What Is a Cortadito Coffee? And How to Make One At Home

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Regardless of how much of a coffee lover you are, there may be a coffee drink that you’ve never heard of. Cortaditos are an incredibly well-kept secret and one of the most delicious Cuban beverages you’ll ever try. 

In this article, we’ll look at what cortadito coffee is, how it compares to other Cuban coffee drinks, and how you can make your own cortadito.

What Is a Cortadito Coffee?

Cortadito coffee is a Cuban espresso that is made with a sweetened espresso shot and topped with steamed milk. In the past, when regular or evaporated milk wasn’t available, the milk that was added to the espresso was often sweetened condensed milk, which could make this espresso drink more like a treat than a cup of coffee.

A cortadito coffee, as served in many Cuban coffee shops

The ratio between milk and espresso is sometimes 50/50, depending on who makes it. Others make their Cortadito with a 75% espresso to a 25% milk ratio. Sometimes the sugar is even added directly to the Moka pot as the espresso is collected during the brewing process.

Cortaditos are usually served in very small mugs, as is common for other concentrated espresso drinks.

Cortado vs cortadito

Due to their similar names and appearances, Cortaditos are often confused with Cortados.

A Cortado is a Spanish or Portuguese espresso drink that consists of a double shot of espresso topped with steamed milk. This espresso is usually not sweetened like Cortaditos are, which is a big difference between these two coffee drinks.

As you can see, it’s easy to confuse these two drinks since they sound similar and are made in nearly the same way except for the sugar.

Colada vs cortadito

A Colada is another Cuban coffee drink that people sometimes confuse with a Cortadito.

While Cortaditos are intended for a single person, Coladas are intended to be consumed by a group. When you order Coladas, you get 4–6 servings of stove-top espresso that is sweetened with a sugar foam known as espumita. A Colada is usually served in a large Styrofoam cup with a handful of small plastic thimbles for each person to drink from.

Where Can You Get a Cortadito Coffee?

Most cafes don’t have Cortaditos, but you can find them in just about any Cuban coffee shop. They are especially popular in Miami and other areas with a large Cuban immigrant population (and obviously in Cuba itself).

Unless you’re visiting Cuba or live near a Cuban-based coffee shop, you may not be able to find a great cup of Cortadito. However, if you have an espresso machine or a Moka pot, then you can make yourself the perfect cup of Cuban Cortadito coffee that even a Cuban would enjoy.

Café Cortadito Recipe

You don’t necessarily need a Moka pot to make your cortadito, but it’s the most traditional option. If you don’t have one, you can use your favorite espresso machine or even any number of espresso alternatives (like Ninja espresso, AeroPress espresso, Keurig espresso, or French press espresso).

Just pick your favorite espresso and follow these easy instructions to turn it into a café cortadito.

Ingredients

Filtered water

Cuban coffee beans or similar espresso beans

3 teaspoons of white sugar, or enough to suit your personal level of sweetness

1-2 ounces of warm evaporated or regular milk

Equipment

An espresso maker (or a Moka pot)

A small saucepan

A small bowl or cup

A spoon and whisk

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Prepare your espresso as you normally would

Step 2: Heat your milk until it’s warm but not boiling, as you don’t want it to scorch

Step 3: Make your espuma by placing the desired amount of sugar in a bowl and slowly adding a small amount of espresso. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan.

Step 4: Turn the heat to low and use the whisk to stir the sugar and milk until it has caramelized. Do not heat it too high, or you will burn your espuma.

Step 5: Fill your mug with 50% of milk and 50% espresso. Add your espuma to the top and enjoy!

What’s Next?

Cortaditos are just one of the exciting Cuban coffee drinks that you could be trying. All you really need is a Moka pot which is one of the cheapest types of coffee makers. Or you could just pick up a budget espresso machine and be able to add macchiatos, lattes, and cappuccinos to your daily rotation, too.

And if you’re looking for the ultimate convenience, Nespresso machines are probably the easiest way to get an at-home espresso for your cortaditos and cafe con Leche. Any of the Nespresso pods for lattes can easily be turned into your favorite Cuban coffee drink, and you can even swap to a high-caffeine Nespresso pod if you’re looking for an extra kick.

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