Flat White vs Latte – The Comparison Guide

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Poulami Ganguly

Flat White vs Latte - Comparison Guide

Flat White vs Latte – both have been on specialty coffee shop menus across the globe for years. Though they look alike, they ain’t the same, and only a few are aware of the areas that differentiate latte from flat white or vice versa. Today’s post does the job of a detailed comparison that figures out what makes flat white different from a latte.

Coffee is polymorphic – like its delectability, its different forms are also vibrant. When it comes to naming the most popular coffee-infused beverage in existence, many of us will probably vote for a latte. However, the community of exceptionalists may stick to a specialty drink like flat white. 

Unless you are ultrasensitive about your coffee experience, both of these beverages may look similar or somehow the same. But the true coffee activists are keenly aware of the fact that latte and flat white are entirely two different beasts. 

It’s a sure thing that your curiosity or willingness to enrich your coffee knowledge base has dragged you here, and we are happy to help you cultivate the right lesson. Let’s walk together through the curves that expose the difference – Flat White vs Latte.

Everything about Flat white

The story associated with Flat White’s origin is really not that ‘Flat’ – in fact, it’s way controversial! 

Aussies claim that in Wellington’s Cafe Bodega, Fraser McInnes coined the term “Flat White” to describe a little-frothed cappuccino. Since coffee culture has always been mainstream in Australia, the popularity of that ‘so-called’ less-frothed yet delicious cappuccino saw a different degree of popularity. Gradually, other cafes also started to include Flat White in their menu.

On the other hand, according to New Zealand, their own Derek Townsend is the inventor of Flat White. He prepared this recipe at DKF Cafe in 1984. There’s a legend that Derek could make 1,500 flat whites in an hour!!

But which of the stories is close to reality? Probably, nobody may ever know, but what is pretty known and evident – is flat white’s enhancing footprint. The beverage became more mainstream when Starbucks started to serve it as a vivid substitute for a latte in the USA.

What Exactly Defines Flat White?

Well… let’s face it! Flat White doesn’t have any standard definition – while some cafes call it a ‘small latte,’ others claim that it’s something entirely different. Thanks to Sprudge – they carried out a survey in New Zealand and Australia, which has helped the coffee world to develop a near-to-clear idea about the factors that define Flat White. So, here’s what you can expect upon ordering flat white –

  • 5.5oz and 6oz large cup size ( 70 % of the participants claim this)
  • Contains standard double shot espresso ( 59 % agreed to this)
  • A little to no foam (65% stated this)

In a nutshell, a flat white is an espresso-forward coffee beverage that blends steamed milk and microfoam. Flat white is considered one of the most robust forms of milky espresso because of its espresso to milk ratio – of 3:1. It’s ‘flat’ because it’s never overly foamy, and it’s ‘white’ because it’s intensely milk infused (milk=white; an eternal truth and a pre-nursery lesson 😉). 

Texture, Nuance, and Taste…

Typically, flat whites have 50% as much milk as a latte, which allows you to cherish the robustness of the absolute espresso flavor. It’s still steamed, making its subtle sweetness rightly compatible with the unique notes of the beans used. However, you shouldn’t expect a flat white to be creamy; it’s always milky instead.

Flat White – Through Different Lense

Coffee beverages are extraordinarily flexible because their preparatory methods or recipes are invariably preference-based, making abstract orientation a mere formality. Needless to say, the flat white is not an exception. Coffee scholars from different parts of the globe see this espresso-forward beverage through different lenses, and here’s a glance at their vibrant opinions…

A flat white is 5–6 oz with a double shot of espresso. Very thinly textured milk… flat, flat milk.” – Ceiran Trigg (the director of Ancestors Coffee, Norwich, UK)

“Flat white: best-selling espresso drink at third-wave coffee shops. It’s very marketable and has its very own recipes according to the barista’s mood and skills,” – Felipe Cisneros (the owner of Traviesa Coffee in Quito, Ecuador)

Like a latte with a little less milk and more espresso”– ( Hugh Jackman, Australian actor)

Flat White – A Quick Round-Up

Originated in: Australia/ New Zealand (never-ending debated)

Most Used Formula: Espresso (double shot), Steamed Milk (4-5 oz), & Microfoam .5 oz)

Robustness: High

Nuance: Espresso, milky

Served in: Ceramic Cappuccino Mug (Typically)

All About Latte

Europeans are prone to mix milk and espressos, and the trend has been in existence since the 1700s. All of these milk-infused coffee beverages are apparently too strong ( at least most Americans say so 😐). Latte is one of the results of such a mix-and-match experiment).

In 1867 (approximately), Latte showed up for the very first time in Italy. Kenneth Davids, one of the coffee aficionados of that time, once mentioned that – “the caffe latte was an American creation that was essentially a coffee-fied version of the regular Italian latte,” which evidences that the latte is the brainchild of Italy. 

