Latte vs Cortado (The top differences)

Photo of a latte on the left and a cortado on the right. Latte vs cortado.

Ready to upgrade your coffee-related world by understanding the differences between a latte and a cortado? Here is the information that you need to know on latte vs cortado!

A latte, originally from Italy, is a larger serving size than a cortado, and it has ⅓ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk. It often has a beautiful thick milk foam at its top. It’s sweeter, frothy, and a beautiful blend of milk and espresso as far as its flavor. In its smaller size, a cortado is ½ espresso and ½ steamed milk. It’s not as sweet and has a distinctive espresso flavor to it. This is originally from Spain.

There are more differences below waiting for you!

What is a latte?

Let’s start with a basic description and work from there. A latte is an espresso shot with steamed milk and milk foam on its top. It’s thick and frothy and often decorated with latte art, which is often featured with 3D animals out of the milk foam!

What is a cortado?

A cortado is an espresso blended evenly with steamed milk. It doesn’t have milk foam on top, and it’s a rich yet very smooth drink. Since this is served in a small cup, there’s no room for any art. 

Key differences between a latte and a cortado

Now that I’ve gotten a few of the primary details out of the way let’s take a more detailed look at how these delicious drinks differ from their origins to the overall taste and everything in between!


First and foremost, these drinks have very different origins regarding their actual roots. A latte originated from Italy and is a shortened version of the Italian words for “coffee” and “milk.” It’s one of the most popular drinks today amongst European women.

A cortado is from Spain, and its name comes from the Spanish word “cortar,” which means “to cut.” It refers to the bitter and acidic taste of the espresso that is then cut with steamed milk! While this is a popular drink, it can be hard to find in other countries where it isn’t as popular.


The ingredients of a latte and a cortado are similar if you make them as directed. Both include espresso and steamed milk. A latte adds milk foam and often a sprinkle of cinnamon or chocolate, and sometimes a flavor shot. A cortado keeps it very simple, with nothing added to the steamed milk and espresso.

The main difference in the ingredients is the amount of espresso, which I’ll discuss later on!

Brewing process

The brewing process is identical between the two as well. The espresso is brewed and poured into the cups. The steamed milk is then poured on top. With a latte this is then topped with milk foam. A cortado differs in that it doesn’t add anything to it. However, a cortado is stirred and mixed evenly before a customer receives the drink!


The serving size is one of the biggest differences between a latte and a cortado, which is often how you’ll know which you’re getting at first! A latte is 10 oz, mostly made of steamed milk and a topping of milk foam. The espresso stays at the bottom of the glass, and the taste gets stronger as the drink wears on.

A cortado is only 4 oz, and it’s typically served in an espresso cup or something just a little larger to make it easier to move around and drink from. The difference is due to only having a small amount of steamed milk and no milk foam.


The taste of these drinks is noticeably different, especially if you’re new to coffee and its different combinations! A latte has a distinctively milky taste that phases from creamy and milky to bitter and rich from the espresso at its bottom.

When it comes to the cortado, you’ll get a rich espresso flavor that is butter yet softened by the milk throughout the drink. As far as flavors go, the cortado is a bit smoother in its blend than a latte.

Fun Fact: describes that a latte is a creamier version of a coffee rather than an espresso-like drink as far as flavor.

What is stronger: a latte or a cortado?

Most people assume a latte is stronger because it’s larger, but it only relies on one espresso shot and uses milk to make up the rest of the drink. So, it’s weaker than a cortado, yet the larger size still delivers a hefty dose of caffeine and flavor.

As you might be able to guess, a cortado relies on two shots of espresso and packs a powerful amount of caffeine into its tiny little portion size. Spanish coffee is notorious for being stronger and more bitter than Italian coffee, and the differences between these two drinks are the perfect show of it!

The caffeine content also matches the flavor as far as which drink is strong and which is weaker, as you can imagine.

Calories in a latte vs. a cortado

Now for the most challenging question for those trying to watch their health and still enjoy a strong jolt as a treat! A latte is higher in calories because most places use whole milk or 2% milk, which has a higher fat amount. Fatsecret explains that you often will see a latte come in at around 140 calories for your classic make-up. A cortado, according to Nutritionix, is much lower. For a regular-sized drink, it’ll be 68 calories. 

Of course, a cortado has stronger caffeine because it has two shots of espresso, so it depends on whether you’re prioritizing your calorie counting or your cardiovascular system…no judgment here!

Which is better: a latte or a cortado?

Okay, so this is the hardest question to answer, mainly because it depends on personal preference and how each drink is made. If you get two perfectly made drinks, it’ll give you a great comparison. But if either of them is made poorly, it’s not a fair comparison, is it?

As far as which is generally better, a cortado is more or less a latte with less milk. Yet many disagree with that! They say that a cortado tastes primarily of espresso, and a latte instead has a distinctive milky coffee taste.

If you ask me, I think a latte is best for those who love traditional coffee, and a cortado is terrific for those who want an unmistakable espresso drink. 

I encourage you to try both and see which sits with you best! Even though it’s not traditional, I also think you should explore flavor shots in your latte because you might end up enjoying a flavored latte over a cortado when you try it a bit differently! 

So, now you know that there are a lot of differences between an Italian latte and a Spanish cortado. The easiest difference to spot is the size; a latte is larger, and a cortado is smaller. A latte has ⅓ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk. A cortado is split 50/50 between espresso and steamed milk. While smaller, it’s also stronger in its taste and overall caffeine content! A latte has more calories than a cortado, and there’s lots of room for creativity regarding flavor shots. Both are delicious and sure to help you try something different!

If you know someone who will enjoy comparing these side by side, share this with them and help them understand the unique appeal of these drinks!

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Robert Knowlton is an expert barista with more than 15 years of experience. Robert's main goal is to make sure everyone can enjoy the perfect cup of coffee regardless of their skill level.