A cortado is a simple and delicious coffee beverage made with a balanced ratio of espresso and warm, steamed milk. It’s a favorite among those who enjoy the strength of espresso but prefer a smoother, milder taste with a creamy texture.
Here’s how to make a great cortado:
Ingredients and Equipment:
Fresh coffee beans (for espresso)
Espresso machine (or an alternative method to brew espresso)
Fresh milk (whole or your preferred type)
Demitasse cup or small glass
Steam wand or milk frother
- Prepare Espresso:
Start by grinding your coffee beans to a fine consistency, similar to table salt. For a cortado, you’ll typically use a single shot of espresso, which is about 1 ounce (30ml) of liquid.
Place the ground coffee in the portafilter, distribute it evenly, and tamp it down firmly.
Insert the portafilter into the espresso machine and start the extraction process. The extraction should take about 25-30 seconds to produce a 1-ounce shot of espresso.
- Steam and Froth Milk:
Pour cold milk into a milk frothing pitcher. You’ll need approximately 1-2 ounces (30-60ml) of milk, depending on your preference and the size of your cortado.
Position the steam wand just below the surface of the milk and turn it on. Keep the wand at an angle to create a swirling motion in the milk, which helps to froth it evenly.
Froth the milk until it reaches a silky, microfoam consistency. The ideal milk temperature for a cortado is between 150-160°F (65-71°C).
- Combine Espresso and Milk:
In a demitasse cup or a small glass, pour the 1-ounce shot of espresso.
Slowly pour the frothed milk over the espresso. A cortado typically uses equal parts of espresso and milk, so aim for about 1 ounce (30ml) of frothed milk to match the 1-ounce espresso shot.
- Serve and Enjoy:
Your cortado is now ready to be enjoyed. It should have a smooth, balanced flavor, with the richness of espresso and the creaminess of steamed milk.
Cortados are best served in small cups or glasses, as they are designed to be short and strong. They are a delightful option for coffee lovers who appreciate the boldness of espresso but enjoy the mellowing influence of milk in their coffee. Adjust the coffee-to-milk ratio and milk temperature to suit your taste.