Last Updated: 29th September 2021

Flat White vs Latte: Main Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    While the flat white has been a staple in Australia and New Zealand for decades, it’s still relatively new to most Brits. After all, Starbucks only introduced the flat white to the UK in 2010 and the US in 2015.

    In spite of this, the flat white certainly holds its own amongst the long-established coffee drink giants like lattes and cappuccinos.

    Many assume that a flat white is simply a small latte, but they are mistaken. Clear distinctions can be found in the subtleties and nuances each drink brings.

    So how does this cool, new artisan-style drink compared to the old-school faithful classic latte? And which will win your vote in the contest of a flat white vs latte?

    In short

    • Both the latte and the flat white contain espresso and milk.
    • Two main factors distinguish flat whites from lattes: (1) the milk-to-coffee ratio and (2) how the milk is frothed. These two factors are enough to completely alter each drink’s taste and texture.

    Flat White vs Latte: The Key Differences

    Milk-to-Coffee Ratio

    Lattes contain a milk-to-coffee ratio of ⅓ espresso and ⅔ milk. In other words, they are composed of a single espresso shot of coffee, steamed milk, and a velvety foam topping.

    milk being poured into cup to create latte art

    On the other hand, a flat white tends to contain more coffee. Many flat whites are made with a double shot of espresso, and then milk fills up ⅔ of the remaining space in the cup. It is then topped with a very thin layer of steamed milk.

    Typical Serving Size

    Flat whites are usually served in 165 ml cups, whereas lattes are typically served in 240 ml cups.

    This serving size difference combined with the difference in milk-to-coffee ratios means that a flat white is much stronger than a latte.

    Flat whites have a richer and sharper espresso flavour because there’s less milk to dilute it. And since flat whites are often made with two espresso shots, they contain double the amount of coffee lattes do.

    So when it’s the battle of latte vs flat white and the question of which one is the best, it all comes down to personal preference.

    Those who love a comforting, milky hot drink will choose the latte. But people who love strong coffees but want something in between a latte and an espresso are going to side with the flat white.

    Country of Origin

    Unlike other coffee shop drinks, there’s a little more debate around where the latte and the flat white came from. You won’t be surprised to learn that they’re both thought to have Italian roots. But the refinement and commercialisation of these drinks actually happened outside of Europe.

    The flat white’s story starts in the Southern Hemisphere in a battle for ownership over it between New Zealand and Australia.

    Although it may have been inspired by the coffee culture that Italian immigrants brought over in the 50s, Australian Alan Preston claims he coined the term ‘flat white’ at his Sydney cafe in 1985.

    On the other hand, Wellington barista Frank McInnes is adamant that he invented the term in 1989 when he accidentally ruined his customer’s cappuccino and apologised to him for the drink being a ‘flat white’.

    While the latte isn’t surrounded by such controversy its origins are still unclear.

    Latte means ‘milk’ in Italian, and it’s thought that the Italians did have a breakfast drink that closely resembled the latte. But it was first recorded as being commercialised in Seattle in the 1980s.

    Until that point, many variations had been in and around Europe. And since the word is Italian, some would say the latte belonged to the Italians. Still, it took the artisan flair of the coffee scene in Seattle, America, to create a universally popular drink.

    Everything You Need to Know About Flat Whites

    A flat white is great for people that enjoy the rich taste of coffee but love the texture of the creamy foam that milk creates. It’s the best of both worlds as it provides you with high levels of caffeine and a delicious velvety flavour.

    barista gesturing towards flat white on table

    It’s also worth mentioning that the flat white has evolved over the years as well. It initially began with a single shot of espresso and a thin layer of foam on top. But over time, many coffee shops changed the flat white to contain two espresso shots and a slightly larger foam top that resembles a latte.

    How to Make Your Own Flat White

    Since the flat white is really simple to make, why wait in a coffee shop queue when you can have a go at making at home?

    Ingredients:

    • 35 g ground coffee or 2 espresso pods
    • 100 ml milk. Full fat works best (but non-dairy alternatives also work)

    Equipment:

    Instructions for Brewing Your Flat White

    Step 1: Prepare your espresso shots in the portafilter and set them aside without brewing them yet.

    Tip: It’s better to prepare your milk first. Brew your espresso shot last because when coffee is left out in the air for too long, it turns sour.

