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What is a Flat White and Why You Should Try It

Dave Carter

November 9, 2020

What is a Flat White coffee? Contrary to what others believe, a cup of flat white coffee is not just a small latte. There are several milky coffee variants out there, and some thought that flat whites and lattes are the same. Like any good coffee cup, a flat white used espresso as a base and poured into a cup of hot milk. Milk temperature plays a significant role in coffee preparation because it can significantly alter the taste and the experience. Cafe latte is a combination of a shot of espresso with steamed milk, no it not cappuccino either. Cafe latte translates to coffee and milk and is creamier than regular coffee and milk, and less frothy than a cup of cappuccino.

Flat white coffee is more recent than a cappuccino, which originated in Italy, and cafe latte, which came from America. A guy from New Zealand, Derek Townsend created the flat white. All though cafe lattes and flat white would look very similar to the untrained eye. These two drinks are very much different. The real difference will be found in the milk, cafe lattes will have creamier milk, while flat whites have less, which gives it a healthier, more robust coffee taste.

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What is a Flat White Coffee​

To enjoy a cup of flat white, you can head over to your nearest barista and have them whip you a perfectly folded shot of espresso in velvety milk. You can also brew your own at home. Brewing a cup of espresso is easy if you have a Professional Espresso Machine or opt for the more traditional but cost-effective brother- the moka pot.

Flat white coffee is the alternative for those coffee lovers who like to take their coffee with milk, but not the amount cafe lattes or cappuccinos have. It is a variant with less milk diluted and offers more coffee taste. It is preferred by a lot of people who switch from instant coffee to espresso. It is usually served with two espresso shots as opposed to other milky coffee.

Why do they call it a flat white?​

If you research the history of the drink, you will see that the barista who created it aimed to make a cup of cappuccino. While preparing the drink, he failed to aerate the milk enough because it lacked the right amount of fat, which ended with a flat-topped drink. Nespresso machine reviews mentioned a list of coffee machines that can give you the perfect cup of flat white every single time, without the fear of it being botched. You can have your favorite flat white coffee prepared in a fraction of the effort you need to make it, and all you have to do is get the pod in the chamber and press the button. I usually just pop the capsule and have it start while I work on other stuff. Having these electric machines surely helps in multitasking.

How do you make a flat white?​

Just like any other coffee variant, a flat white is made with espresso. You can opt for one of the best espresso machines, or you can go the different route to the more traditional cost-effective road and use a moka pot or use instant coffee. If you already have a shot or two of espresso figured out, either from your machine, or a moka pot, the next step is to steam your milk at about 55 to 65℃, then remove any bubbles at the top by lightly slamming the jug to the counter. When the milk is now velvety smooth, you may start pouring it into the cup of espresso. Make sure to tilt the cup of espresso slightly and aim for the center. You can also add a bit of syrup to give it a little sweetness. Some prefer to take it with hazelnut or almond-flavored syrup.

What is the difference between a latte and flat white​

Coffee variants have all the same base, espresso, but the preparation that goes with it changes everything entirely. What is an espresso shot, it is a strong black coffee that is made by passing pressurized steaming hot water through compressed coffee grounds. Both latte and flat white start out the same, but they differ in the amount of espresso. A latte is usually made with one unless specified, while flat whites always have two shots. Next is the milk, they are both steamed and frothed, but flat whites will have much less milk because it already has two espresso shots. The name flat white is taken from the effect of having much less milk. It does not form a frothy top as much as a latte. Another difference is the taste since lattes have more milk. It would taste more muted than a flat white, which has a more robust flavor. Both will have velvety milk that can carry art when prepared professionally.

How they should taste: flat white vs latte​

Getting the best coffee means getting it from the best cafe or coffee shops in the city, but you do not have to go to extreme lengths just to fix your favorite cup of java. Some people go and invest in their machine to have the perfect cup of coffee every morning, but are there Nespresso Vertuoline compatible capsules? If there are, this will move the home-brewed coffee game higher and make it way more convenient to make. Either coffee shop or cafe made or homemade manually, or with the best machines, I know you are wondering how these cups of coffee taste. It has been said several times repeatedly that lattes and flat whites are very different from each other, but how should they taste anyway. We need to dive more into the taste for us to discern the difference with just the taste.

The Distinction between flat white vs cappuccino​

They may look the same, and the base may taste the same, especially if they were created from the same espresso coffee machine, but subtle nuances in the taste that comes from how the milk is prepared. A flat white has little to no foam at all, but they still get a little bit of art from a barista. The taste of the milk changes subtly during heating, and it has been a practice to use milk from 55 to 70C. Lattes will have the same base, which is a shot of espresso but is served with froth that usually contains some sort of art, and is milkier in taste.

The distinction between the two can be found in the taste and the strength of the coffee. The latte will be a little bit muted since it has at least a third of the cup as milk. It will be too milky and creamy, while the flat white, as the name suggests, is more flat and much less foam. The difference in the milk content will alter the taste as well. Flat whites are smoother and creamier, and it also has less coffee and milk, which is just half of the cup. In contrast, a cafe latte will be a bit milder and a whole lot sweeter.


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There is a cup of coffee for everyone. There is no best cup of coffee to rule all containers. If you prefer your coffee with milk, you can either go for a flat white or a cafe latte. If you like a sweeter, more muted coffee taste, you can go to the cafe latte at your regular Starbucks, cafe, or coffee shops. I love my coffee dark and strong, and I am inclined to go for the flat white variant.

With a little bit of daily practice and research of the best coffee ground, you can create your perfect cup of cafe latte or flat white at home. It does not matter if you will use a professional coffee machine, or a traditional Italian Moka cup, or just instant. Do not be afraid to go make your coffee and experiment, who knows. You might be the next Derek and discover a new way of enjoying our favorite morning, afternoon, or dinner drink. You might be the next However you want to make it, you can have the perfect cup by continuously practicing, getting the right ingredients and water, coffee, and milk ratio, and a few adjustments to suit your taste.

Now that you are ready, you can now start planning how you want to take your coffee tomorrow. Knowing what is a flat white helps to better appreciate the drink.


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