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Flat White Coffee

When you walk into a specialty coffee shop, the menu may seem confusing especially if you are not familiar with the names that you see. One of the names that may catch your attention is flat white coffee. Even though the coffee is not very new in many specialty shops around the world, some people are not familiar with the coffee type, including its ingredients and how it is different from other popular blends such as latte or cappuccino.

In this article, we look at the origin of flat white coffee; the things that set it apart from other espresso-based coffees, the class of people that are crazy about it, and a guideline on how to make the coffee specialty from the comfort of your home.

What Is a Flat White Coffee?

What Is a Flat White Coffee

A flat white is an espresso-based coffee drink that has a glossy, velvety consistency of steamed milk with fine bubbles on top that make the most amazing microfoam. The milk that makes a flat white goes through a frothing and foaming process that helps to create a meniscus. The key to making a flat white different from other similar drinks like latte is the period it takes to hold the milk back to allow it to froth and foam.

Crema added to the meniscus adds to the uniformity of the darkish brown color that spreads across the top of the coffee drink. Fat white coffee connoisseurs allow the drink to stand for a while to allow the meniscus to thicken further and add that special texture with every sip. Another thing that makes the specialty coffee stand out is in the serving, which is a small ceramic cup on a saucer.

Origins of the Flat White


Not many people know about flat white coffee unless they are specialty coffee lovers, or they may have joined the Starbucks effect that continues to make flat white coffee popular. However, long before Starbucks and other coffee shops across the world joined the flat white bandwagon, the coffee speedily already had a home in both New Zealand and Australia.

There is still a lot of contention that surrounds the origin of flat white coffee, as some will tell you that its first home was Australia while others will insist it was New Zealand. Stories go that the coffee specialty first appeared in the market in Wellington New Zealand in 1989.

Stories go further to say that q barista by the name Fraser Mcinnes made the first flat white by mistake, as he was brewing a low-fat milk cappuccino that did not make broth as expected. The result that the barista got was just as impressive as a cappuccino but with flat features. He named the drink a flat white, and as they say, the rest is history.

A different story, still from New Zealand claims that Derek Townsend who owned café DKD in Auckland created the drink and named it flat white, a name he stole from a coffee café, located in Melbourne Australia. Australians too say that the coffee specialty is a creation of one Alan Preston who also named the drink as flat white from Sydney, Australia-moors espresso bar in 1985

Whether flat coffee came to us from down under, or the kiwi region, one thing we can all on is that it is an amazing addition to the fascinating world of coffee specialties.

Read our complete guide about the Where Does Coffee Come From

Who Drinks a Flat White?

Ever since flat white found its way in the Starbucks coffee brewing machines, the question could well go like this-who is not drinking a flat white? The drink has seen its fair share of devotees ever since it hit the small cups. In Australia and New Zealand, a flat white is a favorite for both the young and older generation.

Today's flat white fanatics are the younger crowd that appreciates the art that comes with great coffee and can tell the difference between a latte, cappuccino, and a flat white. It is especially popular with the cool crowd of East London and people that want something classier than what everyone drinks. It is for men with soft hands and well-groomed beards, for stylish women.

Flat white is for people buying into a lifestyle rather than tradition. In short, flat white is a small portion of class that makes one feel like they belong to a certain tribe. However, Starbucks is changing that with almost everyone asking for flat white as their coffee of choice, making it the choice coffee specialty for you and me.

What Is The Difference Between A Flat White & Cappuccino and a Latte?


Coffee has gone through many changes of brewing over the years. New techniques and aesthetics have replaced the classical coffee brewing methods of yesteryears to an emergence of new specialties. The most interesting part of the changes is that the new specialties all have a combination of coffee and milk.

The difference in the specialties, however, lies in the ratios of milk to coffee and the frothing and foaming processes. For anyone that does not know coffee well, a latte, cappuccino, and a flat white all look the same. They are all strong espresso-based coffees with frothed milk. However, for someone that knows their coffee, even without sipping their coffee, they can differentiate a cappuccino and latte from a flat white.

So, what makes them different?

Flat white vs. Cappuccino

A cappuccino is a coffee specialty that traces its origins to Italy. To make the best cappuccino, you need equal parts of espresso, frothed milk, and steamed milk. The ratio is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 frothed milk, and a 1/3 steamed milk. Cappuccino has drier foam than that of flat white, and the air bubbles are larger. With flat white, the foam is velvety, and the airy bubbles are barely visible on the microfoam. Both flat white and cappuccino servings are in a small cup that holds 150 to 180 MLS of the espresso.

Flat white vs. Latte

Latte has its origins in America. For the perfect latte, you need a 240 ml cup or glass with espresso and milk. A latte is best as a double shot, and you will need to fill the cup with a 1/3 of espresso and 2/3 of steamed milk, which amounts to between 170 and 225 MLS. A latte, which also goes by the name caffe latte, is just like a cappuccino but served in a bigger cup.

