What Is a Flat White? And How Do You Make One?

Over the past couple of years, coffee shops have seen the rise of the flat white. But did you know it’s one of the most debated espresso-based drinks? Dive into some of the debates with us today and learn about one of the most popular coffee drinks!

A person pours milk into a white mug, creating a tulip design in the espresso

What Is a Flat White?

Every coffee shop makes flat whites a little differently. So what is in a flat white drink? A flat white has a double shot of espresso with steamed milk and a thin layer of micro foam. Similar to a cappuccino, the flat white is rarely served in anything bigger than a 6oz cup.

Because the milk only has a little micro foam on top, it blends well with the crema of the espresso. The combination of espresso and milk creates a velvety texture with a rich, creamy mouthfeel. The flavor profile is smooth and silky with a strong espresso flavor that many enjoy. Some baristas even use a double ristretto to create a bolder espresso flavor.

While any coffee enthusiast can enjoy a flat white, it's great for people who don't drink dairy. Plant-based alternatives don't foam well, so they pair well with the minimal micro foam of a flat white.

The Origin of Flat White

For decades, Australia and New Zealand have been locked in a battle over who created the first flat white. Who knew a coffee could be so widely disputed?

Australians claim that, in 1985, Alan Preston made the first flat white at his café, Moors Espresso Bar. According to them, the drink quickly grew in popularity after being added to the menu. As Australian coffee culture has grown, they've perfected the flat white.

New Zealand says that a barista at the Dkf café invented the flat white accidentally. He served a poorly steamed cappuccino to a customer and jokingly called it a flat white. And the name stuck!

A person pulls a double shot of espresso from an espresso maker

While we don't know which country is right, we do know the flat white rapidly rose in popularity. Since then, it’s become an integral part of the third wave coffee culture and a true specialty café standard.

The Difference Between a Flat White and a Latte

So, what is the difference between a flat white and a latte?

Like flat whites, lattes are made with espresso, steamed milk, and micro foam. Both use the same brewing technique and aeration, and both can have fun, unique latte art. So what’s the difference?

A graphic depicting the difference between a flat white and a latte

Some baristas believe the difference is in the espresso-milk ratios. A cup of coffee isn't a flat white, unless it's less than 5 to 6oz, while lattes are 8oz or more. Flat whites are always made with a double shot of espresso, so that means lattes have at least 2oz more milk.

Other baristas say the difference lies in the context. Lattes are a part of the second coffee wave, while flat whites are part of the third wave of coffee culture.

How to Make a Flat White

Are you an avid coffee drinker? Why not try making a flat white at home? You’ll need an espresso maker, milk steamer, coffee grinder, fresh coffee beans, milk (or a plant-based alternative), and a cup.

To start off well, you'll need to choose good coffee beans for espresso. You can try two of our espresso blends, the Ferdelance Espresso and Brazil Daterra. If you want something different, we also recommend coffee beans from Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Central America, and South America. 

After choosing the coffee beans you want to use, you need to decide how you'll brew your espresso. If you have an espresso machine, you could try making a double ristretto for your flat white. If you don’t have an espresso machine, check out our guide on at-home espresso brewing methods, including an AeroPress, Moka Pot, and Turkish coffee.

Pouring coffee from a moka pot into an white espresso cup

Now that you have all the basics pulled together, let's make a flat white!


  • To start, grind your coffee beans as fine as possible.
  • If you have an espresso machine, pour the grinds into the portafilter and tamp them down. Then, place the portafilter into the espresso machine. If not, make a double shot in your Moka pot or AeroPress, following these instructions.
  • Pull a double shot into a cappuccino cup or your favorite mug.
  • Meanwhile, pour around 4 to 5oz of milk into a cup to steam. Steam the milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once done, tap the pitcher on the counter and swirl it to get rid of any of the larger bubbles created during the steaming process.
  • Pick up the espresso and slowly pour the steamed milk into the cup.
  • Serve your masterpiece!


Ready to try a flat white coffee next time you’re in a local coffee shop? You’re sure to enjoy the rich, velvety mouthfeel and strong espresso flavor that is the perfect balance of a cappuccino and latte. If you have a chance to try it, let us know your thoughts!