How To Make a Flat White Coffee?

Love your flat white and looking to skip your daily visit to the coffee shop?

Well stick around and learn what exactly makes this little punchy coffee drink from Australia as good as it is, and learn exactly how to make a Flat White at home to surpass any coffee shops barista.

Flat White

First lets look at what one is and why it is different to the usual coffee staples.

What Is a Flat White Coffee?

Flat white coffee is an espresso based drink with textured milk and microfoam.

Micro foam contains steamed milk that has been lightly infused with air. It produces silky textured milk with tiny bubbles. When crafted correctly air bubbles can’t be clearly seen by the drinker.

It is usually served in a quantity of 5.5 – 6 ounces, significantly lower than the typical cappuccinos or lattes.

Being smaller and containing less milk, means a greater coffee to milk ratio.

How it differs to other drinks

The flat white is often referred to as a mini latte, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is a perfectly balanced drink in its own right, with a velvety texture and strong coffee flavour

The Difference Between A Flat White & A Latte

Flat whites are always made with 2 shots of espresso, compared to 1 shot for a latte.

They are both made with the same type of milk, which has a smooth velvety texture thanks to thousands of tiny air bubbles. It is this frothed milk that allows for the creation of latte art

The small but essential difference is the amount. A flat white is usually made with 4 ounces, where as a traditional latte has much more at between 7-8 ounces.

This results in a stronger coffee flavour for the drinker.

The Difference Between Flat Whites & Cappuccino

Again the flat white is a stronger beverage always containing 2 espresso shots, a cappuccino will traditionally have 1, but can have 2 on request.

The big difference is again down to the milk. As you have learnt the flat white is made with silky smooth steamed milk. A cappuccino on the other hand has a balance of both steamed milk and foamed milk

For more on Cappuccino’s and Latte I have a full guide here.

Why Is It Called Flat White?

In Australia they had a very simple naming convention for their coffees, they had a black coffee for drinks without milk, white coffee was a black coffee with milk.

With the influx of Southern European immigrants after the second world war, the culture around coffee started to shift. Coffee shops begin to pop up and the espresso culture took hold.

Some Aussies wanted to be able to recreate their traditional plunger coffee with a little milk. Cappuccino had too much foam, so they used espresso topped with a little steam warmed milk instead.

Hence they named it “Flat” after the milk with no foam, and “White” as it was a coffee with milk (1).

Making The Perfect Flat White Coffee at Home [The Recipe]

Ok so now you have an appreciation of what the flat white is and what makes it unique, it is time to learn how to craft your own at home.

All recipes will differ slightly but, but should be fundamentally the same.

How to Make a Flat White

Equipment You Will Need

  • Fresh coffee beans, the secret to any decent home coffee
  • Espresso machine
  • Grinder
  • Or Bean to cup coffee machine (coffee machine with in built grinder)
  • Milk jug and whole milk (you can use other milk see below)
  • Cup or mug to make it in

The Perfect Espresso Shot

The key to making a good espresso is too always start with great coffee, I always recommend fresh whole beans , and grinding them as you need.

You can of course use a good quality fresh pre-ground coffee instead.

You will need roughly 16grams to make the required double shot.

Or alternately you may use a bean to cup coffee machine, which is a fancy espresso machine with in built grinder.

You will want to make the espresso directly into your pre-warmed cup/mug.

espresso pouring

Steaming and Frothing Your Milk

Now you have your espresso it is time to make the perfect microfoam.

You will need to add slightly more milk than you need for each drink, so for one drink fill 5-6 ounces in your milk jug.

The ideal way to create micro foam is to submerse the tip of the steam wand just under the surface of the milk 5-6mm will do. Then hold the jug at an angle of about 45o, this will give a larger surface area.

Turn the steam wand on to full power and adjust the height of the jug until you hear the familiar hiss. As the milk rises, raise the jug to lower the wand back into the milk. This will stop the milk becoming too foamy.

Once the milk becomes hot and has silky smooth texture, turn off the steam.

Gently tap the side of the milk jug and gently swirl the milk to disperse any large bubbles .

Tip : If your machine doesn’t have a milk frother you can buy a stand alone version.

Oracle milk texturing

Tell me the best milk for frothing?

  • Fresh whole milk : creates a creamier thicker foam when steamed – The best for making flat white
  • Skimmed or Low fat milk : will produce a greater amount of foam with larger bubbles and lighter density.
  • Non-Dairy milk drinkers try almond or oat milk : Plant based milk will produce a lighter milk similar to skimmed milk.

Combining the Two

Ok so you have a perfectly brewed espresso and some silky milk foam, its time to combine the two and make a amazing flat white.

You should have brewed your double shots straight into the mug you will serve in, so all you need to do now is slowly pour as much milk as you desire into the espresso.

Pouring a flat white

Summing up

As coffee beverages go the Flat White is the perfect little drink for anyone looking for strong taste but enjoys a little milk with their coffee.

Being easy to make at home with just a little equipment and some skill there really is no need to waste money at the local coffee shop.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Flat Whites Stronger Than Lattes & Cappuccinos?

A flat white coffee recipe will generally have two shots of espresso in, compared to 1 or 2 in both a Latte or Cappuccino. Combine this with the fact it contains less milk and the result is coffees with a stronger taste.

How To Make a Flat White With Nespresso?

To make a flat white with a Nespresso machine, simply pour a double shot using your favourite pod and then steam required amount of milk. Combine the two for a delicious coffee.

Making a Flat White With a French Press

Make a French Press concentrated Espresso by following the method described here. Then add 4 ounces of milk pre steamed to produce a Flat White.

How To Make a Flat White With Instant Coffee?

If you’re making one with instant then you probably have no fancy coffee equipment.

  1. Start with the best instant coffee you can get
  2. Dissolve 4 grams of dried coffee in 30ml of hot water.
  3. Gently heat cold milk on the stove (or microwave) and whisk to froth up.
  4. Pour the milk into your concentrated coffee shot

How Much Caffeine Does a Flat White Contain?

The average espresso shot contains 45-60mg of caffeine. So the two shots in your drink will contain 90-120mg of caffeine.

About Jacques Carner

Jacques is the man behind behind We Spill The Beans. He as a lover of all things coffee, and has previously worked as a buyer for one of the biggest coffee companies in the world. You can find more about him here.