Flat White vs Latte: What’s the Difference?

Do you ever find yourself standing in line at your favorite coffee shop, pondering what sparks the debate between a flat white vs latte? A flat white coffee drink originated in Australia and New Zealand. At the same time, we can trace the birthplace of lattes to Italy.

Both are popular coffee drinks that are similar in many ways but with their own unique flavors and consistencies. So how do you determine which one to choose?

In this article, we’ll break down the difference between the two drinks so you can decide which is your favorite option. Then, we’ll give you the lowdown on two of the most popular espresso drinks, flavor profiles, milk-to-espresso ratios, and more. So put on your barista hat and get ready to learn all about these delicious brews.

Flat White vs Latte: Which is stronger?

Well, yes and no. The answer to whether a latte is stronger than a flat white is not straightforward, as it depends on how you define “stronger.”

In terms of the amount of espresso used, a latte typically contains more milk than a flat white and is served in a larger cup. In addition, a standard latte is made with one or two shots of espresso, while a flat white usually has one shot. Therefore, if you define “stronger” as the amount of caffeine in the drink, then a latte made with a double shot of espresso would have more caffeine than a flat white made with one shot.

However, if you define “stronger” as the intensity of the coffee flavor, then a flat white could be considered stronger. This is because a flat white has less milk and foam than a latte, meaning the coffee flavor is more pronounced, and the texture is smoother and velvety.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. It depends on your definition of “stronger.” A latte with two espresso shots would be considered strong if you’re after a higher caffeine content. As would a flat white, as it is richer in flavor and packs more of a caffeine punch while still maintaining its creamy texture. But a flat white could be ideal if you’re looking for a stronger coffee flavor. 

Which has more steamed milk, flat white vs. latte?

The difference between a flat white and a latte lies in the ratio of espresso to milk. A latte generally contains more milk than a flat white.

The Caffe Latte

A traditional latte is made with a single shot of espresso and steamed milk and a layer of froth on top, with the latter making up the majority of the drink. However, some versions may contain up to two shots of espresso and around 8 ounces (240ml) of milk. The milk-to-espresso ratio in a latte is generally more than equal, meaning there is more milk in a caffè latte than in a flat white.

The milk used in a latte is often frothed to create a thick layer of milk foam on top of the drink, giving it a creamy texture. A standard latte is usually served in a larger coffee cup to provide more room for the additional milk.

The Flat White

A traditional flat white is made with a single shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk, usually around 5 ounces (160ml). Unlike lattes, the milk here is not frothed; it is steamed to create a microfoam, a velvety, smooth texture that blends with the espresso, giving it a strong and bold flavor.

Steamed milk from the bottom of the jug is used instead of milk from the top to maintain the beverage’s creamy rather than foamy appearance. The milk-to-espresso ratio in a flat white is generally equal or slightly less than equal, which means there is less milk in a flat white than in a latte. The result is a stronger, more espresso based drink.

Source: https://coffeeaffection.com/flat-white-vs-latte/

The exact amount of milk put in each type of espresso-inspired drink varies depending on the following:

  • The local coffee shop
  • Type of milk used – Whole, reduced fat, low fat, or skimmed?
  • Preferences of the customer

The key difference between the two drinks is the texture and flavor profile that the milk creates. In a latte, the milk creates a creamy, smooth texture with a sweeter taste that balances out the bitterness of the espresso. On the other hand, the milk in a flat white brings about a strong, bold espresso flavor with a velvety texture.

So which one should you choose? If you like your coffee with some extra creaminess and foam, a latte might be more up your alley. But for those coffee lovers who prefer a little less milky but still flavorful, go for a flat white. It all comes down to personal preference and taste.

What is healthier flat white or a latte?

When it comes to health benefits, the debate between a flat white and a latte can be a tricky one. But the fact is that both coffees are made with the same ingredients: espresso and steamed milk. So in terms of nutrition, it just comes down to how much of each ingredient you use.

A flat white typically has less milk and more espresso than a latte, meaning it has fewer calories and less fat. On the flip side, it contains a significant amount of caffeine, which can cause jitters and anxiety in some people. The microfoam in a flat white also contains more air bubbles, which are potential causes of bloating and indigestion in some individuals.