The foam on a flat white is smooth and silky, and you can choose to enjoy the best tasting espresso as a double or single shot. The milk layer, which has a 1 cm layer of frothed milk, creates a nice texture that gives the drink a special beautiful appearance. While making your latte, you need a spoon to prevent the milk from mixing with the espresso. The size of the cup, the amount of frothy milk, and art that goes into making the drinks are all the factors that make a latte and a flat white different.

Flat White Coffee Calories

Numerous research findings over the years show that drinking coffee comes with several health benefits. However, coffee has seen many changes, and today, many people prefer specialty blends that come with a combination of coffee, milk, and sugar. The health benefits come from caffeine and not milk or sugar.

Milk and sugar contain high levels of calories that may not go with some people's health. However, the amount of milk and sugar in a cup may make all the difference between too much and just right. Flat white comes in a small serve, which means that you will not consume too many calories or fat.

Espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk that go into making a flat white are all equal in measurement. In a single-serve of the specialty coffee drink, you get 120 calories and 7 grams fat. If you swap the flat white to skin the milk, you will get 70 calories and almost zero fat content.

How To Make a Flat White Coffee

You can enjoy the craze of flat white coffee by making it from the comfort of your home. The following recipe should help you with making the espresso like a barista and enjoy the same as everyone else buying it from Starbucks and other coffee houses.

What you need

  • One espresso pod or 18 grams ground espresso
  • 100 ml of milk
  • One small cup with a capacity of 150 ml to 200 ml
  • Espresso making machine


  1. Using the espresso machine, make 35 ml of espresso and pour the contents into the base of your flat white cup
  2. Use the steamer attachment of the espresso machine to steam the milk to get 1 to 2 centimeters of foam. Hold the milk jug with the spout 3 to 4 cm away from the cup, and carefully and steadily, pour the steamed and frothy milk into the cup with espresso.
  3. Aim the milk to the centre of the cup and as volume increases, put the jug spout very near the cup surface.
  4. Once your jug spout is next to the surface of the cup, tilt it slightly to speed up the pour rate. The pour rate acceleration will force the milk to start folding naturally, as it hits the back of the cup.
  5. You will notice a pattern created by the folding milk n top of the cup.

Other facts






How possible is it to make a great tasting flat white without the help of an espresso machine?

A flat white is an espresso-based coffee drink served with steamed frothy milk on top. The get the milk to be foamy and frothy, you need a steamer and espresso needs a special machine to give the coffee its specialty. Do not beat yourself up if you do not have an espresso machine to make a flat white, as you can substitute by using an Aeropress or a Moka pot.

For the milk, you can use the French press frothing method or use a handheld milk frother. When you use the alternatives to an espresso machine, you may not get the perfect flat white, but with practice, you will manage to get something very close to the real flat white.

How does Starbucks make their flat white coffee?

Flat white is one of the most ambitious coffee specialties in Starbucks and tops the list of the most sought after coffee blend. The Starbucks flat white does not taste any different from the Australian or New Zealand blend. The baristas give the coffee a great amount of attention in creating a drink that everyone craves.

The baristas make flat white with two shots o ristretto and top it up with a thin layer of whole steamed, velvety milk. They finish the flat white art with a dot on top of the frothy milk. The baristas perfect their art by steaming the milk into creamy microfoam before pouring it slowly and carefully into the cup. The move allows the espresso at the bottom to rise to the top for a sweeter and bolder finish.

Why does flat white coffee cost more than other espressos?

Though flat white has no reason to be more expensive than other coffee blends, it costs more in many coffee outlets. Flat whites come with less milk than lattes and cappuccinos, which begs the question of why it should cost more. If anything, a flat white should be cheaper than the two, the only explanation possible for the hike in the cost is that flat white intake is synonymous with high street and the East London lifestyle considered as "cool".

Another explanation for the high cost could be because it takes more skill to texture flat white milk. The milk in a flat white should have a microfoam consistency, which means that the aerating process is more delicate than that of latte or cappuccino. Flat white is not just any other coffee, but a lifestyle served mostly in specialty coffee outlets.

Wrapping it up

No other coffee blend has so much mystery surrounding its origin than flat white does. The velvety smooth drink caught the world by storm with everyone wanting a sip of the mysterious drink. Probably the thing that makes the drink so popular is that it originated from Down Under or the Kiwi land as stories go and not from Italy where many of the coffee specialties originate from, to make their way into specialty coffee shops.

Whatever the case, we all have to agree that flat white is a great way to enjoy the real taste of caffeine as it comes with less milk than its counterparts do. What is even better is that you can become your barista and prepare the same from the comfort of your home. All you need are the ingredients, practice, and the love for creating art. Preparing your flat white at home will save from the high cost of the specialty coffee brew, as it is one of the most expensive coffees selling in specialty coffee shops.

We hope you got everything you need to know about flat white from this article. If you gave any questions, or want to add anything, kindly reach out to us by filling the form below, and we will get back to you.


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