Flat White vs Latte – A Detailed Yet Simple Comparison!

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

Another fantastic point about the drink is its versatility. There are tons of flavors, such as hazelnut, 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 – A Detailed Comparison

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 the Café Au Lait might originate from 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 in 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 steamed 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 the steamed milk, a flattie would be the best choice.

That is because it has more espresso and 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.

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 on the making processes.

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 the 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.

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!

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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).