A latte, on the other hand, has more milk compared to a flat white. This translates to more calories and fat. However, the additional milk is a viable source of nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and protein. In addition, the froth on top of a latte helps slow down caffeine absorption, greatly minimizing the risk of jitters.

A standard flat white made with whole milk contains around 179 calories, while a latte serves 168 calories. Both drinks are a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins B12 and D.

If you’re watching your calorie intake, consider swapping whole milk with nonfat (skimmed) milk. Nonfat milk has a lower caloric content and is a good choice for those who are looking to reduce their calorie intake without sacrificing flavor.

When it comes to choosing between flat white vs latte in terms of health benefits, it depends on your individual preferences and dietary goals. However, both can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

A flat white is probably the way to go if you’re looking for an energy boost with fewer calories. But if you want a milder taste with additional nutrients per cup, then a latte is likely your best bet.

Note: Adding sugar or flavored syrups to either drink can significantly increase the calorie and sugar content, so it’s best to enjoy them without any added sweeteners. 

Why is flat white more expensive than a latte?

A flat white is more expensive than a latte due to the following reasons:

The ratio of Milk to Espresso

Flat whites are often priced higher than lattes because they are made with more espresso shots and less warm milk than lattes. Many baristas use more espresso shots per drink: one for a latte and two for a flat white.

The use of an extra shot of espresso means that more coffee beans are required. As a result, it may cost more to prepare, and this cost is passed on to the customer.

Coffee Drink Preparation Method

Flat whites require a different type of milk texture than lattes. Therefore, to make your perfect cup of flat white, you need to steam the milk differently from when making a latte.

Flat whites require ‘micro-textured’ foamed milk, which is achieved by steaming slightly slower to produce smaller bubbles so they integrate seamlessly with the espresso. In terms of texture, microfoam should be silky smooth but feel like liquid velvet running through your fingers.

The process is more time-consuming and requires more skill than preparing milk for a latte. Preparing this type of coffee requires a different skill set from baristas, and this additional craftsmanship affects the cost of each cup.

Regional Variations

In some regions, flat whites are considered a premium coffee beverage and may be priced accordingly. For example, it is a popular coffee beverage in Australia and New Zealand, where flat white originated. As a result, it is often priced higher than a latte.

Other Factors

Additional factors that influence the price of a flat white include:

  • Quality of ingredients used
  • Size of the drink and the labor

Which is sweeter flat white or latte?

For those coffee drinkers who have a sweet tooth, it’s worth knowing that flat white and latte have very different levels of sweetness. Generally speaking, lattes tend to be sweeter than flat whites because there’s more milk involved in the process. In addition, steamed milk is often lightly sweetened with sugar or flavoring syrups, like vanilla.

On the other hand, flat whites are typically made with only espresso and steamed milk, which means they don’t have any added sweeteners. Some people like to add a sprinkle of sugar, but it’s entirely up to you.

If you want to make a sweeter flat white but still want that beautifully rich taste of espresso in your cup, consider adding some flavored syrup or using a flavored foam topping.

The Bottom Line

To sum it up, all coffees from the espresso family are similar, but what sets them apart is the ratio of espresso to steamed milk, the amount of foam, and the method of preparation. While the differences between them might seem minor, they make all the difference in the coffee world when it comes to the final cup. So give both coffees a shot and see which one you like best!

Sources

  1. https://brewingcoffees.com/flat-white-vs-latte/
  2. https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/what-is-flat-white-differences-latte
  3. https://www.crukafe.com/blogs/news/flat-white-vs-latte#:~:text=A%20Latte%20normally%20comes%20in,a%20general%20rule%20of%20thumb)
  4. https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/how-many-calories-flat-white-14146186
  5. https://www.webstaurantstore.com/article/397/types-of-coffee-drinks.html#Espresso
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Nathan

Nathan is the founder of The Darkest Roast (featured in the NY Times, Yahoo, and Tasting Table). He is a self-taught coffee expert and has tried 100s of coffees from around the world. Nathan's goal is to help you find the best coffee, so you only drink the best.