What Is A Flat White Coffee?

Order a flat white in the United States and you’ll most likely get a blank look from your barista. Explain it to them and they can be forgiven for mistaking it for a latte. And rightly so, as the key difference between the two is a few millimetres of foam.


A flat white is traditionally made in a ceramic cup with one shot of espresso, steamed milk and a very small layer of micro-foam on top. Some baristas argue that a flat white should have no micro-foam at all. But the general consensus favours 2-5ml of foam mainly to prevent spills.

But how did this cafe-latte-like drink come about? Well, first you have to understand where it was made to know why it was made.

Most people are lead to believe that the flat white originated down under in Australia. But in fact its origins, like Russell Crowe, can be traced back to Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand.

In Australia and New Zealand, lattes are traditionally served in a glass tumbler rather than in a ceramic cup. However, some consumers grew to dislike the extra foam of the latte and the grasp of tumbler glass. And so the flat white was born.

The flat white has made some appearances in countries above the northern hemisphere of this little world. However mainly in speciality cafes or in venues owned by expatriate Aussies and Kiwis.

If you’re thinking of trying one out for yourself its very easy to make. Just take off the foam from your cafe latte or preferably reduce the amount of micro-foam made when steaming your milk.

Have you tried a flat white before or do you think it’s just a cafe latte in disguise? Tell us below.

About the Author Ivan Bez

Ivan is the founder of Latte Art Guide and a barista with 5+ years of experience. He loves coffee and aims to help people improve their coffee making skills. Learn more about him here.

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