The Difference Between Cortado vs Flat White

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Two Cortado and Flat White drinks on a wooden table.
Table of Contents
Two Cortado and Flat White drinks on a wooden table.

Key Takeaways

  • Cortado and flat white are both espresso-based coffee drinks, but they differ in their milk-to-espresso ratios. A cortado has a 1:2 ratio, resulting in a denser texture and stronger coffee taste, while a flat white has more milk and less coffee for a smoother and milder flavor.
  • The milk textures and foam in cortados and flat whites also differ. Cortados have lightly steamed milk with minimal foam, allowing the intense espresso flavor to shine through. Flat whites have velvety textures with microfoam, creating a creamy smoothness.
  • Size – wise, cortados are typically served in smaller cups (4 to 6 ounces) for a concentrated taste experience. Flat whites are slightly larger (6 to 8 ounces) but still offer rich flavors and velvety textures.
  • Both cortados and flat whites contain higher levels of caffeine compared to regular brewed coffee due to the use of espresso shots. Cortados generally have a stronger caffeine content than flat whites due to their higher concentration of coffee.

The Difference Between Cortado vs Flat White

A cortado is a small coffee drink with origins in Spain and Latin America. A flat white: a milky coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk, known for its velvety texture and smooth taste.

Diving into the vast world of coffee can be a daunting task, especially when confronted with choices like ‘Cortado’ and ‘Flat white’. Did you know these two espresso-based drinks are often confused due to their similar ingredients but differ greatly in taste and texture? This blog post will unravel the mystery behind these buzz-worthy beverages, exploring their originpreparation methodsrecipes, and crucial differences.

Get ready for an insightful journey that promises to turn your next coffee order into an educated choice.

What is a Cortado?

Definition and origin

cortado, originating from Spain, is an espresso-based drink that has gained significant popularity for its bold coffee flavor softened by just the right amount of milk. The name ‘cortado’ translates to ‘cut’, representing the idea that the intense espresso shot is cut through with a splash of warm milk.

Flat white heralds from Australia and New Zealand and embodies their unique coffee culture. Serving as a smoother alternative to high-intensity drinks like cappuccino or latte, it offers more balance in terms of coffee-to-milk ratio – slightly less milky than lattes yet carrying more body than traditional Americanos.

Both these specialty coffees have risen to fame due to their harmonious blend of robust espresso and gentle dairy notes but differ greatly in taste and presentation.

Espresso to milk ratio

A key difference between a cortado and a flat white lies in the espresso to milk ratio. In a cortado, the ratio is 1:2, which means there’s an equal amount of espresso and twice as much milk.

This results in a denser texture and a stronger coffee taste. A flat white has more milk compared to espresso, with varying ratios ranging from 1:3 to 1:5. This creates a velvety texture and a smoother taste.

Both drinks are known for their strong flavor profiles, but the cortado takes it up another notch with its higher concentration of espresso compared to milk content.

Flavor profile

The cortado and flat white have distinct flavor profiles that cater to different preferences. The cortado is known for its strong, espresso-style coffee taste with a hint of sweetness. It has a 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk, resulting in a denser milk texture.

The combination of the bold coffee flavor and lightly steamed milk creates a rich and intense experience for your taste buds.

The flat white offers a smoother and more balanced flavor profile. With more milk and less coffee compared to the cortado, it has a velvety texture that complements the espresso perfectly.

The thicker texture enhances the overall creaminess while allowing the coffee’s natural flavors to shine through. If you prefer a milder yet still robust coffee experience, the flat white is an excellent choice for you.

While both drinks offer strong coffee tastes, they differ in their ratios of espresso to milk and subsequent textures. The cortado boasts an intense flavor with dense milk texture, while the flat white provides a smoother experience with velvety richness.

What is a Flat White?

Definition and origin

A cortado is a type of coffee beverage that originated in Spain. It is made by combining equal parts espresso and milk, resulting in a balanced and rich flavor. The term “cortado” means “cut” in Spanish, referring to the cutting or reducing effect of the milk on the intensity of the espresso.

This drink has become popular in many coffee cultures around the world for its strong and smooth taste. A flat white originated in Australia and New Zealand but has gained popularity worldwide.

It consists of one part espresso and two parts steamed milk, creating a velvety texture with less foam compared to other milk-based drinks. The name “flat white” comes from the flat appearance created when properly steaming the milk for this drink.

Espresso to milk ratio

The espresso to milk ratio is a key factor that sets the cortado apart from the flat white. In a cortado, the ratio of espresso to milk is 1:2. This means that for every ounce of espresso, there are two ounces of milk added.

The result is a drink that has a denser and creamier texture compared to other coffee beverages. A flat white has more milk and less coffee in its ratio, typically around 1:4 or 1:5.

This gives it a smoother and milder taste with velvety foam on top. So when choosing between a cortado and flat white, consider whether you prefer your coffee strong and intense or smooth and balanced.

Flavor profile

The flavor profile of a cortado and a flat white differs based on the ratio of espresso to milk used in each beverage. A cortado, with its 1:2 ratio of espresso to milk, has a strong and bold coffee flavor.

The lightly steamed milk provides sweetness that complements the intense espresso taste. A flat white has more milk and less coffee compared to a cortado, resulting in a smoother and milder flavor.

The velvety texture of the milk enhances the overall taste experience. Both drinks offer a rich and satisfying coffee experience, but if you prefer a stronger coffee taste, opt for a cortado, while those seeking a mellower option can indulge in the smoothness of a flat white.

Key Differences Between Cortado and Flat White

The key differences between a cortado and a flat white include milk texture and foam, size, taste, and caffeine content. Discover all the details and choose your perfect coffee beverage.

