A flat white is a coffee drink comprised of coffee with microfoam, steamed milk, with a sleek, velvety consistency. However, it is akin to a latte, with less microfoam, allowing the coffee to dominate the flavor. Usually, the flat white is served in a ceramic cup with a saucer.

The beverage is a darkish brown color throughout the top of the drink. It also has several defining traits, like a thin layer of velvety microfoam. In addition, the layer is flat; that’s why it is called flat white, rather than the thicker layer of foam found in a traditional cappuccino.

A flat white coffee recipe base is one or two shots of espresso, and it’s crowned with micro foamed milk. In a standard mix, about 4.4 ounces of milk is sufficient to pull off the correct texture. However, it is necessary to remember that the flat white shouldn’t incorporate any froth, just foam.

Coffee Menu

Flat White vs. Latte

A flat white and latte are very different drinks not only in their taste but their size. A latte is typically available at around 240 ml, whereas a flat White is about 160 ml. Both beverages have an identical amount of coffee, but it still causes a significant contrast in each drink’s flavor. Thus, making the flat white a much stronger drink due. In addition, the latte is served with steamed milk. Therefore, it has foamed milk sitting on top.

The steamed milk in a flat white is more accurately known as ‘microfoam.’ 

Latte Recipe

  • Brew your preferred espresso
  • Warm 1½ cups of milk in a saucepan
  • Froth your milk
  • Pour the coffee into the mug
  • Pour the milk over the coffee
  • Hold some of the foam back with a spoon
  • Spoon the extra foam on top

Cortado vs. Flat White

Whenever someone needs extra caffeine, they order a double shot of espresso. The flat white and cortado are two classier versions of espresso beverages. Some have mistakenly thought that these two are the same drink, but that is not correct.

The flat white originated in Australia and included a double shot of espresso and micro-foamed milk. How the milk is foamed ensures each sip is velvety smooth. It’s a small latte served in small cups.

The Cortado comes from Spain. In Spanish, it means to cut. This refers to how the coffee is cut with an identical part of steamed milk. Although the difference may be very subtle, it’s all about the consistency of the milk. They have an equal amount of coffee, but the milk in a cortado isn’t textured. Mostly the cortado is smooth, while the flat white has a velvety texture and is thicker.

Cortado

Cortado Recipe

  • Pull two shots of espresso into a 4.5 ounce Libbey Duratuff Cortado / Gibraltar Rocks Glass.
  • Froth 2 ounces of lightly textured milk
  • Pour the milk into espresso (in your cup)

Flat White vs. Cappuccino 

A flat white and cappuccino ingredients are the same, but the preparation method is different. The cappuccino has a distribution of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Also, a cappuccino is distinctly layered.

Easy Cappuccino Recipe

  • Steam the milk. Put 1 cup of milk on the stove and heat it.
  • Whip the milk with a whisk or electric mixer, increasing the speed as the milk thickens until you get the desired consistency.
  • Add the coffee and mix it well.

Enjoy the cappuccino.

Starbuck’s Flat White

The Starbucks Flat White is an espresso beverage made with two ristretto shots, combined with a thin layer of velvety steamed whole milk and finished with a latte art dot. A ristretto shot delivers a sweeter, more intense coffee flavor.

Starbucks baristas perfectly steam milk into creamy micro-foam and carefully free pour to allow the espresso to rise to the top of the beverage for a bold coffee flavor with a sweeter finish. Starbucks Flat White joins the core menu line-up of espresso beverages like Caffé Americano, Caffé Latte, Cappuccino, Doppio Espresso, and Espresso Macchiato.

Would you like to order a super venti flat white drink, but you don’t have time to visit a cafe? No problem. The recipe below will enable you to whip one up.

  • Prepare 2 shots of espresso and pour into a mug. I suggest using an espresso machine.
  • Froth whole milk using a handheld frothing wand for about 20 seconds.
  • Pour your frothed milk into your mug, then focus on the middle of your mug. Pour faster until you see a dot in the middle.
  • If you’re feeling lucky, go ahead and try your hand at latte art. If not, enjoy your drink.

