Coffee Facts & Science

What is a Flat White?: Explained

Of all the drinks on a cafe menu, one of the most complicated to explain is the Flat White. Why?

There is no 100% accurate definition for a flat white.

If you ask 10 different specialty coffee baristas, “What is a flat white”, you will receive 11 different answers.

It’s one of those drinks that has evolved over the years and taken various forms which brings it to it’s unique, hard-to-pin-down form today.


I will save you the time and research by giving you the 2 most distinct factors of a Flat White that set it apart from other drinks:

  1. Espresso to Milk Ratio: It has a higher rate of milk than a cappuccino, but a lower rate of milk than a latte
    • (latte: 7-9oz milk, flat white: 5-6oz milk, cappuccino: 3oz milk, all with 2 shots espresso)
  2. Milk Texture: It is very thinly textured, more so than a latte (aka: less frothy)


How does the taste compare to a latte?

Being that the latte is a very familiar drink, and potentially it’s closest relative, we will make a quick comparison:

Things to keep in mind:

  • Every Cafe does it differently: Be sure to ask the barista how they make their version of the Flat White
  • Don’t let the little white dot on Starbucks’ Flat White’s confuse you…that little white dot Is Not a defining factor of a Flat White
  • Many cafes are doing Flat White’s with ristretto shots rather than espresso shots
    • A ristretto shot is an Espresso shot that has a higher grounds to water ratio…AKA…stronger/ richer than Espresso…but when added to milk, a bit more smooth and less bitter

Next time you are at a cafe, and you see a Flat White on the menu, you can now order it with zeal knowing that you know exactly what it is. 



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5 comments on “What is a Flat White?: Explained

  1. Kool post! 😊

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  3. Pingback: Coffee Lingo Dictionary - Coffee Made Better

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