Ah, the Flat White. 5 years ago, you’d struggle to get one outside of Australia & New Zealand, but now it’s everywhere - the very definition ofthird wave coffee. Smooth, velvety & strong - it’s a lovely drink; but exactly what makes it different to the humble Latte?
Both drinks consist of either a single or double measure of strong espresso, topped with a good helping of steamed milk - so where’s the distinction?
The first thing you’ll notice is the difference in size. A Latte normally comes in at around 240 ml - whereas a Flat White should only really be around 160 ml(this can change depending on what country you’re in, but works as a general rule of thumb).
Now, you have to remember that both drinks have the same amount of espresso in them - this makes a big difference when it comes to the strength and flavour of each drink - making the Flat White a much stronger, coffee-heavy drink because of the higher proportion of coffee to milk.
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. The meat of the matter. Now, a Latte is served with steamed milk with an added layer of foamed milk(around 5mm)sitting on top. The Flat White, in contrast, is topped by a very thin, ‘flat’ (hence the name) layer of steamed milk, and nothing else.
It goes deeper than that though. The steamed milk used in a Flat White is more accurately referred to as ‘microfoam’, and whilst we could go into a ridiculous amount of detail here, it effectively means the milk has a much more velvety texture and glossy finish that is brought about in the steaming process by allowing tiny air bubbles to form in the milk.
As with a lot of things when it comes to coffee, the devil is in the detail.