Flat White vs Latte Unveiling Key Differences

latte vs flat white

Every wondered what the main differences are between a Flat White and Latte? Then dive into our exploration of the specific tastetexture, and preparation methods that distinguish a flat white from a latte

Finding your ideal coffee depends on understanding the nuanced differences in flavour and texture between these drinks.

This guide examines the texturemilk ratio, milk foam and flavour profile of both beverages, guiding you to make an informed and excellent coffee choice.

Continue reading to gain expert knowledge about your favourite café drinks.

Flat White

Whilst classic espresso drinks are prevalent worldwide, the flat white stands out as a particularly popular choice among coffee lovers.

Let’s explain what a flat white is, how baristas perfect this smooth beverage, and explore its fascinating origin.

What is a Flat White?

Flat White is an espresso based drink, notable for its unique composition and method of preparation. The drink combines a double shot of espresso with steamed milk, resulting in a smooth, velvety texture.

The key to its distinctive taste is the fine microfoam that blends seamlessly with the espresso, enhancing the rich flavour without dominating it. In contrast to other espresso coffee drinks, the Flat White offers a balanced one-to-one milk to espresso ratio, yielding a stronger coffee taste than milkier alternatives.

Typically served in a 165ml (5.5oz) cup, the Flat White’s small size helps preserve the delicate balance between espresso and milk.

How is a Flat White Made?

Baristas meticulously use the espresso machine steam wand to heat the milk, crafting a perfect flat white. The goal is to produce a microfoam that strikes a balance between airiness and liquidity. Baristas then carefully pour the steamed milk over a double shot of espresso, blending it smoothly into the coffee.

When executed correctly, this method yields a coffee with a rich, creamy texture and subtle sweetness that complements the robust flavour.

Every sip showcases the barista’s expertise, from selecting the right coffee beans to precisely texturising the milk.

History of the Flat White

The flat white’s history is marked by an international dispute over its origin, with both Australia and New Zealand laying claim to its creation in the 1980s. This period was notable for the espresso revolution, as people shifted away from instant coffee.

As it gained popularity, the flat white became emblematic of the specialty coffee movement, attracting those in search of a more intense espresso experience than traditional lattes or cappuccinos.

Since its inception, the flat white has entered the global coffee lexicon, featuring on cafe menus from the UK to Italy, the USA, and beyond.

Its presence often sparks debates about the essence of an authentic flat white.

What is a Latte?

Latte is an espresso-based beverage renowned for its creamy texture and mild coffee flavour. The latte blends a double espresso shot with steamed milk, offering a softer coffee experience.

In a latte, the milk tempers the espresso’s strength, resulting in a balanced flavour. Lattes are commonly crowned with a layer of microfoam, perfect for creating latte art.

Typically, lattes are presented in larger glass cups compared to other espresso drinks, indicative of their higher milk content.

How is a Latte Made?

Barista expertly begins their craft with a quality double shot of espresso, forming the latte’s robust foundation. The latte is then layered with frothed milk to achieve a velvety consistency.

A thin blanket of micro foam graces the top, serving as a canvas for intricate latte art. Transforming whole milk into silky micro foam is crucial, as this steaming process imparts the latte’s hallmark texture.

Using semi skimmed milk yields a lighter mouthfeel, suitable for those who prefer a less rich texture. Each step in crafting a latte is deliberate, ensuring a cohesive and inviting experience.

History of the Latte

Originating from Italian tradition, the term ‘latte‘, meaning milk, indicates its Italian origins. However, it was the Californian twist at Caffe Mediterraneum in the 1950s that transformed it into the modern caffè latte enjoyed today. This adaptation emerged as a response to those seeking a less intense alternative to the traditional cappuccino.

The latte, crafted in its Mediterranean cradle, has journeyed globally, evolving and gaining widespread acceptance. The latte has evolved into a canvas for flavour innovation, from its classic form to variations like a caramel drizzle.

More than just coffee, the latte is a versatile drink that has become an integral part of coffee cultures worldwide.

Differences Between Flat White and Latte

flat white is not merely a smaller version of a latte; it’s an entirely distinctive coffee beverage. Fundamentally, a flat white combines a double shot of rich espresso with velvety steamed milk, creating a harmonious blend. 

Its distinctiveness lies in the specific milk to espresso ratio and the finely textured milk used.

Milk Ratio

The Milk Ratio serves as a defining trait between these two drinks. In a flat white, the focus is on achieving a balance between espresso and milk to highlight the espresso’s natural sweetness. A flat white typically features a one-to-one ratio of espresso to milk, rendering it less milky compared to a latte.

In contrast, a latte indulges in a higher milk content, with a one to three ratio of milk to espresso, leading to a milder coffee flavour.

