What Is a Flat White Coffee? Everything You Need to Know

What Is a Flat White Coffee Everything You Need to Know

I know what you’re thinking.

You’ve seen the sign for “flat white” at your local coffee shop and thought to yourself, “Do I really need to know what that is? Can’t I just order my usual coffee?”

To which I say, no! You absolutely need to know what a flat white is. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also become something of a trend in recent years.

In fact, coffee shops are now offering flat whites as an alternative to cappuccinos and lattes.

What Is a Flat White Coffee?

So, what is a flat white coffee? Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this delicious beverage.

What Is a Flat White coffee?

A flat white is a coffee drink that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It’s made with two shots of espresso and steamed milk, with just a small amount of foam. 

The key difference between a flat white and other coffee drinks is the milk. For a flat white, the milk is steamed until it’s smooth and sweet, but there’s barely any microfoam.

This gives the flat white a “milky” taste that’s different from a cappuccino or latte.

The steamed milk also helps to accentuate the coffee’s flavor, making it a bit sweeter and more intense.

As a result, a white coffee flat has a stronger coffee flavour than a latte or cappuccino.

For a flat white, the milk is steamed until it’s smooth and sweet, but there’s barely any microfoam.

The traditional espresso to milk ratio for a flat white recipe is 1:2; that is, one part espresso to two parts milk. However, this can vary depending on the coffee shop or barista.

I’ve had flat whites that were made with a 1:3 ratio, and I’ve also had ones that were made with a 1:1 ratio. So, it really just depends on your preference.

The secret to a coffee flat white is in the steaming. The milk needs to be steamed until it’s smooth and sweet, but without any microfoam.

This can be a bit tricky to do, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Served flat whites are typically in a 200-milliliter (6.8 ounces) cup. But again, this can vary depending on the coffee shop.

I’ve seen flat whites served in everything from a tiny cup to a large mug.

Flat whites are typically served in a 200-milliliter (6.8 ounces) cup

Why This Coffee Is Called Flat White?

As I said, flat whites are espresso-based drinks – just like cappuccinos and lattes. So, you might be wondering why it’s called a “flat white” and not a “cappuccino” or a “latte.”

Well, the answer is pretty simple.

A traditional cappuccino has a thick layer of foam on top (around 1 centimeter or 0.4 inches), while a latte has a thinner layer of foam (around 0.5 centimeters to 1 centimeter, or 0.2 inches to 0.4 inches).

Why Is It Called Flat White?

But a flat white is different. As I mentioned before, a flat white is made with barely any foam.

The espresso and steamed milk are combined so that there’s a very thin layer of foam on top – often less than 0.5 centimeters (or 0.2 inches).

This is what gives the flat white its “flat” appearance.

The Origin and History of Flat Whites

The debate over the origin of flat whites is a bit of a contentious one.

Some people say that flat whites originated in Australia, while others claim that they were invented in New Zealand.

The most likely scenario is that flat whites were actually invented in both countries around the same time. In the early 1980s, there was a wave of “coffee bars” that were popping up in both Australia and New Zealand.

These coffee bars served espresso-based drinks, and it’s likely that the flat white was created in one of these establishments.

An Aussie man driking flat white in a cafe in Chiangmai, Thailand

According to Alan Preston, the founder of Moors Espresso Bar, he was the first person to permanently have the term “flat white” on his menu.

Preston claims that he came up with the name after noticing that many of his customers ordered a “white coffee – flat.”

Preston’s recipe for the flat white was a double ristretto shot with steamed milk and little to no foam. This is the recipe that many Australian coffee shops still use today.

Another claim to the invention of the flat white comes from Fraser McInnes, a coffee barista from New Zealand.

McInnes said that he was the first person to use the term “flat white” on a menu.

According to McInnes, he came up with the name after trying to make a cappuccino for a customer.

The fat content in the milk was too low, making it impossible to create a good amount of foam.

So, he presented the customer with the drink and apologized, saying “sorry, it’s a flat white.”

Flat whites remained a popular drink in Australia and New Zealand throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

But it wasn’t until the early 2000s that flat whites started to gain popularity in the rest of the world.

Today, a flat white is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world. And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Is a Flat White Stronger Coffee Than a Cappuccino?

