Differences Between Cortado and Americano

Differences Between Cortado and Americano: 10 Fascinating Discoveries

Over 60% of Americans drink coffee every single day! The United States drinks more coffee than any other country – can you believe over 400 million cups just in one day?

Are you someone who loves trying new coffee drinks? Learning the differences between cortado and americano can make your coffee adventures even more fun.

In this guide, we will explore 10 ways that cortado and americano are not the same. Check out the chart below to see what makes each coffee special.

Get ready to dive into the world of coffee flavors and see the differences between cortado and americano

Key Takeaways

  1. Origins: Cortado was invented in Spain as a way to soften espresso with steamed milk, while americano was created in Italy by adding water to espresso to weaken it for American soldiers.
  1. Ingredients: Cortado contains espresso and steamed milk, while americano is espresso diluted with water.
  1. Flavor: Cortado has a bold, coffee-forward flavor balanced by milk. Americano has a lighter, more diluted espresso taste from the water.
  1. Texture: Cortado is creamy and silky from the milk. Americano has a thin, watery body.
  1. Uses: Cortado’s small size and milk content make it best as a morning drink. Americano’s lighter dilution makes it suitable for drinking anytime.

Comparison Table Cortado Vs Americano Coffee

Espresso Amount1-2 oz1-2 shots
MilkSteamed milkNo milk
WaterNo added waterAdded hot water
Milk to Coffee Ratio1:10:1
TextureCreamy and silkyThin and watery
Flavor ProfileBold, coffee-forwardDiluted, milder espresso
Caffeine Content150mg in 8oz225mg in 8oz
Typical Serving Size3-4 oz6-8 oz
Best UseMorning drinkAnytime drink
StrengthStrong, bolder tasteWeak, watered down

The Cortado is a balanced, milky coffee drink that can be enjoyed by those who prefer a softer and creamier texture. On the other hand, the Americano is more robust and suited for those who love a stronger coffee flavor, achieved by diluting espresso with hot water.

1. Origin Stories of the Cortado and Americano

Cortado History

Cortado coffee was created in Spain between the late 1800s and early 1900s. Back then, Spanish cafés were popular hangouts for artists, writers, and thinkers. 

The cafés had fancy espresso machines that came from Italy. Spanish coffee bartenders used these machines to try mixing espresso coffee with steamed milk. 

This is how the cortado was invented. “Cortado” means “cut” in Spanish. The steamed milk “cuts” or softens the bitter taste of the espresso. 

The cortado showed off the flavor of Spanish roasted coffee beans. The milk also gave it a creamy, smooth texture.

Americano History

The americano coffee was created in Italy in the 1940s during World War II. American soldiers came to Italian coffee shops called espresso bars. 

But the soldiers thought the Italian espresso was too strong. The espresso bars were places where people stood at a counter to drink espresso very quickly.

 The Americans wanted their espresso diluted with water. Italian bartenders started adding hot water to shots of espresso to make it weaker for the American soldiers. This new coffee drink was called the “Americano.” 

The americano became popular after the war ended. It spread to coffee shops as a lighter version of espresso.

Cortado and Americano

2. Espresso and Water Content in Each Coffee

Espresso Content

  • The cortado uses 1-2 ounces of espresso.
  • No extra water is added to the cortado.
  • This keeps the espresso flavor very bold and strong.

Water Content

  • The americano starts with 1-2 shots of espresso.
  • Then 3-4 ounces of hot water is added to the espresso.
  • The water dilutes the espresso in the americano.
  • This makes the americano have less strong espresso taste.

3. Steamed Milk vs No Milk

Cortado Milk Content

  • The cortado contains steamed milk.
  • Steamed milk gives it a creamy texture.
  • The milk also mellows the espresso flavor.

Americano Milk Content

  • The americano does not contain any milk.
  • It only has espresso and water.
  • No milk means the americano has no creamy texture.
  • The espresso flavor remains strong without milk.

4. Bold Cortado Flavor Compared to Lighter Americano

When comparing cortado versus americano, the flavors are distinctly different.

Cortado Flavor:

  • The cortado has a bold, coffee-forward flavor.
  • The milk mellows out the espresso intensity.

