Flat White Vs. Latte: Are They Both Same?

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For those who are fans of milky coffees, the analysis of flat white vs. latte may not conclude that these two are probably two different drinks. This is because their analysis is usually based on what they see. While the appearance of both may be similar, they both are technically different.

Flat White Vs. Latte – What’s the Difference?

A flat white coffee is never a latte drink but both are usually used as the substitutes of each other. This interchangeable use is another reason why coffee fans think that they are the same. Flat white vs. latte discussion is actually quite common in the U.S and U.K.

flat white vs. latte

No doubt that both drinks are common but flat white is a recent introduction to the list of milky coffees. For a modest knower, as latte means milk in the Italian language, both are simply milky coffees. Okay, this logic is fine to some extent, as the quantity of coffee involved in both is almost the same.

As both include milk and espresso, the taste and power of caffeine can be assumed to be similar. The resemblance is so much that you will not know whether you are sipping a flat white or latte if you get a latte drink for ordering the former.

Related: Latte Vs. Cappucino

Nevertheless, once you know the differences between the two, you will sip only what you ordered. So, below are the differences.

Crema/Froth in Appearance

Both flat whites and lattes will show crema or coffee froth atop the serving cup as you pour milk. This is visible in the form of a brownish layer that forms on the top of the serving cup.  However, a nice flat white will have a uniform blend of milk and espresso.

Milk Texture

This is a critical indicator that shows the true difference. The milk’s texture is dependent on the manner in which the milk was steamed and the process of how it was blended with the espresso.

It is a bit tough to understand the steamed milk texture. However, this is how you can understand. While steaming, three layers become a part of the milk. Hot liquid forms the bottom, bubbled milk in the middle with tiny bubbles of air, and thickest froth on the top. The bubbles give a velvety smooth feeling when on the tongue.

See also: Best Milk Frother

Keeping this understanding in mind, a latte drink is bubblier drink whose top has thicker foam than flat white. The latter drink is smoother and the bubbles seem to blend well throughout the drink.

The way in which the steamed milk is poured is also a distinguishing indicator. While preparing flat white, good chefs will pour it such that a consistent and smooth milk texture is formed. Due to lack of thick foam, the top surface is flat. This is the reason why it is known as flat white.

Coffee Flavor

The richness of coffee flavor also adds up to the flat white vs. latte discussion. A latte drink is milder, as it contains more amount of milk in it for the same quantity of coffee. On the other hand, a flat white drink is not that mild due to less milk quantity. Thus, it has a richer flavor.


Yes, even the taste is not same! An authentic latte is similar to a coffee thinned with milk. In simple words, you will feel as if the taste of milk is overpowering that of the coffee. So, you will have a milkier taste. On the other hand, a flat white drink has creamier espresso taste.

Serving Cup Size

A few modest café shops are likely to give you a small latte for your order of flat white. So, distinguishing the two drinks on the basis of size is typically unreliable. Still, you need to know some facts here. A latter is usually served in a larger cup or vessel. This is evident in authentic café shops, especially baristas.

Although flat whites are served in smaller cups, the size of the cup is still bigger than espresso shots.

Flat White Vs. Latte – Conclusion

The flat white vs. latte debate happens on these distinguishing factors. Of these factors, it seems that milk texture and coffee flavor are the most reliable ones, as they clearly show how one is different from the other.

See also: Best Latte Machine