Tag Archives: Cortado

Cortado, Cortado…

Since I was served this Spanish version of an espresso milk based drink at Espresso Lab (Cape Town) in October 2009, it has become my favourite morning brew. In summary, it is half espresso and half milk/froth, almost like a smaller brother of a cappuccino but packs more punch because there’s more espresso in it, which means you get to taste the coffee more. So, to get a little technical, you’re looking at a 50-60ml double espresso extraction (depending on how many grammes you use) topped with about the same amount of liquid (frothed and steamed milk). It’s much easier if you have a 100-120 ml cup of course, but just play around with it, so that the coffee punches well through the milk. You should also be able to detect some different taste notes coming out such as milk chocolate and hazelnut, which appear to reveal themselves more distinctly when milk is added to the coffee/espresso equation. I’d strongly recommend it for espresso lovers, who don’t want as much milk and froth as you find in a cappuccino nor in a Flat White, but who nevertheless want to taste their espresso blended nicely with hot milk.

The other reason why I like a Cortado, is that I find it much easier to do latte art in a smaller cup – Well ! how else would I be able to share these nice pics with you because if I just talked and didn’t share these tasty pics to inspire you to try it at home, you’d skip my blog. Coffee is about art and science – a wonderful blend of the subjects of our age – OK ! enough of this philosophical dribble, just try this at home. Ciao ! or perhaps on this occasion I should say Adios (for those who don’t know, this is the Spanish way of saying bye bye). Adios Cortado ! until tomorrow morning.

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I’m Drinking a Grand Reserve Coffee

Yes ! A Grand Reserve coffee – a speciality from top coffee grower, Aida Battle, supposed to be a special blend of coffees from her farm in El Salvador. Fruity and intense, yet complex and medium balanced on the acidity. Have I lost you ? If you’re an expert, then you probably want more, but I’ll just keep it simple for now. This particular batch was roasted by top roasters, Square Mile Coffee Roasters (SMCR) no less and if you have been an avid reader of my blog, you’ll know that I used to be a regular customer of SMCR -that is until I moved to Cape Town. So, how did I get my hands on this special coffee ? Only God could have made this possible but here’s the story behind it. I walk into one of my favourite cafes in Cape Town, Espresso Lab in Woodstock, get chatting to owner/roaster, Renato and spot the famous label bag on the shelf and asked how he managed to get a bag down here in Cape Town – “ordered through the internet of course”. But having read about the coffee on SMCR website a few weeks bag, I knew that it was really special with a real special price too, at about £22 (or $33 or 242 Rands) per 350g bag. Probably spotting the delight in my eye, Renato offered me a precious 40g free of charge, enough to make one French Press and one double espresso portions – thank you God.

You can’t imagine the excitement when I got home – I read about this coffee, grown by one of the top coffee growers in the World, roasted by one of the best coffee roasters in the World, unable to order it all the way from London because of the costs and here it was in my kitchen, ready to be prepared the way I love coffee, French Press and double espresso. OK ! Let’s get to work but be warned, as this is so special, I was inspired to focus on trying to capture the coffee as best as I could on photo, so that I could share the experience with you. I’ve already described the taste profile at the top of this blog, so don’t expect too much emphasis on taste profile, just enjoy the pics and dream.

First up, Le French Press. OK ! with this type of preparation, the fruity elements tend to dominate – very balanced as an afternoon cup after a light lunch, going down smoothly.

I was tempted to just drink the coffee as a double espresso to really experience it as a concentrate but there was a part of me saying “what would it be like with milk?” So, I went for a Cortado – a what ? It’s currently my favourite milk based drink, a Spanish version of a cappuccino, but with less milk, so you use about the same portions of milk as espresso, using a 150ml cup – so strictly speaking, a double shot espresso at about 50-55ml with 50ml frothed milk, which would have a foam of about 20%.

Doesn’t it look yummy and inspirational ? with this type of extraction and preparation, I found the Grand Reserve not too acidic with a soft touch of milk chocolate coming through the milk. I wish I had done this blog sooner when the coffee was readily available and then I could have said buy it now from Square Mile Coffee Roasters but I just googled it and I think Sweet Maria’s in the USA roast it too, so if you are reading this in the US, try and get it before it runs out. Until then, dream and if it’s out again, I’ll try and let you know somehow.


Bean There… Espresso Lab, Cape Town

I had the opportunity last week to spend time with, David Donde, formerly of Origins Coffee Roasting and he showed me a new cafe, Espresso Lab Microroasters, located in “becoming trendy” Woodstock. Espresso Lab is located at the Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, which seems quiet during the weekday but on Saturday mornings becomes a bustling market place, with Cape Town’s middle class jostling to buy organic fare, art and delicious food. OK ! back to the coffee. Espresso Labs has a really unique concept, living to its name by appearing like a lab, with coffee signs displayed like ES for espresso and AM for Americano, but the bags have longer names like ESP for espresso

Espresso Lab is run by Portuguese origin Capetonian, Renato. They’ve got a La Marzocco GB5 and their coffee roaster is located at the back in a clean looking space. On my second visit, yes ! I went twice, I decided to try what seems like their signature drink, a CO or a Cortado, made using a double espresso with about equal portions of frothed milk – check out the beautifully poured rosetta heart.

So it is really for those who want to taste their coffee with just a topping of frothed milk, as is a bit obvious from the pic below, where you can see the clear separation/layers from coffee, through milk and froth at the top.

It was really nice, especially for someone like me who ideally prefers a really strong cappuccino as opposed to the usual espresso, third milk and third froth – the official description of a cappuccino. Before I left I got a couple of bags of coffee to sample but of course, but more on that next time. So, when in Cape Town, check out Espresso Lab Microroasters and check out their website too, http://espressolabmicroroasters.com/.