What is the Process of Making Cortadito? Detailed Guide

Cortadito is not just one of the most popular Cuban coffees, but it has become so widely loved that it’s known as the signature coffee drink in some parts of the world today. It’s made with dark-roasted espresso, steamed milk, and sugar, and it’s served in petite demitasse cups. If you’ve never had this beverage before, then you may be curious about what goes into making it.

The cortadito, also known as the coffee shot, is the smallest size you can order coffee beverages in Cuba. It may look simple to make, but once you try to make it at home, you will find that it’s much more complicated than you thought. That’s why we made this guide on how to make a cortadito—so we could pass along our skills and show you exactly how it’s done! Check out our guide below to learn all about how to make this Cuban specialty in your very own kitchen.


Cortadito (Cuban iced coffee) is a traditional Cuban drink that dates back to the late 1800s. Cortaditos are a popular Cuban coffee drink traditionally served as a dessert coffee or as a sweet morning pick-me-up. Also a mainstay in South Florida’s restaurants and cafes, it is part of daily Cuban life.

The word “cortadito” means “shortcut,” as steamed milk is used to cut the strong Cuban espresso. This drink’s distinctive light brown topping is made with whipped sugar and espresso. To make it more decadent, use evaporated milk instead of regular milk. You can also have your cortadito with condensed milk if you like it sweeter.

It has been said by many experts that the perfect ratio for this drink is one ounce of espresso mixed with two ounces of hot water then topped off with three ounces of steamed evaporated or condensed milk. Some people even go as far as to say that they need their cortadito cups to be frosted before they take a sip. For those who would rather skip the sugar on top, add one teaspoonful of honey instead!


Cortadito is a Cuban coffee drink that was first served in Havana, Cuba. It was created to minimize waste and make use of leftover milk. As time went on, people began to understand that there was an option for people who wanted a milder coffee taste than what they could get from a cafe con Leche.

The name Cortadito comes from the Spanish word cortado, which means cut. In English, it refers to any espresso with a small amount of steamed milk or cream added. With this definition, it can be confusing for some people because many countries have their version of this drink. For example, Colombia’s version is made with a 1:1 ratio of water to milk, while Guatemala’s version includes condensed milk. 

In Cuba and Venezuela, you can also find a variant called colada, which is made by adding hot water to already brewed coffee instead of adding hot coffee to cold milk as in other countries. 

Cortadito cups are typically smaller than American-sized cups, so if you’re not sure how much liquid should go into your cup take note of this before pouring anything out. You will also want to stir the drink before drinking as well as add sugar according to your tastes – one packet at a time. If you like more sweetness add two packets at a time until desired taste has been reached.

How to Make Cortadito Coffee:


  • Water with a filter
  • Cuban coffee ground fine
  • (To taste) 4 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 to 2 ounces of warmed milk or evaporated milk


  • Espresso makers such as a Moka pot
  • Cups for coffee or demitasses
  • Microwaveable bowl or small saucepan
  • A creamer, a small bowl, or a cup
  • Mixing spoons and whisks

1. Prepare your espresso.

 In an espresso maker, add a heaping tablespoon or so of your ground coffee and tamped down. How much you will use will depend on how strong you prefer your cortadito and whether or not you plan on having more than one cup. This isn’t rocket science; basically, more coffee means a stronger taste later. Pour in hot water up to your level’s indicated fill line, typically around 7 ounces (though it depends on your taste). Then screw down the top and press start. Now relax until it’s done brewing. We will just say to not skip a step if you want anything but sadness at home.

2. Warm your milk

 In a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan, heat your milk until it’s almost too hot to touch but not quite boiling. This step will ensure that you don’t burn yourself later, which is important if you have any sensitivities to heat. Typically around 100°F/38°C works well here. This will take about three minutes in most microwaves, and less time if you heat just part of it in smaller amounts.

3.Prepare your espuma.

 In a mixing bowl, combine your warmed milk and half a teaspoon or so of instant espresso powder. Stir until it forms what’s called an espuma, or foam. This will separate from your actual coffee later and look like little bubbles on top. Feel free to use more espresso powder if you wish; I prefer just 1/4 teaspoon for each cup, but I’ve seen recipes that range from 1/2 to 3 teaspoons per serving. (Exact amounts will be dependent on how much water you used earlier.) Once combined and foamy, pour in about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1-2 cm) from the bottom layer inside your cup.

4. Combine the espresso and milk.

 Pour in your coffee, then lift your cup and swish it around gently to combine everything. Enjoy immediately! If you don’t finish it all at once, be sure to store any extra in a thermal carafe or another container so it doesn’t spoil. Cold cortaditos will always taste better than room temperature ones; if you want to let it sit longer, warm it slightly before drinking. For best results, aim for 1-3 minutes between heating/heating/drinking; no reason to take any chances with old coffee here! Note that leftover espresso can be stored just like hot cocoa mix; cover and refrigerate for later use.

5. Top with espuma and enjoy!

 Now that you’ve learned how to make cortadito, all you need is your coffee and milk! The best part of coffee drinks like these is they always taste as good as they’re made. Cortaditos go especially well with baked goods (if you happen to have any) or on their own. If you want to get fancy and keep things nice and hot, I suggest using a traditional double-wall cup called a taza; otherwise, anything will do just fine.

Cortadito is a Sweet and Refreshing Drink

Cortadito is a sweet and refreshing drink that’s popular in Cuba. The difference between a cortadito and a colada is that the former has no milk or cream, while the latter has either evaporated or condensed milk. To make this drink you’ll need to heat one cup of water with two teaspoons of ground coffee, remove it from the stove and add three tablespoons of sugar. After that, mix in three tablespoons of evaporated milk (or half-and-half) and stir until you have a smooth consistency. Pour it into an espresso cup or mug and top it with whipped cream or cinnamon powder. Now you’re ready to enjoy your delicious treat!

Cortadito is Served Over Ice

Cortadito is served over ice, and there are two varieties: iced and hot. Iced cortadito, which can be made with either evaporated milk or condensed milk, is typically mixed in a blender with crushed ice, while hot versions are mixed in a pot on the stove. The drink includes strong espresso, water, and sugar. A colada (sometimes spelled Collada) also includes evaporated milk or condensed milk and is made by pouring boiling water into a cup containing ground coffee. To make a cortadito with evaporated milk, mix the ingredients in a blender to form slushy ice crystals; for condensed milk, mix them in a pot on the stovetop.

Cortadito Cups

Cortadito cups are traditionally made from metal, but some are now made from ceramic. The traditional way to make a cortadito cup is to first remove any coffee grounds or residue with a metal wire brush and then wash the cup with water. After this, pour enough water into the cup until it has reached approximately two-thirds full. Add one teaspoon of coffee per 8 oz (250 ml) of water and stir until all the grounds have dissolved. Finally, add sugar to taste and stir again before pouring in hot milk to fill up most of the cup.


Cortadito, a Cuban coffee, is made with espresso and sweetened with sugar. It can be served in either a cup or glass. However, the cup has to be larger and shallower than that of a typical American coffee mug. This drink can be topped with evaporated milk or condensed milk, which will turn it into a café con Leche if desired. Cortadito cups are typically smaller than those used for café con Leche because they’re intended to be consumed quickly while standing up. The best part? You don’t need any fancy equipment to make this delicious drink! All you need are a few tools like an espresso machine and stovetop so that you can heat some water.

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