Flat White vs Cappuccino - Which is Better?

Last Update: March 26, 2021
The cappuccino, latte and flat white are some of the most popular drinks made from espresso. Read on to know their differences, and to better suit your taste.

If you love delicious, milky coffee, you must have noticed that there are many variations of the beverage than you could expect to find. Cappuccino is very plain milk and espresso-based drinks, but many are not entirely familiar with the flat white. Both coffee beverages involve mixing steamed or textured milk into one or two shots of espresso. The milk is prepared differently in the two drinks, but the espresso remains the same.

Baristas pull plenty of espresso shots to make these pretty drinks. If you plan to make both cappuccino and flat whites at home, you need an espresso machine, both for pulling the espresso shot and the steaming wand to prepare the drinks' milk components.

In case you are not ready yet to pull your espresso shots at home and prepare the milk that complements it, you might as well be content with ordering from your local coffee shop. Still, you need to know the differences between the two coffee drinks for you to appreciate them.

Before going into the fine details of flat whites and cappuccino, let us go first to some of these two coffee drinks' history.

History of the Cappuccino

The cappuccino is similar to the color of the robe that the Italian Capuchin friars wear. Originating in Italy, the drink reminds people of the Capuchin monks, with the drink becoming the Italians' morning staple.

The cappuccino traces its roots back to the Viennese coffee shops of the 18th century. The cappuccino has evolved to its modern-day version from coffee with sugar and cream, coming into being during the second half of the 20th century.

History of the Flat White

While cappuccino has been around for hundreds of years, the flat white is of recent vintage, starting to appear only in Australia and New Zealand's coffee shops in the 1980s. Although many coffee shop owners in Australia and New Zealand claimed to have originated the drink, the drink's origin is not exact.

From Australia and New Zealand, flat whites reached the United Kingdom and later spread to the U.S. and Canada.

What is Latte?

The name is Italian, but the latte is a favored way to enjoy coffee in the U.S. When you go into any coffee shop from Los Angeles to New York, the drink is prominent on the menu. If you enjoy the bold and energy-boosting flavor of a pretty latte without knowing how it where it comes from, don’t worry, as you are not alone.

Latte means milk, but the coffee drink latte got its name from caffe latte or milk coffee. In France and some other parts of Europe, the traditional drink is called “café au laít.” Latte, the coffee drink, is believed to have originated in Europe, where people have been mixing coffee and milk for hundreds of years. However, the modern-day latte, made with a shot of espresso and milk, is believed to be an American invention. It became a trend in Seattle in the 1980s and spread throughout the country by the 1990s.

The difference between latte and cappuccino is in the milk and foam. A latte differs 6 or 8 oz. of steamed milk and an espresso shot. Larger orders use double shots of espresso. It comes topped with milk foam for flavor and presentation.

A latte is almost the same as a cappuccino, except that it is topped with a lot less milk foam but more milk. There is also the iced latte, which is just espresso and chilled milk served over ice.

Latte has become very popular today that people are making them at home. Preparing latte and other coffee drinks at home is an economical way of enjoying coffee because you save a lot of money, making them at home instead of buying from your local coffee shop. All you need is to invest in a latte machine to enjoy a latte and other espresso-based drinks at home.

What is a Flat White?

A flat white is a specialty coffee menu that has become many coffee lovers’ favorite worldwide. It is an espresso drink that has steamed milk. The flat white is an excellent option for people looking for a dairy beverage with a strong coffee taste with a small amount of milk and a thin microfoam layer. 

This coffee drink allows you to experience a strong taste of espresso with the creamy feel of steamed milk.

A flat white is a beverage made of espresso with steamed milk with fantastic bubbles and a velvety or glossy consistency called microfoam. The flat white is similar to the latte. It is still served in smaller volumes and with less microfoam, having a higher coffee to milk proportion. The milk has the consistency of velvet to allow the espresso to have a dominant flavor.

