Flat White vs Latte – What Is The Difference?

Latte and flat white are always on the top list of most ordered espresso-based drinks in coffee shops.

However, you find them alike as they are all made from espresso shots and lightly steamed milk. You feel a little bit confused, and you do not know which one will be the best drink for you.

Let’s follow our article to see what makes flat white and latte different from each other! Then, you can decide which one is the winner in the flat white vs latte battle.

Brief Introduction About Flat White And Latte

Before getting into details about the comparison of flat white and latte, let’s look at brief information about these drinks.

What Is Latte?

A Café Au Lait is a bold espresso with a thin layer of cream on top of it. The baristas usually make different beautiful shapes on their surface by pouring the cream into the shot of espresso.

Another fantastic point about the drink is its versatility. There are tons of flavors, such as hazelnut, and orange, that you can add to your drink and make its flavor tastier.

What’s more? The beverage can be served hot or iced, making it easy to enjoy at any time based on your preferences.

What Is Flat White?

A flat white is an espresso-based beverage. It resembles a Café Au Lait since it comes in a combination of espresso and steamed milk.

However, it has less cream than the other one, resulting in a stronger taste of coffee. The milk-foam-making techniques used in these drinks are different.

Now, you get the basic information about both drinks. Let’s move on to the parts below to discuss their similarities and differences feature by feature.

Flat White vs Latte – The Difference Between Flat White and Latte

Now, it is time to break down the features of both types of Java so that you can fully understand their differences.

Origin

It is still not clear who made the first cup of them. Still, most coffee lovers agree that Café Au Lait might originate in America in the late 1800s.

A Java lover,  Kenneth Davids, assumed that the coffee latte arrived first in Italy. As they preferred a less concentrated drink, they developed the Café Au Lait version, as we are familiar with these days.

What about the flattie?

There are still many debates about the origin of flattie – where it came from, Australia or New Zealand.

Ben Bicknell, Strategic Projects Manager at Five Senses Coffee in Melbourne, said it might come from both countries as consumers transition from instant Java to espresso-based.

They wanted something familiar instead of cappuccino, which had mountainous foam peaks at that time. Thus, the baristas might develop a “flattie” version of a cappuccino, leading to the creation of this beverage.

Size and ratio of espresso

Both beverages are espresso-based drinks that consist of espresso and steamed milk. However, the ratio of espresso and the serving size is pretty different.

The baristas usually make the Café Au Lait using an espresso shot and serve the drink in glass tumblers with a volume of around 250ml. If you prefer a more intense flavor, you can have the one served in a 350ml glass and two shots of espresso.

On the contrary, the baristas often serve flat white in a cup with a size of around 200ml. They often use two espressos to strengthen the flavor of the drink.

Milk

This indeed is a must-have ingredient for these two espresso-based drinks. However, the ways the baristas froth and add it to these drinks are different.

So, how do these techniques differ from each other?

Stay stunned as we will discuss the details in the following parts.

The steaming process

For a latte, steaming milk is simple as you can create steam by frothing it with a steaming wand. As a result, you will have distinct layers, microfoam, and froth.

In this way, the espresso might take around ⅙ of the end of the drink, then the portion with 4/6, and the froth and microfoam on the top.

The portion for a flat white is more complex, as you need to constantly mix the foam and froth back. This turns the substance into a purely textured microfoam.

The pouring process

The pouring process is simple for a flattie. The barista only needs to free-pour the microfoam into the espresso. The key to a successful process is immediacy because the liquid will quickly detach after sitting at room temperature.

If you pour the microfoam properly, it will mix with the crema from the espresso, resulting in a flat golden brown surface for the drink.

For a latte, it is more complex to add to the espresso. The reason is that the baristas need to hold back the foam on top with a spoon and create latte art while pouring.

Strength

So, which one comes with a stronger taste?

A flattie boosts a more intense flavor of Java, as it is more concentrated than the other one. Besides, it has more caffeine than due to the two espresso shots.

Taste

What about the taste?

About the taste, a Café Au Lait literally much milkier than the other espresso-based drinks. As such, Java lovers often describe its flavor as milky and gently sweet, making it the top choice for newbies.

On the other hand, a flatie is a little bit bitter due to the espresso concentration. However, the cream in this drink provides a hint of sweetness that blends well with the Java notes.

Flat White vs Latte – Which One Is The Better Option? 

Which one should you pick between the two of them? The answer might vary depending on your preferences.

If you want to try the fine taste of specialty Java yet love the gentle sweetness of steamed milk, a flattie would be the best choice.

That is because it has more espresso and is less milky, allowing you to experience the Java beans’ complex flavor profile fully.

Besides, since it is a more concentrated drink than a Café Au Lait, it offers a stronger taste of coffee. This characteristic makes it an ideal choice for the coffeeholic.

However, if you are a caffeine-sensitive person, it would be best to taste a  Café Au Lait because it contains less caffeine. It is also worth a try if you are a big fan of Java decorating. You will be amazed at the art that the baristas draw on your drink.

Why Is The Starbucks Flat White Different?

The Starbucks Flat White is made with two ristretto shots of espresso and steamed whole milk. The result is a rich, creamy coffee that is balanced and smooth. There are several things that make Starbucks Flat White different from other coffees.

First, the coffee is brewed using a special espresso machine that allows for a higher level of extraction. This results in a more concentrated coffee with a stronger flavor.

Second, the milk is steamed using a micro-foam technique that creates small bubbles and a velvety texture. This makes the Flat White more creamy and flavorful than other coffees.

Finally, the Starbucks baristas take great care to create a perfect balance of espresso and milk, making sure each cup is consistently delicious.

How To Make Flat White And Latte At Home?

How can you make the two beverages at home? Here, let us show you the detailed steps of the making process.

Flat White

Let’s start with making a homemade flattie.

  • Step 1: Make the espresso shots.

Ground the beans until they have a salt-like texture.

Then, put around six teaspoons of coffee into your French press Java pot/cafetière.

  • Step 2: Pour the boiling water into the cafetière about halfway full.
  • Step 3: Let the coffee steep for a few minutes and slowly plunge it to filter out the grains.

Then, pour the coffee into your cup until it reaches a third full.

  • Step 4: Froth the buttermilk.

First, let’s rinse the cafetière and fill it halfway before warming.

Another option is to warm the beverage in the microwave, as long as you ensure that you only use the glass container. Besides, you can warm it using a saucepan and a hob.

Once it is heated, pump it slowly until you notice the bubbles on its surface. After that, lightly tap on the counter of the milk container and swirl it around to remove the large bubbles.

  • Step 5: Slowly pour the steamed milk over the espresso and enjoy.

Latte

What about making a Café Au Lait? Is it simple to make at home? Yes, the preparation process is pretty easy. Here is how to do it:

  • Step 1: Prepare the espresso.

You can follow steps 1-3 in the above section to prepare the espresso for your drink.

  • Step 2: Steam the milk.

Pour the liquid into a glass container and warm it for around 30 seconds in the microwave.

Then, gently whisk until it is frothy.

  • Step 3: Pour an espresso shot into a mug, pour the frothed milk over the coffee, and add the milk foam to the top of your drink.

FAQs Of Flat White vs Latte

1. Should you stir a flat white?

The espresso shots in a flat white are poured over the steamed milk, and then it is lightly stirred to ensure the perfect mixture of coffee and milk. This step is vital as it gives a more intense flavor to the drink.

In contrast, a latte has espresso shots and steamed milk in separate layers. You can see a beautiful gradient from the dark coffee at the bottom to the white milk at the top. There is no need to stir a latte unless you want to mix everything together.

