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Cortado vs Latte

Are You Ready for the Piccolo Coffee Revolution? How often have you seen Piccolo coffee in your favorite coffee shop? Well, most coffee shops don’t sell Piccolo coffee, and if you chanced upon a coffee shop selling Piccolo coffee, you might have been served a Cortado instead!

Piccolo coffee has yet to be featured on coffee menus around the world, but this guide will help you know what the drink is and how you can make a great Piccolo coffee in the comfort of your home. 

Cortado picture and piccolo picture side by side
Cortado on the left - Piccolo on the right

Piccolo Coffee vs Cortado: What is the main difference? 

When it comes to espresso-based beverages, the Piccolo Latte and the Cortado share similarities in size and presentation. However, the nuances lie in their milk-to-coffee ratio, caffeine content, and flavor profile. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between these two delightful drinks and help you make an informed choice based on your preferences.

Piccolo in a shot glass
Piccolo Latte

Milk-to-Coffee Ratio

A defining factor between the Piccolo Latte and the Cortado is the proportion of milk to coffee. In a Cortado, the traditional ratio is 1:2, meaning that for every part of milk, there are two parts of espresso. This results in a bolder, more espresso-forward taste. On the other hand, a Piccolo Latte typically follows a 1:3 ratio, where the volume of milk is three times that of espresso. This higher milk content creates a creamier and milder flavor experience.

Caffeine Content

The Cortado, with its double shot of espresso, naturally contains more caffeine compared to the Piccolo Latte, which typically includes a single shot. If you desire a stronger caffeine kick, the Cortado might be your drink of choice. However, if you prefer a milder dose, the Piccolo Latte offers a balanced alternative.

Origin and Cultural Background

The Piccolo Latte has its roots in Italy, reflecting the country's rich coffee culture. It has gained popularity in various parts of the world for its unique milk-to-espresso ratio and smooth taste. The Cortado, on the other hand, hails from Spanish-speaking regions, where it has become a cherished beverage. Its name, meaning "cut" in Spanish, refers to the way the espresso shot is "cut" by the milk, resulting in a distinct flavor.

Flavor Profile

The difference in milk-to-coffee ratio significantly influences the flavor profile of these drinks. A Cortado's higher concentration of espresso creates a robust, slightly bitter taste. The milk in a Cortado acts as a complement, tempering the intensity without overpowering the coffee. In contrast, the Piccolo Latte offers a creamier, milk-forward flavor, providing a harmonious blend with the espresso. It tends to have a milder and smoother taste compared to the Cortado.

Piccolo latte top view
Cortado Latte

Flavor Profile and Taste Experience

Piccolo latte has a strong and distinct flavor that isn’t overbearing since the single espresso or ristretto shot is topped up with 3 to 4-part steamed milk. It makes a great coffee drink for anyone looking for a punchier, flavorful, balanced espresso/milk-based drink.

Brewing Techniques for Piccolo Coffee: What machine can make a Piccolo?

To make piccolo coffee, you should use the following coffee machines:

For a great Piccolo espresso shot, you should have freshly ground coffee beans, while the perfect grind size for a Piccolo coffee is a fine grind.

How to make a Piccolo Latte? 

Ingredients:

  1. Finely ground dark-roast or medium-roast coffee beans (20 grams)
  2. 40 ml milk

Equipment:

  1. An espresso machine or a moka pot
  2. Milk frother
  3. A demitasse glass

How to prepare a piccolo latte

Step 1: Brew an espresso shot in 18 -20  seconds to pull a shot of espresso. If you do not have an espresso machine or a portable espresso maker, use a Moka pot or a French press to brew a strong coffee. To get a concentrated espresso shot using a portable espresso machine, add less water.

Step 2: Use your automatic milk frother to steam and froth the milk, Wirsh Espresso Coffee Machine has a steam wand to help make the perfect froth. Another way is to heat milk over low heat on the stove and whisk it by hand until it forms foam. It is important to steam milk in low heat to ensure milk doesn’t burn. Milk should be warmed to a temperature of around 60-65 degrees Celsius.

Step 3: Pour your brewed espresso into a demitasse glass and slowly add steamed milk to combine the two. Add a small layer of milk foam to make it your piccolo latte look beautiful, and enjoy!

Tip: Finely ground high-quality beans to extract the best espresso for piccolo coffee. And always ensure proper storage for your ground coffee beans to preserve the coffee's flavors.

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Pairing Suggestions

You can enjoy piccolo coffee by pairing it with different foods for wholesome flavors. Here are some pairing suggestions: 

  • Desserts: Such as, muffins, croissants Tiramisu, scones, cakes
  • Savory breakfast dishes: Such as avocado toast, egg benedict, frittatas, quiches
  • Healthy snacks: such as fruit salads or fruits for contrasting experiences

When you pair your Piccolo coffee with food well, you will experience a harmonious flavor profile. 

Piccolo latte top view with a snack and a glass of water
Cortado Latte

The Rise of Piccolo Coffee Culture

Although Piccolo coffee drink s not very common in most coffee shops, it is gaining popularity fast. But what is its origin?

Well, although Piccolo is an Italian word, Piccolo coffee originated in Sidney, Australia, in the early 2000s. Baristas and roasters wanted to know how different roasts would taste with milk. Since they didn’t want to feel full and bloated from all the milk tasting, they added little milk to each espresso shot and tasted the combination. And that is how Piccolo coffee was invented.

Piccolo coffee gained popularity when people started preferring half-sized lattes and more robust alternatives to cappuccinos. Piccolo drink has thus spread worldwide and is enjoyed in the morning and as an afternoon pick-me-up. 

If you love experimenting and want to try different Piccolo coffee flavors, coffee syrups are a great addition that will give your Piccolo coffee a tasty twist.  

Piccolo coffee is served hot so that coffee connoisseurs can enjoy the full flavor as hot temperature helps release the flavors. 

Side view of a piccolo latte
Cortado Latte

Piccolo coffee variations

There are also non-dairy Piccolo coffee drinks that one can enjoy. Popular non-dairy choices for Piccolo coffee are: 

  • Almond milk: Piccolo latte with unsweetened almond milk adds a nutty flavor to coffee.
  • Coconut milk: Piccolo latte with coconut milk adds a tropical twist to coffee. Dark roast coffee grinds pair perfectly with coconut lattes.
  • Soy milk:  Piccolo coffee with soy milk will give a subtle sweetness and creaminess. You will get a great cuppa if you use medium-dark roasts.
  • Oat milk: Piccolo espresso with oat milk ensures one enjoys a great cup of joe that is creamy, and to achieve a perfect flavor, use light roast coffee beans.
  • Cashew Milk:  Piccolo coffee with cashew is another popular non-dairy milk alternative that adds richness and creaminess to espresso-based drinks. 

Each of these non-dairy alternatives brings out distinct flavors and textures to Piccolo coffee. Whenever you are making non-dairy Piccolo lattes, adjust the heating because different they will react differently when steamed, and add coffee sweeter of your choice if you prefer.

Side view of a piccolo latte and a glass of water with a cookie
Piccolo Latte

Conclusion

Piccolo latte is a great coffee drink with limitless possibilities. Get creative and add coffee flavors like caramel or vanilla syrup to make a tasty, unique drink. You can also make a decaf Picollo latte using a decaf espresso.

For coffee connoisseurs looking into getting a strong brew from piccolo coffee, you may need to master the art of brewing a perfect ristretto shot. Given that piccolo coffee drink is not mostly found on menus in coffee shops, we hope that this information will help you differentiate between piccolo coffee and a cortado. Try the recipe above to make your Piccolo coffee drink at home and impress your friends and family!

Meet the expert

I'm a mom of two boys and a freelance writer who loves to travel and spend time at the beach. When I'm not chasing after my kids or working on my next writing project, you can usually find me sipping on a delicious cup of coffee while reading a book. I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting coffee shops, whenever I am exploring a new town or city.

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