What is a Flat White? – A Delicious Guide for Coffee Lovers

Are you wondering what is a flat white? Many coffee lovers have heard of this trendy espresso-based drink, but few know the history behind it or how to make one. Here we’ll answer your questions about the flat white: where did it come from and what does it taste like?

We’ll also give tips on how to make the perfect cup yourself with just a few ingredients. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this guide to mastering the creamy caffeinated treat that everyone’s talking about – the flat white.

Table of Contents

What is a Flat White Coffee and Where Does It Come From?

 what is a flat white

A flat white is a popular espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Australia or New Zealand. It is made with a double shot of espresso and steamed milk, with a microfoam texture that is smoother and silkier than a latte. The milk is heated to a temperature between 130-150°F (55-65°C) to create a velvety texture and poured over the espresso shot. The resulting drink has a strong and rich flavor with a creamy texture.

The origins of the flat white are somewhat disputed, but it is generally believed to have originated in Australia or New Zealand in the 1980s or 1990s. Some believe it was created in Australia by combining the techniques of a cappuccino and a latte, while others credit New Zealand with its creation.

Regardless of its exact origin, the flat white has become a popular coffee drink around the world, particularly in countries with strong coffee cultures such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Its popularity is due to its rich and creamy taste, as well as its simple yet elegant preparation.

How Is It Different From Other Coffees?

The flat white is different from other coffee drinks in several ways. Here are some of the key differences:

  • Espresso: Like other espresso-based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos, a flat white is made with a double shot of espresso. However, the ratio of milk to espresso in a flat white is different, resulting in a stronger and more concentrated coffee flavor.
  • Milk: The milk used in a flat white is steamed to a velvety texture with a microfoam consistency, which is smoother and silkier than the frothy milk used in a cappuccino. This creates a more uniform and creamy texture in the drink.
  • Size: A flat white is typically served in a smaller cup than a latte or cappuccino, typically around 5-6 ounces. This smaller serving size allows the coffee flavor to shine through and gives the drink a stronger taste.
  • Flavor: Because of the strong espresso and velvety milk, a flat white has a rich and creamy flavor that is distinct from other coffee drinks. It is less sweet than a latte but smoother than a cappuccino.

Overall, the flat white is a unique and delicious coffee drink that stands out from other espresso-based beverages. Its rich and creamy flavor and velvety texture make it a favorite among coffee lovers around the world.

How to Make an Authentic Flat White: Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to making an authentic flat white coffee:


– Double shot of espresso

– Whole milk (or your preferred milk alternative)


– Espresso machine

– Milk steaming pitcher

– Thermometer

– Coffee cup


  1. Begin by preheating your cup by filling it with hot water. This will help to keep your coffee hot for longer and prevent it from cooling down too quickly.
  2. Next, prepare a double shot of espresso using your espresso machine. Make sure to use fresh, high-quality coffee beans and grind them finely.
  3. Pour the espresso shot into your preheated cup and set it aside.
  4. In a milk steaming pitcher, pour in enough cold milk to fill about 2/3 of the pitcher. Use whole milk for the best results, as it will create the creamiest and most velvety texture. However, you can also use your preferred milk alternative if you prefer.
  5. Place the steam wand of your espresso machine into the pitcher, submerging it just below the surface of the milk. Turn on the steam wand and begin steaming the milk, keeping the wand at a slight angle to create a swirling motion.
  6. As you steam the milk, keep an eye on the temperature using a thermometer. The ideal temperature for steamed milk is between 130-150°F (55-65°C). Once the milk reaches this temperature, turn off the steam wand.
  7. Give the milk pitcher a few firm taps on a hard surface to eliminate any large air bubbles, and then swirl the milk gently to create a smooth, silky texture.
  8. Pour the steamed milk over the espresso in the cup, using a spoon to hold back the foam. Pour until the cup is nearly full, leaving just enough room for a thin layer of microfoam on top.
  9. Finally, use a spoon to scoop out a small amount of the microfoam from the pitcher and gently pour it over the surface of the drink, creating a thin layer of foam on top.
  10. Serve immediately and enjoy your delicious and authentic flat white coffee!

Note: The key to making a great flat white is in the milk steaming process. It’s important to create a velvety and creamy texture that is smoother and silkier than a latte. With practice and patience, you can perfect your milk steaming technique and create a delicious flat white every time.

Benefits of Enjoying a Flat White Coffee – From Taste to Health

There are several benefits of enjoying a flat white coffee, both in terms of taste and health. Here are some of the key benefits:

– Rich and Creamy Flavor: The velvety texture of the steamed milk in a flat white creates a smooth and creamy flavor that is distinct from other coffee drinks. The double shot of espresso also provides a strong and rich coffee flavor, making it a delicious and satisfying drink.

