cortado vs cappuccino

Cortado or cappuccino? This coffee terminology question has been asked thousands of times since Starbucks began using the word “cortado” instead of “latte” for their signature drink.

Is this really a new term? Today, the words “cortado and cappuccino are synonymous. Both refer to hot espresso beverages, usually containing steamed milk and sugar. They differ only in the amount of foam they produce during preparation.

While they contain the same components, additional characteristics such as flavor, temperature, and texture, to mention a few, distinguish them. Are you unsure what is the distinction between a cappuccino and a cortado? Don’t worry; we will take care of everything. 

Understanding the Basics Behind Cortado And Cappuccino. 

Defining Cortado 

A cortado, also known as a Gibraltar, is made out of two primary ingredients: a slug of espresso and a layer of softly heated milk. Just enough steam is added to the milk to create a thin froth layer on top. 

This amount of foam is plenty for latte art; however, not enough for the foam mustache.

The cortado is brewed with a 1:1 espresso-to-milk ratio, with milk balancing the acidity and reducing the powerful espresso flavor. 

Cortado derives from the Spanish word cortar, inferring “to cut,” where the drink’s name comes from. Traditionally, cortados were served in a tiny 4 espresso glass. 

Defining Cappuccino 

Do you know what ingredients make a cappuccino so popular? It is a 5 to 6-ounce beverage with a single espresso shot. It contains a third of steamed milk, espresso, & foamed milk. 

However, unlike cortado, the cappuccino is known for its frothy milk, which is ideal for creating fantastic latte and milk mustaches. Plus, it comes in a variety of sizes. A dual cappuccino can be produced with 2 shots of espresso.

An excellent cappuccino’s velvety charm has a cult following. It’s possibly the world’s most popular espresso-based beverage, a top seller in several European and American coffee outlets. 

An everlasting coffee beverage and an absolute classic, even those who have never tasted a pot of coffee would know it. It’s best to make it with the espresso machine; what if you don’t have one? If that’s the case, the French press will suffice.

How to Distinguish Between Both Coffee Drinks Based on Several Factors? 


The foam is the most noticeable distinction between the two beverages. Cappuccinos are extremely frothy, with foam covering 1/3 of the cup. In contrast, a cortado is created with little or no foam. However, just because there isn’t any foam doesn’t imply there isn’t any fun; in fact, some individuals love it. 

Feel and consistency 

Due to the difference in milk level, the mouthfeel of such 2 espresso beverages is significantly different. The Cortado has a thick, deep, creamy mouthfeel and is smooth like conventional steamed milk.

On the other hand, a cappuccino will have a significantly lighter consistency than a cortado. Milk foam is naturally buoyant and light, with many tiny air bubbles. The foam has essentially little weight and texture when consumed.

Find the cappuccino to be overly light. However, a lot relies on the coffee maker’s talent. However, if you choose one with toppings and cream, the cappuccino seems lighter.


Both drinks feature the same underlying components, including steamed milk and espresso. However, the Cortado tends to be a small drink, with a cappuccino being 1 or 2 ounces bigger.

Because of the thick covering of microfoam, the cappuccino is larger than its tiny relative. These two beverages are distinguished by their microfoam and their size.


Aside from size, texture, and froth, the flavor of both beverages differs significantly. The espresso flavor in the Cortado is well-balanced and robust, neither overly sweet nor harsh. After all, it’s a drink created with two shots of espresso and the same quantity of steamed milk.

The cappuccino is significantly sweeter, with a 2:3 milk ratio. The frothed milk topping is a delicious pleasure. Even though cappuccinos are inherently sweeter, they can be customized using multiple ingredients like sugar, whipped cream, cinnamon powder, chocolate sprinkled, cocoa powder, syrup, etc. 


Both beverages generally have the same amount of caffeine. They both consist of 1 espresso shot, which has about 40 mg of caffeine.

When you start calculating calories, you’ll notice even more disparities between the delectable espresso beverages. A 4 cortado can have up to 30 calories, while a 12-ounce cappuccino can contain more than 200 calories, based upon the toppings you choose.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the notable difference between a cortado and a macchiato?

Milk that has been foamed or steamed. The contrast between a macchiato and a cortado is the milk. A macchiato is made with foamed milk, whereas a cortado is made with steamed milk.

  1. Is cortado coffee strong?

Due to its espresso basis, Cortado is a potent beverage with a robust taste and a sizeable grounds-to-water ratio, generating a dense stinging liquid tempered with steamed milk, lessening intensity and acidity. The espresso and heated milk should be mixed in a 1:1 ratio.

  1. Is a cortado equivalent to a tiny cappuccino?

However, Cortado is a small drink, with a cappuccino being 1 or 2 ounces bigger. Because of the thick covering of microfoam, the cappuccino is larger than its tiny relative. These two espresso beverages are distinguished by their microfoam and their size. It’s all about the foam in a cappuccino.

The Bottom Line

Both cappuccino and the cortado are merely two coffee and lukewarm milk variations. They are appreciated for their peculiarities. They both have that lovely coffee flavor you’re familiar with but in their distinct ways.