The cortado and flat white are not the same drinks. Usually, if a cafe serves either or both of these drinks, it is likely one that serves specialty coffee and takes a bit more care in crafting your drink. So what is the difference? Let’s define each one and go from there.
What is a cortado?
A cortado is usually made with a double shot of espresso and 2-3 ounces of steamed/textured milk. It slots in between a macchiato (espresso “touched” by a dollop of milk foam) and a cappuccino (a million different definitions, but I go by a double shot and 4oz of steamed milk on the foamier side).
The name originates from “cortar” which is Spanish for “cut” – the small amount of milk cuts the strength and bitterness of the espresso shot. It is also known as a Gibraltar since it is commonly served in a rocks glass.
What is a flat white?
Depends on who you ask, but I believe the flat white was originated in New Zealand. Generally, it is a much more popular drink there and in Australia vs the U.S. Starbucks offers one now, but it seems hard to differentiate it from a latte. So, we start with a double shot of espresso and add steamed milk with little foam to get to a drink that is about 5-6oz total. It has a couple more ounces of milk than a cortado. It is similar in size to a cappuccino, but with foam that is close to a latte.