One of the most common questions I get asked about flat whites is whether or not they’re stronger than cappuccinos.

The answer is no, flat whites are not stronger than cappuccinos. I’ll explain why.

The coffee to milk ratio in a flat white is 1:3. This means that for every ounce of coffee, there are 3 ounces of milk.

Compare this to a cappuccino, which has 1/3 espresso to 1/3 steamed milk and a 1/3 milk foam ratio.

Cappuccino and Flat white in MAX Coffee, Chiangmai, Thailand

This makes sense when you think about it. A cappuccino is one-third foam, which means that there’s less liquid milk for the coffee to be diluted in.

Therefore, a cappuccino will have a stronger coffee flavor than a flat white.

Flat White vs Latte: What Is the Difference?

Flat White and Latte in Sensory cafe, Chiangmai, Thailand

A lot of people think that flat whites and lattes are the same. But there is a big difference between these two drinks.

While both are espresso-based and the amount of milk foam is similar (about 1 inch ), these are the main differences between flat whites and lattes:

  • Amount of Milk
  • Strength of the Drinks
  • Price
  • Serving Size
  • Type of Froth

Let’s break down each of these differences one by one.

Amount of Milk

One of the biggest differences between flat whites and lattes is the amount of milk. A latte is made with more milk than a flat white.

A traditional latte has about 6 ounces of milk while a flat white only has 5 ounces of milk.

Tim is preparing latte art.

The difference might not seem like much, but it actually makes a big difference in the taste of the drink. Because there’s less milk in a flat white, the coffee flavor is more pronounced.

Strength of the Drinks

Another big difference between these two drinks is their strength. A latte is weaker than a flat white. This is because there’s more milk in a latte, which dilutes the coffee.

On the other hand, a flat white is stronger because there’s less milk. This means that the coffee flavor is more pronounced.


Type of Froth

Finally, the type of froth is different for these two drinks. Flat whites have little to no foam, while lattes have more foam.

This is because a latte has more milk, which results in more foam.


I know a lot of people are worried about the price of these drinks in a cafe shop. So, let me put your mind at ease. Flat whites are more expensive than lattes. Surprised? I was too.

The reason why flat whites are more expensive is because of the higher perceived value. Flat whites are seen as a premium coffee drink, compared to lattes.

This is likely because flat whites are a newer drink and they’re not as common in a coffee shop as lattes.

Serving Size

Serving Size

The serving size of these two drinks is also different. Flat white coffees are typically served in a smaller cup than lattes.

A flat white comes in about 200 milliliters (depending on the country) while a latte is typically served in a 240-milliliter cup.

How to Make a Flat White Coffee at Home: Easy Recipe

An Espresso coffee-making machine dispensing on a cup.

Now that you know everything there is to know about flat whites, it’s time to learn how to make one at home.

This easy recipe only requires a few ingredients and takes less than 5 minutes to make.


  • Roasted coffee beans
  • Espresso machine
  • Milk frother
  • Milk (whole milk)


1. Start by grinding your coffee beans. Ensure that the grind is quite fine, similar to the consistency of table salt. You’ll want to use about 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water.

2. Next, place the ground coffee in your espresso machine and brew a double shot of espressos.

3. While the espresso is brewing, steam your milk. You’ll want to use about 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of milk for a 6-ounce (177 milliliters) cup.

4. Once the espresso is brewed, pour it into your cup.

5. Add the steamed milk to the espresso and stir gently.

6. And that’s it! Your white coffee is now ready to drink.


 using an Espresso machine

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a stronger and more flavorful coffee, then a flat white is the perfect drink for you. This espresso-based drink is perfect for latte art lovers and coffee enthusiasts alike.

So if you want to pour latte art or simply enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, make sure to give a flat white a try.


Is a Flat White Stronger Than a Latte?

Yes, a flat white is stronger than a latte. This is because there’s less milk and more espresso in a flat white. The espresso flavor is more pronounced, making it a stronger drink.

What Is a Flat White at Starbucks?

A flat white at Starbucks coffee shop is an espresso-based drink made with double ristretto shots and steamed milk. It’s topped with a latte art dot and is served in a small cup.

Is a Flat White a Double Shot?

A flat white is typically made with a double shot of espresso. This is because it’s a strong coffee drink and the extra espresso helps to balance out the milk.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top