What is a Flat White coffee?

by Rishi Shah
(Woodstock, GA USA)

Flat White coffee from Starbucks

Flat White coffee from Starbucks

Flat White coffee from Starbucks
Starbucks signage for Flat White coffee.



Recently Starbucks has started advertising Flat White Latte showing texture of milk in TV Ads.

Is that not how milk for latte supposed to be steamed?

What is so different about it that Starbucks is trying to say?



Good question.

A Flat White is similar to a latte, but not the same.

It’s also incredibly trendy right now. Any self-respecting hipster, with his carefully groomed beard, can be found ordering a Flat White rather than a latte or cappuccino.

How is it different?

Well, the espresso shot is the same. But the overall volume of the drink is generally smaller. A Flat White has less milk. For example, a typical latte will contain 220ml of milk, while a Flat White will contain just 180ml.

In addition, there is less of a “head”, which is why it’s called “flat”.

This is because the milk is steamed and not frothed. You don’t get that frothy mountain of milk foam on the top.

The milk on top has a more velvet taste, compared to the air-filled foam on a latte.

So there you have it. A Flat White is generally a smaller beverage, with one or two shots of espresso. It’s smaller because there is less milk, and the milk is steamed and flat rather than frothed and mountainous.

As for its origins, the Flat White first came on the scene in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1980s. Or, if you come from New Zealand, you’ll say it was invented in New Zealand in the 1980s. One or the other.

Personally, I quite like the Flat White. I like a good latte too, but really don’t need the mountain of frothy and largely tasteless milk at the top.

I hope this answers your question!


Comments for What is a Flat White coffee?

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Feb 09, 2015
The Flat White: Still Calls Australia Home
by: Sharyn Inzunza

When I (too) was in Starbucks recently and saw "flat white" on the menu, my first thought was: "Is that the Aussie flat white?"

I need to rewind a little…

In the mid 1980s, I started working at a trendy restaurant in Melbourne (Australia). "Pasta Junction" had an in-restaurant kitchen where fresh pasta was flipped in woks just feet from the customers’ tables.

It’s also where I learned to make a flat white (along with "caps" and café lattes). The flat white didn't seem trendy but simply part of the coffee menu. (Thanks to the WWII Greek and Italian immigrants, Australia has been drinking excellent coffee for a long time.)

Fast forward to my local Starbucks in Colorado. The enlarged picture of a flat white stared back at me. Puzzled, I ordered one.

It was flat white-ish...minus the the coffee taste that I know as "Australian." Also absent, and this is often overlooked, was the "real" cup and saucer.

A flat white in a paper cup (as well as caps and lattes for that matter) loses something - like the flavorful line of coffee-stained milk at the rim of the cup - and gains, I guess, a to-go cup flavor.

Will I order the Starbucks flat white again? Sure, because it’s less milky than a latte and more drink than a cappuccino. It’s also an excuse to let my memories of Aussie culture (and home) flood back in.

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