2. Can you put sugar in a flat white?

As both flat white and latte are made from espresso and milk, they are quite similar in taste. If you want to add some sweetness to your coffee, you can put sugar in either of them.

However, as the amount of milk in a flat white is less than that in a latte, the coffee might be a bit bitter if you do not put sugar in it.

3. Which has the most calories flat white or latte?

A latte usually has more calories than a flat white. The main reason is that a latte contains more milk than a flat white. A standard latte contains around 240ml of milk, while a flat white only has 60-80ml.

In addition, the type of milk used in a latte also contributes to the calorie content. For example, if you use full-cream milk, your latte will have more calories than if you use skim milk.

4. What is a blonde flat white?

As its name suggests, a blonde flat white is a type of coffee that has a lighter color than the traditional one. The milk in this drink is less foamy, and it has a higher proportion of water to milk. If you are looking for something between an espresso and cappuccino, drinking a blonde flat white is an excellent choice.

5. What is a skinny latte?

A skinny latte is a type of latte made with non-fat milk or skim milk. The word “skinny” in the name refers to the fact that this latte contains less fat than a regular latte made with whole milk. If you are health-conscious or watching your weight, this is a good choice for you.

6. Is an Americano the same as a flat white?

No, an Americano is not the same as a flat white. They might look similar, but they taste quite different. An Americano is made by adding hot water to espresso shots.

So, it has a stronger coffee flavor than a flat white. A flat white is made with steamed milk and espresso shots.

The ratio of espresso to milk in a flat white is 1:1, while the ratio of espresso to milk in a latte is 1:3. So, the flat white has more coffee flavor than a latte.

7. Why is it called flat white?

A flat white is an espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Australia. It is made with one or two shots of espresso and steamed milk with microfoam. The ratio of espresso to milk is 1:1, and the result is a coffee with a velvety texture and no foam on top.

The origin of the flat white is unclear, but it is believed to have first appeared in the 1980s. The word “flat” in the name refers to the lack of foam on top of the drink, while “white” refers to the color of the milk.

8. Can you add syrup to a flat white?

Most of the time, people will order a flat white when they are looking for a strong coffee with little milk. If you want to add syrup to your coffee, a latte might be a better choice.

This is because the milk in a latte can help to balance out the sweetness of the syrup. However, if you do want to add syrup to a flat white, you can ask the barista to add it to the espresso shots before they add the milk.

9. How many shots are in a flat white?

A flat white generally contains two shots of espresso, with steamed milk poured over the top. The milk is usually textured, and the coffee to milk ratio is higher in a flat white than it is in a latte.

10. Does flat white have a lot of caffeine?

A flat white contains around 2 shots of espresso and has 60-70 mg of caffeine. In comparison, a latte has 1 shot of espresso and approximately 150 mg of steamed milk. So, a latte has more caffeine than a flat white as it contains more milk.

11. Is there more caffeine in flat white?

A typical flat white coffee has 1-2 shots of espresso while a latte usually has 1 shot. It means that a flat white has more caffeine than a latte does.

If you are looking for a stronger coffee, a flat white is the best choice. In case you want a weaker one, a latte is a safer option.

12. What makes flat white special?

The first thing that you need to know is that a flat white always contains an espresso shot. It is made by pouring a small amount of steamed milk into the espresso and then using a spoon to hold back the foam while pouring.

As a result, you will have a creamy and rich coffee with a strong taste of espresso. The milk-to-coffee ratio in a flat white is 1:1, which is different from a latte (we will talk about this later).

13. What is a latte without foam called?

A latte is an espresso-based drink that originated in Italy, and the word “latte” means milk in Italian. A traditional latte is made with one or two shots of espresso and steamed milk.

The barista will pour the steamed milk into the espresso and create a thick layer of foam on top of the drink. A latte without foam is called a “dry latte” or “Barella”.

14. What sweeter flat white or latte?

When it comes to sweetness, both drinks are pretty much on the same level. However, some people might find that flat white is a bit sweeter than latte because of the way it is made.

