Cortado vs Cappuccino | How Are They Different?

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As coffee lovers, we all understand the importance of understanding the different types of espresso drinks available. From cappuccinos to espressos to macchiatos and cortados – a well-rounded knowledge base can be invaluable in finding the perfect daily caffeine fix and unique specialty beverages for a change of pace.

In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at two classic espresso beverages – cortado vs cappuccino – as we compare them side by side: what’s their difference? What flavors do they each offer? And which one should you choose when visiting your favorite coffee shop on that mid-morning break? Read on to discover how these two drinks stack up against each other!

Cortado vs Cappuccino: How Are They Different?


  • Cortado is a Spanish drink with a 1:1 espresso to milk ratio, served in a small glass, has a strong, smooth taste, and contains around 85mg caffeine and 50-80 calories.
  • Cappuccino, from Italy, has equal parts espresso, steamed, and frothed milk, served in a large cup with foam designs, tastes sweeter, and contains 70-80mg caffeine and 60-100 calories.

Both cortado and cappuccino are espresso-based drinks, meaning that they are made from a shot of rich, concentrated coffee. However, they are not the same drink, and each offers a unique experience in terms of both taste and texture. Here are some key differences between cortado vs cappuccino:


Cortado Coffee
Cortado means “cut” in Spanish

Coratdo originated in Spain and is known for its smooth, velvety texturet is typically served in a small glass and is meant to be sipped slowly, allowing the drinker to enjoy its rich flavor fully. The name “cortado” is derived from the Spanish word for “cut,” which refers to the small amount of milk added to the espresso shot.

Cappuccino hails from Italy and consists of equal parts espresso, steamed, and frothed milk. The name “cappuccino” comes from the beverage’s resemblance to the brown hooded robes worn by Capuchin monks.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for cortado and cappuccino differs substantially, resulting in unique flavor profiles. Cortado is made by pouring a shot of espresso into a glass and adding a small amount of steamed milk, creating a 1:1 ratio between espresso and milk. This results in a strong yet smooth taste with a hint of sweetness.

Cappuccino is made by pulling a shot of espresso into a cup and then adding equal parts steamed and frothed milk. This creates a thicker foam layer on the drink, making it creamier in texture. Due to the added milk and foam layers, the cappuccino’s flavor is slightly sweeter than the cortado.

Serving Style

Cortado and cappuccino are not only distinct in taste but also in their presentation, enriching the overall experience. When it comes to cortado, it is typically served in a small glass, allowing its rich, caramel-like color and velvety texture to take center stage. The simplicity of the presentation emphasizes the pure essence of the coffee itself.

Cappuccino is often served in a larger cup or mug, providing more room for creativity in its presentation. Skilled baristas usually take the opportunity to showcase their artistry by crafting delicate foam designs on top, such as hearts or leaves. These decorative touches add visual appeal and enhance the enjoyment of sipping the perfectly balanced blend of espresso, steamed milk, and creamy foam.

The contrasting ways cortado and cappuccino are served add an extra layer of uniqueness to these already delightful coffee experiences.


Cappuccino Coffee
Cappuccino Has The Creamy Taste

Apart from their serving styles, the main difference between cortado and cappuccino lies in their taste profiles. As mentioned earlier, cortado has a strong yet smooth flavor due to its equal ratio of espresso and steamed milk. This balance results in a drink that is both bold and slightly sweet.

Cappuccino’s taste has a more prominent milk and foam presence. The espresso is still the show’s star, but the added layers of steamed and frothed milk give it a creamier texture and sweeter taste.


The texture of cortado and cappuccino is another differentiating factor between these two popular coffee drinks. Cortado’s velvety texture comes from the steamed milk, which adds a silky smoothness to the espresso. This results in a rich mouthfeel without being overly heavy or dense.

Compared, cappuccino has a distinctively foamy and airy texture due to the added foam on top. This foam adds a visual element and creates a light and airy mouthfeel, making it feel like you’re sipping on a cloud.

Level Of Caffeine

Another difference between cortado and cappuccino is the caffeine content. Since both drinks use a single shot of espresso, they have a similar caffeine level. However, due to the difference in milk and foam ratios, cortado may have a slightly stronger kick than cappuccino.

A cup of cortado contains around 85 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of cappuccino contains approximately 70-80 milligrams. This slight difference may not be noticeable for some, but it can make a difference for those sensitive to caffeine.

Level Of Calories

Cortado and cappuccino are relatively similar. A typical serving of cortado has around 50-80 calories, while a cup of cappuccino contains approximately 60-100 calories. The calorie difference may vary depending on the type and amount of milk used.

If you want to reduce your calorie intake, cortado may be the better option. However, remember that the calorie difference is minimal and can easily be offset by choosing low-fat or non-dairy milk options.

Tip To Have A Great Cup Of Cortado And Cappuccino?

To make an excellent cortado or cappuccino at home, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use freshly ground coffee beans for the best flavor.
  • Steam and froth the milk separately before carefully pouring it over the espresso. This will create a distinct layer of foam on top.
  • For a more decisive kick, use a double shot of espresso instead of a single shot.
  • Experiment with different types of milk and foam ratios to find your perfect balance.
  • Serve in a preheated cup to keep the drink warm for longer.

If you order a cortado or cappuccino at a cafe, don’t be afraid to ask the barista about their milk and espresso ratios. This will give you an idea of the strength and taste of your drink. For instance, a traditional cortado typically has a 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk, while a cappuccino has a 1:3 ratio. Low-fat milk or non-dairy alternatives can also be used as a healthier option. However, remember that they may affect the taste and texture of your drink.


Cortado vs cappuccino, the debate between these two popular espresso-based drinks will continue. Both have their unique qualities and are loved by coffee lovers all over the world. Whether you prefer a strong and bold cortado or a creamy and smooth cappuccino, the key is to enjoy whichever drink suits your taste buds best. So next time you need a coffee fix, try these tips and make the perfect cortado or cappuccino in the comfort of your own home.


Can You Use Syrup In a Cortado or Cappuccino?

Yes, you can add syrup to cortados and cappuccinos for an extra flavor. However, it’s important to note that this may alter the taste and texture of your drink. It’s best to use a small amount of syrup and flavor test before adding more.

What is the Difference Between a Flat White and a Cortado?

A flat white is made with a double shot of espresso, while a cortado contains a single shot. Additionally, the milk in a flat white is steamed more to create a thicker layer of foam on top, whereas a cortado has less foam and more steamed milk.

Does the Size of the Cup Matter for Making a Cortado or Cappuccino?

The size of the cup does not necessarily matter, but it can affect the ratio of espresso to milk and, therefore, impact the overall taste of your drink. It’s best to use a smaller cup for a cortado and a larger cup for a cappuccino to maintain their intended flavor profiles.

Should You Use Whole Milk or Non-Dairy Alternatives in a Cortado or Cappuccino?

The choice of milk is entirely up to personal preference. Whole milk will give the drink a richer and creamier texture, while non-dairy alternatives such as almond or oat milk can add nutty or slightly sweeter flavors. Experiment with different types of milk to find your perfect cortado or cappuccino.

Do People Often Confuse Cortados and Cappuccinos?

Yes, due to their similar appearance, cortados and cappuccinos can be easily confused. However, the main difference lies in the ratio of espresso to milk. A cortado has more steamed milk than a cappuccino, resulting in a smoother and less foamy texture.

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