A flat white is served in a cup with a saucer. Milk for flat whites is frothed in the same way as the latte but is kept to about 20 mm/inch of microfoam to create a meniscus. The key to a flat white is the cram coaxed into the meniscus, topped by a dark brown layer of microfoam. The cream lets the drink stand and improves the drinking experience. The cream thickens into the meniscus and adds texture with every sip. There are distinct tide marks with every sip of the beverage.

The flat white is the opposite of the dry cappuccino with a froth with no liquid milk. A flat white has microfoam but no foam. The milk is velvety instead of fluffy and more robust, requiring a shorter, ristretto espresso shot to prevent harsh flavors.

You need espresso machines or cappuccino machines to make a flat white coffee.

Latte vs Cappuccino vs Flat White

Much change has been made in traditional coffee methods, from the brewing process to the technique and the aesthetics behind the whole coffee drinking experience. One of the most notable changes is the emergence of many drinks made with coffee, such as ice, tonic water, and milk. The most popular combination is coffee and milk. Most people do not have a problem with cappuccino vs. latte because they cannot discern the difference.

The base of most coffee drinks is a strong shot of espresso. Various drinks are created by adding different amounts of steamed or frothed milk. Through the years, mixed coffee drinks have originated from different countries, with most of them spreading to other countries until they earned worldwide recognition. The cappuccino started in Italy. Latte started in various countries, but the commercial caffe latte is more of an American invention. Flat white originated in Australia and New Zealand.

What is a Latte

A latte is usually made with a single or double espresso shot, comprising 1/3 of the drink, and 2/3 of steamed milk with a small layer of frothed milk. The latte texture is essential in that it gives an extra to the milk’s beautiful appearance.

To make a latte, you need to layer the espresso and frothed milk. To make a layer of foam in a latte, you need to pour the milk on the espresso while using a spoon to prevent mixing the frothed milk.

A latte is almost the same as a latte macchiato, except that coffee is poured into the cup or glass. In a caffe latte, you add the milk to your coffee. With the latte macchiato, you start by steaming the milk first, and then you add the espresso to the milk.

What is a Cappuccino

A cappuccino is made up of equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. The cup for a cappuccino is typically smaller than the cup for a latte, usually between 150 ml and 180 ml. The cup's size is essential in getting the right flavor balance between the espresso and the right amount of milk.

The bubbles in a cappuccino form dry foam are airy and have lots of volumes, while the velvety foam or microfoam has barely visible bubbles.

To make a cappuccino, you need to pour 1/3 of milk at the bottom of the cup, followed by the espresso pouring and then the milk froth on top using a spoon. A cappuccino has unique layers of textures and tastes. When making a cappuccino at home, you can change the order of pouring. You can pour the espresso first, followed by steamed milk, and finally by the milk froth.

What is a Flat White

In most coffee shops or coffee bars, a flat white is a small latte with less milk. Like the caffe latte, you use a double shot of espresso to make a flat white. Flat whites have very little to no foam or with plenty of foam. The foam in a flat white is dry and velvety, with some bubbles in the foam. It is a mix of liquid milk and froth. People who want a more robust espresso flavor prefer the flat white. The added milk contributes to the great taste of the drink, with espresso dominating in the mouth.

Prepare a flat white at home, prepare the espresso, and then pour the steamed milk into your cup. The proportions should be one-third espresso and two-thirds milk. The milk has a microfoam layer, but the coating must not be stiff like what you use for a cappuccino or latte.

The flat white is more pungent in taste than a cappuccino because of the perfect blending of milk and espresso.


The flat white and cappuccino, as well as a latte, are the world’s most popular coffee drinks. The main difference between all these drinks is milk and foam formation. How milk is mixed into the coffee creates the unique taste of the drinks. To make velvety foamed, frothed, or steamed milk, you need to use the steaming function of an espresso machine or a milk frother.

The perfect latte, cappuccino, or flat white has different proportions of espresso and milk.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram