Coffee is an art form, much like mixing alcoholic drinks. There are countless permutations of coffee, flavorings, and other ingredients that make up our favorite pick-me-ups, including the classic flat white coffee. A regular flat white coffee contains two espresso shots, which gives it a grand total of about 130 milligrams of caffeine. With ristretto instead of espresso, the caffeine content might be a tiny bit less, depending on the preparation method.
Is a Flat White Coffee Like a Latte?
Flat white coffee is a kind of latte, but with less milk and foam. Just like a latte, a flat white has espresso, steamed milk, and foam on top. What makes it unique is that it doesn’t taste as milky as a latte, with a more full-bodied espresso flavor tempered by milk and foam. Your average flat white coffee is less dense than a latte with a velvety texture.
One big difference between the two is that flat white coffees are virtually always made with two espresso shots, while a latte in some shops may only come with one. In such cases, the latte would be weaker in taste and caffeine content than a flat white coffee.
Another major difference is in serving size. Lattes are typically served in 6-ounce or larger cups, while flat white coffees are more commonly served in 4–5-ounce cups. Depending on the coffee shop, their flat white coffee might use the same recipe as a latte but get poured into a smaller cup.
Because the milk is less frothy in a flat white coffee, there’s hardly any froth like you get with a latte. Many coffee shops add ristretto to flat white coffees to give them a unique, distinct taste. Ristretto makes the espresso taste punchier and bolder, whereas a latte disguises the espresso taste with ample milk and foam. Flat white coffees made with ristretto end up with a stronger taste, but with a bit less caffeine. For example, the flat white Starbucks caffeine level doesn’t go up even though it tastes like it does.
How Is a Flat White Coffee Made?
Every coffee shop and enthusiast has their own recipes for staple drinks like the flat white, so exact proportions vary depending on where you are. However, every flat white coffee has the same main ingredients: espresso, steamed milk, and foam.
Most commonly, the drink starts with two shots of espresso. Then, you pour in micro-foamed milk, which should have a silky texture with little froth. Milk for flat white coffee should be relatively thin in texture, while lattes use milk closer to that used in cappuccinos.
What’s Better: A Flat White Coffee or a Latte?
As with anything we consume, people have different preferences, so neither one is better or worse than the other.
Because flat white coffees are made in smaller servings, they often have a bit more caffeine than a latte and taste a little stronger. If you’re using specialty beans, you may wish to use them in a flat white coffee to more fully experience their sensory profile.
Lattes are usually larger and with a strong milky taste that obscures the espresso’s flavor. In shops that use one shot for lattes, they prioritize the drink’s milky flavor even more.
Flat white coffees are similar to lattes, but with thinner milk and less foam. Standard recipes will usually yield a drink with 130 milligrams of caffeine, which is nothing to scoff at. If you enjoy lattes but want to try something a bit different, consider ordering a flat white coffee on your next coffee run.
Featured Image Credit: eduardovieiradp, Pixabay