How to make perfect Cortadito coffee at home


Do you ever wonder how to make Cortadito? If you've ever enjoyed the rich, creamy sweetness of this traditional Cuban coffee, you know why it's so popular. But let's face it, it can seem intimidating to try to make this beloved drink at home.

Isn't it great to achieve the same tempting taste and rich aroma? We don't think so. In fact, we're going to show you that it's not only possible, but also a piece of cake.

NB. This is how you make a cortadito.


To make a Cortadito, you need a few essentials. The basis is of course coffee, preferably a full, well-balanced espresso. The type of beans you choose has a huge impact on the taste. Personally, I would go for an espresso roast with full sweet flavor notes.

Then we need sugar; this is so important that it is almost a staple. Sugar plays a crucial role in Cortadito by providing that delicious sweet glow that is so characteristic of this coffee.

Milk is the next ingredient on the list. For an authentic cortadito you need whole milk and condensed milk. The whole milk brings balance to the combination of strong espresso and sweet sugar, while the condensed milk provides extra creaminess and an irresistible sweetness that takes your Cortadito to the next level.

Last but not least, you need a coffee maker that can make espresso.

Now that you have the necessary ingredients, you can start putting together your perfect Cortadito!

Also read: How to make an espresso in 6 easy steps.


Selecting the appropriate equipment is crucial to achieving that perfect Cortadito. You don't necessarily have to dig deep into your pockets for a top-class coffee machine; a basic machine that can make espresso is sufficient. It is important that the machine can build up the pressure needed to make espresso.

It is also useful to have a milk frother. This helps create that silky, light milk that is the hallmark of a great Cortadito. A good milk frother can make a world of difference and is certainly worth the investment.

Another item you will want to have in your kitchen is a good coffee grinder. The grind size of your coffee can significantly affect its taste. A fine grind gives a strong, full flavor, while a coarse grind gives a lighter, milder taste. A coffee grinder allows you to experiment with the grind levels and find the perfect balance for your personal taste.

While it may seem a bit overwhelming to choose the right equipment, the effort you put in is well worth the reward. With the right tools you are on your way to making the perfect Cortadito.


Start by measuring the right amount of coffee. We always assume 19 grams of coffee for a double espresso shot. Place the measured coffee in the portafilter and press it firmly. The coffee must be evenly distributed to achieve consistent and even extraction.

Turn on your espresso machine and let your espresso flow into your cup. While you wait, you can start frothing the milk for the Cortadito. Be careful not to let the milk get too hot - a perfect Cortadito needs warm, but not hot, milk.

In addition, milk heated above 60 degrees acquires an unpleasant bitter taste due to the combustion of the sugars in the milk at these temperatures.

Now add the espresso to the milk, and you have made a delicious Cortadito! Remember, practice makes perfect. Every time you make a Cortadito, you will be one step closer to the perfect preparation. Enjoy your homemade Cortadito, and remember: the key to a good Cortadito is in the details.

Read below to learn how to do the above step-by-step.

Measure the coffee

There is an art to making the perfect Cortadito. You need the right balance between strong espresso and warm, frothy milk. This isn't just a task you rush through; it requires a lot of patience and precision. It is a process where every detail counts, from the amount of measured coffee to the temperature of the milk.

It is important to remember that the quality of the ingredients used directly affects the end result. So, choose your espresso carefully. There are several types of espresso on the market, each with a unique taste and aroma. Find the flavor that suits you best and enjoy every sip of your Cortadito.

The temperature of the milk is also crucial. The goal is to have warm, but not hot, milk. This creates a soft, velvety texture that pairs perfectly with the strong flavor of the espresso. Frothing the milk to a frothy consistency is also an important step, adding an extra layer of richness to the Cortadito.

Remember that making a perfect Cortadito is a learning process. Every time you make one, you get better and better. You learn from your mistakes and adapt your techniques. Each attempt brings you one step closer to creating the perfect drink. Enjoy this process and remember: it's all about the details!

Grind the coffee

Grinding coffee is an essential part of creating your perfect Cortadito. It's not something to take lightly. The consistency of your ground coffee plays a major role in the final taste of your drink. Grinding too finely can result in a bitter, over-extracted espresso, while grinding too coarsely can result in a watery, under-extracted espresso.

There are a wide variety of coffee grinders on the market, from manual to electric models, and each with their own range of settings. It's a matter of trying and testing to find the right one for you. But remember, it's not just about taste; it's also about consistency. An even grind ensures even extraction, resulting in a richer, fuller flavor.

Every detail counts, so take the time to experiment with different grinds and discover what suits your taste best. It may take a while, but it is definitely worth it. Remember: it's all about the details!

