Cortadito coffee is a delicious treat that originated in Cuba. As the same suggests it was heavily inspired by the well-known cortado coffee.
That being said, they do certainly have their differences, not least of all their origins. They are from two different countries – Cuba and Spain/ Portugal.
When it comes to making a cortadito, it is easy to get muddled and wind up with a cortado instead. All it takes is for you to get the wrong ingredients because you thought it was the same and you are on your way to a coffee disaster!
We’re going to show you our favorite foolproof recipe for creating your very own cortadito coffee at home. We will also be clarifying some cortadito vs cortado misconceptions, and telling you about the origin of the cortadito.
We highly suggest that you read the first section of the article, make your cortadito following our easy guide, and then come back to the rest of the article with your freshly made cortadito so you can read and drink in bliss.
Easy Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Cortadito Coffee
In this section of the article, we will be telling you the recipe and method that you need to follow to make your very own cortadito coffee in the comfort of your own home. The ingredients needed are easy to get hold of, and the method does not require any obscure or specific tools.
The only exception is that of Cuban coffee. Now Cuban coffee is not essential to this, but if you were able to get some then it would make the drink even more authentic and you will certainly enjoy it more!
Cuban coffee is distinguishable from other types as it is always dark roasted. This gives the coffee a much deeper, more rich flavor.
If you can only get a different type of coffee, try to ensure it is dark roasted, or at least a very rich, deep flavor.
What you need to make a cortadito coffee
- One or two shots of espresso (we highly recommend that you get Cuban coffee to do this for a more authentic taste)
- The first drips of espresso from your machine (or the first pour from a Moka)
- Evaporated milk
- Sugar (demerara is preferred but granulated sugar works well too)
- A Moka pot, stovetop espresso pot, or espresso maker
- A small coffee cup (if you have your own demitasse then you can use that!)
- A small saucepan for heating the evaporated milk
- Small whisk (manual handheld is fine, there is no need for an electric whisk)
- Creamer, small bowl, or small jug
Method for making a cortadito coffee
- The first step is to brew your espresso coffee. If you took our advice and got some Cuban coffee then use that. If not use any coffee you like – the deeper the better!
- Grind your coffee beans. These should be dark roasted. If they are already ground then you can skip this step.
- Fill your espresso maker or Moka with water up to the desired amount needed. Start heating it.
- Whilst the espresso is heating up you can get to work on the espuma. Grab your creamer (or a small bowl or mug) and add in four tablespoons of the sugar.
- At this point, you also need to start heating your evaporated milk. Do this on your stovetop or steam it on your coffee maker if you have the ability to do so. You need to do this slowly and gently so that it heats properly and does not catch.
- With the first few drops of espresso, add them into the creamer, bowl, or mug where the sugar is (step 4) and whip it together to make a dark foam. This is your espuma.
- Use your small coffee cup or demitasse to catch your espresso (or to put your espresso into if you have a stovetop espresso jug). Put in your desired amount – a shot or two is great).
- Into the freshly poured coffee, you should put in a teaspoon (or more if you wish) of raw sugar. Demerara sugar is best as it is what is used in Cuba, and is, therefore, more authentic. However, granulated white sugar is fine too.
- Fill the rest of the cup with the heated evaporated milk. Ensure to leave room on top for the whipped espuma which you can simply spoon on top. If you also want some whipped cream on top then you should leave room for that, too.
See, it’s as easy as that. There are no particularly obscure ingredients or equipment needed, and it does not take too long of your time, either.
Now that you know exactly how to make your very own cortadito in the comfort of your own home, we bet you cannot wait to get stuck into finding out some interesting cortadito-related nuggets of knowledge.
Keep on reading to the section below to find out everything you could possibly wish to know about cortadito coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cortadito coffee?
Cortadito coffee is a small coffee-based beverage that originated in Cuba. It is made in a similar fashion to the cortado using a pre-sweetened espresso shot and evaporated milk in equal measure.
It is then topped with espuma (a whipped mixture of espresso and sugar).
It is often served in a special glass with a metal ring bottom and metal handle. There are, of course, variations of it with some recipes using condensed milk, or fresh milk, and other recipes cutting out the sugar.
It is drunk widely in Cuba, as well as in the Southern areas of Florida where there are groups of Cuban communities. It is also popular worldwide, with many visitors of Cuba and Southern Florida developing a taste for it and making it themselves.
Of course, it has also been made popular in other parts of the States, especially those states that are near Cuba and Florida, where the cortadito may be drunk in varying ways, such as with steamed milk instead of evaporated milk, and with syrups added.
Cortado vs Cortadito: What’s the difference?
Cortado is a Spanish or Portuguese coffee using an equal ratio of double espresso and steamed milk, served in a small glass. The Cortadito is a Cuban coffee using presweetened espresso and steamed evaporated milk in equal measure, topped with espuma (whipped sugar and espresso).
The names are undeniably similar, as are the key ingredients. However, the fact that Cortadito is Cuban means that the espresso itself is much sweeter and richer than that used in the Cortado.
