Make Mine a Flat White

By / Wine + Drinks / June 14th, 2016 / 11

Flat whites, one of the hottest coffee trends to hit North America, have been steaming up the café scene since Starbucks added them to their menu in early 2015. It hails from Australia and New Zealand, where they’ve been enjoying flat whites since the mid-1980s. In fact, it’s their number-one coffee style of choice. Now that it has made its way to our side of the world, people are a bit confused, especially since the flat white is so similar to the other coffee styles. Well, we’re here to explain what all the fuss is about.


Not a Small Latte

Both the flat white and the latte have a shot or two of espresso combined with steamed/frothed milk, but that is where the similarities end:

The Milk

FW: Made with microfoam, milk that has a glossy or velvety texture due to small, fine bubbles. The milk is stretched (frothed, folded and swirled) while it is being steamed with a steam wand to make microfoam.

L: Made with steamed milk.


The Pour

FW: Once the milk is ready, good baristas swirl it to fold the froth into the liquid. Then they pour it straight into the espresso, holding nothing back.

L: The foam is held back so that only hot milk is poured into the espresso, with a dollop of foam added at the end.


The Glass

FW: Served in white ceramic cups, roughly 140 ml in size.

L: Served in anything from a glass to a mug.


The Look

FW: An even, dusky orange swirl at the top due to the crema (caramelized coffee) combining with the milk; latte art is generally discouraged.

L: Heard of latte art?



FW: Essentially tastes like a smooth, milky espresso — the milk softens the harsh, bitter qualities of the espresso, so it’s sweeter with a velvety texture.

L: More like drinking a milky brewed coffee.


Make Your Own

This recipe has an alternative to a steam wand because, let’s face it, not all of us have one of those.

1 cup milk

1 shot espresso


In a saucepan, heat milk to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil). Pull one shot of espresso in a white ceramic mug. Remove milk from heat and whisk until frothy. Fold the foam into the milk and pour over espresso.


A freelance writer and editor, Lisa Hoekstra loves learning and trying new things. She can be found with her nose in a book or multiple tabs open on her browser as she researches the latest and greatest in the world of food, style and everything in between.

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