flat white

Are you a coffee lover who wants to know the caffeine content of your favorite coffee drinks - flat white and latte? In this in-depth comparison guide, we're breaking down the caffeine content, milk, and brewing methods used in these two popular drinks. Get ready to discover which one will give you the caffeine boost you need for a productive day. Let's dive in and find out!

Flat White and Latte: A Brief Overview

When it comes to popular espresso-based drinks, flat white and latte often come to mind. Both beverages are made up of espresso and steamed milk, which makes them similar. However, there are key differences between them in terms of the milk used, the frothiness, and the caffeine content.

In terms of milk type, flat whites are specifically made with microfoam milk. This is steamed milk that has been aerated to create a velvety and thick texture. Lattes, on the other hand, can be made with any type of milk, and their steamed milk is slightly more frothy than that of a flat white.

Regarding frothiness, the flat white has a more subtle texture, consisting of about ¼-inch microfoam at the top. This is due to stretching the milk by about 20-25% during steaming. Conversely, the latte is medium frothy, with a ⅜-inch microfoam on top, achieved by stretching the milk between 25-35%.

As for flavor, the flat white is more strongly flavored due to the lower milk-to-coffee ratio. It has a richer and sharper espresso taste compared to the more milk-forward latte, which is somewhat sweeter and less intense.

Caffeine content also plays a role in differentiating these coffee drinks:

  • Flat white: contains two espresso shots, which typically have around 68mg of caffeine each, totaling approximately 136mg per flat white.
  • Latte: usually made with one shot of espresso but can be made with two espressos as well, resulting in around 68-136mg of caffeine, depending on the size.

Lastly, the serving size is another factor that sets these beverages apart. Flat whites are presented in a smaller cup size (around 165ml), while lattes are served in larger cups (approximately 240ml). This difference in serving size and milk-to-coffee ratios contributes to the distinction in strength and flavor between the two drinks.

In summary, flat whites and lattes may both be espresso-based beverages with steamed milk, but they differ in milk type, frothiness, flavor, caffeine content, and serving size. Armed with this information, you can now make an informed decision about which coffee drink suits your preferences best.

Origins and Popularity

Flat White Origins

The Flat White, originating in Australia and New Zealand, is a popular espresso-based drink that has become a global sensation. Although the origins of the Flat White are contested, it is widely believed to have emerged in Sydney during the 1980s. This drink has gained popularity among coffee enthusiasts, particularly Aussies and Kiwis, due to its strong espresso taste and creamy, velvety milk texture. The distinctive feature of a Flat White is its use of microfoam milk, which is steamed milk aerated to create a thick and smooth texture.

Latte Origins

The Latte, or Caffè Latte, has its roots in Italy, where it was traditionally served as a morning drink. The term "latte" is derived from the Italian phrase "caffè latte," which translates to "milk coffee." The distinct characteristic of a latte is the incorporation of steamed milk topped with a layer of foam. This combination of ingredients results in a sweeter, less intense coffee profile than the Flat White.

Both the Flat White and the Latte have managed to gain worldwide popularity, becoming beloved choices among coffee drinkers. While the Flat White maintains a stronger espresso flavor due to its smaller size and microfoam milk, the Latte leans towards a more subtle, creamy coffee taste with its foam layer and larger serving size. As coffee culture continues to evolve, these espresso-based drinks remain staples in cafes and coffee shops, highlighting the unique nuances of each beverage.

Ingredients and Preparation


Both flat white and latte share the common ingredient of espresso. A flat white typically contains two shots of espresso, totaling around 136mg of caffeine. In contrast, a latte usually has one shot of espresso, with a caffeine content of 68mg, but can be doubled for a stronger version. Espresso is brewed using an espresso machine, where hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee beans under high pressure.


The type of milk used in these coffee beverages is another key difference. While lattes can be made with any type of milk, flat whites require the use of microfoam milk. To create microfoam milk, the milk has to be steamed to obtain a thick, velvety texture. The milk in a latte, on the other hand, needs to be steamed to a slightly lesser degree, which results in a milkier taste than a flat white.

