Coffee Comparison: Gibraltar vs. Cortado – Which is Better?

Coffee drinkers rejoice – there are two new espresso beverages in town, and they’re both delicious!

Espresso drinks are all the rage these days, but have you ever stopped to wonder just how many different types there are?

It can be pretty overwhelming trying to keep them all straight especially when you’re browsing the menu at one of the many specialty coffee shops.

But don’t worry, we’ll be looking at two in particular in this article. The Gibraltar and the Cortado.

Have you heard of these? Have you tried them?

Here is our take.

Gibraltar vs. Cortado

What is a Gibraltar

A Gibraltar coffee drink is an espresso-based drink that gets its name from its unique glass shape: the “Libbey Gibraltar rock glass”. This coffee drink is made with two shots of espresso and steamed milk with a small amount of foam and pour into the rock glass. 

When you make Gibraltar coffee, the key step is getting the proportions of the ingredients just right, too much milk and you’ll lose the strong espresso flavor; too little foam and it won’t have that signature Gibraltar look.

But get it right, and you’ll have a delicious, caffeine-packed coffee drink that’s perfect for any time of day that’s also aesthetically pleasing in its beautiful glass. 

What is a Cortado


A Cortado is also a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. The proportions of espresso to steamed milk are usually equal, making it a less intense coffee drink than one made with more espresso.

Cortados are sometimes referred to as “espresso cut” because of the way the two ingredients are combined.

The origins of the Cortado are unclear, but it is thought to have originated in Spain or Portugal. The name “Cortado” comes from the Spanish word for “cut,” which refers to the way the espresso is cut with milk.

Cortados are typically served in small glasses or cups, and they can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Check out some of my favorite espresso cups here!

The Differences Between Gibraltar vs Cortado

There are a few minor differences between these two drinks. Cortados are made with equal parts espresso and milk, while Gibraltars have a slightly higher ratio of espresso to milk.

So which drink do you get and how do you know which one is right for you?


There is actually very little difference in taste when comparing one against the other. Assuming that your local coffee shop made them side by side, they’d use the same two espresso shots and milk steamed in the same way.


Appearance might be the main differentiator between a Gibraltar and a Cortado. Since Gibraltars, traditionally, are served in a Libbey Gibraltar glass, they have a very unique look. But that has more to do with the serve ware than the actual make of the drink.


The caffeine content of both drinks is the same, again, if made side by side in the same coffee shop. This is because they are both using a double shot of espresso.

Different espresso machines might pull slightly different-sized shots and that could contribute to a minute difference. But that would be due to general variance in the espresso machine, and not to the drinks themselves.

But how much caffeine do two shots of espresso have?

It’s no secret that espresso packs a serious punch of caffeine – typically around 64 mg per 2 oz. shot. That’s about double the amount of caffeine in a traditional cup of coffee, which clocks in at about 80-90 mg for an 8 oz. cup.

But what if you’re looking for an extra boost? How much caffeine is in two shots of espresso?

On average, you can expect to find around 128mg of caffeine in two shots of espresso. But depending on the type of beans the coffee shop is  using, the grind, and the brewing method, that number can range anywhere from 120-180 mg.

Similarities Between Cortados and Gibraltars

cortado espresso drink

Cortados and Gibraltars are similar in many ways: they’re both made with espresso and milk, they’re both small in size, and they both pack a punch of caffeine.

In fact, some people believe they actually are the same drink. They chalk the different names to regional differences in Spain.

Not so much that the different regions have different words to mean the same thing but that the different regions simply made the same drink and named it differently.

When coffee culture began to go international, both names could have been exported but their origin stories may not have. Thus, the evolution of the names and how they play out on menu boards across the world.


What is the main difference between a Cortado and a Gibraltar?

There may not be a difference as they may be different names for the same drink. But some coffee shops and histories of the drink do cite minor differences. The two main ones are 1) Gibraltars were traditionally served in “Libbey Gibraltar rock glasses” and 2) the Cortado has a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk while the Gibraltar has slightly less steamed milk.

What is a Libbey Gibraltar Rock Glass?

A Libbey Gibraltar Rock Glass is a type of drinking glass that is typically used for serving whiskey or sometimes espresso drinks. The glass is characterized by its wide, round shape and heavy base, which helps to hold the drink’s temperature and prevent it from tipping over.

Are Cortados popular?

Cortados are a popular drink choice in many parts of the world, but they definitely have a cult following in the United States. This may be because cortados are the perfect balance of coffee and milk – not too strong and free of any additional syrups and sweeteners. Whatever the reason, we can all agree that cortados are delicious!

How much caffeine is in a shot of espresso?

A shot of espresso contains about 64 mg of caffeine.

What does espresso taste like?

Espresso is a strong, dark coffee that is pulled using heat and pressure. The brew has a rich, intense flavor with a hint of bitterness. When made correctly, espresso is smooth and creamy. It is often served with milk that is steamed to cut the acidity and make it more palatable.

Looking for more espresso fun? Head on over to one of these posts to learn more!

About bit of cream

Rishi and Jen are the creators behind Bit of Cream. They start each morning with a cup of coffee and are on the hunt to make that simple cup of caffeine better and brighter. Feel free to send them a message or follow along on Instagram!

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