A Cortadito is a classic Cuban coffee made of equal parts sweetened espresso and steamed milk. It’s a small coffee drink that’s rich and robust, and beautifully smooth – a delicious way to jump-start your day!
Easy Cuban Cortadito Recipe
Similar to the Spanish cortado coffee drink, the petite Cortadito packs a caffeinated punch plus a bit of sweetness. The cortadito is a Cuban coffee made of equal parts espresso and steamed milk, with a little raw sugar to offset any bitterness in the espresso (you can adjust the amount to your taste). This creamy cortadito coffee is meant for sipping, and sure to get you going in the morning!
Why You’ll Love This Cortadito Coffee
Our family enjoys all sorts of coffee and espresso drinks, and we like to experiment both at coffee shops and at home. Here’s why we think this super simple cortadito recipe is noteworthy:
- Short & sweet. This is literally true – a cortadito is served in a short glass, with robust espresso cut by steamed milk and a bit of sugar.
- Lots of coffee flavor. If you’re a fan of strong coffee, a cortadito will more than satisfy your need for a caffeine hit! Unlike a latte, which contains more milk in ratio to the espresso component, a cortadito is equal parts espresso and milk so you’ll fully taste the espresso – yet it’s still beautifully creamy.
- An adaptable method. You can use whatever method you like for making the espresso – an espresso machine, an espresso-style Nespresso or Keurig machine, a French Press, or a moka pot. And you can make it as sweet as you like, with your sweetener of choice. I always add a steamed and frothed milk topper to my cortadito, but you can simply add hot milk to the sweetened espresso if you like.
What Is A Cortadito?
A cortadito is a Cuban espresso drink that is made from equal parts espresso and milk, plus a little sugar. The word cortadito means to “cut small”, which essentially means that the milk “cuts” the espresso. The drink is strong, yet creamy and lightly sweetened – it’s meant to be sipped.
I like to use raw sugar in this coffee drink, but you can use granulated sugar if you prefer. And while you’ll often see evaporated milk in a cortadito, I use whole milk. You can add the steamed milk right to the drink or froth it and layer it over the top. I like the body that frothing offers, so that’s how I like to make it – and then I just swirl the warm froth into the sweetened espresso.
You only need 3 ingredients to make cortadito coffee.
Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredient amounts.
- Espresso – Espresso gives a velvety, earthy coffee flavor to the drink. Make sure to use a good quality espresso, as this does make a difference.
- Sugar – You would typically sweeten a cortadito with raw sugar, but you can use any sweeter you like – granulated sugar, maple syrup, or even coffee syrup.
- Milk – Steamed milk adds creaminess and cuts some of the espresso’s bitterness. I like to use whole milk but pretty much any milk, dairy or non-dairy, will work.
How to Make a Cortadito
This special coffee drink is easy to make. Follow along with the steps below:
- Sweeten the espresso. Add ½ teaspoon of sugar to two cortado glasses (or two small glasses of similar size, about 4.5 ounces each). Pour 2 ounces of espresso into each glass and gently stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Top with steamed, frothed milk. Microwave the milk just until steaming, about 30-45 seconds. Use a frothing wand to froth the milk until thick and foamy, about 20-30 seconds. Top each glass of sweetened espresso with the frothed milk. Alternatively, just divide the steamed milk between the two glasses of sweetened espresso (without frothing).
- Enjoy! This drink is meant to be enjoyed immediately, and slow-sipped.
Tips for Success + Variations
Here are a few tips to follow to help you make the best cortadito coffee at home:
- Make the espresso with a variety of methods. This recipe is not picky about the espresso making method. You can use an espresso machine, an espresso-style Nespresso or Keurig machine, a French Press, or a moka pot.
- You can even use purchased espresso. If you don’t have a means for making espresso, you can purchase bottled espresso (such as Starbucks brand) and heat it until steaming. Or you can use instant espresso powder (such as Nescafe brand) – just whisk together ½ cup of hot water with 2 teaspoons of espresso powder and continue with the recipe as written.
- Play with the sweetness. You can make a cortadito less sweet or more sweet. And you can use sweeteners other than raw sugar, whatever you prefer.
- Froth the milk – or don’t! I’m a big fan of frothed milk/cream, so I always froth the steamed milk and add it to the top of my cortadito. But you can just pour the steamed milk into the drink if you like.
- Don’t have a frothing wand? I’d be lost without my frothing wand – I use it every single day for coffee. But if you don’t have one, you can use a high-speed blender or vigorously shake a mason jar until the milk is frothy.
- Add cinnamon. For a hint of warm spice, add a pinch of cinnamon to each glass along with the sugar. Or sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top of each finished drink.
- Try heavy cream. For an ultra rich and decadent cortadito, swap the whole milk for heavy cream. This is not traditional, but it is delicious!
- Use evaporated milk instead. Try swapping the whole milk for evaporated milk. In Cuba a cortadito is often made with evaporated milk, which has a sweet flavor. Just heat and froth the evaporated milk. You may want to adjust the amount of added sugar.
Some consider this drink “breakfast”, all on its own. But me? I always need more than a cup of coffee to get my day going! Here are a few suggestions for when you make a cortadito coffee:
- With a sweet breakfast. Pancakes and waffles are my kind of breakfast treat. Try double chocolate pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, and all sorts of waffles!
- Add a pastry. A sweet pastry and a strong espresso drink are a perfect way to start the day. I have many delicious choices on this site – some favorites include pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, strawberry or raspberry scones, or sour cream coffee cake.
- With cookies. A plate of cookies with a cortadito is just right. Try my chewy ginger molasses cookies, chocolate covered cherry cookies, or chocolate chip shortbread cookies – or there are more cookie recipes here!
- Alongside a slice of cake. A lightly-sweetened, slightly bitter cortadito coffee is amazing served with slices of dark chocolate cake – try my chile-spiked chocolate cake, this chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, or my favorite chocolate wacky cake!
More Coffee Drinks To Try
- Hot Buttered Rum Coffee
- Mexican Coffee
- Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
- Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
- Espresso Martini
- 1 teaspoon raw or turbinado sugar
- 4 ounces (4 shots) freshly pressed espresso (see notes below)
- 4 ounces (½ cup) whole milk
- Add ½ teaspoon of sugar to two cortado glasses (or two small glasses of similar size, about 4.5 ounces each). Pour 2 ounces of espresso into each glass and gently stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Microwave the milk just until steaming, about 30-45 seconds. Use a frothing wand to froth the milk until thick and foamy, about 20-30 seconds. Top each glass of sweetened espresso with the frothed milk. Alternatively, just divide the steamed milk between the two glasses of sweetened espresso (without frothing). Enjoy immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 258Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 238mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 0gSugar: 27gProtein: 16g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.