There are many espresso drinks at every cafe that bear several similarities and differences. One of the two most popular espresso-based drinks combined with milk is Latte and Flat White.

The two drinks are almost the same; some people don’t even know their fundamental differences.

That’s because there’s almost an unlimited number of ways by which espresso can be combined with milk.

Another drink very similar to these two is the çappucinno, although it bears more similarity to latte than flat white.

The two drinks in question differ in origin, composition, and preparation. We’ll look at each extensively to understand what exactly makes them unique and what are their common points. 

Flat White – Overview and History

Flat White - Overview and History

Flat white originated from Sydney, Australia, and its name was coined in 1985 by Alan Preston, the owner of an Espresso bar.

He developed the drink due to the demands of customers who didn’t want as much foamy milk as çappucinnos have. Basically, the desire for thinner milk led to the creation of Flat White. 

The drink’s origin is shrouded in some controversy – there’s an argument that it actually came from New Zealand, where the drink existed long before Alan Preston coined the term.

But it is almost universally agreed that the drink is Australian, just like Espresso is Italian.

Flat white is an espresso-based drink made with frothed foam and liquid steamed milk.

The technique lies in pouring the aerated steamed milk, called microfoam, slowly over the drink until it fills the cup. The mixing pattern is ⅔ milk and ⅓ espresso.

The foam layer of the milk used in flat white shouldn’t be as thick as that obtained with a latte, which is one of the significant differences between both drinks. The thickness of the foam should be around 1cm.

One unique feature of the espresso is that it is often made with two shots of espresso, so it is definitely the stronger of the two drinks.

Latte – Overview and History

Latte - Overview and History

Latte, the base for popular flavored espresso drinks like a caramel latte, is similar to flat white, but it is distinguished by having more creamy milk.

Also an espresso-based drink, the latte is made with single or sometimes double shots of espresso, but the combination features ⅓ of espresso and ⅔ of the milk.

A delightful drink, the latte can be enjoyed hot or iced, which makes it the perfect all-year-round drink.

Despite Espresso being an Italian drink, the origin of the Latte is traced to the state of California around 1959.

A coffee shop known as Caffe Mediterraneum is referred to as the birthplace of the latte, known then as caffè latte. The word Latte means milk.

The cafe owner, Lino Meiorin, claimed customers demanded a drink that offered more milk in their çappucinnos. Just like that, the latte was born by adding more creamy milk to the drink, the latte was born. 

However, Italians believe the drink originates from their country.

There is no doubt that certain variations of the çappucinnos would have led to something very similar to the latte, but the modern preparation method is undoubtedly American, which is why it is commonly referred to as being invented from there.

The creamy milk added to the Latte also has foam and can be enjoyed with different added flavors.

Although lattes have an almost similar amount of foam to flat white, it is often known to contain more, reaching between 1-2m. But it usually does not have as much foam as Cappuccino which typically has up to 4cm of foam.

Lastly, unlike flat white, its coffee flavor is not very strong.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Side-by-Side Comparison

Before we go to the differences and similarities between the two drinks, let’s highlight their characteristics.

ORIGINAustralia/New ZealandAmerica
ESPRESSO/MILK RATIO⅓ espresso to ⅔ milk⅓ Espresso to ⅔ milk
HOT OR COLDBest served hotServed hot or cold
FLAVORServed without any flavorHas multiple flavors
TASTEMilky espresso tasteCreamy milky taste



The first noticeable difference is the origin of the drinks. While flat white is known to originate from Australia, Latte is an American invention.

Flat white has more coffee taste than milk, while it is the other way round with latte, which has more milk taste than coffee.

Again, the strength of the coffee flavor is very different. While flat white has a strong coffee flavor, lattes are creamier with a weaker flavor of the coffee.

That’s why lattes are the base of several flavored espresso drinks.

Another difference is the amount and type of foam served with the coffee. Flat white is ideally served with microfoam, which is aerated steamed milk with many tiny bubbles.

Lattes do not contain microfoam but have foam that has a thickness of about 1 cm.

Overall, lattes contain slightly more foam than flat white, although this difference, over the years, has become indistinguishable.

Lattes are creamier than flat white because they contain more milk. Therefore, the flat white is a more caffeinated drink than a latte.

Also, while lattes are made with one shot of espresso, the flat white is made with two. Occasionally, lattes could be prepared with two shots, but it is not compulsory.

Finally, flat white still retains some of the Crema of the espresso, which is the brown foam the coffee forms when brewed.

Because of the heaviness of the milk in the latte, you won’t find any of the Crema in the cup. 



Flat white and latte are both espresso-based drinks with a combination of steamed milk and foam. Several times, both drinks can be interchangeable. 

They are served in the same type of glass or mug, and except for the slight difference in how much foam is used, they are prepared almost the same way. All you need is a coffee grinder, an espresso machine, and steamed milk. 

If you’re preparing it at home, you don’t need to worry too much about the microfoam for the flat white, but you’ll need some skill to get the perfect foam for the latte.

That means it would be easier to make flat white than a latte at home.


As we have seen, both lattes and flat white are espresso-based drinks. Lattes contain more milk, so they have less coffee flavor, while flat white has less milk and more excellent coffee flavor.

Those who therefore need more caffeine with the touch of milky goodness can enjoy flat white, while those who want creamy goodness of milk with as little coffee flavor as possible should go for lattes.

Since the volume of milk in the lattes affects the coffee, this makes it ideal for several flavored espresso drinks like a caramel latte.


Last Updated on August 29, 2022 by Ashok Parmar


My name is Ashok Parmar, and for seven years, I worked as a warehouse manager that strictly dealt with coffee shops all around the United States.

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