Coffee Drink Milk Type Milk-to-Espresso Ratio
Flat White Microfoam milk (steamed, 20-25% stretched) Lower
Latte Steamed milk (25-35% stretched) Higher

Texture and Microfoam

The texture and microfoam of these coffee drinks contribute to their unique characteristics. Flat whites have a thinner layer of microfoam on top, with just about ¼ inch, providing a creamier and richer mouthfeel. The steamed milk used in a flat white is stretched to 20-25%, ensuring a smooth velvety foam that blends well with the espresso.

Lattes, in comparison, have a thicker layer of foam at about ⅜ inch, giving them a medium frothy texture. The steamed milk in a latte is stretched between 25-35%, making it milkier than a flat white. This creates a lighter and more balanced taste, where the milk doesn't overwhelm the espresso flavor.

Overall, the choice between a flat white and a latte comes down to personal preference. Fans of stronger, richer coffee with a creamy mouthfeel might opt for a flat white, while those who enjoy a milder, milkier taste can choose a latte. The differences in espresso shots, milk type, and the method of steaming milk set these coffee drinks apart, allowing coffee enthusiasts to find the one that suits their tastes best. Furthermore, the quality of your coffee is significantly impacted by the machine you use. For businesses or avid coffee lovers wanting to deliver consistent and high-quality espresso-based drinks, you might want to consider purchasing a commercial espresso machine. With options tailored for commercial use, these machines are designed to provide a premium coffee experience.

Caffeine Content

When comparing flat whites and lattes, one of the key factors to consider is the caffeine content. Knowing the differences in the caffeine levels is essential for those who want to control their daily caffeine intake.

Flat whites typically contain two espresso shots, which have around 68mg of caffeine each, totaling approximately 136mg of caffeine per flat white. The use of two shots in a flat white results in a stronger coffee flavor, especially since flat whites have less milk compared to lattes.

Lattes, on the other hand, generally use just one shot of espresso, which contains around 68mg of caffeine. However, lattes can also be made with two espresso shots, depending on the size and preference. This means that the caffeine content in a latte can vary between 68-136mg. Since lattes have more milk, the coffee flavor is diluted, making them taste less strong than flat whites.

Here's a quick breakdown of the usual caffeine content:

  • Flat White: ~136mg (2 espresso shots)
  • Latte: 68-136mg (1 or 2 espresso shots)

The ristretto shot is another variable to consider when discussing the caffeine content of these beverages. Ristretto refers to a short, concentrated shot of espresso. By using a ristretto shot instead of a standard espresso shot, both flat whites and lattes will have a slightly lower caffeine content while still maintaining the richness and intensity of the coffee flavor.

In conclusion, the main factors affecting the caffeine content in flat whites and lattes are the number of espresso shots and the type of shot used (standard or ristretto). Adjusting these factors allows coffee drinkers to select a beverage that best suits their taste and caffeine preferences.

Taste and Flavor Profiles

When comparing flat white and latte, there are some notable differences in taste and flavor profiles. Both beverages are essentially coffee beverages with steamed milk, but their taste and intensity vary due to the milk and espresso proportions.

Flat White

A flat white is a dual espresso shot drink served in a smaller cup, which gives it a richer and more intense coffee flavor. It is made with microfoam milk, which is steamed milk aerated to create a thick and velvety texture. This distinct texture adds a smooth layer to the coffee, enhancing the coffee's natural notes and flavors without overpowering them.

  • Flavor Profile: Rich and intense coffee flavor, subtle sweetness from the microfoam milk
  • Notes: Bold espresso, creamy and velvety milk texture
  • Taste: Balanced espresso and milk combination
  • Sweetness: Minimal, as the espresso taste takes the center stage


A latte typically has more milk than a flat white and is served in a larger cup. The steamed milk in a latte is stretched 25-35%, which results in a medium frothy texture with about ⅜ inch microfoam at the top. This additional milk dilutes the espresso, making the overall taste milkier and sweeter than that of a flat white.

  • Flavor Profile: Milkier and sweeter coffee taste, softer and less intense espresso flavor
  • Notes: Creamy milk, muted espresso taste
  • Taste: More dominant milk presence
  • Sweetness: Higher than in a flat white, as the milk contributes more to the overall taste

In terms of caffeine content, both flat white and latte can have similar amounts of caffeine depending on the number of espresso shots used. A flat white typically contains two espresso shots (around 136mg of total caffeine), while a latte can have one or two shots, resulting in a caffeine content of approximately 68-136mg.

In summary, the taste and flavor profiles of flat whites and lattes differ due to the milk-to-espresso proportions and the milk texture. Flat whites offer a more intense espresso experience with minimal sweetness, while lattes provide a milkier and sweeter taste with a softer espresso presence.

Size and Proportions

When discussing flat white and latte, it's essential to consider the differences in their size, proportions, and servings. Understanding these factors will help you decide which drink better suits your caffeine preferences.

Size and Serving Size

Flat whites are generally smaller in size, with most servings around 6 ounces. This smaller size results in a more concentrated coffee flavor, as there is less milk present. Lattes, on the other hand, are typically larger, with serving sizes ranging from 12 to 20 ounces. The increased size and milk content often result in a smoother, creamier drink with a more subdued coffee taste.

Espresso Shots and Ratios

One of the primary differences between a flat white and a latte lies in the number of espresso shots they contain. Generally, a flat white is made with two espresso shots, totaling around 136 mg of caffeine. In contrast, a latte usually contains one shot of espresso but can be made with two if desired, corresponding to a caffeine range of 68-136 mg.

In terms of coffee-to-milk ratios, another notable difference exists. A flat white has less milk in it compared to the same volume of coffee, making it stronger in taste. A latte, conversely, has a higher milk-to-coffee ratio, which results in a milder flavor.

To summarize the differences in size and proportions:

  • Flat whites:
    • Smaller serving size (~6 ounces)
    • Two espresso shots (~136 mg caffeine)
    • Stronger coffee taste due to less milk
  • Lattes:
    • Larger serving size (12-20 ounces)
    • One or two espresso shots (68-136 mg caffeine)
    • Milder coffee taste due to more milk

Understanding these critical differences in size and proportions, you can now better decide which of these popular coffee drinks aligns with your taste preferences and caffeine needs.

Differences and Similarities

Key Differences

Flat whites and lattes are both espresso-based drinks that incorporate milk, but their main differences lie in the type of milk used, size, and milk-to-coffee ratio.

  1. Type of milk: Flat whites are made with microfoam milk, which is steamed milk that has been aerated to create a thick and velvety texture. Lattes, on the other hand, can be made with any type of milk and usually have a lighter, foamy texture on top.

  2. Size: A flat white is generally a smaller drink, served in cups around 6.5 - 8 ounces. Lattes are usually served in larger cups, about 10 - 12 ounces. The size difference affects the coffee-to-milk ratio in each drink.

  3. Milk-to-coffee ratio: Lattes have a higher milk-to-coffee ratio, making them a lighter, milkier drink. Flat whites have less milk and a stronger coffee flavor due to their smaller size and microfoam milk.


Despite these key differences, there are a few similarities between flat whites and lattes:

  1. Espresso: Both drinks use espresso as their base, which gives them a strong coffee flavor.

  2. Milk: Milk is a key component in both drinks, but the method of preparation and the ratio of milk to espresso differ.

  3. Serving temperature: Both flat whites and lattes should be served at a similar temperature, with the milk steamed enough to create a creamy texture but not too hot that it loses its smoothness.

In summary, the main differences between flat whites and lattes are the type of milk used, their size, and the milk-to-coffee ratio. Both drinks, however, share espresso as their base and incorporate milk to create a smooth, creamy beverage.

Coffee Shop Offerings


When entering a Starbucks, customers can choose between different types of coffee, including such popular options as flat white and latte drinks. Starbucks' flat white has two espresso shots, which contain around 130mg to 140mg of caffeine. The drink is made with steamed whole milk, which creates a silky texture and a slightly stronger coffee taste compared to a latte.

