What's a Flat White, and How Do You Make It?

Jake Bonneman
January 14, 2023

I’ll cut to the chase—a flat white is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.

Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, "that's every coffee drink."

Not exactly.

Well—almost exactly, but..

There are so many variables at play among coffee + milk recipes—from the coffee bean blend to the roast level to the brewing method to how the milk is added/frothed, not to mention flavors, sweeteners, syrups—I'm willing to bet you could easily taste the differences between a flat white, a latte, a latte machiatto, and a cappucino if you had all four of ‘em in front of you.

With that, let’s learn absolutely everything there is to know about this phenomenon from down under.

What is a Flat White?

Flat whites originated in Australia or New Zealand—depending on who you ask and precisely how down under they are—but have become popular around the world in recent years.

They're kind of like a cross between a cappuccino and a latte, but with less foam than the former and more microfoam than the latter.

How Do I Make a Flat White?

To make a flat white, you start by heating your milk and steaming it until it forms foam.

Then, prepare your espresso and pour it into a cup.

Add the steamed milk to the espresso, being careful to pour slowly so that the foam doesn't collapse.

Top it off with a thin layer of micro-foam, and enjoy!

Flat White vs Latte: What's the Difference?

While a flat white and latte both use espresso and steamed milk, there are a few key differences.

Firstly, a flat white uses less milk than a latte, resulting in a stronger coffee flavor.

Additionally, the milk in a flat white is steamed until it forms micro-foam, which gives the drink a velvety texture.

Finally, a flat white is typically served in a smaller cup than a latte.

So, if you're looking for a stronger taste of coffee with a velvety texture, go for a flat white. If you prefer a sweeter drink with less coffee flavor, opt for a latte.

Just remember: less milk, more microfoam, small cup.

What Type of Milk Should I Use?

The type of milk you use for your flat white is totally up to you. There are no hard and fast milk rules to worry about with the flat white.

Now, having said that… whole milk will give you the richest, creamiest flat white, but you can also use skim milk, almond milk, or any other type of milk that you like.

Do I Need Special Brew Gear to Make a Flat White?

Well—depending on what you consider "special" brew gear—you don't need any special coffee equipment or Northern Hemisphere adapters to make a great flat white.

What you do need is an inexpensive milk steamer wand, and a super expensive espresso machine.

But don't worry: if you don't have a super expensive espresso machine, you can use a super inexpensive AeroPress or a French Press like the Espro P7 instead.

The flat white makes a great drink literally any time of day you need some extra caffeine but with some velvety smooth milk—basically any time you feel like a latte with a stronger coffee flavor.

Sky Rockets in Flight... Afternoon Flat White

You said it.

Flat's All, Folks

With just a few simple ingredients you already have, and some basic brewing equipment, you can enjoy a delicious Down Under style flat white—no matter how painfully Up Above you are…


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Jake Bonneman
January 14, 2023
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