Flat White | Australian Coffee

The flat white is a delicious coffee beverage popular in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

In Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the flat white seems to be a quite popular beverage recently.  I wish I that had been true when I was in South Africa a few years back!  When I was there, the only place you would find anything other than really, really horrible instant coffee was at a fancy restaurant.

I learned to drink a lot of tea.

Now, I think I would have more options.

The flat white is one of those coffee drinks that is seriously misunderstood.

Here in the U.S., we look at the flat white and assume it is just a latte under a different name.  I actually did the same when I was over in South Africa, simply because I didn’t have a lot of options to compare it to.  Now that I’m back in the U.S. where rich, glorious coffee is available in pretty much any combination I want it to be, I can definitely tell the difference between a latte and this flat white.

And there’s actually a couple key differences between them.  The two main ones are the coffee to milk ratio and the density of the foam.

Coffee to Milk Ratio

A latte usually has a shot or two of espresso, and then a ton of milk.  A flat white has more coffee, less milk.  Put two shots of espresso in an 8 oz cup, and then fill the rest with your microfoam.  You’ll have about the right ratio.

Density of the foam

Our readers continue to remind us that THIS is the most important aspect of a correctly made flat white.  You need perfect microfoam.  

Here is the heart of the difference.  In a latte, you get a lot of milk with a touch of foam at the top.  And this foam can be of varying qualities.  That won’t fly with this drink.  A flat white requires impeccably created microfoam with the tiniest bubbles you can create.  The froth should be so silky and smooth that it is actually shiny.  And when you pour that microfoam into the cup, be sure you don’t miss it all and just put in the milk that might remain at the bottom of your pan/cup.  The microfoam is important!

If you don’t own an espresso machine, a hand-frother will work just fine.

The flat white is a delicious coffee beverage popular in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. This coffee drink is often made like a latte, but this recipe doesn't require an espresso machine or any fancy ingredients.

Flat White | Australian Coffee

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  • whole milk
  • espresso or strong coffee
Check out our Kitchen Reference Guide for help with unfamiliar terms.


  • Froth 1 cup of milk, either using an espresso machine or on the stove using a milk frother. You want to heat the milk to about 160 F.
  • You want a froth with very fine bubbles.
  • While you are frothing the milk, make your espresso.
  • Combine the espresso and foam.

The flat white is a delicious coffee beverage popular in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. #coffee
Any key factors in creating a flat white that we missed?  Give us more tips in the comments!
Looking for more coffee drinks?  We’ve got a coffee post with all sorts of recipes!

A collection of delicious international coffee drinks including full easy recipes. Yum! |

8 thoughts on “Flat White | Australian Coffee”

  1. Thanks for the clarification! We’ve tried to research well…but we haven’t had an actual Aussie made version. Which means that our version was created based on information we gathered (which didn’t always agree on the correct method), rather than experience. Definitely a set-back! Hopefully, though, this “version” is still something that people enjoy and can make at home.

  2. Sorry but that is not how you make an Aussie flat white.
    There is NO FOAM on a flat white, and there is no substituting espresso for some other coffee.

    Have you had an Aussie made flat white?

    I think you are confusing what is called coffee crema with foam/fluff, whatever.

    Crema forms on any good well made espresso, even without milk.

  3. Basically! A flat white…if you’re a “purist” is different because the foam is supposed to be incredibly silky and smooth, with much finer bubbles than a cappuccino. In reality, at least at most coffee shops in the US, a flat white is basically a cappuccino with a fancy name.

  4. wouldn’t this be the same as a dry cappuccino 2 shots of espresso and 3/4 foam with a smooth foam and some milk? what makes a flat white different then that?

  5. Thanks, Paula. I just put it on the list of coffee recipes to try. You might see it up on the site sometime in the future!

  6. You forgot our New Orleans favorite, Cafe au Lait. Similar apparently to your flat white but made with chicory coffee and not as fussy. Try it, you’ll love it!

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