Cortado vs Americano: Understanding the Differences and Choosing Your Perfect Cup of Coffee

Are you a coffee lover looking to expand your knowledge and palate? If so, understanding the differences between a cortado and an Americano is essential. These two popular coffee drinks have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the unique features of each and help you choose your perfect cup of coffee.

A cortado, originating from Spain, is a balanced and creamy coffee beverage that combines espresso and steamed milk. On the other hand, an Americano, developed in the United States, is a simple yet bold brew made by diluting espresso with hot water. By examining the variations in taste, strength, and preparation, you will be able to make an informed decision on which coffee suits your preferences.

Join us as we delve into the world of cortados and Americanos and uncover the intricacies that make each cup a delightful experience.

What is a Cortado?

Cortado vs Americano

A cortado is a popular coffee beverage that originated in Spain and is now enjoyed by coffee lovers around the world. This drink is often referred to as a “short latte” or “mini latte” due to its smaller size compared to a traditional latte. The word “cortado” means “cut” in Spanish, which refers to the way the drink is made.

A cortado is made by combining equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The key difference between a cortado and other espresso-based drinks like a cappuccino or latte is the milk-to-espresso ratio. In a cortado, the milk is only lightly steamed, resulting in a smoother and less frothy texture compared to a latte. This allows the rich flavor of the espresso to shine through, creating a balanced and satisfying taste.

One of the reasons why cortados have gained popularity is because of their versatility. The smaller serving size makes them a perfect choice for those who prefer a milder coffee experience. The combination of espresso and steamed milk creates a creamy and velvety texture that appeals to many coffee enthusiasts. Additionally, the cortado’s lower milk content allows the flavors of the espresso to be more pronounced, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate the bold taste of a good quality coffee.

Cortados are typically served in small glasses or cups, allowing the drinker to fully enjoy its flavors and aroma. They can be enjoyed on their own or paired with a small snack or pastry.

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Characteristics and origins of Cortado

  • Origin: Spain
  • Ratio: Equal parts espresso and steamed milk
  • Size: 4-6 ounces
  • Temperature: Hot
  • Flavor profile: Bold and rich with a smooth finish
  • Served in: Glass cup

What is an Americano Coffee?

An Americano coffee is a popular beverage that originated in the United States. It is a simple yet delicious drink that combines espresso and hot water. The name “Americano” is believed to have come from the American soldiers stationed in Italy during World War II. These soldiers found the strong Italian espresso too intense for their taste, so they would dilute it with hot water to create a milder drink. This practice eventually became known as an Americano coffee.

The preparation of an Americano coffee involves adding a shot or two of espresso to a cup and then filling the cup with hot water. The ratio of espresso to water can vary depending on personal preference, but a common ratio is one part espresso to two parts water. The result is a smooth and flavorful coffee with a slightly lighter body compared to a regular espresso.

One of the main characteristics of an Americano coffee is its strength. While it is not as concentrated as an espresso, it still retains its bold flavors and aromas. The hot water used in the preparation helps to extract more of the coffee’s flavors, resulting in a rich and satisfying beverage.

Many people enjoy an Americano coffee because it provides a balance between the intensity of an espresso and the milder taste of drip coffee. It is also a versatile drink that can be customized to suit individual preferences. Some people may prefer to add milk or cream to their Americano, while others may enjoy it black. Additionally, it can be served hot or over ice, making it a refreshing choice during warmer months.

Characteristics and origins of American coffee

  • Origin: Italy
  • Ratio: One shot of espresso and hot water
  • Size: 8-12 ounces
  • Temperature: Hot
  • Flavor profile: Strong and robust
  • Served in: Mug or cup

Cortado vs Americano: What’s the differences?

Cortado vs Americano: Table Comparison

To summarize the differences between cortado and Americano, we have created a table that highlights their key characteristics.








Equal parts espresso and steamed milk

One shot of espresso and hot water


4-6 ounces

8-12 ounces


Hot and cold

Hot and cold

Flavor profile

Bold and rich with a smooth finish

Strong and robust

Caffeine content

Approximately 126 milligrams

Varies depending on how much water is added

Serving size

Small glass cup

Mug or cup

Differences in Orgin and Ratio

The most obvious difference between cortado and Americano is their origin. As previously mentioned, cortado originated in Spain while Americano was first made in Italy during WW2.

When it comes to the ratio of ingredients, there is a stark contrast between them. Cortado contains equal parts espresso and steamed milk whereas Americano consists of one shot of espresso and hot water. This difference in ingredients is what gives them their unique flavor profiles, as well as varying levels of caffeine content.

