What is a flat white?

Flat White is a well-known preparation and, in many cases, one of the most traditional. Ordering a Flat White can be a useful resource if you are in a foreign country and don’t want to risk the waiter misinterpreting your indications about the amount of coffee and milk you want. If we had to reference its proportions, the traditional Macchiato here could be a reasonably equivalent drink.

As we’ll see below, a latte and a Flat White are not the same (nor is a cappuccino). Let’s see it in detail.

What is flat white?

Flat White is a coffee made with two espressos, a little milk and a thin layer of emulsified milk on top. The layer of milk mustn’t be too abundant because Flat White refers to “flat coffee“, and the “flat” is the white part: the milk foam.

Ingredients of a Flat White:

  • Two espressos (no regular coffee).
  • Milk foam, or emulsified milk, it can be served with a little milk first, but the final layer has to be foam and very thin.

By crowning the double espresso with a thin layer of milk, we have the opportunity to decorate our Flat White by practising the increasingly widespread latte art (which you could never do if what you pour in the cup is not frothed milk).

And after this theory, more or less accepted worldwide, come the variations and the controversy. It is commonplace throughout the coffee world, and Flat White doesn’t get away with it either.

In this specific case, there are various recipes for Flat White. For example, specific public sectors (especially in Australia, their country of origin) prefer it only with a single espresso, not with a double espresso. Another popular variation is to prepare a Flat White with two ristrettos instead of two espressos.

flat white

Related: Who, when and where the coffee maker was invented?

How is a flat white different from a cappuccino?

Amidst all the controversy and disagreement, there is one thing we can say for sure about Flat White:

The main difference between Flat White and other drinks like latte or cappuccino is that Flat White has much less milk. It is a much more concentrated coffee drink, perfect for espresso lovers.

Flat white vs latte

Flat White and a latte don’t have much to do with it. Latte is made (more or less) with 50% coffee and 50% milk.

The differences between Flat White and Latte are clear: Flat White has a much higher proportion of coffee. It must also be topped with a layer of milk foam.

Flat white vs macchiato

As we said at the beginning, if we talk about proportions, maybe Macchiato coffee is the drink that can be most similar to Flat White. However, the essential difference is again the milk foam served on top of the latter.

Flat white vs cappuccino

If you see them already served in a cup, with latte art on top, you might not be able to tell the difference. However, if you ask the barista, you will know the answer immediately: Flat White has much less milk foam than a cappuccino.

Flat white vs latte macchiato

It is precisely the Latte Macchiato and Cappucino that are, in a way, to blame for the invention of Flat White in the 1980s. Those who did not like milk and foam in lattes asked for a “Flat White”, meaning that the milk layer was thin. This way, they could taste and appreciate the taste of coffee much better.

How do you prepare a real flat white?

We have already told you what the ingredients of Flat White are, but now it’s time to get down to business. To find out how to make a proper Flat White, watch this video tutorial to find out more about the process:

Who invented the flat white?

Flat White is a drink that originated in Oceania in the 1980s. There is an intense dispute between Australians and New Zealanders over the authorship and origin of this preparation. Still, no consensus has been reached on this issue in our time.

So we will leave it in the air and say that Flat White was invented on the oceanic continent when some users began to order lattes and cappuccinos without much milk foam. And colloquially used the name “Flat White” to express this request.