Cortado vs Cappuccino

Are you wondering which coffee to order next time at the cafe? Here I will help you decide between Cortado vs Cappuccino – two popular espresso-based drinks. Learn their similarities and differences and when to order each for the perfect cup!

Cortado vs Cappuccino General Overview

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of both types of coffee drinks with this cortado vs cappuccino overview can help you decide and ensure you have the right drink for your café visit.

A green teacup with coffee on a green saucer was placed on a wooden table

Cortado Coffee

This Spanish coffee has the bold flavor of espresso with the smoothness of steamed milk. Your barista will serve you a Cortado coffee in a small glass with a 50/50 ratio of espresso to milk. This ratio will not overwhelm you with the strong flavor of a cappuccino.

The espresso you use for a cortado is darker roast with a medium to fine grind. It allows you to enjoy a full-bodied espresso with a robust flavor. When you combine it with warm milk, it mellows out and balances the espresso.

If you decide to prepare your Cortado at home, serve it in a small, straight-sided glass known as a “cortado glass.” Serve “straight up,” meaning you won’t have foam on top. Doing so will allow you to appreciate the espresso and milk flavors fully.

However, some coffee shops may offer you a “dry” cortado with less milk. This will provide a stronger flavor and intense bitterness, so be prepared for a different taste.

Cappuccino Coffee

Cappuccino coffee has been a beloved Italian classic for years. It blends coffee and creaminess to give you a unique flavor. A cappuccino’s sweetness differentiates it from a Cortado and other coffee drinks. Its creamy, frothy foam complements the rich espresso flavor.

You can expect a blend of strong espresso, steamed milk, and a fluffy foam layer. The espresso used in a cappuccino coffee is usually a dark roast. This delicious espresso and steamed milk blend is often served in a large cup. The cup is usually in a tulip-shaped glass.

Sprinkle some cocoa powder or cinnamon to add a unique flavor. Make this brew-it-yourself beverage in the morning or after dinner – it will make your day brighter!

Cortado vs Cappuccino

These two popular espresso drinks can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with them. However, their ingredients and composition are distinct. Being aware of their similarities and differences can help.

A white ceramic mug with cappuccino coffee beside a silver teaspoon on a white saucer


Cortado and Cappuccino are both amazing drinks. They’re similar in how they’re made and taste delicious.

  • Cortado and Cappuccino are both espresso-based drinks. This means you start with a shot of espresso and then top it with steamed milk. The steamed milk gives the drinks their creamy texture.
  • You will find a layer of foam on both drinks. The foam layer is much thinner on the Cortado than on the Cappuccino.
  • Another similarity is that both drinks come hot or cold in different sizes.
  • Also, these two drinks are very popular choices in coffee shops. No matter where you go, you can find both on the menu!
  • Both drinks will be served warm, although the Cortado is usually a little cooler than the Cappuccino.
  • You can enjoy both drinks with flavorings and other additions such as syrups, spices, and sweeteners.


Do you ever find yourself wondering what differentiates a Cortado from a Cappuccino?  Although both drinks contain espresso and steamed milk, they have several key differences.


A cappuccino is usually served with a five-degree temperature difference above a cortado. What you’ll love about a cortado is that you can easily pick it up and start sipping immediately.

Espresso to Milk Ratio

A Cortado and a Cappuccino also differ in the proportion of espresso to milk. A Cortado flawlessly balances the two ingredients with equal parts espresso and milk.

Another factor that differentiates these two beverages is the espresso used. A Cortado is made with two espresso shots, while a Cappuccino has one shot of espresso!

You’ll get a stronger caffeine kick with a Cortado, though if you’re looking for something milder, then a cappuccino is a perfect choice.


Cappuccinos and cortados differ in size as well. The cappuccino comes in the more traditional size of 6 – 8 ounces. The cortado uses the traditional Gilbrator cup of about 4 ½ ounces.

A clear glass filled with Cortado coffee beside a green plant placed on a wooden table


A cappuccino’s unique texture is achieved by topping it off with a thick foam layer.  A Cortado has little foam and is much smoother. The foam on top of a cappuccino adds the perfect touch to enhance the espresso’s flavor.

Type of Milk

The difference between a cortado and a cappuccino is also due to the type of milk used. A cortado is slightly frothed and steamed milk, whereas a cappuccino requires a combination of equal third parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. This makes each drink exciting and special in its own way.

The Cortado’s milk is steamed until it’s velvety and has a hint of syrupy taste. The Cappuccino’s milk is steamed to light, creamy, and oh-so-frothy.

Major Distinguishing Factor

The most obvious distinction between a cortado and a cappuccino is how they’re prepared. To make a cortado, you need to measure out the right amount of grounds for your cup size and add them to the espresso maker’s filter basket. Then tamp them down firmly to prevent leaks.

You then pour hot water over the grounds until they’re covered by about 1/2 inch. After that, you let it brew for 30 seconds to 1 minute before stopping it so that there’s just enough water left for steaming milk for your drink.

To make a cappuccino, warm up some milk until it is nice and steamy. Then pour it over freshly brewed espresso shots in a ceramic mug or glass. Finally, you need to top it with foam from a manual frother or a spoonful from an electric milk frother.

When to Order a Cappuccino

A cappuccino will be your ideal matchup if you enjoy a mild and mellow coffee. The cappuccino has a nuanced coffee flavor though it still packs a punch. Adding foamed milk makes it light and fluffy – a great way to enjoy coffee!

You should also consider the drink’s temperature when choosing between the two. A cortado is usually served warm, while a cappuccino comes hot.  For those cold days when you need something hotter, try a cappuccino!

A cup of cappuccino with coffee art on a white saucer placed on a wooden table

When to Order a Cortado

If you love coffee and are looking for a robust, intense flavor, then a cortado is the coffee for you! A cortado lights up those early mornings when you need a little extra boost.

It’s also a great choice for those who want a more complex flavor profile. Cortados are also a good choice for those who prefer a more milky coffee drink.

Which Coffee Is Better?

Which coffee is better ultimately comes down to personal preference. The cortado is a great choice if you’re looking for a strong, flavorful cup of coffee.

A cortado is also the perfect choice if you’re looking for an espresso-based drink and are in a rush. Its usually cooler than a cappuccino makes it easy to drink fast. It’s great for those on the go.

It’s all a matter of taste! Whether you prefer cappuccino or cortado, you can make both drinks in different ways. They both taste great, so it’s only a matter of personal preference.

Final Verdict

Cortado and cappuccino are delicious espresso-based drinks, though they offer different flavor profiles and are served at different temperatures. Whether you prefer a bolder, more intense cortado or a  syrupy, creamier cappuccino, both are great choices for a delicious coffee drink.