    Step 2: Pour the milk into the jug and position it under the steam wand.

    Step 3: As the steam wand works, keep it near the sides of the jug, rather than the centre, just below the surface of the milk so that it creates a swirling vortex in the centre.

    Aim to create a velvety foam. You can do this by bringing the wand to the surface to allow more air into the milk before dropping it deeper into the milk again.

    Tip: Once the milk’s temperature reaches 65°C (140–145°F), turn it off to prevent burning.

    When you’re done steaming, gently tap the bottom of your milk jug on a countertop and swirl it to remove any large air bubbles to create a more smooth texture.

    Step 4: Brew your espresso shots and transfer them to the cup you will be drinking out of.

    Step 5: Pour the milk into the cup.

    For a traditional flat white, pour the steamed thinner milk into the cup. Doing so will give you a thin flat surface of micro-foam on top when you’re done pouring.

    For a creamier flat white, push the velvety foam forward and hold the steamed milk back.

    Everything You Need to Know About Lattes

    As the catalyst for coffee art, the latte is a pretty special drink. Not only is it the nation’s favourite coffee, but it has also paved the way for creativity within coffee making with baristas competing in the World Latte Art Championships.

    There are now countless variations from chai lattes (chai tea and latte milk) to the latte macchiato. Not only that, but the latte has managed to create quite a cult following by making itself synonymous with special holidays.

    When people think of fall/autumn time, a pumpkin spice latte is just as integral to the season as Halloween and brown leaves. And everyone knows it’s not officially Winter until the gingerbread latte comes on display!

    top view of latte and tiny cookie saucer
     

    More than any other coffee drink, the latte has embedded itself into our culture. It has grown in meaning over time, and this is primarily down to them being the perfect base for different flavours and syrups.

    How to Make Your Own Latte

    If you like the idea of a comforting, milky drink that has a subtle taste of coffee, then you’ll love lattes. Let’s find out how to make one!

    Ingredients:

    • 18 g ground coffee or 1 espresso pod
    • 250 ml milk. Full fat works best (but non-dairy alternatives also work)

    Equipment:

    Instructions for Brewing Your Latte

    Step 1: Prepare your espresso shot in the portafilter and set it aside without brewing it.

    Tip: It’s better to prepare your milk first. Brew your espresso shot last because when coffee is left out in the air for too long, it turns sour.

    Step 2: Pour the milk into the jug and position it under the steam wand.

    Step 3: Place the steam wand near the sides of the jug, rather than the centre, just below the surface of the milk so that it creates a swirling vortex in the centre.

    Step 3: As the steam wand works, keep it near the sides of the jug, rather than the centre, just below the surface of the milk so that it creates a swirling vortex in the centre.

    Aim to create a velvety microfoam. You can do this by bringing the wand to the surface to allow more air into the milk before dropping it deeper into the milk again.

    Tip: Once the milk’s temperature reaches 65°C (140–145°F), turn it off to prevent burning.

    When you’re done steaming, gently tap the bottom of your milk jug on a countertop and swirl it to remove any large air bubbles to create a more smooth texture. The milk should have a smooth velvet texture with a silky shine on top.

    Step 4: Brew your espresso shot and transfer it to the latte glass or cup you will be drinking out of.

    Step 5: Add the milk to the espresso shot.

    Use a spoon to hold the thicker milk back and allow the runnier milk to pour first.

    Once your glass or cup is almost full, top your drink using the thicker milk left in the jug to create a silky foam layer.

     

    There is no winner in the latte vs flat white competition because everyone likes varying levels of taste and textures. Is it the old school latte or the punchy, up-and-coming flat white? If you love that sharp hit of coffee, then try the flat white; if you like a subtle, creamy taste, then the latte is your go-to!

    Check out the best latte art pens on the market to take your home brews to the next level. Alternatively, you can explore other types of coffee too!

     

     

    Our Philosophy is simple: “Love Coffee at Home.”

    We want everyone to be able to enjoy really tasty coffee in the comfort of their own home. It’s easy, and shouldn’t be exclusive to a coffee shop.

    We may receive a small commission on purchases made from the links on this page. This does not affect the quality of our recommendations or their prices. But it does help support our team’s hard work, which is something we are always grateful for.

    Copyright © 2017 – 2021 Daily Espresso

    Contact Us

    Copyright © 2017 – 2021 Daily Espresso