Americano Flavor:

  • The americano has a lighter, more diluted espresso taste.
  • The water dilutes the espresso strength.

5. Creamy Cortado Texture vs Lighter Americano Body

When comparing cortado vs americano, the texture is noticeably different.

Cortado Texture:

  • The cortado has a creamy, silky texture.
  • The steamed milk creates richness.

Americano Texture:

  • The americano has a lighter, thinner body.
  • No milk means no creamy texture.
americano vs cortado

6. Caffeine Level Comparison

 When comparing cortado vs americano, there are caffeine level differences.

DrinkCaffeine (mg) per shotCaffeine (mg) for 8oz serving
CortadoAround 75 mg per 1 oz espresso shot150mg for 8oz cortado made with 2 shots
AmericanoAround 75 mg per 1 oz espresso shot225mg for 8oz americano made with 3 shots

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite less espresso, americano has more caffeine per 8 oz serving due to extra water extracting more caffeine from additional shots.
  • Cortado has less caffeine per 8 oz serving because milk dilutes the espresso caffeine.

7. Best Uses for Cortado vs Anytime Americano

When comparing cortado Vs americano, the best time to drink each differs.

Cortado Uses:

  • The cortado is best as a morning drink.
  • The small size and milk content make it a breakfast espresso.

Americano Uses:

  • The americano can be enjoyed anytime.
  • The lighter body makes it good for afternoon or evening.

8. Small Cortado Servings vs Large Americano Servings

Cortado and americano have contrasting serving sizes.

Cortado Serving Size:

  • Cortados are usually served in smaller 3-4 oz glasses.
  • The small size suits the concentrated espresso and milk.

Americano Serving Size:

  • Americanos come in larger 6-8 oz cup sizes.
  • The water contributes to the increased volume.

9.Cortado Vs Americano: Understanding the Coffee-to-Water Balance

The cortado and americano have contrasting milk to coffee ratios.

Cortado Milk to Coffee Ratio:

  • The perfect cortado aims for a 1:1 ratio.
  • Equal parts espresso and steamed milk.
  • This maintains the espresso’s boldness while adding creaminess.

Americano Milk to Coffee Ratio:

  • The americano contains no milk at all.
  • It only has espresso diluted with water.
cortado coffee vs americano

10. Bolder Tasting Cortado vs Watered Down Americano

The cortado and americano have markedly different flavor intensities.

Cortado Flavor Intensity:

  • The cortado has a bold, robust flavor.
  • The milk rounds out the espresso’s sharpness.

Americano Flavor Intensity:

  • The americano has a weaker, watered-down taste.
  • The water dilutes the espresso significantly.
How to Enjoy Cortado and Americano at Home and Beyond

Home Brewing Tips


  • Make using an espresso machine and milk frother. Combine 1-2 shots with 1-2 oz steamed milk.
  • Choose a dark roast espresso.
  • Heat and steam milk slowly to create silky foam.


  • Brew by adding 3-4 oz hot water to 1-2 espresso shots. Use a coffee maker or kettle.
  • Store leftover espresso in an airtight fridge container.

Café Recommendations


  • Order at local cafés in the morning for a classic experience.
  • Request an extra shot for more intensity.
  • Drink cortados hot or iced.


  • Visit Italian-style coffee shops for expertly made drinks.
  • Ask about different espresso roasts to taste notes.
  • Enjoy hot or iced depending on weather.

Pairing Suggestions

Both Drinks:

  • Pair with pastries, biscotti, sandwiches.
  • For dessert, enjoy with vanilla gelato or affogato-style.

In summary, this breakdown highlights the many differences between cortado and americano in terms of origins, ingredients, flavor profiles, textures and best uses. While both feature espresso, cortado and americano are distinct coffee beverages. 

The cortado offers a bold, coffee-forward taste mellowed by steamed milk, best enjoyed in the mornings. Meanwhile, the americano provides a lighter, more diluted espresso flavor, suitable for drinking anytime thanks to the added water. 

When comparing cortado vs americano, the choice comes down to individual preferences for strength, milk content and serving style. But both drinks delight serious coffee fans with their rich, smooth espresso foundations.

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