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Home » Cortado Recipe: How to Make This Amazing Espresso-based Drink

Cortado Recipe: Honey Bee Variation

We’ve all woken up from a rough night of little sleep and scrounged around for any drop of coffee we could find. In those moments, the focus is one thing: quantity. But not every coffee-drinking experience should revolve around that primal, “survival” attitude, should it? After all, coffee can be a very sophisticated drink.

And while the Italians are acknowledged for their contribution to the world of coffee drinks, the Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin Americans have their own beautiful and balanced contribution: the cortado. It’s still growing in popularity, so you might not find it at every coffee shop, but that’s why we’re here – to make it for ourselves, right? Read on for the basics, and for a very special and super-easy variation.


  • 2 shots espresso
  • 60 ml steamed milk
  • 7 ml vanilla syrup
  • 7 ml honey syrup



6 minutes


1 cup

What is a Cortado?

Cortado is a Spanish word that means “cut.” Simply put, a cortado is an espresso that has been “cut” by an equal amount of steamed milk (1). The usual recipe is 60 ml of espresso, 60 ml of warm milk. It came into the United States through San Francisco but quickly spread from coast to coast. (2)

“I was first turned on to the Cortado by a barista at my neighbourhood coffee shop a couple years ago. What began as an occasional cup grew into an exploration of – and documentation of – cortados across New York City.” 

From its origins in the Basque country of Spain, across Galicia to the northern part of Portugal, cortado doesn’t use as much milk as ‘cafe con leche’ (the Spanish name for the French café au lait or the Italian caffe latte), just enough to balance the pungent espresso with warm, creamy milk.

And while that milk is slightly frothy, it’s not all foam. The Cortado isn’t about latte art, it’s about the enjoyment of pure, balanced flavour. It’s the type of coffee drink for people who like espresso based drinks with a strong coffee taste.

Watch Steven prepare and compare all the most popular espresso drinks, including the cortado, in this video:

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Honey Bee Cortado

How to make cortado?

So you’ve decided the cortado is for you, but you want a little sweetness and something extra in the flavour – creamy, maybe a little floral, and rich. Sound good? Then you need to try this honey bee cortado recipe, with vanilla and honey syrups adding a unique flair to this drink.

The better your espresso machine and beans, the better your Cortado.

Step 1.

Brew a double shot of espresso.

Step 2.

Steam the milk.

Step 3.

Add in the vanilla and honey syrups to the coffee and mix it up.

Step 4.

Add equal parts milk into the coffee/syrup mixture, leaving a thin layer of foam on top.

And there you have it. If you’ve made it this far you should have a deliciously sweet cortado in hand. Nice job! Remember to sip it slowly, as the name of the game here is taste, texture, and overall experience – not inhaling it at lightning speed.

This is NOT a large cup of drive-through crap! It’s coffee at its finest. If you care to share, we’d appreciate it! Also, please comment and let us know how your own experience went.

Other drinks to try:

Frequently Asked Questions

A macchiato, meaning “marked,” is an espresso just dotted with a little milk foam – rarely more than 25% of the volume. The cortado is next in line, with equal parts milk and espresso. Compared with other popular milk and coffee beverages, a flat white has more milk, a cappuccino even more, and a latte is predominantly milk.

No – a Cortado is not the same as a flat white. The flat white comes from Australia and the cortado from Spain, though they’re next-door neighbours on the spectrum of milky coffee beverages. The flat white has more milk than a cortado but less than a cappuccino. Additionally, the flat white’s milk is steamed to a velvety microfoam texture, while the cortado uses hot milk with just a thin layer of foam on the top.

A typical cortado contains two espresso shots (or one double). The 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk is the key. To make a 120-ml cortado, brew a 60-ml double shot of espresso mixed with 60-ml. of milk, topped with a fine layer of milk foam. Some people like to use two 30-ml ristretto shots for the concentrated flavour that comes with the higher extraction ratio that the ristretto gives.

The cortadito is a sweet Cuban specialty, made by mixing the crema from a Moka pot with sugar, and whipping to a thick froth. This is divided among the cups when the Moka pot finishes brewing. Some cortadito recipes add frothed milk or frothed condensed milk to the sweetened coffee. Here’s an overview of coffee types if you want to learn more coffee drinks.

Cortados should be consumed slowly, with great elegance. Whether the classic milk-espresso drink or the honeybee variation here, a cortado is meant to be sipped graciously, while engaging in conversation with one’s friends or while preparing oneself for an epic struggle.

  1. What Is a Cortado? What to Know About This Drink. (2018, February 15). Retrieved from https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/what-is-a-cortado
  2. Janelle, P. (2013, October 18). The Cortado Effect: How They Do It in New York City and Spain. Retrieved from https://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/non-alcoholic/article/cortado-coffee-new-york-spain

Alex Azoury
Alex is an Editor of Home Grounds, who considers himself as a traveling coffee fanatic. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee while in obscure locations, and teaching others to do the same.