Cortado vs Cappuccino – Revealing the Difference

Are you new to espresso drinks and couldn’t pinpoint the difference between a cortado and a cappuccino? 

It’s totally normal to get confused because they are so similar. In fact, they are made with exactly the same ingredients: milk and espresso. But worry not! 

This guide shows the similarities and differences between a cortado and a cappuccino. In no time, you’ll have the right tools to decide which drink is right for you and order confidently next time.

Let’s dig deeper!

What is a Cortado?

Cortado is made by pouring equal parts of steamed milk into espresso shots and served in 4 oz. glasses. It has a balanced flavor, embodying the sweetness and creaminess of steamed milk while maintaining the robust taste of espresso.

Originating from Spain and Portugal, cortado literally translates to “cut.” In this sense, it means cutting down the acidity and the intensity of the espresso by adding milk.

What is a Cortado

What is a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino consists of equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Milk is steamed and frothed until microfoams are formed, and then it is poured into the espresso. It is typically served in 5-6 oz cups, but you can find many coffee shops with gigantic 16 oz servings.

Cappuccino contains more milk than espresso, making it smooth and creamy. This Italian drink also has different variants, such as a dry cappuccino, which contains more frothed milk than steamed milk. 

What is a cappuccino

If you are also interested in comparing Cappuccino and Latte, read about it here

Cortado vs. Cappuccino: The Main Difference

The fundamental difference between a cortado and a cappuccino lies in the proportion of the ingredients used. All the difference, down to the texture, flavor, and nutrition, is rooted in it. 

OriginSpain and PortugalItaly
Serving size4 ounces6 ounces
Number of Espresso shots22
Espresso-to-Milk-to-Foam Ratio1:1:01:1:1
Texture and FlavorRobust, well-balancedSmooth and creamy flavor
Caffeine Content125.6 mg(1)125.6 mg (2)
Calories (3)60 kal120 kal

Espresso-to-Milk-to-Foam Ratio

 A cortado only consists of equal parts espresso shots and steamed milk, while a cappuccino also includes an even amount of milk foam. 

To clarify, preparing a typical 4 oz. cortado, you’d use 2 oz. of espresso and 2 oz. of milk. In contrast, for a regular 6 oz. cappuccino, you’d require 2 oz. of espresso, 2 oz. of milk, and 2 oz. of foam.

Flavor Difference: Is Cortado stronger than Cappuccino?

Yes, a cortado is stronger than a cappuccino. It has a more robust espresso flavor because of its lower espresso-to-milk ratio. The extra 2 ounces of milk foam in a cappuccino creates a rich, velvety texture and a sweeter flavor. Customarily, a dash of cacao powder or a little chocolate syrup is often added to the cappuccino. 

Caffeine in Cortado vs Cappuccino

Because both beverages only have espresso as a source of caffeine, the caffeine content is directly related to the shots of espresso added. 

The amount of caffeine is 125.6 mg in a standard serving of a cortado and a cappuccino. This is because both drinks are made with two shots of espresso, each with about 62.8mg of caffeine (1). But you can get a decaf version by brewing with decaf espresso. 

Calories in Cortado vs Cappuccino

Espresso has negligible calories, so the energy in cortado and cappuccino only comes from the milk added to each drink. The milk in Cappuccino is twice the amount in Cortado, so the calories also double, assuming you use the same type and brand of milk (3).

Note: calories may increase by adding other ingredients, such as sweeteners. 

Our calculation is based on the standard preparation, serving size, and the statistics from the USDA Food Database (4).

The Bottom Line 

One drink isn’t really better than the other; it only really depends on your preference. Order a cortado if you prefer a more intense coffee. But, if you like more milk and want a sweeter and creamier drink, go for the cappuccino.

If you’re unsure which is better, try them both and enjoy! You got to lose, both are very tasty! 

Want to know more about espresso drinks? Check out our article “30+ Types of espresso drinks”!

(1) Caffeine – Espresso
(2) Caffeine – Cappuccino
(3) Calories in milk used in cortado and cappuccino
(4) USDA  Food Database

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Mesphird Yang

I have been brewing and drinking coffee for almost 6 years now. At first, I was just dazzled by how baristas look and that's why I started learning. In the long run, I became obsessed with its charm. I have tried many coffee brewing methods, with different kinds of beans in various roast levels. If I could have more than 4 cups of coffee a day, I definitely would!

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