Flat White vs Cortado

Several popular types exist in milked coffee, such as Latte, Flat White, Cappuccino, or Cortado. However, there are reasons why they are given different names – they are different drinks. Flat white and Cortado especially may be confused. How are Flat White and Cortado different?

Flat white and Cortado differ in origin, common serving size, and coffee base used. They also differ in milk-to-coffee ratio, calorie count, taste, and serving temperature. These differences resulted in many preferring a Flat White or a Cortado. 

This article explores all the differences between a Flat White vs Cortado which

What Is A Flat White?

Flat White is a coffee drink originating from Australia and New Zealand. It consists of espresso with milk microfoam. It can be similar to Latte but commonly served at a larger volume, and the milk is foamed up more intensely. 

Flat White is a type of coffee drink. It usually consists of espresso with milk microfoam. You may assume Flat White is rather similar to Latte, but Flat White is commonly served at a large volume and has more microfoam. 

This means Flat White has a higher ratio of milk to coffee, and the milk is also more velvety. This means the espresso taste remains strong, as there is less milk to dilute it.

Barista usually pulls a shot of espresso and spends time steaming a batch of milk, slowly introducing some air to create microfoams. The milk with microfoam is poured over the espresso shot before serving. 

It is common for baristas to create some latte art on the top of the drink by playing with the movement of the milk microfoam and espresso crema. 

What Is A Cortado?

Cortado is a coffee drink originating from Spain. It consists of espresso with steamed milk. It is commonly served in a 1:1 coffee-to-milk ratio and may have a stronger taste compared to other coffee with milk drinks.

A cortado is also a coffee drink. It commonly consists of espresso with a warm milk mixture in a 1:1 ratio. The milk is steamed warm but not to the point of foaming microfoams, which means the milk is not velvety.

Cortado originates from Spain and is commonly popular in places such as Madrid. The word Cortado originates from the Spanish word Cortar, which means ‘to cut.’ The reference for the term may point to the action of using milk to cut into the intensity of the espresso coffee.

As a result, Cortado remains a strong coffee with a heavy dose of espresso taste. The milk helps to smoothen the taste but still keeps the coffee intense. 

To make a Cortado, a barista usually pulls a shot of espresso and spends time steaming a batch of milk. The milk is then poured over the espresso shot before serving. Latte art is also common with Cortados. 

How Are Cortado And Flat White Different?

AspectsFlat WhiteCortado
OriginAustralia and New ZealandSpain
Common Serving Size5-6 ounce cup (about 141 – 170gm)4.5 ounces (about 127.5 gm)
Coffee Base UsedEspresso, but it may be Ristretto, double Espresso, or double RistrettoEspresso or double espresso
Milk To Coffee Ratio2:11:1
TasteSmooth, milkier, milder, and some sweetness.Stronger, slight sweetness, velvety.
Serving TemperatureHotLess Hot

Cortado and Flat White are both coffee with milk, but they can differ in many ways. These differences eventually made many people prefer one over the other. 


Both Cortado and Flat White could not have originated further from each other. The original location also reflects the language used to describe the drink.

Flat White is said to have originated from either Australia or New Zealand, with both countries claiming it. Cortado, however, has a clearer origin. It is said to have originated in Madrid, Spain. The drink is also very popular and commonly served at the cafes there. 

Common Serving Size

Cortado and Flat White are served in different sizes, with Cortado usually smaller and Flat White in larger, heartier servings. 

Regularly, cafes serve flat White in a 5 or 6-ounce cup (about 141 – 170ml). However, some UK cafes may serve flat white using 8-ounce cups (about 226 ml). 

The cups are usually thick, made of ceramic, and have a wide mouth. Handles are also common. However, you may also encounter flat whites served in glasses.

With Cortado, the common cup size is about 4.5 ounces (about 127.5 gm). Cortados are usually served in glasses with no handles. This may be because Cortado milk is not steamed too hot, so you may still handle the glass with your bare hands when drinking it.  

Coffee Base Used

Regular flat white or Cortado tends to use a single shot of espresso as the coffee base. However, depending on the barista that is making your drink, you may see some variations in the coffee base.

You may see more types of coffee used to make flat white than Cortado. Flat whites may be made of double espresso, ristretto, or double ristretto. With Cortado, you may see some baristas using double espresso. 

Ristretto may be rare unless the customer requests a smaller serving of Cortado.

Milk-To-Coffee Ratio

Cortados are usually made with a coffee-to-milk ratio of 1:1. For every part of espresso used, there must be an equal amount of milk. This smaller ratio preference may reflect the term ‘Cortar,’ which uses milk to cut into the intensity of the espresso drink.

With Flat White, the common ratio is 1:2. This means for every part of coffee, there must be two parts of the milk. However, Flat White makers seem less ‘locked’ to the formula, as baristas may alter the ratio to make the drink stronger or milder. 

For example, using a ristretto may mean the drink may have more milk, meaning the drink may be milder and less intense.


Flat White usually has more calories since it contains more milk and is served in larger servings. 

When looking on Starbucks’ website, a 130 ml (about 4.39 fluid ounce) serving of Cortado contains around 59 kcal in calories. Meanwhile, a Tall Starbucks Flat White contains around 170 kcal calories. A Tall serving of Flat White should be around 354ml (about 11.9 fluid ounces).


Due to the ratio of coffee to milk in both drinks, flat white and Cortado can taste very different. 

In general, people describe Cortado as more intense, stronger, and has a slight sweetness from the milk. When in the mouth, it has a velvety texture and may be very satisfying to drink. 

People generally may default to Cortado when they commonly drink espresso. Still, on that particular occasion, they wanted something less intense. 

However, Flat White may taste smoother and milder. It also has a stronger hint of sweetness. This may be because of the larger volume of milk inside the drink, meaning the milk has lessened the espresso punch. 

The sweeter taste can return to having more lactose (milk sugar) in the drink. The larger serving of a Flat White also made it a more hearty drink since you can really drink it to your satisfaction.

Suppose you prefer a stronger punch and intensity in your drink. In that case, a Cortado may be a better option if you prefer something milder and hearty. A Flat White may be a good idea.

Serving Temperature

Flat White is usually served at a higher temperature compared to Cortado. This is because although both drinks use steamed milk, Flat White has more milk in it. This means the drink may come to you hotter. 

Another factor is that baristas may have to steam the milk longer to form microfoam and make the milk more velvety. This raises the milk temperature higher than if they are steaming for Cortados. 

As a result, you may see Cortados served in glasses, while Flat White is commonly served in thick, ceramic cups with handles. Cortados are not too hot, so you can handle the drink using a glass. Flat White may need handles and thick ceramic cups to manage the heat.

Final Thoughts

After exploring the differences between a flat white and a cortado, it is clear that both coffees have their merits.

If you are looking for a lighter coffee with a creamy texture, a flat white would be a great choice. On the other hand, a cortado is great for those looking for a strong, intense coffee flavor.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and there is no wrong decision when it comes to choosing between these two coffees.

How useful was this information?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this information was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve.

Similar Posts