Texture and Consistency

The key to the texture and consistency of these beverages is the method of milk preparation. Contrasting with a latte’s pronounced froth, a flat white features micro foam finely integrated with the espresso, providing a silky consistency that enhances the coffee’s inherent flavours.

A genuine flat white maintains a strict cup size, usually no more than 6 oz, to preserve the balance between milk and espresso. In crafting a flat white, baristas strive to create micro foam – milk steamed to a silky consistency with fine bubbles, giving the drink a velvety texture.

Lattes feature a more airy foam atop the drink, contrasting with the creamier milk beneath.

Coffee to Milk Ratio

Further examination of the Coffee to Milk Ratio sheds light on the distinct identities of these drinks. The flat white features a higher concentration of espresso, a result of its limited milk content.

Lattes, with their increased milk content, naturally dilute the espresso, resulting in a softer coffee experience.

This coffee to milk ratio affects both the flavour and the caffeine content in each serving.

Serving Size

Serving size marks another significant difference between these two drinks. Typically, a flat white is served in a smaller cup, about 165ml (5.5oz), complementing its strong espresso character.

In contrast, lattes are served in larger vessels, typically 240ml (8oz) or more, to accommodate their higher milk volume, which defines their character.

What’s Healthier Flat White or Latte?

The health debate between a flat white and a latte centres on their constituents. Generally, a flat white contains fewer calories and less fat because of its smaller quantity of milk.

However, choosing a plant-based milk alternative can bring the nutritional profiles of both drinks closer together. It’s crucial to factor in your dietary preferences and requirements in this choice.

Is a Flat White Stronger than a Latte?

In terms of strength, whether a flat white is stronger than a latte depends on the bean and the brew. A flat white, with its higher espresso proportion, delivers a more intense coffee flavor and a greater caffeine punch per ounce. Lattes, known for their mildness, are ideal for those preferring a gentler coffee experience.

Each drink maintains its unique character, defined by precise recipes, ratios, serving sizes, and the state of the milk. Choosing between a bold flat white or a creamy latte, you engage in a ritual that resonates both personally and universally among coffee enthusiasts.

Every sip is an interpretation of a rich history and a tradition of taste that has evolved across continents and coffee houses.

Which One Should You Choose?

For coffee fans, deciding between a flat white, and a latte presents a delightful dilemma. Each beverage provides a distinct coffee experience, characterised by its milk ratio, texture, and espresso strength.

Consider your personal taste preference when choosing between the strong coffee presence of a flat white and the mellow texture of a latte. Your choice might depend on whether you prefer a stronger espresso flavour or the creaminess of additional milk.

Your choice might also depend on the occasion; a morning kick-start suits a flat white’s boldness, while an afternoon treat pairs well with the soothing qualities of a latte.

Why Is a Flat White More Expensive Than a Latte?

In terms of cost, the flat white is often pricier than the latte. This higher cost is because of the precision needed for crafting a flat white. Baristas need to skilfully produce a velvety micro foam, a task requiring greater expertise, thus justifying the higher price. 

Additionally, the flat white’s double-shot espresso requires a top-quality coffee bean for its robust flavour, contributing to its cost. 

Speciality coffee shops value these beans highly for their superior taste profiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you stir a flat white?

No, a flat white should not be stirred. The drink is crafted by carefully pouring micro foam milk into a shot of espresso in a way that it naturally mixes. Stirring can disrupt the intended texture and blend of the coffee.

Is a flat white a milky coffee?

Yes, a flat white is considered a milky coffee. It is made with a shot of espresso and micro foam – a velvety blend of steamed milk and fine, small bubbles.

Is a skinny latte a flat white?

No, a skinny latte is not the same as a flat white. A skinny latte is typically made with low-fat milk, whereas a traditional flat white uses whole milk for a richer taste and creamier texture.

Is a cappuccino a flat white?

No, a cappuccino is not a flat white. A cappuccino has equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth, often topped with a sprinkling of cocoa powder or cinnamon, while a flat white has a higher proportion of coffee to milk and micro foam without the frothy layer on top.

Why is flat white considered the best coffee by some?

Many consider the flat white superior because it offers a stronger espresso flavour balanced with creamy milk, resulting in a more harmonious and consistent taste throughout the drink compared to other coffee types.


Choosing between a flat white and a latte hinges on one’s preference for coffee strength and milk texture. Opt for a flat white if you favour a bold espresso taste complemented by smooth milk. Conversely, a latte suits those desiring a gentler coffee with a creamy feel.

To identify your preferred brew, sample both. Whether it’s the richness of a flat white or the subtlety of a latte, your ideal coffee experience is ready to be discovered.

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