Cortadito in a glass cup

Cortadito Recipe: A Brief History and Simple Guide

Originating in Cuban coffee culture, "cortadito" is a Spanish term that translates to "cut" in English. In the context of coffee, a cortadito refers to a beverage made by cutting a strong espresso shot with a small amount of warm milk, often sweetened with condensed milk. The name reflects the way the espresso is "cut" or diluted with milk. Travel back to the early 20th century when Cuban immigrants, settling in the United States, introduced cortadito to communities, sharing their love for strong, bold coffee flavors.


  • Cortadito History
  • Ingredients
  • Instructions
  • Celebrating Tradition



    1. Freshly Ground Coffee Beans (Medium to Dark Roast):  
      Use good-quality coffee beans, Go for a medium to dark roast for a strong flavor.

    2. Water: 

      Use clean, fresh water—filtered or bottled works best. Keep the water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 96 degrees Celsius) for good coffee extraction.

    3. Sweetened Condensed Milk: 

      Pick a quality sweetened condensed milk for a sweet and creamy base. 


    1. Brew Basics:

       Grind your preferred coffee beans finely and brew a strong espresso shot. When grinding your coffee beans for espresso, aim for a consistency that is almost powdery, resembling fine sand. This fine texture is crucial to creating the pressure needed for the espresso extraction process, as water is forced through the tightly packed coffee grounds in the espresso machine.

    2. Sweetened Blend:

       Heat sweetened condensed milk until warm – a nod to the traditional preparation. Once warmed, the sweetened condensed milk becomes more fluid, making it easier to incorporate into the cortadito. Pouring it into the espresso becomes a easy, seamless process, allowing for a balanced combination of the bold coffee notes and the sweetness of the condensed milk.

    3. Blend and Enjoy:

       Mix equal parts espresso and warm condensed milk. Stir well for a taste that encapsulates the essence of cortadito. Using equal parts of espresso and warm condensed milk is essential to achieve a balanced and harmonious flavor in your cortadito. The strong and intense character of espresso pairs seamlessly with the sweet and velvety notes of condensed milk, creating a delightful contrast that defines the unique experience of a cortadito.

    4. Customize to Taste:

       Adjust ratios based on your preference...After you've adjusted the amounts to your liking, pour your custom cortadito into an espresso cup. 

    Cortadito art

    Celebrating Tradition:

    Cortadito's journey from a simple coffee blend, to a cultural staple reflects the evolution of coffee enjoyment. This easy recipe invites you to partake in this rich Cuban tradition from the comfort of your home. When you lift the cup and take that first sip, it's more than just drinking coffee; it's like tasting history.  

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