What Does a Flat White Coffee Taste Like? (Discussed)

Pouring milk over flat white

In this era of coffee culture, people are not bound to just the regular brews for their energy boost. Several varieties of coffee have been an integral part of the coffee renaissance and as time went by, the varieties have infused a sense of distinct aspect to themselves.

The popularity of flat white has been prominent in the UK for a very long time. A good balance of coffee and milk gives a nice tight-knit microform. Flat white is undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks even being basic coffee without the fluff.

It contains the intensity of both the rich espresso shots and the dairy-based creamy foam on the surface.

If you haven’t tasted the drink already, you might be curious about how does it taste.

Short answer: A regular cup of flat white tastes sweet with an infused texture of rich espresso and milk. Even though it may contain less milk, it gives a creamy and sweet mouthfeel taste to your buds.

Let’s get into a detailed discussion on the topic.

Where Did the Flat White Originate From?

a cup of flat white

There isn’t something concrete yet to prove the origin and this is still a debatable issue.

Traditionally, Australia holds the legacy of its origin since the 1980s. Since its discovery, the flat white has become one of the most go-to parts of coffee culture prominently in the UK and now in the US and Canada.

The naming of the drink comes from the typical way the Australians referring their drink. ‘Short Black’, ‘Long Black’ etc are all the basic names for the natives.

However, the particular of its origin as said is still disputable.

New Zealanders think the flat white is the ‘Quintessential Kiwi Coffee‘. Many coffee experts also claim that a coffee pioneer in Auckland is one who made the modern flat white.

One of the most confusing traits among the claims comes from the history of the Italian influence in the coffee culture of both countries. New Zealand and Australia have several cultural influences and the influx of Italian immigration spurred innovation over the existing culture of espresso at that time.

Baristas in both countries are renowned specialists now, however, Australia has long been a leader in the espresso culture even before the coffee renaissance in New Zealand.

Is Flat White Coffee Sweet?

Yes, a flat white is sweet and it’s even sweeter than many regular coffee varieties.

This coffee drink is made of whole milk rather than the standard 2%. The baristas use sweeter espresso shots and the whole milk also adds to the overall sweetness. The drink traditionally is served without any sugar or sugary additives.

In Starbucks, most of the coffee beverages come with 2% milk. However, Starbuck’s Flat white has whole milk. This gives a creamier and richer texture to the drink.

The full-fat milk is heated, not steamed before sprinkling on the top of the drink. The drink is usually more concentrated, sweeter, and served with less water.

According to coffee experts, the milk to espresso ratio isn’t simple in the case of flat white. The correct blend of the proponents ensures a velvety texture.

The micro-foaming of the milk allows the liquid in the glass to disperse evenly forming bubbles and giving you a mouthful burst of sweetness.

How Much Milk Is In a Flat White?

a white ceramic mug

The quantity of milk can be relative depending on the strength of the drink you’re desiring. Usually, 4 ounces of steamed milk are used to get a strong coffee taste.

The quantity of flat white served in a cup is lesser than regular lattes. This results in a more concentrated drink. The milk content can be somewhere between 150-200 ml. This amount of milk is first steamed at a temperature of 60 degrees celsius.

The milk is then poured over the espresso base, forming a smooth velvety layer of microfoam on the surface.

A large flat white has more shots of espresso and as result, it can contain up to 400ml or more of steamed milk.

The amount of milk can be relative as already mentioned. The proportion is the main factor behind preparing the correct blend of components. Generally, the proportions are about 2/3 milk and 1/3 espresso. Hence, flat white tend to have a much stronger taste compared to other coffee varieties.

Is Flat White Healthy?

Flat white is a healthy and tasty beverage that can convincingly be added to your diet.

Many people don’t like the bitterness of ground coffees or from the coffee extracts. Since the espresso shots are sweeter in a flat white and contain a good amount of milk, it gives a variation to the other coffee varieties.

The small size of the drink also makes it good for the calorie and sugar count. You can add additives depending on your preference which can be unsweetened nut milk or skimmed milk.

Adding milk also helps with the depletion of calcium since caffeine’s natural diuretic function may flush out excess fluid from the body.

How Many Calories Are in Flat White?

The calories will be depending on the number of espresso shots used along with the proportion of steamed milk.

