What is a Cortado?

Now we are getting to the fancy stuff. This beverage will test a lot of baristas in the coffee industry. What is a Cortado?

The Cortado is a coffee beverage consisting of espresso with roughly the same amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The milk of the cortado is steamed like the cappuccino but is not frothy and “texturized” as in many Italian coffee beverages. The word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar (to cut), in the sense of “dilute”, and can refer variously to either coffee or espresso drinks throughout Spain, Portugal and Cuba.

Take a look at the image below and notice that the size of the beverage will be characteristic in differentiating it from other coffee beverages.

What is a Cortado?

MilkWhat is a Cortado?

For a well-made Cortado, use fresh whole milk (fat content 3.3 -4%, protein 3.2-3.3% stored at 5 degrees centigrade or lower). The milk should be heated carefully without overheating it or injecting excess air. Dry steam from the espresso machine wand is used to make thick, full-bodied froth. Cortado can be served using a variety of milk, namely: Almond milk, Oat milk, Skim milk, Low-fat milk and Soya milk.

TemperatureWhat is a Cortado?

The temperature of the espresso coffee in the Cortado cup should be approximately 75 degrees centigrade. This will maintain the crema on the surface and protect the aromatic components of the beverage. Cortados are prepared with the milk at the proper temperature (65-70 degrees centigrade) and froth with a smooth texture, is enjoyable, slightly sweet and has a velvety mouthfeel that enhances the quality of the beverage.

What is a Cortado?

EmulsionWhat is a Cortado?

Emulsion occurs in two stages: during the first stage, the milk is “whipped” or “stretched’, to incorporate bubbles of air. The next stage is when the real emulsion occurs, which involves submerging the steam wand into the milk and holding it near the outer edge of the steaming pitcher and creating a whirlpool effect that reduces the size of the bubbles. As this occurs the milk froth acquires its catacaustic velvety texture and translucent appearance.

Much like the cappuccino the cortado has the same texture but with almost half the amount of milk. This drink is best served quickly due to the size of the drink. It is served in a small glass; this means that the beverage will cool a lot faster than regular coffee drinks.

What is a Cortado?

Health Benefits

The Cortado is a drink that is made from hot milk, espresso coffee and steamed milk foam. The microfoam forms a thick layer near the top of the drink. It is served in cups that vary from 70ml to 80ml. Because of the milk, the beverage has a rich texture and flavour. This drink can bring out the taste of the coffee “roast”. This beverage needs a skilled barista to prepare as the drink can be spoiled by either a bitter espresso shot, burnt milk or getting the ratio of milk – espresso –milk foam wrong. This drink is not as commonly known throughout South Africa and would be ordered only by a few coffee connoisseurs.

Nutritional Value

The serving size of 12 grams (80ml) of Cortado contains about 50 calories, 8 grams of carbs, 1,5 grams of total fat and 7 grams of sugar (if you add extra sugar to the beverage), 0,18mg of iron and 48mg of sodium.

The coffee in the Cortado beverage adds several health benefits namely…

  1. Prevent heart ailments
  2. Lowers stroke
  3. Prevent type 2 diabetes
  4. Prevents Alzheimer’s
  5. Reduce gallstones
  6. Assist digestion
  7. Lowers cancer
  8. Burn fat
  9. Teeth health
  10. Prevent headache

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