– Lower Calorie Count: A flat white typically contains less milk than a latte or cappuccino, which means it has a lower calorie count. This makes it a good option for those who want to enjoy a coffee drink without consuming too many calories.

– Boost of Energy: The caffeine in a double shot of espresso can provide a quick and effective boost of energy, helping to improve focus and concentration. It can also help to enhance athletic performance and reduce fatigue.

– May Improve Cognitive Function: Studies have suggested that caffeine consumption can help to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and reaction time. However, it’s important to consume caffeine in moderation and be aware of any potential negative side effects.

– May Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases: Some studies have suggested that coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed to fully understand these potential health benefits.

Health Considerations When Drinking a Flat White Coffee

While there are potential health benefits associated with drinking a flat white coffee, there are also some health considerations to keep in mind. Here are some of the potential health risks and considerations when drinking a flat white:

– Caffeine Intake: A double shot of espresso contains a high amount of caffeine, which can lead to negative side effects such as restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. It’s important to be mindful of your caffeine intake and consume flat whites in moderation.

– Added Sugar and Calories: Some coffee shops may add sugar or flavored syrups to flat whites, which can increase the calorie count and contribute to weight gain. It’s important to be aware of the added sugar and calorie content of your flat white and choose options with less added sugar.

– Dairy Sensitivity: Flat whites are typically made with whole milk, which may not be suitable for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. Alternative milk options such as soy, almond, or oat milk can be used as a substitute.

– Acid Reflux: The high acidity of coffee can exacerbate acid reflux symptoms in some people. If you experience acid reflux, it’s best to limit your coffee consumption or try a low-acid coffee option.

– Interference with Medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics and antidepressants, can interact with caffeine and affect their effectiveness. If you are taking medication, it’s important to consult with your doctor before consuming caffeine.

Pairing Food with a Delicious Flat White Coffee

Pairing food with a delicious flat white coffee can enhance the flavors of both the coffee and the food, creating a more enjoyable and satisfying experience. Here are some food pairing suggestions that can complement the rich and creamy flavor of a flat white:

1. Pastries

The rich and creamy flavor of flat white pairs well with a variety of pastries, such as croissants, biscuits, muffins, scones, or danishes. The sweetness and buttery flavors of these pastries can balance out the bold coffee flavor and create a delicious contrast.

2. Breakfast Sandwiches

A flat white can also pair well with breakfast sandwiches, such as bacon, egg, and cheese or avocado and tomato. The savory and salty flavors of the sandwich can complement the coffee’s richness and provide a satisfying breakfast option.

3. Chocolate

The creamy and chocolatey flavor of a flat white can also pair well with chocolate, such as chocolate croissants or chocolate truffles. The sweetness of the chocolate can balance out the bold coffee flavor and create a delicious and indulgent treat.

4. Cheese

The creamy and velvety texture of a flat white can also pair well with cheese, such as a cheese plate or a grilled cheese sandwich. The richness of the cheese can complement the coffee’s creaminess and create a satisfying snack or light meal.

5. Fruit

The sweetness and acidity of fresh fruit can also pair well with a flat white, such as berries, bananas, or citrus fruits. The freshness and lightness of the fruit can balance out the richness of the coffee and provide a refreshing contrast.

Tips for Making the Perfect Flat White Every Time

Making the perfect flat white can take some practice and experimentation, but here are some tips to help you achieve consistent and delicious results every time:

  • Use Fresh and High-Quality Coffee Beans: The quality of the coffee beans you use is critical to the flavor of your flat white. Choose fresh and high-quality coffee beans that are specifically designed for espresso-based drinks.
  • Grind Your Coffee Beans Fresh: For the best flavor and aroma, grind your coffee beans fresh just before brewing. Use a high-quality burr grinder to achieve a consistent grind size.
  • Steaming Milk: Steaming the milk to a velvety texture with a microfoam consistency is key to creating the perfect flat white. Use a milk steaming pitcher and a thermometer to achieve the ideal temperature of 130-150°F (55-65°C).
  • Pouring Technique: When pouring the steamed milk into the espresso shot, pour slowly and steadily to achieve a smooth and consistent texture. Use a spoon to hold back the foam and pour until the cup is nearly full, leaving just enough room for a thin layer of microfoam on top.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Making the perfect flat white takes practice and experimentation. Be patient and keep trying until you find the perfect combination of coffee beans, milk, and pouring technique that suits your taste preferences.
  • Clean Your Equipment Regularly: To ensure the best flavor and hygiene, it’s important to clean your espresso machine, milk steaming pitcher, and other equipment regularly. This will help to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other contaminants and ensure that your flat white tastes its best.
  • Choose the Right Cup: The size and shape of the cup you use can also impact the flavor and texture of your flat white. Choose a small, thick-walled cup that can hold heat well and showcase the rich color and velvety texture of your flat white.
  • Experiment with Milk Alternatives: While whole milk is the traditional choice for a flat white, you can also experiment with alternative milk options such as soy, almond, or oat milk. Each type of milk will create a slightly different flavor and texture, so it’s worth trying different options to find your favorite.
  • Be Mindful of Serving Size: While a flat white is typically smaller than other coffee drinks, it still contains caffeine and calories. Be mindful of your serving size and try to limit your consumption to one or two servings per day.