As well as this, the inclusion of evaporated milk (or condensed milk as is sometimes used) makes for a thicker, creamier, and sweeter beverage overall.
The similarity in the names is interesting as both of them are in reference to the fact that the drinks are short and quick to make. Cuba’s official language is, of course, Spanish.
It is the most widely spoken language there, hence the similarity in name.
Cortado comes from the Spanish verb “cortar” which means “to cut”. By this, they mean “to dilute”, which makes sense given that the espresso is diluted with steamed milk or evaporated milk.
The addition of the diminutive ‘-dito’ on our favorite Cuban coffee is used to emphasize its small size.
What does cortadito mean?
The translation of cortadito in English can be understood to mean “small cut”. Cortar is the Spanish verb for “to cut”. This is because the espresso is ‘cut’ with milk.
The addition of ‘-dito’ is a diminutive to emphasize the small size of the coffee itself.
How do you pronounce cortadito?
Worried about asking for a cortadito in Cuba? Don’t want to butcher the pronunciation? Don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered!
You can pronounce cortadito like this:
corr – tah – deeto
What is different about Cuban coffee?
Cuban coffee is a very rich and dark coffee with one distinctive feature – its sweet taste. It is different from American coffee because the espresso is slightly thicker due to the sugar. It is flavored with sweet demerara sugar which is mixed in with the espresso as soon as it has been made.
As well as this, Cuban coffee is dark roasted. They tend to use Arabica or Robusta coffee beans, both of which are dark and rich anyway. The extra step of dark-roasting them tends to give them a smokier flavor that is deep and rich.
Where is Cuban coffee made?
Cuban coffee is grown in the mountain regions of Cuba. In the east, the region of Sierra Maestra is the famed coffee town. It is also grown in the region of the Escambray Mountains which is in Central Cuba.
Coffee has been grown in Cuba for well over 200 years, thanks to its soil and climate conditions which are great for growing the Arabica and Robusta coffee variations.
In some mountain regions, there are protected areas where the only coffee that is grown is organic.
In these regions, the coffee is handpicked by workers, where some is kept for the region and the rest exported to other countries for consumers to buy and drink.
Is Cuban coffee illegal?
No, Cuban coffee is not illegal. However, there were restrictions put in place for many years that meant that Cuban produce could not be sold in various places around the world.
This was because of their status as a Communist country. The States, for example, had an embargo between the two countries that prevented trade.
These restrictions were loosened under Obama, and slowly trade started to begin between the countries again. This meant that the once banned produce of Cuba was able to be sold, to some extent, in the United States.
Can you buy Cuban coffee in the US?
Yes, as of 2016, Cuban coffee was finally allowed to be sold in the US after just shy of 50 years of an embargo between the two countries that prohibited the sale of much-loved Cuban produce such as cigars, rum, and coffee in the US.
That being said, this does not mean that Cuban coffee is particularly easy to come by. Many Americans still struggle to get good Cuban coffee in the country, with many choosing to find alternatives or to bring some back from Cuba after a visit.
To which country does Cuba export the most coffee?
Cuba exports the most coffee to France and Japan. Coffee-drinking is deeply ingrained in both of these cultures. Cuban coffee is also exported to Britain, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada.
This means that coffee is rationed in Cuba for domestic citizens. They are allowed rations for two ounces of coffee every fifteen days per citizen.
Who brought coffee to Cuba?
Coffee was brought to Cuba by a Spanish native called Jose Antonio Gelabert. It is believed that he brought it from the Dominican Republic in 1748. Gelabert oversaw the Spanish Royal Treasury in Havana.
It is thought that the production of coffee developed further when French colonists fled to Cuba during the Haitian Revolution. This was around 1791. Since then, coffee production has grown from strength to strength.
Is Cuban coffee stronger than espresso?
Yes, the way Cuban coffee is made often makes it taste stronger than the typical espresso you might get in other parts of the world.
When compared with an American espresso, drinkers are likely to find Cuban coffee stronger because less water is used and the taste is richer.
That being said, this is just down to the preparation of the coffee beans (Cuban coffee uses dark roasted beans), and the production of the drink itself. You could emulate this with any coffee, provided you use a dark roasted kind.
There you have it, a step by step guide on how to make a cortadito coffee. We are sure you cannot wait to go and make your first cup (or second cup if you followed our advice in the introduction), but before you do, we want to recap.
As we are sure you know by now, cortadito coffee is not to be confused with cortado coffee.
Whilst the two names are very similar, and they are both small cups of coffee, they are actually very different drinks. Cortado has its roots in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, whereas cortadito is Cuban, although perhaps inspired by the cortado.
The Cuban roots of the cortadito coffee mean that the espresso used is much thicker and sweeter than that of the cortado, and the drink itself often uses either evaporated or condensed milk. This gives the coffee a sweeter and creamier taste overall, with a more rich coffee flavor.
One thing is for sure and that is that the cortadito is a delicious treat whether it is your first cup of coffee in the morning, an afternoon pick-me-up, or an after dinner treat. Follow our easy guide above to try it for yourself.
We hope you enjoy your new favorite coffee!
Thanks for reading our article!