Put the Espresso

brew espresso

It all starts with adding your carefully ground coffee to the espresso container. You should add enough coffee to get a full, rich espresso, but not so much that your machine has trouble pushing the water through. Finding the right balance may take some trial and error, but is a crucial step in the process.

Next comes the water. It needs to be at the right temperature - not too hot, as that can burn the coffee and give it a bitter taste, but not too cold, as that won't fully extract the flavors. Most espresso machines have a built-in thermometer to help you, but mastering the perfect temperature can take some practice.

Finally comes the extraction time. This is the time it takes for the water to pass through the ground coffee and extract the flavors. Too long and you get a bitter espresso, too short and the taste is too weak. The aim is for an extraction time of approximately 25 to 30 seconds for a standard double espresso.

The process of perfecting espresso is one that requires time and patience, but the reward - a delicious, rich and flavorful espresso - is more than worth it.

Prepare the sugar

While your espresso is forming, it's time to prepare the sugar. Now, sugar is not just a sweetener in espresso. It plays a crucial role in bringing out the complex flavors and balancing the natural bitterness of the coffee. So, how do you prepare it? Start by choosing the right strain.

Fine sugar dissolves faster and is preferred for espresso. Quantity is also important. Too much can drown out the delicate flavors of the espresso, while too little will not effectively balance the bitterness. Is white sugar your only option? No absolutely not. Brown sugar, cane and palm sugar are all acceptable alternatives that add their own unique flavor profiles. Experiment until you find the sweetness that's just right for you. Remember that every part of your espresso - even the sugar - is an opportunity to surprise your taste buds.

Mix sugar and espresso

It's now time to combine your espresso and sugar, a crucial step in the process. This is not just a matter of stirring. The way you mix the two can have a significant impact on the end result. So let's do it carefully.

Start by pouring your freshly prepared espresso over the sugar. The idea is to completely dissolve the sugar without disturbing the delicate aromas of the espresso. Caution is required here. Too abrupt a movement or too much force can adversely affect the end result.

Mix everything gently and with attention, making sure you enjoy this experience to the fullest. Notice how the granules slowly dissolve and how this changes the taste and texture of your espresso. It's a fascinating process, and one that deserves your attention.

Remember, each step in this process is just as important as the last. It's not just about the end result, but also about the journey to get there. Be patient, experiment and make the best of it. With each attempt you will get better and eventually you will create an espresso that you can really be proud of.

Froth the milk and add it to the espresso

Now that you've mixed your espresso and sugar, it's time to turn your attention to the milk. Foaming, a process that can completely change the texture and taste of the milk, is a crucial stage in making a perfect espresso. Do this with caution and care, because too fast or too slow can ruin your drink.

Start by choosing the right type of milk. Whole milk is a popular choice because of its rich flavor and ability to create a thick and creamy foam. However, if you are looking for an alternative, plant-based milks such as soy or oat are also great options.

Frothing the milk itself requires some practice. The goal is to heat the milk to just the right temperature, which brings out its natural sweetness. At the same time, you want to froth the milk until it has a smooth, velvety texture. Be patient and take temperature and timing into account - the details make all the difference.

Once you're happy with your frothed milk, it's time to add it to your espresso. Pour it in carefully, paying attention to how it mixes with the rest of your drink. It's a beautiful sight, and one that you will surely appreciate.

Serve immediately

Making a delicious cup of espresso is definitely an art form. While it's important to pay attention to how you froth your milk, there are other elements to keep in mind. Consider the quality of the beans, the way you grind them, and the water you use.

Selecting the best coffee beans can be a bit overwhelming. Preferably go for beans that are fresh and of high quality. Avoid pre-ground coffee as it loses its flavor quickly. Instead, grind your beans just before using them.

The grinding degree also plays an important role. For espresso, a fine grind is best, but you don't want it to be powdery. Too fine or too coarse a grind can affect the extraction time and ultimately change the taste of your coffee.

The water you use should also not be overlooked. It must be clean and fresh. If your tap water has a strong taste, consider using filtered water.

Finally, extraction time is crucial. For a single espresso, an extraction time of 20 to 30 seconds is usually ideal. Play with this time to find what works best for your taste preferences.


Making coffee is an art, a balance between various factors and a personal experience that can be perfected. The quality of the beans plays an indisputable role, and it is important to always choose fresh, high-quality beans and grind them just before use. The grinding degree, although dependent on the type of coffee, also has a decisive influence on the final product, with a fine but not powdery texture as the ideal choice for espresso. Water, the silent hero of the process, must be clean and fresh to bring out the best flavor. Finally, the extraction time is a crucial factor, which is generally between 20 to 30 seconds for a single espresso, but which can vary according to personal preference. Masterfully brewing coffee takes practice and patience, but it also offers unparalleled satisfaction. It is a learning process, a pursuit of perfection and a pleasure for the senses that is undoubtedly worth it.