Differences in Brewing Method

When it comes to brewing methods, there are distinct differences between a cortado and an americano. A cortado is a coffee drink that has a thicker texture due to the addition of steamed milk. The espresso base in a cortado is not diluted with water, resulting in a concentrated and bold flavor. On the other hand, an americano is made by diluting espresso with hot water. This results in a thinner consistency compared to a cortado. The americano has a milder taste compared to a cortado.

The brewing process for a cortado involves pulling a shot of espresso and adding an equal amount of steamed milk. This creates a balanced and smooth coffee drink. In contrast, an americano is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. This dilution process gives the americano a larger volume but reduces the intensity of the coffee flavor.

Differences in Flavor Profiles

Cortado has a bold and rich flavor profile with a smooth finish. The espresso’s acidity is balanced out by the smoothness of the milk, resulting in a delicious coffee that is not too sweet or too bitter.

Americano, on the other hand, has a strong and robust flavor. This is due to the addition of hot water, which dilutes the espresso’s flavor. It is an ideal coffee for those who prefer a lighter cup of coffee with slightly less caffeine content than cortado.

Differences in Acidic Content

Cortado has a higher acidic content than Americano as the espresso is not diluted with water. This makes it a great choice for those who prefer their coffee to be bold and flavorful.

Americano, on the other hand, has a lower concentration of acids due to the diluting effect of hot water. This makes it an ideal choice for those who prefer a milder cup of coffee.

Strength and Caffeine Content Comparison

When it comes to strength and caffeine content, there are slight differences between cortado and Americano.

A cortado is a delightful coffee beverage made by combining a single shot of espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk. The result is a smooth and velvety drink with a moderate caffeine content of around 126 milligrams. This harmonious blend of espresso and steamed milk creates a balanced flavor profile that appeals to those who appreciate a milder yet flavorful coffee experience.

On the other hand, an Americano offers a customizable coffee experience. It starts with a single shot of espresso, which contains approximately 63 milligrams of caffeine. The beauty of an Americano lies in its versatility. By adding varying amounts of hot water, you can adjust the strength and caffeine content to your preference. For example, if you add 8 ounces of hot water to the espresso, the total caffeine content drops to around 80 milligrams, resulting in a slightly milder flavor.

Overall, both cortado and Americano provide a satisfying coffee experience with moderate caffeine levels. Whether you prefer the creamy smoothness of a cortado or the customizable nature of an Americano, these beverages are perfect for those seeking a flavorful, yet not overpowering, coffee delight.

Differences in Size and Temperature Serve

Cortado and Americano have slight differences in size and how they are served. Cortados are typically served in a small glass cup, usually between 4-6 ounces in volume. This smaller size allows the drinker to savor the flavor of the espresso and milk combination without overindulging.

On the other hand, Americanos can be served in either a mug or cup. Typically, they are around 8-12 ounces and are meant to be consumed as an entire beverage. Americanos can also be made in larger sizes, depending on how much hot water is added to the espresso.

In terms of temperature, both cortado and Americano are Hot and Cold. The difference lies in the milk used for cortados. The steamed milk in a cortado is heated to a higher temperature than the hot water used in an Americano, resulting in a slightly warmer drink.

Differences in Cost and Popularity

The cost of cortado and Americano can vary depending on where you purchase them. Generally, cortados are more expensive than Americanos due to their shorter brewing time and the added steamed milk.

Americano is also a popular choice for those seeking an affordable coffee option. Its popularity is mainly attributed to its versatility, as it can be made in a variety of sizes and with different levels of caffeine content.

Which one should you choose: Cortado or Americano?

When to Choose Cortado?

If you prefer a more intense and concentrated cup of coffee with moderate caffeine content, then the cortado is the ideal choice. With its creamy texture and balanced flavor profile, this espresso-based beverage will have you feeling refreshed in no time.

When to Choose Americano?

On the other hand, if you want a customizable coffee experience that allows you to adjust the strength and caffeine content to your liking, then an Americano is the ideal choice. By adding hot water in varying amounts, you can control just how strong or mild you want your coffee.

Whether you choose a cortado or an Americano, both beverages provide a flavorful coffee experience with moderate caffeine levels that will satisfy all of your cravings for a delicious cup of joe. So go ahead and enjoy a cortado or an Americano – whichever one best suits your taste buds!

Popular Variations and Recipes for Cortado and American Coffee

Both cortado and Americano can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some popular variations and recipes you can try:

Cortado Variations

  • Iced cortado: A refreshing variation of the classic cortado served over ice.
  • Cinnamon cortado: Add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of your cortado for a warm and comforting flavor.
  • Chocolate-covered cortado: Sprinkle some cocoa powder over your drink for a decadent touch.