At Starbucks, a latte is usually served with either one or two shots of espresso, which contain around 75mg to 150mg of caffeine, depending on the size of the drink. Lattes are served with steamed milk, and the milk to coffee ratio is higher than in flat whites, resulting in a milkier taste.

Customers can customize their drinks in various ways, including by substituting other types of milk (e.g., soy, almond, or oat) and adding flavored syrups, such as caramel or vanilla.

Independent Coffee Shops

In independent coffee shops, one can expect to find flat whites and lattes as common menu items. These specialty coffee drinks are made using high-quality espresso and steamed milk. The caffeine content in their flat whites usually ranges between 136mg to 150mg (two espresso shots). These shops emphasize the use of microfoam milk, ensuring a smooth and velvety texture.

Latte drinks in specialty coffee shops often have around 68mg to 136mg of caffeine content, depending on the number of espresso shots (one or two) and the size of the drink. Independent coffee shops also offer various customization options, such as the type of milk used (e.g., cow, goat, non-dairy), and the addition of flavors like vanilla, hazelnut, or lavender.

At these locations, customers can also explore other unique beverage offerings and experience an atmosphere that varies from that of Starbucks or other chain coffee shops.

In summary, the caffeine content in flat whites and lattes varies between 68mg and 150mg, depending on factors such as the number of espresso shots and the size of the drink. Both Starbucks and independent coffee shops provide various choices regarding milk, flavoring options, and atmosphere, giving coffee lovers plenty of opportunities to discover and enjoy their favorite pick-me-up.

Latte Art and Presentation

Latte art is an impressive skill that baristas use to enhance the presentation and visual appeal of lattes. By expertly pouring steamed milk into the espresso, they create intricate patterns and designs on the surface of the drink. These artistic creations can range from simple hearts to complex etchings, adding a personal touch to your coffee experience.

The creamy texture of the steamed milk in a latte is perfect for creating latte art. Since lattes typically have a higher ratio of milk to espresso than flat whites, they often appear creamier and have a smoother feel. This milk consistency allows baristas to work their magic on the surface, creating mesmerizing artwork that is pleasing to the eye.

In comparison, flat whites tend to have less foam and feature more microfoam, which results in a flatter appearance. This thinner layer of foam in flat whites makes them less suitable for intricate latte art. However, the smaller amount of foam does not diminish the enjoyment of drinking a flat white, as it highlights the rich espresso flavor more prominently.

Presentation can also vary in terms of the vessel used to serve these delicious coffee beverages. Lattes are often served in ceramic cups, while flat whites can be found in either small mugs or glasses. The choice of serving vessel impacts the overall aesthetic of the drink and allows customers to appreciate the beauty of the beverage, along with its flavors.

Here are some key distinctions between latte and flat white presentations:

  • Latte art:
    • Common in lattes due to their creamier consistency
    • Patterns can be intricate or simple
    • Enhances the visual appeal of the drink
  • Glass or mug:
    • Lattes are typically served in ceramic cups
    • Flat whites can be served in small mugs or glasses
    • Vessel choice impacts overall appearance

In summary, while latte art and presentation may differ between lattes and flat whites, each beverage offers its unique charm and experience. Whether you prefer the creamier texture of a latte adorned with beautiful art or the robust espresso flavor of a flat white, both drinks are sure to satisfy your caffeine cravings.

Customization Options

When it comes to the caffeine content of flat white vs. latte beverages, the main factor influencing it is the amount of espresso used in their preparation. Typically, flat whites have a stronger espresso flavor due to their smaller size and slightly higher coffee-to-milk ratio. Lattes, on the other hand, are larger drinks that often have a milder coffee taste.

Now let's delve into the different customization options regarding these two popular coffee drinks.

Milk Variations

Both flat whites and lattes allow for the use of different types of milk. Whole milk and oat milk are common choices that can impact the overall texture and taste. For example, whole milk provides a rich and creamy experience, while oat milk offers a more environmentally friendly option with a distinct flavor profile.

Espresso Adjustments

To modify the intensity of the espresso in flat white and latte drinks, adjusting the number of shots may be an option. A technique called ristretto, which involves pulling a shorter shot of espresso, can also be used to achieve a more concentrated coffee flavor in both beverages.

