Flat White vs Latte: What Is The difference?

We compare flat white vs latte and explain why the former contains little milk and foam.

A cup of Latte coffee on a table.
Latter has greater foam compared to Flat White

I went to a café with my group of friends last week and was astonished to know that many of them had no idea about the different types of coffee, their flavor, and taste. I took the lead and ordered Flat Whites and Lattes, the two most popular types of coffee. In this article, I will tell you the difference between the two – Flat White vs Latte.

Flat White vsLatte what is the difference? The difference lies in the quantity of milk and espresso. The Flat White contains little quantity of milk and less foam at the top than the Latte.

Probably you're not familiar with coffee types just like my friends, now is the time to know that there are two major types; Flat White and Latte, the two most popular varieties of coffee beverages. Coffee is very popular around the world.

Apart from been popular in different parts of the world, very few people know about the differences and the various preparation method, you will soon find out the differences between Flat White and Latte as you read on.

The Quantity

If you take a closer look at Flat White and a Latte next to each other when served, there is one difference you will notice instantly, and that is the quantity. The Flat White is traditionally served in a cup of 5 to 6 ounces. This makes it smaller than a Latte, though, much bigger than an espresso.

In some larger coffee chains, the quantity is increased to 10 ounces but note that the difference is always made up with milk, which dilutes the flavor. A Latte, on the other hand, is usually prepared in an 8-ounce cup.

Now You May Want To Ask About The Coffee Content?

It is important to know that the amount of espresso in the drink doesn’t really make any difference. One can have either a single or double espresso shot in Flat White or Latte. This is because double shots are more commonly used in both to create a perfect balance between the coffee and the creaminess of the milk added.

However, individual coffee makers are at liberty to use different methods. Some baristas use a ristretto for their Flat Whites, that is, an espresso prepared with half the usual amount of water. This is a distinction between the two drinks.

I Suppose You Will Also Want To Know About How The Milk Is Added?

pouring milk on a coffee
Adding milk differentiates a Flat White from a Latte

The most distinguishing factor that makes the Flat White experience different from a Latte is the way and manner the milk is added.

When you heat up your milk, whether on the stove or with a steam wand, you will get three different elements. These elements are; liquid milk, micro-foam, and froth.

Notably at the base is the hot milk in its liquid form. As this heats up it remains smooth and silky, and later becomes slightly thicker than it was when it was cold.

At the top of the liquid milk is what is known as micro-foam. The micro-foams are small bubbles that still have a fairly liquid content. The topmost layer is the froth, big bubbles that are stiffer than micro-foam.

The making of this foam is an important part of the barista’s art.  The process of heating and frothing the milk is known as “stretching”. A professional barista spends a lot of time learning how to get the technique just right.

The milk for a White Flat is frothed, folded and swirled to blend together the bubbles and the liquid milk which creates a micro-foam mixed with a velvety content throughout the whole drink.

In a Latte, on the other hand, the foam remains at the top of the drink with a small layer of micro-foam and the liquid milk below it. That is why Lattes are often served in glasses rather than cups, so you can see the different layers.

Perfection In Pouring Is Another Important Thing

It is not just the heating and stretching of the milk that is important to get the right results. If the barista or coffee maker pours the milk wrongly into the cup or glass, he or she can undo all the good work by damaging the foam.

In preparation for pouring a Flat White, the barista will swirl the milk smoothly inside the pitcher, mixing the milk with the micro-foam. The ideal texture should be similar to glossy paint.

He or she should also give the pitcher a sharp tap on the counter to burst any large bubbles remaining on the surface of the milk. Although, this may not be necessary if the milk has been swirled well and smoothly.

A professional barista should be able to get the perfect foam for any drink simply by adjusting the speed and the angle of pouring. This technique I called “free-style pouring”.

For people like you and I who are not skilled in the art, the Flat White is the easiest option for us to pour. It should be poured as soon as possible after stretching is complete to avoid the milk been separated. In as much as the micro-foam and milk have been properly mixed, it is just a matter of pouring the liquid from the pitcher into the cup.

For a Latte, the easiest option is to pour the milk from the pitcher into the cup, using a spoon to hold back the froth. Then put a thin layer of foam on top of the coffee cup.

Thus, the finishing touches create the distinctive appearances of the two drinks. The Flat White is known as a smooth, glossy surface. The Latte, on the other hand, contains a thin layer of froth on top.

The technique of pouring the milk slowly is important to getting the crema rise to the top of the cup. This brings us to the next important distinction between a Flat White and a Latte!!!

