Flat White vs Latte
- What's the Difference?

If you have ever wondered “What is a flat white?” and how it differs from a traditional latte - this article is for you.

When at a coffee shop, you often think about how different a flat white can be from a latte when they both have a shot of espresso and some milk. And when it is your turn to order, you might randomly select a drink. Now is the time to change that.

A flat white is an espresso drink that contains steamed milk. It is a popular choice for anyone who wants a dairy drink with a strong coffee flavor. The word “latte” is much older than its acquired popularity in the 1980s, and the idea to add warm milk for coffee existed even before that.

The preparation and distribution of the milk in flat white distinguish it from a traditional latte. The goal is to maximize the amount of velvety and foaming powder based on forming a liquid milk bubble. A knowledgeable barista will swirl milk around to make the steamed fermentation complete and ready for pouring.

Keep reading to learn more about the two most requested drinks - a flat white and a latte, and how you can prepare them at home.

What Is a Latte?

What is a Latte

Latte's Foam is much thicker than a Flat White's

A latte is a coffee drink made by steaming milk and espresso shots and using them to create a layer of foam on top. It usually has one or two shots of espresso. The word “latte” is also derived from the Italian “caffè e latte,” which translates as “coffee and milk.” It used to be a milky drink topped with one espresso shot, while now baristas pour milk into coffee. In contrast, if you want a stronger beverage, then a flat white is better for you because it has a bigger coffee to milk ratio and two espresso shots served with foamed milk.

Latte art is the most popular design created by pouring steamed or cold milk into espresso. It is loved by every customer, and a skilled barista can create sophisticated patterns special for you. The designs can involve anything from flowers to faces, and sometimes even animals like dogs, cats, and bears.

How to Prepare a Latte at Home?

In order to make a silky latte cup of coffee, you need:

There are a few easy steps to follow:

step 1

Make one espresso shot.

step 2

Froth 8 oz of whole milk until you see a foamy texture with bubbles.

step 3

Slowly pour the frothed milk into your espresso shot and leave a good layer of foam on the top. When pouring, experiment with latte art and try to create a lovely pattern.

step 4


If you like sweeter lattes, you can purchase coffee syrups and diversify a creamy flavor. Note that syrup should be added when making an espresso shot in order to dissolve the sweetener.

What Is a Flat White?

What is flat white

Latte Art on a Cup of Flat White

A flat white is a coffee beverage prepared by adding steamed milk to a double shot of espresso. Microfoam contains steaming milk gently compressed into the air, resulting in silky milk with a soft texture filled with tiny air bubbles.

If done correctly, the flat white can be absolutely delicious and, if used as a way to show off the inherent flavor of coffee in milk beverages. Baristas would add only a thin sheet of foam onto a flat white to prevent distraction because of different textures.

Like a latte, flat white coffees gained their popularity around the 1980s and were first drunk in either Australia or New Zealand. One of the options of espresso-based coffees was a latte or a cappuccino, and the latter had a thick layer of milk foam. Thus, to make it more similar to a regular cup of instant coffee, a flat white was invented with just a thin layer of textured milk. Although there are other theories concerning the creation of flat whites. Nevertheless, the taste of thinner microfoam became more enhanced and delicious. 

Thanks to the growing popularity of flat whites over cappuccinos, the recipe was borrowed by the most famous coffee shops like Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero, and others. Later on, it was added to their permanent menus. The first coffee shop to add a flat white in the USA was Starbucks in 2015.

How to Prepare a Flat White at Home?

In order to make an aromatic cup of flat white coffee at home, you need the following:

Once everything is ready, follow these easy step-by-step instructions on how to make a flat white:

step 1

Grind coffee beans and make two strong shots of espresso.

step 2

Froth 4 oz of whole milk with a steam wand until velvety texture.

step 3

Keep swirling a cup of espresso and milk to remove any excess bubbles separately. Then slowly pour steamed milk into espresso shots to create a flat milk layer.

step 4

Taste and enjoy your cup of flat white!

If you are new to making flat whites, you can learn how to do latte art with steamed milk after a couple of cups. Start with something easy as lines and dots, and improve your skills in creating other patterns.

What Is the Difference Between Lattes and Flat Whites?

Both coffees are dairy-based and require at least one espresso shot. However, the differences lie in the quality of beans, the technique of frothing milk, which is added to espresso, and their ratio. There are a few differences between a latte and a flat white:

Espresso Shots

The main difference between a flat white and a latte is the ratio of milk to coffee. A latte can be prepared with one or two shots of espresso when a flat white coffee has a double shot of espresso as a rule.

Coffee Strength

If you favor specialty coffee drinks, a flat white is an excellent dairy-based alternative to a latter as less milk is used. And if you prefer less caffeine and a softer taste, then ask your barista to prepare you a foamy cup of latte coffee.

Cup Size

A latte and a flat white are served in different cups, too. A latte comes in an 8-12 oz cup and a flat white in a 5 or 6 oz ceramic cup. Note that various coffee shops make a latte and a flat white differently. That is why you can always ask a barista how they tend to prepare a cup of silky coffee.

Amount of Steamed Milk

Traditionally, a latte has more milk and a bigger froth layer than a flat white, while a flat white is served with less milk and a very thin foam sheet. Regardless of the amount, it is crucial that you froth the milk properly until it is creamy and silky - this gives your coffee an incredible taste and flavor. Simply heating the milk will not do the job.

Final Thoughts

Next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, you will know better the difference between iconic coffee drinks like a flat white and a latte. Both have simple recipes and only require essential ingredients. You can quickly master your skills and make a flat white or a latte at home effortlessly. A strong wake-up coffee is a critical part of the morning routine.

Follow the recipes in the article to prepare a flavorful and tasty cup of coffee and create any kind of art with foamy milk. At Coffee or Bust, you can find some of the best milk frothers, aromatic espresso beans, and other equipment with detailed reviews and ratings. We work hard to provide you with many high-quality and affordable coffee products to make your decision-making effortless and your coffee outstandingly delicious.

About the Author Greg Haver

Hey there, my name is Greg and I'm the creator and editor of Coffee or Bust. I've been in the coffee business for over a decade, and my goal is to help you make the best cup of coffee with recommended tips, tools, and tricks!