Alton Brown Instagrammed a picture of a cortado, a lesser known espresso drink that seems to be gathering steam across America in craft coffee shops, leading us to believe it is sure to become the next hottest beverage in 2016. Cortado comes from the Spanish verb cortar, which means to cut. A small amount of espresso is pulled into a small glass cup rather than a ceramic mug with handles. It's then cut with an equal amount of steamed milk to essentially neutralize the bitterness. In coffee shops in America, you will often see baristas create microfoam in the steamed milk to draw latte art across the top. Some variations, like Coffee Bar in San Francisco, also put a little sugar in the raw at the bottom of the glass before pulling the espresso shot.
Cortados are unlike cappuccinos, lattes, or even macchiatos, for a variety of reasons. First, they're not intended to ever be taken on the go. They're served in a tiny glass, and it's best to drink in a few sips at the coffee bar itself. While it may not provide enough caffeine to wake you up in the morning, it's the perfect amount for an afternoon pick-me-up and a great reason to excuse yourself from the office for a quick moment to meditate over coffee. In addition, the espresso-to-milk ratio offers a unique flavor. The robustness of the coffee comes through, but the finish is velvety from the steamed milk (and hint of sugar if it's added).