However, most coffee experts agree that the latte is the invention of the Americans who craved a less-concentrated cup while enjoying their Italy trip. In other words, the latte is like a child who was born in Italy but is inherently American.

What Exactly Defines Latte?

Latte’s abstract definition looks like this-

Single or double shot espresso that is served in an 8 oz glass, blended with milk, and topped with 1 cm thick foam. Proficients prefer to decorate their lattes with beautiful designs, and the practice is officially called ‘latte art.’

However, the US version of the latte is a little tweaked – it’s switched over to a 10-20 ounces ceramic mug and involves more milk usage for the same amount of espresso.

You might like – How to make Latte at home

Texture, Nuance, and Taste…

Lattes contain 2x more milk than other espresso-based coffee beverages, which essentially makes them ‘milky.’ Its base coffee flavors are profoundly concealed with the sweetness of milk, making it the ideal drink for those who want lighter cups. Overall, a latte is caramelly, creamy, and smooth.

Latte – Through Different Lenses

Latte is always a discussion, and you will be amazed to learn that even famed names don’t miss to quote latte! Here are a few popular opinions on a latte –

“We busy ladies need our coffee fix in the morning. My day doesn’t really start until I’ve had my Starbucks latte” – Heidi Klum ( Popular German-American model)

Best part of the day – Latte” – Emma Roberts

“Sips moonlight soy latte” – Ariana Grande ( via Instagram)

Latte – A Quick Round-Up

Originated in: Italy (By Americans)

Most Used Formula: Espresso ( Single shots ), Steamed Milk (8-16oz), Microfoam (1.5-2 oz)

Robustness: Light

Nuance: Milky, caramelly, sweet-ish, creamy

Served in: Ceramic Mug (U.S.A) or Tall Glass (across the globe)

Flat White vs Latte – Which One Should You Pick?

Flat White vs Latte

If it’s about choosing the one between the most controversial and the most ordered coffee beverages in the globe – confusion is pretty predictable. So here I’m to help ( in making the right choice, of course)! 

When you can’t decide what to order – Flat White Vs Latte – here’s what you should consider.

What’s your Cuppa Joe – A chill shot or a strong hit?

As said earlier, because of their high caffeine content, lattes come with a subtle espresso flavor. They are richer in sweetness and crema. On the other hand, a flat white, because of its higher espresso-to-milk ratio, is essentially stronger. So, if you are craving a lighter and rejuvenating caffeine shot, go for a latte. Conversely, for a stronger and more sensitive coffee experience, hold the hands of flat white. 

Do you want to sip a bigger cup?

While flat whites are typically 6 oz/cup, lattes tend to be bigger – they range from 10oz to 20oz. So, if you’re planning to enjoy a coffee session that lasts at least an hour, a latte is your pick. Contrarily, for a quick cafe visit, flat whites are ideal.

Do microfoams turn you off?

You can characterize a latte by its visible layer of microfoams, and if you get exceptionally turned off by it, a latte is not for you. In such a scenario, you can count on flat white as they hardly have microfoams – they’re all about espresso and steamed milk.

**Pro-tip: To make the most out of your flat white experience, it’s always recommended to ask the baristas how they make the beverage. Now when you know almost everything about the drink, it will help you ensure that you’re getting the real ‘flat white’!

Flat White & Latte at home

Home baristas, you can definitely enrich your brewing experience by trying out the recipes of flat white and latte at home! All that you need are – an espresso machine ( preferably with a grinder, in case you don’t have one, stand-alone coffee grinders also do the job fine), milk, and most importantly, patience. 

It’s worth mentioning here that new home baristas can find making flat white easier as it doesn’t involve the tiresome task of creating crema-like microfoams. However, be it a latte or a flat white, it’s essential to use premium quality, freshly ground beans to extract the best flavors.

Wrapping Up

That’s all, folks… I’ve finally got you covered with everything that you need to know about flat white vs. latte. I believe most of you have already tried latte many times, but if you’re yet to experience the magic of flat white – make it happen on your next visit to your favorite cafe. A better idea is to brew both of the drinks at home and feel the differences even more upfront. Keep sipping!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Flat white better than a latte?

Both the drinks are supreme in their own areas. While the latte is light and creamy, the flat white is robust and milky. So, it’s all about your preference.

Latte or Flat white – Which one is the breakfast beverage?

As latte contains more milk, it’s heavier on the stomach. Due to this reason, in Italy, a latte is called a breakfast beverage.

Can I drink Flat White or Latte if I am Vegan?

Be it a flat white or a latte; vegans can enjoy them just by replacing the traditional milk with oat, soy, or almond milk.

Can I get an Iced Flat White?

Yes, you can definitely cherish an iced version of flat white by skipping the steaming process. Just pouring ice and cold milk over espresso will do the job.

Do Iced Lattes have foam?

For iced lattes, you don’t need to froth your milk, as hot milk will melt the ice. However, you can still use cold foam, which is made without using steam or heat.

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