuban espresso that is 'cut' with steamed milk, typically served in a small cup. The ratio of coffee to milk is usually 1:1 or 2:1.

What is special about Cuban coffee?

Cuban coffee stands out due to its unique preparation method and bold flavor profile. It involves brewing dark-roasted espresso beans with sugar, creating a sweet and strong taste known as "espuma." This thick foam layer adds richness and texture to the beverage, making it an integral part of Cuban culture.

What is the history of Cortadito coffee?

The origins of Cortadito can be traced back to Cuba's Spanish colonial period when cafe con leche was popular among Spaniards. Over time, Cubans adapted this traditional drink by adding their own twist - using darker roasted beans and incorporating sugar directly into the brewing process - giving birth to what we now know as Cortadito.

Ready To Enjoy a Cortadito Coffee?

Cortadito coffee is a unique, flavorful, creamy espresso-based drink that has been enjoyed for centuries. Whether you're looking to make the perfect cup of cortadito at home or are searching for an amazing experience in your local cafe, this type of coffee offers something special with its combination of ingredients. 

With different types of milk available and variations on the classic recipe, there's sure to be something to satisfy everyone's taste buds. Why not take the plunge and sample this delightful coffee? You won't regret indulging in some delicious cortadito coffee.