Starbuck’s Flat White

Holiday Spice Flat White

The Holiday Spice flat white is made with spices such as ground sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and tangerine. The “microfoam” is slightly dryer than the average flat white. It’s diffused but scrumptious. A Flat White kind of resembles a cappuccino in that its celebrity gamers are coffee and steamed milk.

  • Pull two short espresso ristretto shots.
  • Mix two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of tangerine zest, a pinch of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  • Steam 6 ounces of milk to make microfoam and warm milk.
  • Pour your espresso into your favorite coffee mug.
  • Mix in your spices from the bowl.
  • Add steamed milk and finally spoon microfoam on top.

Iced Flat White

This is one of those drinks where either you love it or hate it. For some, the Starbucks Iced flat white is not that great. Instead, it’s a chilly, milky, vaguely espresso-like thing with an aftertaste. For others, it’s perfect on a hot day.

The recipe for this coffee is as follows:

  • Place six or more ice cubes in a glass.
  • Prepare 2 shots of espresso and pour into your glass over the ice cubes.
  • Add 1 tbsp sugar and stir into the beverage.
  • Cold foam your milk by adding it to a milk foamer.
  •  Pour the cold foamed milk into the glass with the coffee.
  • Stir and drink up.

Blonde Flat White

Blonde coffee is a lighter roast made from Latin American and East African coffee beans that offers a sweet flavor. Starbucks’ authentic espresso is made with darkish roasted beans from Latin America and Asia/Pacific. It has a more potent flavor with caramel notes, even though the Blonde is mellower.

Wherever you go for a morning brew, three fundamental factors affect your brew’s flavor, intensity, and caffeine level. The blond white is an excellent beverage of Starbuck, and it’s absolutely in demand. You can make it with coconut milk or simple milk, but coconut milk adds more flavor.

Blonde Flat White Recipe

  • Heat 6 ounces of coconut milk on the stove until steamy.
  • Blend the milk with an electric hand mixer until foamy.
  • Pour your ristretto espresso coffee into your favorite mug.
  • Top it with your milk, including the milk foam. Stir the two ingredients.
  • Sweeten to flavor with sugar.

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The History of the Flat White

The famous, albeit controversial, flat white. Is it an Australian invention? Does it hail from New Zealand? Or maybe none of the above. One thing is for sure: it is delicious and gives the uber-popular latte a worthy rival. The flat white is an alternative, somewhat hipster version of the latte.

The earliest documented references to the beverage date back to Australia in the mid-1980s. A review of the Sydney café Miller’s Treat in May 1983 refers to their “flat white coffee.” Another Sydney newspaper article in April 1984 satirized a vogue caffe latte, stating that: “cafe latte translates as flat white.”

At Moors Espresso Bar in Sydney, Alan Preston added the beverage to his permanent menu in 1985. Preston claimed he had imported the idea to Sydney from his native Queensland. Cafes in the 1960s and 1970s had frequently offered “White Coffee – flat. “

Moors Espresso Bar in Sydney

Other documented references include the Parliament House cafeteria in Canberra putting up a sign in January 1985 saying “flat white only” during a seasonal problem with milk cows that prevented the milk foam from forming.

However, the origins of the flat white are contentious, with New Zealand also claiming its invention. The New Zealand claim originates in Auckland, New Zealand, by Derek Townsend and Darrell Ahlers of Cafe DKD, an alternative to the Italian latte. A second New Zealand claim originated from Wellington due to a “failed cappuccino” at Bar Bodega on Willis St in 1989.

Craig Miller, author of Coffee Houses of Wellington from 1939 to 1979, claims to have prepared a flat white in Auckland in the mid-1980s.

The flat white consists of espresso coffee topped by a very thin ‘flat’ (hence the name) layer of steamed milk.