Milk texture and foam

In the world of coffee, the milk texture and foam play a key role in distinguishing between a cortado and a flat white. In a cortado, the milk is lightly steamed, resulting in a denser texture that adds to its bold flavor profile.

The foam in a cortado is minimal, allowing the rich espresso taste to shine through. A flat white has more milk and less coffee compared to a cortado. The milk is steamed to create a velvety texture with microfoam that gives it that signature smoothness.

So while both drinks feature espresso and milk, it’s their distinct milk textures and foams that set them apart in terms of taste and overall experience.


Cortados and flat whites also differ in size. A cortado is typically served in a smaller cup, usually around 4 to 6 ounces. This smaller size allows for a more concentrated taste and stronger flavor.

flat white is slightly larger, usually ranging from 6 to 8 ounces. Despite the difference in size, both drinks still pack a punch when it comes to their rich coffee taste and velvety texture created by steamed milk.


Cortados and flat whites offer distinct taste profiles that coffee enthusiasts can appreciate. Cortados, with their stronger espresso flavor, provide a bolder and more intense coffee experience compared to flat whites.

The lightly steamed milk in a cortado creates a sweeter taste that balances the robustness of the espresso. On the other hand, flat whites have a smoother taste due to their higher milk content, which tones down the strength of the coffee without overpowering it.

Both drinks showcase the rich flavors of specialty coffee while offering unique variations in taste for those seeking different levels of intensity.

Caffeine content

Cortados and flat whites may be small in size, but they pack quite a caffeine punch. Both coffee beverages are made with espresso, which means they naturally contain higher levels of caffeine than regular brewed coffee.

The exact amount can vary depending on factors such as bean type and brewing method. Cortados generally have a slightly higher concentration of coffee compared to flat whites due to their smaller milk-to-coffee ratio.

This means that cortados tend to have a stronger caffeine content and can provide an extra boost for those looking for an energy kick. So, if you’re searching for a strong dose of caffeine in a small package, either option will do the trick!

How to Order and Pronounce Cortado and Flat White

When ordering a cortado or flat white know the correct pronunciation and how to effectively communicate your preference to the barista.

Tips for ordering

To make sure you confidently order your preferred drink, here are a few tips for ordering your cortado or flat white. When ordering a cortado, simply ask for “a cortado” If you’re unsure, just specify that you would like it made in the traditional way.

For a flat white, order “a flat white” Remember that both drinks contain espresso and milk but differ in ratios and taste. So if you’re after a stronger coffee flavor with denser milk, go for the cortado.

If you prefer a velvety texture with more milk content, opt for the flat white. Enjoy savoring these delicious espresso-based drinks!

Correct pronunciation

To avoid any confusion or embarrassment, it’s important to know the correct pronunciation of both cortado and flat white. For cortado, simply say “kor-tah-doh,” with the emphasis on the second syllable.

When ordering a flat white, pronounce it as “flat whyt,” with equal emphasis on both words. Knowing how to pronounce these coffee drinks correctly will not only make you sound knowledgeable but also ensure that you get exactly what you want when ordering at your favorite café.

So confidently order your kor-tah-doh or flat whyt without hesitation!

Conclusion: Choosing Between Cortado and Flat White

Understanding the key differences between cortado and flat white can help you make an informed choice when it comes to your coffee preferences. If you enjoy a strong espresso taste with less milk content, the cortado may be the perfect choice for you.

If you prefer a smoother, velvety texture with more milk, the flat white is worth considering. So go ahead and explore these delightful coffee beverages to find which one suits your taste buds best!


What does a cortado taste like?

A cortado has a bold and rich flavor due to the equal balance of espresso and milk. It has a smooth and velvety texture that complements the strong coffee taste.

How is a flat white made?

A flat white is made by pouring a double shot of espresso over steamed milk. The milk is textured to create a velvety microfoam, resulting in a creamy and smooth coffee drink.

Which one is stronger, a cortado or a flat white?

In terms of caffeine content, a cortado can have more caffeine than a flat white. The cortado has equal parts espresso and milk, while a flat white has more espresso, making it slightly stronger.

What are the main differences between a cortado and a flat white?

The main differences between a cortado and a flat white are the milk-to-espresso ratio, taste, and strength. A cortado has equal parts espresso and milk, a bold flavor, and can be stronger in caffeine. On the other hand, a flat white has more espresso, a creamier texture, and a slightly milder taste.

How is a cortado made?

A cortado is made by pouring an equal part of espresso and steamed milk. The coffee is served in a small glass, allowing the drinker to enjoy the rich flavors and balance of espresso and milk.

How is a flat white made at Starbucks?

At Starbucks, a flat white is made with two shots of espresso poured over steamed whole milk. The milk is textured to create a smooth and velvety consistency, resulting in a delicious flat white coffee.

What type of milk is used to make a cortado?

A cortado is typically made with whole milk. The use of whole milk adds a creamy texture and enhances the flavors of the espresso without overpowering it.

What is the difference between a flat white and a macchiato?

The difference between a flat white and a macchiato lies in the milk-to-espresso ratio and preparation method. A flat white has more milk and a double shot of espresso, while a macchiato has less milk and a single shot of espresso with a small amount of milk.

How many calories does a cortado have compared to a flat white?

A cortado generally has fewer calories than a flat white due to its equal parts of espresso and milk. The flat white has more milk and may contain slightly more calories, depending on the milk used.

About the Author:
Sophia Lewis, a travel blogger with a focus on global coffee cultures, explores coffee traditions from Colombia to Turkey. Her expertise lies in understanding the cultivation, brewing, and enjoyment of coffee in different cultures. Through articles, travel vlogs, and tastings, Sophia brings a global perspective to coffee, emphasizing ethical and sustainable practices, and invites readers to join her community of global coffee enthusiasts.