Creative Ways to Enjoy Your Flat White – From Recipes to Toppings 

While a flat white is delicious on its own, there are many creative ways to enjoy this coffee drink. Here are some ideas for how to spice up your flat white:

Add a Flavored Syrup

Adding flavored syrup to your flat white can add a delicious twist to the classic coffee drink. Try adding a pump of vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut syrup to your flat white for a sweet and indulgent treat.

Make it Iced

A flat white can also be enjoyed as an iced coffee drink. Simply pour your steamed milk and espresso over ice, and stir to combine. You can also add a splash of cold milk or cream to make it even creamier.

Add Spices

Adding spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom to your flat white can add a warm and comforting flavor. Simply sprinkle a pinch of your favorite spice on top of your flat white before serving.

Make a Flat White Latte

A flat white latte is a delicious twist on the classic flat white. Simply add an extra shot of espresso and more steamed milk to create a larger and creamier coffee drink.

Add Toppings

Adding toppings such as whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or caramel drizzle to your flat white can make it an even more indulgent treat. Simply add your desired toppings to the top of your flat white before serving.

Make a Flat White Smoothie

Yes, you can even turn your flat white into a smoothie! Blend together chilled espresso, steamed milk, ice, and a banana or other fruit of your choice for a creamy and delicious coffee smoothie.

Make a Flat White Pudding

Mix together instant pudding mix, espresso, and milk for a delicious and unique twist on pudding. Top with whipped cream or chocolate shavings for an extra indulgent treat.

Add a Twist of Lemon

Adding a twist of lemon to your flat white can add a bright and refreshing flavor. Simply add a small piece of lemon peel to the top of your flat white before serving.

Make a Flat White Affogato

An affogato is a traditional Italian dessert that consists of a scoop of ice cream topped with a shot of espresso. To make a flat white affogato, simply pour your flat white over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a creamy and delicious dessert.


In conclusion, it’s clear that the flat white is here to stay! From its humble beginnings in Australia and New Zealand, it has spread to coffeehouses all over the world. If you want a delicious and intense espresso-based coffee with velvety steamed milk and microfoam then the flat white is for you. You’ll be surprised by how beautiful it can look and especially how great it tastes! As a head barista at my local coffee shop, I definitely recommend giving it a try. Who knows? It just might become your favorite drink! So if you’ve ever wondered what is a flat white or haven’t been able to find an answer, hopefully, this blog post helped clarify any confusion. Now go out there and get sipping on those delightful flat whites!


Why is it becoming more popular?

Flat whites are becoming increasingly popular because of their intense flavor and velvety texture. The rich espresso and creamy milk create an indulgent drink that appeals to those looking for a truly luxurious coffee experience.

What’s the difference between a flat white and a cappuccino?

The main difference between a flat white and a cappuccino is the milk. A flat white uses less foam than a cappuccino, giving it a creamier texture and a higher espresso-to-milk ratio. A flat white also typically uses microfoam instead of regular steamed milk, giving it an even smoother finish.

What are the differences between a flat white and a latte?

The main difference between a flat white and a latte is the amount of espresso. A latte uses more milk than espresso, while a flat white has an equal ratio of both. A latte also typically includes foam on top, whereas a flat white does not. Additionally, a flat white is usually served in smaller cups to highlight the intense espresso flavor.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when making a flat white?

Some common mistakes to avoid when making a flat white are not using the right kind of espresso, not steaming the milk properly, and adding too much foam. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the flavor of the espresso is balanced with the sweetness of the milk. Finally, don’t forget to add your favorite spice on top for an extra special touch!

Can I use a different type of coffee bean for my flat white?

Yes, you can use different types of coffee beans for your flat white depending on your personal taste preferences. However, for an authentic flat white, it’s best to use a high-quality espresso blend that is specifically designed for espresso-based drinks. These blends are typically made up of a combination of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans that are roasted to a dark or medium-dark roast level to bring out their bold and rich flavors.

If you prefer a lighter or medium roast coffee, you can still use it to make a flat white, but keep in mind that it may have a milder flavor and less intensity than an espresso blend.

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