How to Make a Flat White

What is a Flat White Coffee?

The flat white is a modern classic. With a rich taste and velvety mouthfeel, it’s the one to choose if you like coffee that’s not too sweet but brimming with espresso flavour!

Your silky smooth FW combines espresso and foamed milk in heavenly amounts. Recipes vary from café to café, but most look something like this:

  • 60ml (2oz) hot espresso coffee (a double shot)
  • 120ml (5oz) foamed milk

Combining 1/3 espresso with 2/3 steamed milk, we could say the flat white is like a smaller, stronger latte. Flat whites and lattes both have the same amounts of espresso and milk, but the latte is crowned with more foam – think 1cm frothy top rather than the very thin microfoam finishing your flat white.


Flat white fans often like punchy, balanced coffees. Try our blue coffee! It’s rounded and chocolatey and just right for morning!



Try it here!



Flat White Origin

Flat white origin? Who knows!

It might be from Australia.

Buuuut… it might be from New Zealand.


Let’s start with the Aussies

Their claim stems back to Moors Espresso Bar, a Sydney-based coffee shop, and the owner Alan Preston. Mr Preston opened his café in 1985 and intrigued customers with a new coffee addition. Sensing people were getting a little tired of frothy cups, he added the ‘White Coffee – flat’ to his coffee shop menu. This was apparently a take on the type of coffee drunk in his home state of Queensland. It featured an espresso base topped with thinly steamed milk and less foam. The first flat white? Could be…

Now for New Zealand

New Zealanders’ ears pricked up in 2015, when they heard Starbucks giving Australians credit for the flat white.

“False!” they cried. “WE are the bright sparks behind flat white coffee!”

According to them, a Wellington barista called Frank McInnes invented the flat white in 1989. He tried to make a cappuccino with low-fat milk, but it failed to froth like its whole milk cousin. The result? A flatter, cappuccino-style drink Barista Frank called ‘flat white’.




How to Make a Flat White


Flat White Recipe

Now you know where it comes from (well, kind of…), find out how to make a flat white coffee with our step-by-step guide!

  • Turn on espresso machine and purge
  • Fill portafilter with 18g fresh, finely ground coffee
  • Tamp to ensure the coffee is level in the basket
  • Add portafilter to the group head and make a double espresso straight into your cup



  • Pour milk into a stainless steel jug – it should come up to the base of the spout
  • Slide wand down the jug spout so the tip is just below the milk surface, then tilt the jug slightly to one side
  • Turn wand on to full power and bring the tip to the surface of the milk so the milk starts to spin in a whirlpool
  • Steam milk so it has around 1-2cm of foam on top
  • Once finished, raise the jug slightly. When it feels too hot to touch for more than a second, turn wand off
  • Tap jug firmly on a work surface then swirl it around so the milk becomes glossy
  • Hold cup at an angle and pour a thin stream of milk over the espresso



  • When your cup is ⅔ full, bring the jug tip closer to the surface. The frothy part of the milk should now start to pour out and sit on top of the coffee. Pour until the cup is full
  • Enjoy your homemade flat white!



How to steam milk for a flat white

Generally, we steam milk for 5-10 seconds for espresso-based drinks. But did you know you can make it personal? That’s right! You can adapt the steam to create the right texture and froth amount for lattes, cappuccinos and – of course – flat whites! Check out how to steam milk for a flat white below…


Steam for around 8 seconds, or until volume increases by 20-30%.


Steam for around 10 seconds, or until volume increases by 50-80%.


A smaller, thinner microfoam is needed here. The steamed milk should have a lighter texture with no large air bubbles. To get this, steam for around 4 seconds before doing the tapping-on-table bit. Awesome!






What is the best milk for froth?

There are so many milks in the Tesco fridge. Dairy, soya, pea, oat, coconut, gummy bear (just kidding)…

If you want to know how to make a flat white coffee barista-style, we’d recommend giving milk some serious attention. Because not all milks are great for froth. Take rice milk, for instance, its low fat content doesn’t make it a froth friend.

Cool with dairy? Always go for whole milk. Its high protein and fat contents will make your foam thick, creamy and full of body. Fresh milk is best too – it is easier to steam than milk close to its use-by date.

Prefer plant milk? Fancy a new froth flavour? Oat or soya are good shouts. We also love all the barista mylks on the market right now!




Learn more about milk




How to make a flat white without a machine

No espresso machine? Don’t worry! You can still bask in flat white glory.

To make a flat white without a machine, you will need:

Got all three? You star! Let’s move on to the flat white method. No coffee machine in sight.

  • Rinse cafetiere with warm water and discard (the water, that is, not the cafetiere…)
  • Boil kettle and leave it to cool for 30 seconds
  • Add coffee to cafetiere then follow our cafetiere coffee making guide. HOWEVER, reduce the amount of water to 300ml to make a stronger coffee
  • Pour coffee into your cup until it’s 1/3 full
  • Rinse cafetiere
  • Heat your milk (in microwave or saucepan) and pour it into the cafetiere
  • Move the plunger up and down for around a minute to incorporate air into the milk
  • Tap gently on work surface and then swirl until the milk becomes glossy
  • Use in you flat white!




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