Let’s bring the cortado / piccolo to America

There are ideal ratios of coffee and milk, if you don’t want the flavor of either to fully prevail. To me the closest to the ideal ratio is what Italians call a cortado and Australians call a piccolo (short for piccolo latte). The latter looks like this:


To me this is roughly what a cappuccino should look like in a clear glass. But what we usually get in the U.S. (especially from Starbucks) is ten ounces of milk and one ounce of espresso in a twelve-ounce cup. Or maybe two ounces of espresso. Peets cappuccinos, when done right (which is about half the time, in the small size), get the ratio about the same (~1:1 coffee and steamed milk, and poured so the two mix into a creamy combination).

Anyway, most coffee shops in the U.S. (and the U.K., which I also visit often) don’t know from a cortado or a piccolo. So I say let’s educate them. Here’s a goal: by the end of 2015, most coffee shops in the U.S. will know what you mean when you order either one. Possible?


  1. Kevin Lawver’s avatar

    I had my first cortado in Spain a couple of years ago, and I agree! Thankfully, my local independent coffee shops do pretty great cortados. Even while traveling, most independent coffee shops do at least a passable cortado.

    Yet another reason to buck the chains…

  2. Julian Bond’s avatar

    The one I’m looking for is the French “Petit café créme”. It’s roughly a double expresso shot with a single shot of hot milk (sometimes cold). This is available in pretty much every cafe in France but the internet seems curiously unable to provide a good recipe.

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