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Flat White vs Latte: What’s the Difference?

Serving a flat white

It’s flat white vs latte in this coffee comparison, as we explore the differences between two of the most popular coffees available today.

But when both flat whites and lattes are made from espresso and steamed milk, what exactly is the difference between them? If they have the same ingredients, aren’t they just the same drink?

You’ll be unsurprised to hear that the answer is no! There is absolutely a difference between a flat white and a latte. 

Read on to learn more about these two smooth and milky espresso-based coffees.

What is a Flat White?

A flat white is an espresso topped with steamed milk. Unlike a latte or a cappuccino, a flat white does not have a significant layer of foam on top.

Usually, a flat white is based on a double shot of espresso, though it is possible to make it with a single shot too.

How is a flat white made?

To make a flat white, you must first pull one or two shots of espresso using your espresso machine.

Next, insert your espresso machine’s steaming wand into half a jug of milk. Tilt the jug and steam briefly to create a lightly steamed milk, rather than the thick and frothy milk you would find on top of a latte or cappuccino.

Finally, bang the milk jug on a table and swirl it to remove bubbles, then pour over the espresso.

The result should be a smooth, milky coffee, with either no foam head at all, or at most a very light layer of froth.

What is a Latte?

A Christmas-looking Latte. Photo by Toa Heftiba.
A Christmas-looking Latte. Photo by Toa Heftiba.

A latte is one-third espresso shot and two-thirds steamed milk. This is then topped with a thin layer of milk foam.

The foam layer is usually around 1cm thick. That’s thinner than you would find on a cappuccino but thicker than the foam on a flat white (which is either very thin or non-existent).

A latte can be made from either one or two shots of espresso. 

How is a latte made?

A latte is one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk.

The process of making a latte is similar to making a flat white. You first pull your espresso shot (or double shot), then you use the steaming wand to heat the milk.

The difference between making a latte and a flat white is that, for a latte, you steam the milk slightly longer to create some thicker froth which sits on top of the drink.

The end result should be one-third espresso, two-thirds steamed milk, plus a layer of milk foam measuring approximately 1cm in depth.

The Difference Between a Flat White and a Latte

The difference between a flat white and a latte is that a flat white has either no foam on top or, at most, a very thin layer of foam. In contrast, a latte has a thicker layer of foam, usually measuring around 1cm in depth.

The thickness of the foam is the difference between a flat white, a latte and a cappuccino. The thinnest layer of foam is found on the flat white (which often has no foam at all), the latte has a thicker foam layer, and the thickest layer of foam is found on the cappuccinno.

Other than this foam layer, all three drinks are very similar, as they are all made from espresso and hot milk.

“Flat White vs Latte: What The Foam Is the Difference?” by Roasty Coffee on YouTube.

FAQ – Flat White vs Latte

What is healthier – flat white or latte?

The vast majority of the calories in a flat white or a latte come from the milk, not from the espresso shot. Therefore, the healthiest drink is whichever contains the least milk. Usually, a flat white is smaller than a latte which means it’s “healthier”.

Is flat white or latte sweeter?

A latte is usually a larger drink than a flat white, with the extra volume being made up of more steamed milk. For this reason, a latte is usually slightly sweeter than a flat white.

Which has more milk, latte or flat white?

A latte usually has more milk than a flat white. Though sizes vary, a latte is usually served in a portion that is about 50% larger than a flat white. All of this extra serving is steamed milk, which gives the typical latte a significantly higher milk content than the flat white.

What tastes better, latte or flat white?

Which drink you prefer will likely come down to two factors: how much you like the texture of milk foam and whether you prefer a bitter or sweeter taste. If you like milk foam and a sweeter flavor, then you will prefer a latte to a flat white, as it has a thicker layer of foam and more milk to hide the bitter flavor of the espresso. If you prefer less milk foam and a more bitter flavor, then the flat white will probably be your preference.

Which is stronger, flat white vs latte?

In terms of caffeine content, flat whites and lattes are often equal. This is because both drinks can be made with either one or two shots of espresso. Of course, a two-shot latte would be stronger than a single-shot flat white, and vice versa. In terms of taste, and the strength of the bitter coffee flavor, the flat white is stronger than the latte. This is because flat whites are usually made with less milk than lattes, so the espresso shot makes up a larger proportion of the drink.

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