The Cortado is my favorite espresso drink. For me, it captures all that I love about drinking espresso, and does so elegantly and succinctly.
It could be because I made up the drink. Well, at least at one time I thought I did. Back when Flying Five Coffee was in it’s hey-day and I was spending a lot of time experimenting with different espresso drinks, I found that the drink I loved the most was a ratio of 1:1 espresso to micro-foamed milk. I’d never seen that before.
But, of course there is nothing new under the sun, and soon after I heard of this drink floating around San Francisco called a “Gilbraltar”, named after the rocks glass it was served in. And, later still, I learned that a Cortado has been around for quite some time.
What makes a Cortado so great? For me, it’s a combination of many factors. The 1:1 ratio creates a pleasing balance between espresso and milk. The sweetness of the milk can bring out flavor notes in a great espresso that you wouldn’t taste in a straight espresso. But, there isn’t so much milk that it overpowers the espresso. And, finally, I love that there’s nowhere to hide for the espresso: greatness and defects in the espresso are front and center.
Many times a Cortado is an “insider” drink. It’s not always on the menu, and it can be tough to find. But, often times, if you ask for it, good baristas will know what it is, or be able to make it with a description of the 1:1 ratio. Happily, in the last few years around Denver and Boulder, the Cortado has shown up on the menu of many good shops.
So, for me, my go-to espresso drink is a Cortado, it’s my hands-down favorite. After all, I invented it. At least I thought I did.