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Origins Of Flat White Coffee: The Espresso Machine

Though we can’t be sure exactly how or when this drink appeared, we can guess thanks to some clues. First of all, it requires steamed milk; it’s rich in microfoam and silky. You must use an espresso machine to make the drink. Plus, the beverage was popularized in Australia and New Zealand around the 1970s.

Nowadays, you would want an espresso machine like these or learn about the best espresso machines:

Delonghi 15 Bar Pump Stainless Espresso Maker

Delonghi 15 Bar Pump Stainless Espresso Maker

Rancilio Silvia V6 Espresso Machine

Rancilio Silvia V6 Espresso Machine to make a flat white

It seems to have been in existence in Sydney, Australia, around that time. In addition, the oldest written records in existence point to a coffee shop in New Zealand. So it was making the drink before anybody else.

How To Make Flat White (recipe)

But the real secret is velvety, rich microfoam. The flat white is made with a double espresso shot, so it’s a more potent drink. Furthermore, the amount of milk is less than that used for a latte. You can only achieve the froth with skillful steaming of the milk.

Ingredients:

  • 60 ml espresso
  • 120 ml steamed milk

Instructions:

  1. Pull a double espresso shot in your coffee cup; set it aside.
  2. Pour 120ml of milk into a milk pitcher.
  3. Proceed to steam: the steam wand should be placed just an inch below the surface of the milk. The pitcher should be tilted slightly away from you towards the steam wand.
  4. Steam as long as you want to achieve the desired texture.
  5. Avoid any giant bubbles; the bubbles should be microscopic. A rich foam will form.
  6. Once done, jiggle the pitcher in a circular motion; use your wrist, not the whole arm.
  7. Tamp the milk pitcher gently against the surface of a table.
  8. Pour carefully right down the center of your coffee cup. The foam will mix with the coffee except for the center where you’re pouring, forming an inner white circle and an outer brown circle.
  9. Enjoy!

It is a drink that requires much more skill because it requires a level of steaming that one can only hope to accomplish after much practice.

The good thing is that, with all the advances in coffee gadgets, there’s plenty of options to help you achieve a similar result without an espresso machine. For example, hand frothers and pitchers automatically froth the milk, like the Jura Professional Fine Foam Frother.

And remember: it is neither a small latte nor a big cappuccino. It is a Flat White.

flat White

FAQs

Why is a flat white called that?
Coffee with milk was initially known as “white coffee,” and the milk foam flattened out. Well, that brilliant lad called their concoction “Flat White.”

What is in a flat white?
It is a coffee drink consisting of espresso with microfoam, aka steamed milk.

How many shots are in a flat white?
Typically there are two (2) shots of espresso. So, it is made with two ristretto shots, which are blended with a thin layer of velvety steamed milk. A ristretto shot delivers a sweeter, more bitter coffee taste.

Why is a flat white more expensive?
It doesn’t cost more to make than other coffees. What it does require is more skill to make it correctly. So, you get what you pay for.

What is a flat white called in America?
American’s call it a cappuccino. However, the two are not the same.

What does a flat white taste like?
It tastes like a more decadent espresso. It reflects a balance of milk and espresso with a smoother and stronger taste.

How many calories in a flat white?
A shot of coffee with steamed milk has 120 calories and 7 grams of fats. If you use skim milk, there is almost no fat.

How to make a flat white with Nespresso?
Add 1/3 coffee and 2/3 hot, gently frothed milk.

How much is a flat white at Starbucks?
It costs about $3.75.

How much caffeine in Starbucks flat White?
The caffeine is about 130 mg per 8 Fl oz.

Final Thoughts

The Flat White is a fantastic coffee. There are many ways to make flat coffee. For instance, you can make a blonde flat white, holiday spice, or Starbuck flat white with it. It has a more robust taste as compared to other coffees like latte and cappuccino. It’s the perfect drink to make, and it has incredible flavor.

Further Reading

Sources

https://www.jura.com/en/about-coffee/coffee-recipes/iced-flat-white
https://copykat.com/how-to-make-your-favorite-starbucks-flat-white/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_white

Avatar for Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.