A single shot of espresso with two parts of steamed milk has about 120 calories. If you’re using skim milk then the calorie intake may reduce significantly. It might range between 60 to 70 calories then.

Using skim milk doesn’t give any added fats to the drink while steamed milk may add up to seven grams of fat.

From the nutritional information on various websites, I have found that for the short size, the calorie can be about 153 calories and for tall ones, it can be 193 calories.

Compared to regular black coffee, this is a high-calorie intake for a consumer. This amount of calories won’t dent your daily intake if you’re maintaining a healthier calorie intake from other diets.

Flat White vs Latte

A cup of latte
Latte and flat white may seem the same but they aren’t.

There are many significant differences between flat white and lattes. Traditionally, both of them contain espresso shots. In the case of a latte, one or two shots can be used. However, a flat white contains two shots most of the time. Some baristas used ristretto that gives the flat white a stronger texture.

In most cases, the characteristics of the drink depend on where you are having it. The texture of milk is very similar in both drinks but flat white is generally served in smaller cups.

Even it is smaller in size, a flat white contains more espresso and thus more caffeine.

Let’s see the following table to distinct some of the differentiating points between the two coffee drinks:

Basis of ComparisonLatteFlat White
OriginAmericaNew Zealand Or Australia
TasteSweet and smoothSweet, smooth, and velvety
Espresso ShotSingle or double shots of espressoDouble shots of espresso
Steamed Milk50% with microfoam60% with microform distributed evenly
Microfoam1–2 ounces0.5 ounces
Calorie Content136 calories110 calories
TextureMilky and smoothCreamy and smooth
Brew StrengthLightMedium
A quick comparison between a latte and flat white.

Flat white is usually served in one particular size and it contains the same quantity of coffee as a medium cup of latte. A medium cup of late however has more milk.

Moreover, a flat white is stronger than a latte, containing more amount of caffeine and a stronger brew.

Flat White vs Cappuccino

The main distinguishing difference is in the milk content.

Flat white tends to have more milk that can tone down the taste of the espresso by diluting it. On the other hand, cappuccinos have a lower amount of milk giving a much stronger taste.

Moreover, compared to cappuccino, the milk is minimally fluidized in a flat white. The consistency of the milk froth is liquidy and creamy both in the case of the latter. This is why correct preparation of flat white can be complex for newbies.

Cappucino is more about the foam and one of the specialties of the drink is the thick, fluffy foam over it. Your first sip of cappuccino is always the scene of perfect coffee romance dipped into the creamy foam.

How to Make a Homemade Flat White?

Preparing your coffee is one of the best things that you can do as part of your daily routine. It offers more flexibility in terms of the strength of the drink and the proportion of the contents added.

Just like any other regular coffee variety, you can also prepare your flat white.

Look up to the following steps to know what to do while preparing it:

  • First of all, pull one or two espresso shots into a cup or glass that you want.
  • You need to steam the milk to a temperature of 55-62 degrees celcius. You can use a thermometer to see if the temperature is right for the drink.
  • Making the milk smooth and velvety is one of the most important traits. For that, you need to make sure that the milk is swirled around the pitcher well and dispersed evenly.
  • Lastly, you can make latte art on the surface just to make it more visually pleasing.

To make your coffee strong, you can use up to six teaspoons of ground coffee and boiling water. While your coffee is brewing, you can heat the milk and take it down just before it starts to boil. If you whisk the milk vigorously for a couple of minutes, the foam will give a nice frothy texture. Read more about the basics of a flat white here.

Check for a quick way of making the perfect cup of flat white.

In Conclusion

A flat white is a thick, smooth, and velvety delight to your coffee buds. Since it is made from whole milk and richer expresso shots the mouthfeel taste of the drink is sweet and balanced.

The integrated texture of espresso shots and microform gives a balanced taste of both the ingredients.

Will I suggest you try out a flat white? Yes, you should give it a try. It isn’t a typical cup of coffee though. The velvety texture of it does justify the appreciation of the drink completely.

When you’re bored of your regular brew, you can make it in your kitchen quickly. The drink is more concentrated than regular coffee drinks and can also be stronger in terms of caffeine.

The combination of the intense flavor and rich benefits makes this dairy-based drink worth trying. You would love it from the first sip.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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