As she described what she wanted, the barista offered a cafe cortado as the drink that fit her description. Halfway through her first glass, she decided that her days of ordering lattes were over and the hunt for more cortado perfection was on.
According to Wikipedia, "The word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar (to cut)." In the case of the espresso drink, it is espresso cut with an equal amount of steamed milk.
When two cortados to go were ordered at Thinking Cup on Tremont, the person at the register said, "those are the best!" And the barista gave a nod and a smile when he saw them come up on his order screen.
Penny braved one attempt to order the drink at Starbucks. The order taker decided it was a wet cafe macchiato. (Apparently, the chain has no way to request half steamed milk and half expresso although the barista was within reach of the cashier and might have taken oral instructions.) The result was dreadful and Penny dumped it after a couple of sips. She should have known better.
This is a drink to order at an independent coffee shop with well-trained baristas. Having excellent coffee beans as a starting point, like the Stumptown at Thinking Cup or the carefully selected Organic Direct Trade Specialty Coffees at Wired Puppy, is essential in a drink with less milk to mask lesser beans.
Do you try different espresso drinks? What's your favorite?
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photos: Top photo of a barista pouring milk art onto a Cafe Cortado is by Alexandra Guerson. Used under this creative commons license.
Second and third photos are of Thinking Cup Cortados ©2014 Penny Cherubino