What Is A Flat White? Flat White Vs Cappuccino

So, the question we always get is what is a flat white? And what the hell is the difference between the flat white vs cappuccino?

Well in this article, we are going to explain the difference as simply as possible and hopefully leave you with a much better understanding of what a flat white actually is!

Milk-based coffee drinks have become extremely popular and trendy in recent years.

But what exactly are the main differences that distinguish the preparation.

What Is A Flat White? How Does It Differ From A Cappuccino?

A flat white is a milk-based coffee drink which, at first sight, can be easily mistaken for a cappuccino.

It too is in fact covered by a thin milk foam and served in similar cups as a cappuccino.

But deep within the magical drink lies a few key differences.

So, what are the main differences between a cappuccino and flat white?

Let’s quickly break it down below as simply as possible.

  • Finer froth: flat white is also served with milk froth, but it is more fluid and finer (we call it a micro foam). Compared to cappuccino froth, which is light and more airy.
  • Fewer layers: a proper cappuccino has three layers; flat white only has two.
  • Intense flavor: a flat white is prepared using a greater quantity of ground coffee. For this reason it turns out to have a more intense and stronger flavor than cappuccino.


  • Ratio milk and coffee: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 frothed milk.
  • How to serve? In a cup of 150 – 180 ml.
  • Taste: balanced, fluffy, creamy, espresso.

Flat White:

  • Ratio milk and coffee: Double shot of espresso, 2/3 steamed milk (with micro foam).
  • How to serve? Same as a cup of cappuccino, or in a slightly smaller one.
  • Taste: espresso, smooth, milky.
What is a flat white? Flat white vs cappuccino

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The History

The difference between a flat white and a cappuccino is not only in the preparation, but also in the history of their origins.

Let’s start with the famous cappuccino.

When we think about cappuccino, we immediately associate it with Italy, which is still the homeland of great coffee.

But believing cappuccino was born there is a mistake.

This hot beverage originally comes from Austria, where it is called “Kapuziner”.

It was already served in the seventeenth century in Viennese cafes, traditionally with whipped cream.

It seems that this specialty was later spread in the retinue of Austrian soldiers in northern Italy, where cream was replaced by milk foam.

The flat white, on the other hand, is a beverage which originated in Oceania in the 1980’s.

There is a strong dispute between Australians and New Zealanders over the paternity and origin of this preparation… and no consensus has yet been reached in our time.

nevertheless, we thank whoever created the flat white, because it is one of our favorites!

What Are The Differences In Preparation?

Flat white what is it? Flat white vs cappuccino

The ingredients to prepare flat white and cappuccino are identical: coffee and milk.

What distinguishes them is the method of preparation.

While the cappuccino is prepared with espresso and milk, the traditional flat white has a double ristretto as its base. This is how the intense taste experience of flat white is created.

The flat white can be prepared using an espresso machine, the same for the cappuccino.

First, a double ristretto is poured into the flat white. If you prefer a less strong coffee, you can use a double espresso or a plain ristretto.

This is followed by the milk froth, to which only a little air is added, allowing the consistency to remain fairly fluid and the froth very fine.

It’s also called micro foaming.

Unlike the cappuccino, the flat white has only two layers – the crown of dense foam typical of the cappuccino is not present in the flat white.

The Foam

Flat white vs cappuccino

The Foam: Flat White

Compared to a cappuccino, the flat whites’s milk froth is smooth and velvety, which blends more into the overall taste of the drink.

As we mentioned earlier, when ordering a flat white, you will be getting a micro foam. It’s almost similar to that of normal foam, except the bubbles are a lot smaller.

The key is that the foam does NOT sit at the top of the milk, such is the case when usually preparing foamed milk.

The difference is perceptible even at the sight, as you can see the thin foam that separates from the coffee milk.

Once made, the foam is poured over the coffee and allows the two to mix together.

The Foam: Cappuccino

For a perfect cappuccino the milk foam must be airy and light, and cover about one third of the cup.

Think about the last cappuccino you drank, and how airy and light the foam is when sipping.

The froth is not mixed into the drink, and will sit on top of the coffee.

And the coffee? Coffee should have an intense and strong aroma.

When you taste your cappuccino you should feel at first the delicate taste of milk froth and, soon after, the intense aroma of coffee mixed with milk.

Whereas with a flat white, the coffee flavor is almost immediately present.

Cappuccino Vs Flat White: Which One Should You Choose?

Both coffees are delicious to drink, but there are little details you can consider when choosing the right one for you.

Do You Prefer A Coffee With A Stronger Or Less Strong Flavor?

Both drinks are quite similar, and are always loved by all coffee drinkers.

However, if you are looking for something a little bit lighter, then a flat white is perfect for you.

But if you want something stronger with a more defined coffee taste, then the cappuccino does the trick.

Less strong flavor: choose a flat white.

Strong flavor: choose a cappuccino.

How Do You Prefer The Foam Of Your Coffee Drink?

The characteristic of flat white is just that of the micro foam, which is a small and light micro foam perfect for those who prefer a more liquid coffee drink.

On the contrary, the cappuccino has a denser, creamier foam, perfect for those who prefer a more fluffy drink.

More liquid milky drink: choose a flat white.

More fluffy and creamy drink: choose a cappuccino.

How To Prepare A Flat White & Cappuccino At Home

Both of these drinks are pretty easy to make at home. You just need a coffee grinder, an espresso machine, and some practice when it comes to steaming milk – that’s the tricky part!

How To Prepare Cappuccino At Home

  1. Preheat the cup.
  2. Fill it with a shot of espresso.
  3. Ensure that a golden brown cream forms on the espresso.
  4. Heat the milk to 65 °C and froth it.
  5. Make sure it reaches a frothy and shiny consistency.
  6. Slowly add the milk and top foam to the coffee.
  7. Sprinkle with cocoa powder.

How To Prepare Flat White At Home

  1. Prepare a double espresso.
  2. Prepare some very liquid milk froth (let air into the milk only the very first few seconds of frothing) heated to 55°/65°.
  3. Combine the milk with the espresso coffee.

If all of this seems to difficult, simply head to your nearest coffee shop and order your favorite drink!


Flat whites and cappuccinos are really both delicious coffee drinks!

Is there a clear favorite? Definitely not.

But the beauty of it all is you can drink both drinks.

So next time you head to the coffee shop, order which ever you feel like.

You will always love it!