You are standing in line, quickly trying to figure out the menu, most of the drinks you have never heard of before. The Barista hands the guy in front of you his drink and then looks up at you. Before you can figure out what you want, the barista asks you for your order. Panicked, you shout out the first item on the menu that you see, a flat white.
We have all been there, totally overwhelmed with a coffee menu, not knowing the differences between some of the most popular options. Well, in this article we have decided to focus on the flat white coffee and what makes it stand out from its near rivals, the Latte, and the Cappuccino. We also show you how to make the perfect flat white at home with a home espresso maker and why you should consider making the switch over to a flat white coffee. So, let's get to it!
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What is a Flat White?
A flat white consists of either a single or double measure of espresso, topped up with a generous portion of steamed milk. Although this seems very similar to a latte, it is actually quite different. The notable features that define a flat white include the size, typically coming in at around 5.4 fluid ounces.
The flat white is topped by a thin and flat layer of steamed milk, which gives it its name, flat white. If you’re after a coffee that allows you to experience the delightful taste of espresso, with a creamy kick of steamed milk, this is certainly the choice for you.
Flat Whites have been on coffee shop menus for some time now and are a favorite of coffee enthusiasts who love a strong flavored coffee with a touch of special whole milk. They are also perfect for people who enjoy a quick no-fuss coffee on the go.
People who enjoy a flat white include those who tend to drink milky coffees, such as lattes and cappuccinos. Unlike those alternatives, a flat white is more pragmatic, perfect for a business lunch, a chat with a friend, or a take-to-work tumbler.
Where Does it Come From?
The flat white seems to have emerged in New Zealand and Australia in the 1980s. There is some debate over its exact origin, but it seems to have developed in these regions almost simultaneously. Someone here had the bright idea to innovate the cappuccino and make it 'flat.'
Since its emergence, the flat white spread quickly to the UK and the US. The coffee bridges the gap between instant coffee and cappuccinos and effectively serves an audience who are making that transition. At the time, cappuccinos had mountains of foam on top, but consumers wanted one that was flatter. Since then, cappuccino foam has also been scaled back.
Flat White Vs Latte
The major difference between the flat white and the latte is the amount of milk used. Traditionally, a latte will also have more foam than a flat white. A latte will generally taste weaker and milkier. These days it is general practice to serve a latte in a 180 or 200 ml glass. A flat white is usually served in a smaller ceramic cup containing steamed milk with fine bubbles that has a velvety consistency. This makes it less diluted than a latte and therefore stronger.
Although flat whites have become less popular in recent times, there are still plenty of people that prefer them. Walk into any coffee house and you will be greeted with a large and extensive menu to choose from. Both the flat white and the latte are a staple of pretty much every menu these days. Making the choice over which one you want to try means you need to know what you are ordering, and this means understanding the difference between a latte and a flat white.
Indeed, both drinks have come a long way in recent years, and they are now a staple of coffee lovers everywhere. If you aren't sure which one to try, consider giving both a shot!
Cappuccino and Latte
A flat white can be described as a shot of espresso topped up with warm steamed milk, but that's also how you might describe a cappuccino or a latte. So what's the difference? As a general rule, a cappuccino is a stronger drink in a smaller mug, a cappuccino is also made with one shot of espresso and lots of foam on top.
A latte is slightly different. The term has been widely used since the 1980s to describe a coffee containing warm milk, but it probably originated in Italy, where a caffe latte is a milky morning coffee. A cafe latte is milkier than a cappuccino and also flatter. Needless to say, both of these beverages, cappuccino and latte, have a significantly larger portion of milk.
How To Make A Flat White
A flat white is a delicious functional coffee, ideal any time of the day. The good news is it's especially easy to make. You will require some espresso coffee from your favorite bean, a machine that can produce espresso and an appliance for foaming the milk. Making the perfect flat white requires a careful balance between espresso and milk foam.
Traditionally the flat white is made using a double espresso with micro foam poured over the top; however, this practice has changed in recent years, and now many coffee shops serve it with a single shot of espresso. So, we leave the choice up to you in regards to how many shots of espresso you want to have.
1. Prepare Your Espresso Beans
To make a flat white, prepare a double espresso. Ensure your coffee grind has an even tamp for a smooth and pure coffee extraction.
2. Steam Your Milk
Prior to pulling your espresso shots, it is time to heat and foam your milk. Pay close attention to the process and be sure to create a smooth micro foam. Try to avoid a stiff dry foam if possible. Lastly, do not let the milk heat up past 150 degrees Fahrenheit or else the milk will curdle.
3. Pull The Espresso Shot
Now it's time to pull your single or double shots of espresso into your cup. Pay close attention to the amount of crema on the beans to ensure you are pulling espresso shots with consistency. If you want the most crema possible, you'll need to use Black Ink Espresso Beans for a rich, creamy, crema-filled shot of espresso.
4. Add Milk Layer
When the espresso shot has finished extracting, tap the milk the jug gently to remove any large unwanted air bubbles from the whole milk before adding it to your flat white. This will help ensure it is creamy rather than foamy. Once you have added the milk foam layer, it's time to enjoy!
Why Try a Flat White
Although some people contest that there is little difference between a flat white, a latte, and a cappuccino, you will notice that the flat white has a slightly different character from its close friends. A flat white has far less foam on top than a cappuccino; this makes it easier to drink on the go, but perhaps less of a special event compared to sipping on coffee all day long.
If you are struggling to decide between a latte and a flat white, you may feel at ease knowing a flat white is the healthier option. Since there is less milk involved with a flat white, you can rest assured knowing that you chose the healthier, lower calorie choice option. While the latte is generally toted by coffee purists as being a "dessert", the flat white is shown more respect since you are able to enjoy the subtle flavor nuances of the espresso still through a light layer of milk.
Stronger Tasting Option
In relation to a latte, the flat white contains less milk and offers a stronger coffee flavor. This suits people who want the convenience of a latte but also want to enjoy the strength of an espresso or americano. The flat white offers a nice middle ground between the two traditional favorites. Whether you use a single shot or a double shot, the difference between a flat white and a latte in terms of their strength is quite drastic.
A flat white is not only a flavorsome coffee with a high convenience factor; it's also very flexible and can be ordered after lunch or dinner, on the go, or even as a special drink. People love the flat white for its balance, flavor, and flexibility.
Flat White Caffeine
Although a flat white has the same amount of caffeine as that of a latte, cappuccino, mocha, americano and regular coffee, it has a unique advantage. Since the flat white is so concentrated with just a little bit of milk, it allows for a quick and efficient way to consume your coffee, proving an immediate caffeine kick. Personally, we love sipping on coffee all day long, but for those in a hurry, the flat white is your best option aside from straight up espresso.
Verdict: Are Flat Whites For You?
If you find yourself struggling or panicking at the cafe when confronted with a giant list of options, you aren't alone. For that reason, most customers default to their safety option, the latte. However, for most of you that enjoy a strong cup of coffee with less milk, the flat white is probably a better option.
As you can see, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when comparing the difference between a latte and a flat white. It’s important to understand that they are two different, albeit similar, drinks. So now you know the difference, you can now order each with confidence next time you’re in a Starbucks or a coffee house.