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Is a cortado the same as a flat white?

Is a cortado the same as a flat white

In a nutshell, a cortado and a flat white are similar yet distinct coffee beverages. Both are espresso-based drinks that feature a smaller amount of milk compared to a latte. However, the texture and ratio of milk to coffee differ in each. With origins in Spain and Italy for the cortado, and Australia and New Zealand for the flat white, these beverages offer unique takes on the classic coffee and milk combination.


The Anatomy of a Cortado

The cortado hails from Spain and enjoys widespread popularity in Spanish-speaking countries. “Cortado” literally means “cut” in Spanish, signifying how the espresso is “cut” with an equal amount of steamed milk. The milk in a cortado is lightly textured, just enough to reduce the espresso’s acidity but not so much as to create frothy foam.

A cortado is an espresso “cut” with an equal amount of steamed milk.

Key Components of a Cortado:

  • Espresso: One shot
  • Steamed Milk: Equal part to espresso, typically around 150 ml
  • Foam: Minimal, merely a thin layer
  • Cup Size: Smaller, usually around 200-250 ml

The Anatomy of a Flat White

Originating from Australia and New Zealand, the flat white has become a staple in coffee shops across the UK. The drink consists of one or two shots of espresso and a larger volume of steamed milk. Unlike a cortado, the flat white features a thin layer of velvety microfoam, which gives the beverage a smoother, creamier texture.

A flat white offers a creamier texture due to its thin layer of microfoam.

Key Components of a Flat White:

  • Espresso: One or two shots
  • Steamed Milk: Approximately 200 ml
  • Microfoam: Thin layer
  • Cup Size: Generally around 250-330 ml

What’s the difference between a Cortado and a Latte?

The latte is another espresso-based drink that has gained worldwide recognition. Unlike a cortado, a latte comprises a larger volume of milk and a more generous layer of foam. Essentially, a latte is more diluted in terms of its coffee to milk ratio, making it a less intense beverage compared to both the cortado and the flat white.

Comparative Data: Cortado vs Latte vs Flat White

DrinkEspressoSteamed MilkFoamCup Size
CortadoOne shot150 mlMinimal200-250 ml
Flat WhiteOne or two shots200 mlThin layer of microfoam250-330 ml
LatteOne or two shots250-350 mlThicker layer350-450 ml


While the cortado, flat white, and latte may all appear to be similar espresso-based drinks, they are each distinguished by their ratio of milk to coffee, foam texture, and serving size. Whether you prefer the balanced intensity of a cortado, the creamy texture of a flat white, or the mellower, milkier latte, understanding these differences can enhance your coffee experience.