Have you ever stared at a coffee shop menu and realized you haven’t the slightest idea what to order? From cortado to macchiato, there are so many options out there for getting your daily dose of caffeine. Two common espresso drinks are a cortado and latte but you might wonder about the differences between them.
The main difference between a cortado and latte is the ratio of espresso to milk. While both cortados and lattes have espresso and steamed milk, a latte has more milk than espresso while a cortado has equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk. This means a cortado also has less calories and sugar than a latte.
Whether you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur or not, both a cortado and a latte can be a delicious pick-me-up. Let’s dive into the differences between these two coffee drinks.
Cortado vs Latte: What Is the Difference?
No matter what type of coffee you prefer, it's exciting to try something new every once in a while. Many mainstream coffee shops only have popular drinks such as lattes or brewed coffee on the menu, but at a specialty coffee shop, you’ll see a wider variety of drinks such as cortados.
At first glance, both of these espresso drinks look similar other than their size. However, the main difference between a latte and a cortado is the ratio of espresso to milk.
Unlike a latte, a cortado has a 1-to-1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk. This means a cortado has a stronger coffee flavor while a latte is creamier with three times as much milk as coffee.
Additionally, due to the amount of milk in a latte, it has more calories and sugar than a cortado. The amount of caffeine in a latte will depend on the size you order but a regular-size latte has the same amount of caffeine as a cortado.
Another difference between a cortado and a latte is the foam on top. While lattes don’t have as much foam as cappuccinos, they do have more foam than cortados because there’s more milk and the milk is steamed for longer.
Main Differences Between a Cortado vs Latte
Both cortados and lattes are delicious espresso drinks that can fulfill your coffee craving or give you a daily dose of caffeine. Here are the main differences between a cortado and latte:
- The ratio of espresso to milk
The biggest difference between a cortado and latte is the ratio of coffee to milk. While both a cortado and latte have espresso and steamed milk, a cortado has the same amount of milk and espresso while a latte has a 1-to-3 espresso-to-milk ratio.
- The amount of calories
Considering the amount of milk in a latte compared to the amount of milk in a cortado, a latte has more calories and sugar. There’s no sugar in the espresso and less than 10 calories in two shots of espresso, so all of the extra calories in a latte come from the milk or any added syrup.
- Cortado has a stronger espresso flavor
The ratio of milk to espresso significantly impacts the flavor of both drinks. A latte has a much creamier or milky flavor compared to a cortado. Unlike a latte, the ratio of milk to espresso is the same so a cortado has a much stronger coffee flavor.
Nutritional Value of Cortado vs Latte
What Is a Cortado?
Despite their rise in popularity over the past ten years, cortados aren’t actually new. There are many different origin stories for the cortado but it’s commonly believed that the cortado originated in Spain and as a drink called a “Café con Leche Pequeño,” or a small coffee with milk. The name cortado even comes from the Spanish word for cut since the bitterness of the coffee is cut with the warm milk.
A cortado is a type of espresso drink with an equal ratio of espresso to milk. Unlike a latte, which has more milk than coffee, you’ll find an equal amount of milk and espresso in a cortado. In most cases, there’s 2 oz of espresso and 2 oz of milk, making a cortado a 4 oz drink.
While it’s still a creamy drink because of the steamed milk, a cortado has a stronger coffee flavor than a latte. The small amount of steamed milk is only meant to cut the bitterness of the espresso, not overpower it.
Although you can customize your coffee drink any way you choose, a cortado traditionally only comes with steamed milk and espresso with no added flavors or sugar.
What Is a Latte?
A latte is one of the most common coffee beverages. Although a regular latte only has steamed milk and espresso, you can add different flavors to your latte as well. From caramel to seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice, these flavored lattes are even popular among those who don’t normally enjoy coffee on its own.
Even without these added flavors, a latte is creamier and sweeter than a cortado because of the ratio of milk to espresso. A hot latte has a 1-to-3 ratio of espresso to milk, making it creamy with a more subtle coffee flavor.
You can also order an iced latte which includes espresso and milk poured over ice. A regular sized latte has 2 oz or 2 shots of espresso, which leads to it having about 120 mg of caffeine.
While the original “Cafe Latte” came from Italy, the steamed milk was added because Americans weren’t used to the bitterness of the espresso. The kind of lattes we’re familiar with now were popularized in Seattle around the 1980s.
Which Has More Caffeine: Cortado or Latte?
While you may choose a coffee drink depending on which flavors you prefer, you’re likely wondering about the caffeine content of your drink as well. The caffeine content depends on the amount of coffee in your drink regardless of the amount of milk and other flavors.
A cortado typically has 2 oz of espresso with 2 oz of milk. A typical latte can have one or two shots of espresso, depending on the size and where you order it from. Generally, you’ll find that most lattes have about the same amount of espresso as a cortado.
In this case, the caffeine content of a cortado vs latte is normally the same. If you’re trying to keep track of your caffeine content, ask ahead of time how much espresso is in your drink.
Keep in mind the ratio of caffeine depends on the number of shots of espresso. Even though espresso is concentrated, one espresso shot has less caffeine than a regular brewed cup of coffee. There’s about 64 mg of caffeine in one espresso shot or 1 oz of espresso, which means in a typical cortado or latte, there is about 128 mg of caffeine. To give some perspective, 400 mg of caffeine is a safe amount for most adults.
Which Tastes Better: Cortado vs Latte
Cortados and lattes alike are both delicious coffee drinks you can enjoy any time of day. While they both have similar amounts of espresso, the main difference is the ratio of espresso to milk. A latte has about three times as much milk as espresso while a cortado has just enough steamed milk to counteract the bitterness of the espresso.
The two drinks are also similar in caffeine content, but a latte has more calories and sugar. Which one tastes better will depend on your preferences. A cortado has a stronger espresso flavor, but a latte is perfect for those who enjoy a mild espresso flavor mixed with the creaminess of steamed milk.