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A Beginner’s Guide on How to Make a Flat White Coffee

Preparing Flat white coffee

The flat white is the new kid on the block when it comes to espresso-based coffee. It originally came from the land down under, and it is now filling menus in cafes and coffee shops around the world. But what makes a flat white popular with coffee drinkers?

Let us take a deeper look at its definition, the history of the drink, and how to make one. Find out what sets it apart as a favourite among other espresso-based beverages.


What is a Flat White?

A flat white is an espresso-based drink that consists of steamed milk and microfoam. The microfoam consists of milk that is gently infused with air. The result will be silky textured milk with tiny, barely visible air bubbles. A flat white traditionally comes in small sizes, smaller than typical lattes and cappuccinos.

The flat white is available in both local specialty cafes and large-scale chain coffee shops. Its international popularity increased in 2015, when Starbucks introduced this style of coffee across the world, as Flat white latte. That led to a sudden surge in global internet searches for ‘Flat White.’.

When making this coffee drink, make sure the espresso is in a higher concentration than the milk. In that way, the coffee flavours become more prominent over the sweetness coming from the milk. It’s also a good practice for both professional baristas and home baristas alike to only add a thin layer of foam onto a flat white. It will prevent any distraction due to multiple textures.

The artistry that goes into producing an excellent espresso can often go unnoticed due to the focus on steaming milk. The key to successful and delicious-tasting flat whites lies in making the two important ingredients: a quality macrofoam and a well-balanced espresso shot. It means steaming the milk to consistent tiny bubbles while not losing the original espresso recipe.

If done by a qualified barista, the flat white can be an extremely delicious work of art. Making a flat white is a great way to showcase the intrinsic flavour of espresso in a milk-based drink.


The History of Flat White

Flat white is said to originate from the countries down under—Australia or New Zealand, depending on who you are talking with. The discovery of this drink comes from the desire to create a more interesting version of coffee found at home.

Some reports said the term ‘flat white’ was coined in Sydney. Others say that Melbourne discovered milky marvel and put a name to it around the 1980s. There are also claims that New Zealand’s baristas developed both the original and modern form of the flat white in Wellington during the late 1980s.

It is much more precise coffee than a standard latte, which is why many coffee drinkers and baristas worldwide rank it at the top of their list.


How to Make a Flat White

To make a flat white, you will need the following tools and ingredients:

  • An Espresso machine
  • Milk frother (if you do not have one attached to the espresso machine)
  • Milk steaming pitcher or cup of your choice
  • A grinder for espresso brewing (unless you already have pre-made ground espresso coffee)
  • Milk of your preference
  • A 180 ml cup where you will brew your coffee


To make an epic flat white, you will need an espresso shot and velvety microfoam. The flavour is often determined by the type of coffee you will use. If you are making your espresso with your preferred blend, you are already halfway to being in love with your flat white.

To make the velvety microfoam, use steamed milk. If done the right way, you will have a thick, velvety texture: flat white with no large bubbles. The better your steamer, the better your microfoam will be.

If you go to your local specialty coffee shop, your barista will prepare a flat white for you. 

However, if you want to create your own flat white, try following these simple steps:

  1. If you do not have any pre-ground coffee, you will need to grind whole espresso beans. Prepare at least 16 grams of ground coffee, then pour 120 ml of milk to prep for the steaming process.
  1. Begin the extraction process by grinding your coffee directly into the portafilter. Brew about two shots of espresso and place your cup underneath the filter’s head. This way, the espresso can brew directly into your cup.

Pro tip: 

One way to make the coffee stay warm longer is to rinse the cup with hot water before brewing. This technique gives the cup a nice rinse as well. It also provides a much warmer surface to preserve the heat from the coffee itself.

  1. While espresso is slowly pouring into the cup, you can proceed with steaming your milk. Steam 120 ml of milk in a steaming pitcher or preferred cup. Make sure to steam the milk in an up-and-down motion, followed by circular movements.
  2. Serve and Sip. Once the brewing process is done, start pouring your steamed milk into the cup. Slowly pour the milk into the cup. It will create a delicate blend between the surface level of the coffee and the microfoam. After filling your cup, you can sit back, relax, and sip on your perfectly blended flat white. You can also create a beautiful piece of latte art on top of your flat white. Latte art is not just for lattes. Flex those creative muscles and make your flat white a little over the top.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of coffee options out there, and while the flat white is popular on its own, it can easily be confused with other espresso-based beverages. The best way to learn how to make truly excellent flat whites is to take a course. There’s nothing like being guided by an experienced professional. Naturally, we suggest something like our Barista Basics course.

The flat white is the perfect choice for coffee drinkers who like to have milk with their coffee but are not big fans of the extra froth. If you are looking for a soothing drink to kick start your morning, the flat white could easily become your new favourite. And if you would like to learn the skills to make the perfect Flat White from experienced industry professionals, simply follow the link and sign up today.