Sugar and Syrup Options

Adding sugar or flavored syrups to these drinks is another way to customize the flavor profile. While purists might prefer their flat white or latte unsweetened, it's not uncommon to see people add various sweeteners like vanilla or caramel syrup to enhance their coffee experience. Keep in mind that this addition may alter the original characteristics of the drink, as well as its overall calorie content.

Ultimately, the choice of customization options depends on the preferences of both the customer and the skills of the barista. Whether you prefer a stronger, more espresso-forward taste or a milder, milky beverage, there are multiple ways to adjust the ingredients of flat whites and lattes to suit your individual taste profile.

Milk Preparation Techniques


The process of aeration in milk preparation plays a significant role in distinguishing a flat white from a latte. Aeration involves incorporating air into the milk, creating tiny bubbles throughout the liquid. In a flat white, the milk is aerated more than in a latte, leading to the formation of microfoam milk. Microfoam milk has a velvety texture and a glossy finish, giving flat whites their distinct mouthfeel.


Foaming is another crucial factor in milk preparation for both flat whites and lattes. While lattes feature a layer of milk foam on top (about a ⅜ inch layer), flat whites have less froth due to the presence of microfoam milk (about a ¼ inch microfoam layer at the top). The consistency of the milk foam in these drinks is essential in creating their unique textures and flavors.


Steaming milk is a fundamental aspect of preparing both flat whites and lattes. The primary difference between the two lies in how the milk is steamed and to what extent. In lattes, the milk is steamed until it is hot and has a layer of milk foam on top. On the other hand, the milk for a flat white undergoes a more gradual steaming process that forms a microfoam with a consistent, velvety texture throughout. The steamed milk in a flat white is stretched by 20-25%.

Drink Aeration Foaming Steaming
Flat White Higher aeration Less froth Microfoam, stretched 20-25%
Latte Lower aeration More milk foam Steamed milk with foam on top

By considering these milk preparation techniques, one can understand the primary differences between flat whites and lattes. The varying levels of aeration, foaming, and steaming in each drink contribute to their unique qualities, such as mouthfeel,-texture, and overall flavor profile.

Espresso Drinks and Variants


Cappuccino is a popular espresso-based drink that originated in Italy. It consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, creating a perfect balance between strong, bitter espresso and smooth, creamy milk. The foam on top is thicker and fluffier than what you'd find in a latte or flat white, giving the cappuccino a unique texture. Cappuccinos can be enjoyed with a dusting of cocoa or cinnamon on top, adding a touch of sweetness to the drink. This espresso-based beverage is a favorite among coffee enthusiasts who appreciate the artful combination of flavors and textures.


Americano, another favorite among espresso drinkers, is a black coffee beverage consisting of espresso mixed with hot water. The ratio of espresso to water varies, but it's typically about 1:1, giving the drink a similar strength to black coffee. The Americano was created to suit the taste preferences of American soldiers during World War II, who found traditional espresso too strong. This drink offers the rich flavor of espresso with the thin, easy-to-drink consistency of black coffee.

In a comparison of caffeine content between flat white and latte, flat white typically contains more concentrated caffeine due to its smaller serving size and ratio of espresso to milk. Both beverages start with a base of espresso, which contains around 64 milligrams of caffeine per one-ounce shot. However, since a flat white has a smaller volume and less milk than a latte, the caffeine concentration remains higher.

Espresso Drink Espresso to Milk Ratio Caffeine Concentration
Flat White 1-2 shots in a 5 oz cup Higher
Latte 1-2 shots in a larger cup Lower
Cappuccino Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam Medium
Americano 1:1 ratio of espresso to hot water Similar to black coffee

When choosing between a flat white and a latte, it's essential to consider personal preferences for flavor, texture, and caffeine concentration. The flat white offers a strong espresso kick with a velvety texture, while the latte has a more subdued espresso taste and creamier consistency. Various espresso drinks cater to different tastes, from bold black coffee options like Americano to the rich and frothy cappuccino.

LatteLatte information
Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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