Espresso Drinks Compared: Cortado Vs Flat White

Cortado Vs Flat White
Cortado Vs Flat White

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably come across the Cortado and Flat White on coffee menus. These two espresso-based drinks have been growing in popularity worldwide, but many people are still confused about their differences. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the origins, brewing techniques, and taste profiles of Cortado vs Flat White. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which one suits your taste buds and preferences.

What is Cortado

A Cortado served in a small glass, featuring a layer of espresso and steamed milk, topped with a thin layer of foam.

The History of Cortado

Many people believe that the origin of Cortado dates back more than a century in Spain. The word “cortado” comes from the Spanish verb “cortar,” which means “to cut.” The process involves cutting the hot espresso shot with an equal amount of steamed milk, reducing the bitterness and acidity of the espresso while adding creaminess. In the past, it was typically served in small glasses known as “tazitas de chinesca,” but now it is commonly available in cups or mugs throughout Europe and North America.

What Does Cortado Taste Like?

Cortados are typically served as two ounces of espresso mixed with two ounces of steamed milk—the proportions are important because they create a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. The result is a smooth and creamy drink with notes of chocolate, caramel, and nuts that isn’t too bitter or acidic like some other espresso drinks can be.

What is Flat White

A Flat White presented in a ceramic cup, showcasing a double shot of espresso with creamy microfoam on top.

The Origins of the Flat White

Some argue that the flat white was created in Australia, while others contend that it originated in New Zealand, resulting in a dispute about its exact origins.. One thing is for sure though—the flat white has been around since at least 1985. Some people believe that the creation of the flat white was intended as an alternative to cappuccino, which was gaining popularity at that time. The major difference between cappuccinos and flat whites is that a cappuccino contains more foam than a flat white. A cappuccino also has more milk than a flat white, which gives it an airier texture. 

What Does Flat White Taste Like?

A flat white typically contains two shots of espresso and steamed milk with microfoam on top. The microfoam gives the drink an extra creamy texture without overwhelming the taste of the espresso. Since there isn’t much foam on top, you can still taste the distinctive flavor of freshly ground coffee beans in every sip. The result is a smooth and creamy cup with just enough sweetness from the steamed milk to make it enjoyable without being overly sweet or cloying.

Cortado vs Flat White: What the differnce

Cortado vs Flat White
Cortado vs Flat White

Both popular espresso-based drinks, Cortado and Flat White share similar ingredients, but they also have a few distinct differences.

Origins : Cortado vs Flat White

Cortado has its roots in Spain, whereas Flat White originates from New Zealand and Australia.

Ratio: Cortado vs Flat White

Cortado has a higher milk to espresso ratio than the Flat White, resulting in slightly sweeter but thicker drink with a creamy texture.

A Cortado typically has a 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk, with a small amount of milk foam on top. The name “cortado” comes from the Spanish word “cortar,” which means “to cut,” as the small amount of milk is meant to “cut” the intensity of the espresso.

A Flat White, on the other hand, has a slightly higher ratio of milk to espresso. To make it, baristas typically use a double shot of espresso and steamed milk, adding a thin layer of microfoam on top. Baristas steam the milk to produce a velvety texture and a slightly sweeter flavor, but it is not as frothy as the milk used in a cappuccino.

Serving Sizes: Cortado vs Flat White

Typically, the serving sizes for Cortados are smaller, and the glasses used for Flat Whites are larger in size. Baristas serve Cortados in a small glass or ceramic cup, which holds about 4-6 ounces. And serve a flat white in a larger ceramic cup that can hold between 6-8 ounces.

Taste: Cortado vs Flat White

cortado has a strong, bold coffee flavor with a smooth and creamy texture, while a flat white has a slightly sweeter taste due to the addition of microfoam, but still has a strong coffee flavor with a velvety texture. Ultimately, the taste preference between these two drinks comes down to personal preference.

It is best to use light roast coffee beans for Cortado as it will bring out all its flavors; for any sort of espresso based drinks like Flat White, dark roasted beans offer richer and smoother flavor when paired with milk or cream.

Cortado usually contains less caffeine than the stronger Flat White, however calorie content remains the same – around 25 kcal per ounce of milk used.

How Do I Make  Cortado or Flat White at Home?

Make Coffee at Home
make coffee at home

Here’s what you’ll need to make coffee at home:

An espresso machine;Espresso beans (ground and tamped);Milk (whole or skim);Sugar (optional);Cinnamon (optional)

Make  Cortado at Home

Since you have all your ingredients, it is now time to proceed. First, grind the espresso beans into a fine powder. This will ensure that your espresso comes out full-bodied and flavorful. Use an espresso tamper to pack the ground beans tightly into an espresso portafilter. Place it in the machine. Pull one shot of espresso for each cup of cortado, about 1-1/2 ounces per cup. While the shot is pulling, steam 2 ounces of milk until it reaches between 135°F–145°F. You should see dense microfoam on top when it’s ready; this will give your cortado its signature creamy texture. Finally, add 1 ounce of steamed milk to each brewed espresso cup and lightly stir before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon for extra flavor! 

Make Flat White at Home

The first step to making your own flat white is brewing your espresso. If you have an espresso machine, this will be relatively easy; just follow the instructions that came with your machine. Without an espresso machine, make strong espresso-like coffee using a Moka pot, stovetop coffee maker, or an Aeropress. One thing all methods of brewing have in common is that they require finely ground coffee beans. Make sure to grind your beans right before brewing so that they stay fresh and full of flavor! Whichever method you choose, aim for around 2 ounces of brewed espresso per serving.

Steaming Milk for the Flat White 

Once your espresso is brewed and ready to go, it’s time to steam some milk! You will need about 8 ounces of whole milk for each serving of flat white you plan on making. Pour cold milk into a metal pitcher and steam with a machine or frothing wand (or a blender) until it becomes light, creamy, and frothy with tiny bubbles. Pour the steamed milk over your freshly brewed espresso.

Combining Your Espresso & Steamed Milk 

Having prepared both components, it is time to combine them now. Pour 2 shots (or 2 ounces) of hot espresso into a mug filled halfway with steamed milk, being careful not to overmix and compromise their creaminess and flavor. Pour steamed milk on top of the mug and add more until it’s full. You can also add foam if desired. And there you have it—a delicious cup of homemade flat white! 


Comparing Cortado and Flat White has revealed fascinating facts about these two espresso drinks. They each have their own unique histories and flavors, making them stand out. Whether you’re enjoying a Cortado in Spain or a Flat White in Australia, these drinks remain an essential part of the local cultures, fueling and connecting people every day.

No matter which one you prefer, learning how to make both drinks at home will allow you to start your day with a delicious taste and a boost of caffeine.

Scroll to Top