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Flat White vs Latte: What’s the Difference? (With Images)

CoffeeAffection_Flat white VS Latte_v1_Sep 1 2023

A latte is a pretty common drink among coffee lovers, but have you ever heard of the less common flat white? If so, do you know what makes these drinks different from each other? The main thing separating them is a special technique. We’re willing to bet that you’ll enjoy one of these drinks much more than the other. Read more to find out which one!

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What’s a Latte?

The joy of a latte comes from the combination of bold espresso with creamy milk. A latte is a classic espresso with steamed milk added to it. It typically has a thin layer of foam on the top. Lattes can be served hot or iced, which makes them easy to enjoy at any time of the year. Another fantastic quality lattes have is versatility. There is such a wide range of flavors that can be added to them that it’s hard not to find one you love. They are also fairly easy to make these days thanks to the invention of latte machines.

cup of latte with pastry on the side

What’s a Flat White?

A flat white is an espresso beverage first crafted by the Australians and then introduced to the other side of the world. It’s similar to a latte because it has espresso and steamed milk. It has less milk than a latte, so it is usually stronger tasting than a latte would be, but these drinks have the same amount of espresso. There is also a difference in technique, which gives the flat white its distinctive microfoam top.

Starbucks Flat White in paper cup on table_Kate

The Flat White Technique

The secret of the flat white technique is microfoam. Microfoam is steamed milk that is aerated just enough to form very dense, small bubbles. This microfoam is poured slowly over the espresso until it reaches the last inch or so of the cup, and then it is poured quickly to finish. This creates the white dot that often adorns the top of a flat white. This technique with microfoam is also the basis for latte art! If you want a flavored flat white, there are some options, but most people enjoy it in its classic form.

SEE ALSO: How to Make Breve Coffee at Home

Differences For Making These Drinks at Home

There is another difference between flat whites and lattes: one is easier to make at home. If crafting your flat whites and lattes at home is something that interests you, we have outlined how to make both.

Lattes are much easier to make at home. If you have a way of making espresso, such as an espresso machine or a Moka pot, all you need is hot milk. The milk can just be heated on the stovetop or in the microwave. If you have a frother, that is perfect for making a latte. Frothers do tend to make a lot of foam, though. Too much foam and you’ll have a cappuccino instead, but you probably wouldn’t complain.

Making a flat white at home is different and unfortunately not as easy as a latte, though it is still possible. A milk steam wand is the best way to get microfoam for a flat white. Frothers tend to make too many big bubbles for good microfoam. Milk steam wands are on some models of espresso machines you can buy for home use. If you are lucky enough to have one of these, you can make a flat white! Be sure to invest in a good milk steaming pitcher to help you pour accurately, and so you can practice latte art.

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Flat White vs Latte: Conclusion

So what is the key to the great flat white vs latte debate? The flat white and latte are different because of the technique used to make them and the amount of milk. Lattes are simpler to make at home and have a little bit more milk. Flat whites have a pouring technique that makes them stand out, and they have less milk, giving them a stronger coffee flavor. Now that you’re more familiar with the flat white, hopefully, you’ll try one next time you visit your local coffee shop.

Other coffee drinks we’ve compared:


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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