What Is a Flat White Coffee?

What is a Flat White Coffee?

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Flat White is a household name amongst Starbucks lovers. In the world of coffee, Flat White is actually the name of a particular type of coffee which looks similar to a cappuccino or latte but has a completely different composition and an exceptional taste too. 

The Flat White is an espresso milk drink that combines two shots of espresso with a large layer of steamed milk. It is a dense coffee with a small foam layer made of whole milk. A typical 5-6 oz. cup of flat white requires 150-200 ml of whole milk. Flat white is a high-caffeine drink and is much stronger than a cappuccino or Latte.

Where Did Flat White Come From?

This type of coffee originated in Australia and New Zealand.  Flat White has been around since the 1980s and gradually became known in Europe as well as the United States. The name flat white coffee comes from how Australians name their coffee drinks. Since short black is a regular espresso while long black is similar but larger and with hot water, a ‘flat white’ is made when milk is added to the drink.

All About Flat White Coffee

All About Flat White Coffee
CompositionRistretto, steamed whole milk, and foam in the ratio of 1:3:2
Milk Type UsedWhole milk 
Serving size5 oz. to 6 oz.

Slightly sweet

Milder taste than Latte

Strong espresso flavor

TextureVelvety and smooth with minimal froth
OriginAustralia and New Zealand
Caffeine Content10.83 mg per ounce
Foam Layer½ to 1cm

What Is In A Flat White Coffee?

A Flat White mixes a double shot of espresso, followed by steamed milk, and finally a thin layer of foam. Espresso is made by grinding coffee finely and brewing it under pressure in an espresso machine. Espresso for your Flat white can be made at home too, however, the best tasting Flat Whites are made in an espresso machine. Thus, a flat white contains double shots of espresso and lots of steamed whole milk. The foam layer on a Flat White is usually  ½ to 1 centimeter thick. This is called microfoam.

Whole milk used in making flat white coffee

Serving A Flat White

The cup used for making flat white is the one used for a cappuccino (but a little smaller). Generally, it is made of porcelain material. The serving size is around 6 oz. (between 110 and 180 milliliters). 

Taste and Heaviness

A flat white is high in caffeine. The drink leaves a stronger coffee flavor thanks to the double espresso shots, which give you an instant caffeine boost. Though this drink has more caffeine because of the two shots of ristretto, it is not as heavy as a latte or a cappuccino. The flat white coffee seems to taste milder than a typical latte.


A Flat White’s texture is very silky, and there is no frothiness. 

How Much Milk For A Flat White Coffee?

A typical 5-6 oz. cup of flat white requires 150-200 ml of whole milk. It should be steamed to 60 degrees celsius for 4 seconds. You have to use whole milk. If you use low-fat or skimmed milk, then the drink will not be as creamy and sweet and you will need to add sugar.

Three different types of espresso-based drinks

Flat White, Latte, and Cappuccino – Key Differences

Over the years, the difference between the three types of coffee has gradually disregarded, Flat Whites are much different from lattes and cappuccinos.  Usually, Lattes are served in slightly bigger servings than flat white coffee. Lattes also have more foam than flat white coffee. 

Flat white coffee is usually less dense when compared to lattes or cappuccino. The reason is flat white coffees do not have froth and aren’t made from regular steamed milk.  Instead, it is made from micro-foam made using whole milk.

Cappuccino is a stronger drink. It consists of one shot of espresso along with a thick layer of foam. Cappuccinos are served in a six-ounce cup made of glass or porcelain, and the drink is known to have originated in Italy. A typical cappuccino consists of one-third espresso on the bottom, one-third steamed milk, and lastly a third of airy foam that goes on the top. Cappuccinos are famous for their thick, creamy texture but are still not so acidic. 

Lattes are then bigger and are served with foamed milk. A latte can be made with any milk, such as regular milk, foamed milk, or even steamed milk. Moreover, a latte has comparatively less foam than a cappuccino but more foam than a Flat White.

Suggested Reading – What is the Difference Between Coffee and Cappuccino?

What Is The Difference Between a Flat White, Latte, and a Cappuccino
 Flat WhiteCappuccinoLatte
Espresso UsedTwo shots1-2 shots1-2 shots
CompositionContains 1/3 ristretto espresso and steamed whole milkContains 1/3 espresso, 1/3 of steamed milk (any), and 1/3 foamed milkContains 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, and 2-3 centimeters milk foam
Caffeine Content130-150 mg

63 mg for a single shot

128 mg for double-shot

63 mg for a single shot

128 mg for double-shot

Type of milk usedWhole milkLow fat, skim milk, or whole milk (depending on preference)Low fat, skim milk, or whole milk (depending on preference)

Starbucks Flat White Coffee

Starbucks introduced this type of coffee across its franchises across The United States and Canada back in 2015. Since then, it has changed the coffee game in North America. The American version of flat white coffee consists of two shots of espresso and unsteamed full-fat milk. While we discussed that Flat white is served in smaller cups, Starbucks has its own serving sizes. 

Since whole milk holds some sweetness and the ristretto shots are also typically sweeter, no sugar or any other additions are served with the beverage at Starbucks. The drink also does not seem to be served very hot in comparison to other espresso-based coffees at Starbucks.

Making Flat White Coffee – Easy Recipe

Making a flat white requires a little precision. The whole milk must be steamed for only 2 to 4 seconds to aerate the milk in order to get the micro-foam velvety texture at the end. This is important because the drink is primarily famous for steamed milk.

The micro-foam on top of the drink should be carefully made using special equipment; a steaming wand. The wand helps keep the temperature consistent which will evenly steam the milk. 

While pouring the milk into the cup, it should have a very thin pencil-like string. This will ensure that the milk will sink to the bottom, and the foam is captured at the very end of the pitcher that the milk is being poured from. 


  • Double shot espresso (ristretto)
  • 150-200ml whole milk


Step 1 – Steam the milk in a milk jug for 4 seconds.

Step 2 – Take some ristretto in an 8 oz. cup and pour the milk over it. When pouring the milk, pull the pitcher upwards to create a thin stream. When the cup is almost full, tilt the pitcher downwards so that the rest of the foam can fall into the cup. Do not let the foam sit on top of the drink but mix it carefully with the milk.


The flat white coffee is essentially a fancier and stronger version of a latte. Many consumers across North America find it difficult to differentiate between the two beverages. There are a few factors that help to differentiate the two, like the size and the microfoam, but since every coffee shop and every barista has their own way of preparing the beverage, the slight difference sometimes goes unnoticed. Nevertheless, the flat white coffee is a delicious mild-warm beverage that has fans all around the world.     

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