Americano Variations

  • Red-eye: Also known as a “shot in the dark,” this variation of Americano includes a shot of espresso in addition to hot water.
  • Mocha Americano: Add chocolate syrup and whipped cream to your Americano for a delicious treat.
  • Vanilla Americano: Add a shot of vanilla syrup to your Americano for a sweet and creamy flavor.

How to Select the Appropriate Coffee Bean Variety for Cortado and Americano?

The type of coffee bean used for cortado and Americano plays a big role in the overall flavor of the drink.

For a cortado, it is best to choose a coffee bean variety with a balanced flavor and medium strength. A medium roast coffee bean will provide a smooth and well-rounded taste that complements the richness of the milk. Additionally, a bean with hints of chocolate or caramel notes can further enhance the flavor profile of the cortado.

On the other hand, an americano, it is recommended to select a coffee bean variety with a stronger flavor and higher acidity. A dark roast coffee bean can provide a bold and robust taste that stands up well to the dilution process. The higher acidity in the bean can also help to cut through the water, resulting in a more vibrant and flavorful americano.

For those who prefer a more intense coffee experience, blending different types of beans can further enhance the flavor of your cortado or Americano. Experimenting with different bean varieties and combinations is a great way to explore and find the perfect espresso-based drink that will satisfy all your coffee cravings. And remember, when it comes to selecting the right beans for your cortado or Americano, the possibilities are truly endless!

How to Make Cortado and Americano at Home

Making cortado and Americano at home is easy and requires minimal equipment. Here are the steps to make each coffee variation at home:

How to Make Cortado at Home?

Ingredient and Equipment:

  • 1 shot espresso
  • Steamed milk
  • Coffee cup


  1. Begin by pulling 1 shot of espresso into a coffee cup.
  2. Add an equal amount of steamed milk to the espresso.
  3. Stir the mixture until it is well combined and serve hot or over ice, if desired. Enjoy your cortado!

How to Make Americano at Home?

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • 1 shot espresso
  • Hot water
  • Coffee cup or mug


  1. Begin by pulling 1 shot of espresso into a coffee cup.
  2. Add either 8 ounces or 12 ounces of hot water to the espresso, depending on your desired strength and caffeine content.
  3. Stir the mixture until it is well combined and serve hot. Enjoy your Americano!

Whether you choose to make cortado or Americano at home, both of these coffee beverages provide a flavorful treat that can be enjoyed any time of day. So give them a try and enjoy a delicious cup of joe!


What is the difference between cortado and latte?

Cortado and latte are both made with espresso and steamed milk, but the ratio of milk and espresso is different. Cortado has an equal amount of espresso and steamed milk, while latte has more steamed milk and a thin layer of foam on top.

Is cortado stronger than cappuccino?

Cortado and cappuccino have similar strength, but their flavor profiles differ. Cappuccino has more foam and a lighter texture compared to cortado.

Can I make cortado or Americano with decaf espresso?

Yes, you can use decaf espresso to make cortado and Americano. This is a great option for those who want to enjoy the flavor of espresso without the caffeine.

Is it possible to make cortado or Americano with cold brew?

Yes, you can use cold brew in place of espresso to make cortado and Americano. Cold brew has more intense flavor than espresso, so add fewer coffee grounds when making your drink. Additionally, adding more steamed milk or water can help to balance out the taste of the cold brew.

How much caffeine is in a cup of cortado or Americano?

On average, a cup of cortado contains around 80-150 mg of caffeine, while an Americano contains around 100-200 mg. However, this amount may vary depending on the strength of the espresso used and how much hot water is added.

Can I make cortado or Americano with almond milk?

Yes, you can use almond milk in place of cow’s milk to make cortado or Americano. Almond milk adds a subtle nutty undertone to the drink and provides a creamy texture that pairs well with espresso-based beverages. Additionally, almond milk is lower in calories than cow’s milk and is a great option for those who are lactose intolerant.

Is it possible to add flavors to cortado or Americano?

Yes, you can flavor your cortado or Americano with syrups such as vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and more. Adding flavored syrups can enhance the taste of your espresso-based beverage and make it more enjoyable. Additionally, you can add spices like cinnamon or cocoa powder to your drink for a unique twist on the classic cortado or Americano.


In conclusion, cortado and Americano are two popular coffee variations with distinct characteristics, flavor profiles, and brewing methods. Cortado is a bold and rich coffee with an equal ratio of espresso and steamed milk, while Americano is a strong and robust brewed coffee made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. The choice between these two coffee variations depends on personal preference and taste. So why not try both and see which one you like the most?

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