The Crema

The crema is the golden-brown foam that you see on top of a shot of espresso. It has a sweeter taste than the liquid coffee with a silky texture. Due to the fact, a Latte is topped with a thin layer of foam, the crema is usually lost underneath.

In a professionally made Flat White, on the other hand, the crema merged with the textured milk. The result of this brought a golden smooth surface to the coffee. Those who are skilled can make the top of either a Flat White or Latte look like an artwork.

The Flavor And Strength

Our discussion will be missing in line without talking about the flavor and strength derived. We have talked about the texture and appearance now is the time to talk about the taste. Don't you think?

The different approaches in the preparation and pouring of a Flat White and Latte results in two different drinking experiences. As a Flat White also has a higher portion of coffee to milk ratio than a Latte, it also has a stronger taste. The final result is that a Latte essentially tastes like a milky coffee, while a Flat White tastes more like a creamy espresso.

See Also: ARE LATTES SUPPOSED TO BE WARM OR HOT?

How About The Price?

Yes, it is very important to talk about the price of both Flat White and Latte.

A Flat White is a slightly more expensive option than a Latte in coffee shops around the world. For instance, in the UK, the price difference has caused quite a stir with a television program called the Supershoppers that claimed customers were being ripped off.

pulling out money from a leather wallet
People are willing to pay for Flat White as the “King of cold coffee”

A Flat White and Latte contain the same amount of coffee, but a Flat White has less milk. With that been said, it means that the Latte should be more expensive, right?

One of the major reasons for the higher price tag of Flat White is its status as the King of cold coffee. This means customers are willing and prepared to pay more for the new kid on the coffee block.

Some people also argue that a premium should be paid for the artistic skill of producing the smooth micro-foam that characterizes the Flat White, unless you don't want a pretty flower topping your coffee.

There is another crucial point that will interest coffee lovers, especially those who are working on reducing or maintaining their waistline. Are you wondering what I'm driving at? That is the amount of calorie content in the Flat White and the Latte.

So, Is Choosing The Flat White Or Latte An Option For Dieting?

Sorry to hear the sad news! Inasmuch as both drinks are made with milk, they contain fat. Limiting the number of cups you drink is a good idea if you are watching your weight. Migrating from full or half-fat to skimmed milk will also make a big difference.

Since Flat White and Latte are almost the same in their proportion of milk and coffee, it means they have the same size serving and there is virtually no difference in their calorie and fat contents.

Now let’s take a look at this if 7.85 ounce Latte made with full-fat milk contains 123 calories and 4.4 grams of saturated fat, and the same sized Flat White made the same way also contains 123 calories but 4.6 grams of saturated fat.

The little difference here will be the result of the foam on top of the Latte which contains more air, so there is slightly less fat than in the Flat White. You should also not forget that Flat Whites are usually served in smaller sizes. 

Of course, if you want to get a lower calorie, you can try to invest in a Nespresso Machine, and make the low-calorie Flat White or Latte at home.

Now Let Us Quickly Look At The Recipes And Preparation Method

Recipes:

  1. Cup, 150 – 210ml capacity
  2. Espresso, 18g of ground espresso
  3. Milk, 100ml

Preparation Method:

  1. Prepare about 35 ml of espresso with your coffee machine and pour it into the base of your cup
  2. Steam the milk with the steamer attached to your machine so that it has around 1-2cm foam on top.
  3. Hold the jug to keep the spout to about 3-5 cm above the cup and pour the milk in steadily. As the volume within the cup increases, lower the jug as close to the surface of the drink as possible while aiming to pour into the center.
  4. Once the milk is almost touching the surface of the coffee, tilt the jug to speed up the rate of pouring. As you speed up the pouring, the milk will hit the back of the cup and start naturally folding in itself to create a pattern on top. I guess you’re savoring the taste already! Your Flat White is ready to enjoy.

The recipe and preparation are the same for the Latte. The only difference is that you use your spoon or something that can do the work to retain the micro-bubbles on top of the steamed milk. You can top your Latte with the remaining bubbles if you so desired.

Note:  the preparation time including steaming of the milk is done by professional within 3-4 minutes. However, it may take you and me up to 10 minutes.

See Also: CAN YOU MAKE LATTE ART WITH REGULAR COFFEE?

Flat White Vs Latte: The Final Words

Now that you have read and known from the quantity to the content, from the milk to the pouring, from the crema to the flavor and strength, from the price to your waistline, and finally to the recipe and preparation. Now you know the differences and have all the necessary information to choose between a Flat White and Latte.

See Also:
RISTRETTO VS ESPRESSO
BLACK COFFEE VS ESPRESSO

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