Over the summer, my family went to the Pacific Northwest on vacation. One of the fun things we did on our trip was go and try different coffee places when we were in Seattle. As I’ve written here before, my favorite coffee drink is a Cortado, which in my mind is a perfect balancing of 1:1 espresso and microfoam milk.

When we were in Seattle, Cortados weren’t on anyone’s menu. That’s not unusual though, it’s sort of an insider drink at a lot of places. You just have to ask for it. In Seattle though, when I asked, nobody knew what a Cortado was. I explained the 1:1 ratio, and then suddenly all the baristas I talked to knew exactly what I was talking about and made the drink immediately, and without any trouble at all.

I’d end up with a perfect 1:1 Cortado in a cup that was seemingly sized exactly to fit the drink. I got a little suspicious: usually when you ask someone to make a drink that isn’t on the menu, they won’t have a cup that fits it perfectly. Plus, a number of shops were pouring latte art into Cortados with amazing skill. That’s tough to do in a Cortado: there’s not much milk to work with. It’s not called “latte” art by accident.

Then, at the end of the trip, I noticed someone ordering a Macchiato, and out popped what I call a Cortado. Mystery solved: In Seattle, a Cortado is a Macchiato.