In a flat white, espresso shots are combined with steamed milk and then topped with a thin layer of foam. The foam helps to balance out the bitterness of the espresso and the sweetness of the milk, making the drink not too sweet nor too bitter.

On the other hand, a latte is made by combining espresso shots with a lot of steamed milk and then topped with a thick layer of foam. The milk to espresso ratio in the latte is higher than that in flat white, so the latte might taste a bit milkier and sweeter than flat white.

In conclusion, the flat white vs latte battle is pretty even when it comes to sweetness. It really depends on your personal preference.

If you like your coffee sweet, then a latte might be the better choice for you. But if you prefer a less sweet coffee, then flat white is a good option.

15. Why is flat white more expensive than a latte?

The answer is in the detail of making each drink. When making a flat white, baristas use ristretto shots which are extracted for a shorter time than regular espresso shots.

As a result, the coffee beans used for ristretto shots are less watery and more concentrated. This creates a stronger flavor in your cup of coffee.

In addition, to get a smooth and silky texture, the milk for a flat white is steamed longer than that of a latte. It makes the drink creamier without being too milky.

On the other hand, a latte uses more milk and regular espresso shots. That’s why it has a milder taste than a flat white.

16. What’s healthier flat white or latte?

It really depends on your own personal preferences and goals. If you’re watching your weight, then a flat white is the better choice.

However, if you’re looking for a drink with more calcium and less caffeine, then a latte is the better choice. Both drinks are made with espresso and milk, so they have similar nutritional values.

There are a few key differences that you should know about. For one, lattes typically have more milk than flat whites.

This means that they have more calories and fat. If you’re watching your weight, then a flat white might be the better choice.

Another difference between flat white and latte is that lattes are usually made with whole milk, while flat whites are often made with skimmed milk. This means that lattes have more fat, but flat whites have more caffeine.

17. Is flat white more milk than a latte?

No, a flat white contains less milk than a latte. Flat white is an espresso-based coffee drink with a small amount of steamed milk and microfoam.

The microfoam is velvety milk bubbles that create a creamy texture. Meanwhile, the latte has more milk than flat white and the milk is not textured.

A latte also contains espresso and steamed milk but the milk is steamed to a less dense consistency. In terms of the amount of coffee and milk, a flat white has more coffee than a latte.

If you are looking for a stronger coffee taste, a flat white is definitely your choice. For those who prefer a sweeter and lighter drink, a latte is a good option.

18. What tastes better flat white or latte?

When it comes to taste, both drinks have a smooth and creamy texture. The main difference between flat white and latte is in the milk-to-coffee ratio. A latte has more milk than a flat white, so it tastes sweeter and less intense. On the other hand, a flat white has less milk, making the coffee more pronounced.

19. Is a flat white stronger than a latte?

A flat white is stronger than a latte in terms of espresso taste because it has less steamed milk, which does not interfere with the taste of espresso.

A flat white is made with one or two shots of espresso and textured milk. The steamed milk is micro-foamed to create a creamy texture, and it is poured over the espresso shots until the cup is nearly full.

Then, the barista uses a spoon to hold back the foam while pouring the rest of the milk around the espresso shots. As a result, you have a drink with a strong espresso taste and a smooth texture.

On the other hand, a latte is also made with one or two shots of espresso. However, the steamed milk is less textured, and it is poured into the cup first.

Then, the espresso shots are added on top of the milk. A latte has a sweeter taste because of the higher proportion of milk than a flat white. However, it is not as strong as a flat white in terms of espresso taste.

Conclusion

Throughout this article, we hope you can fully understand how flattie and Café Au Lait are different.

Then, you can decide which espresso-based drink to call on in the confrontation of flat white vs latte the next time you go to the coffee shop.

If you have any questions about any espresso-based drinks, let us know in the comment box. We are always here to help you out!

Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).