Since the rise of the coffee chain corporations, we all know that ordering a coffee can seem as difficult as a PhD in molecular biology. Unless you’re familiar with a 'skinny decaf three-shot hazelnut latte', ordering a coffee can issue a challenge to the caffeine-loving and often confused customer. One of the most frequent occurrences for this confusion, at least in the UK, is: What’s the difference between a flat white and a latte?
The basic differences
Broadly speaking, a flat white is a smaller latte. Both drinks contain two shots of espresso, and both are topped with shiny velvety milk foam. Ideally, flat whites and lattes are served in different-sized cups, the latte in a larger one and hopefully, they will both have beautiful latte art. The same applies for a takeaway. Ideally, a flat white cup is smaller than the latte cup, to restrict the amount of milk used and to make it a stronger drink. If you find this confusing already, the next time you’re queuing for your caffeine fix simply remember that latte is the Italian equivalent for 'milk'.
In terms of the type of milk used for either coffee, typically speaking, it is almost the same – but only almost. When frothing the milk for a flat white, the steam wand is kept just under the surface of the milk and will make a sizzling noise, while the milk inside the jug is swirling in circles. That way, the barista slightly heats the milk without letting much air in, so that the milk will be flat on your flat white. Want to learn mor? Our co-founder John's made a video on how to make the perfect flat white using your Nespresso machine.
Should I order a Latte or a Flat White?
If you happen to visit a café that doesn’t serve flat whites – which is a relatively 'new' drink, as far as coffee goes and is entirely unknown in major parts of the US and in many European countries – a small latte is your go-to drink. The history of the flat white is an interesting one and the ownership is still disputed even today!
When making these at home, I would reccomend using CRU's Nespresso compatible Dark Roast pods for the strong, short flat white, which is the drink that will make you jump out of bed in the morning. And then CRU's Intense coffee pods for a latte, which, on the other hand, is softer, milkier and larger. It makes the perfect drink for a relaxing coffee break.
Personally, I am a flat white girl – a skinny flat white girl in fact, as I believe that the taste of skimmed milk is not as dominating as full-fat milk –, and on the odd occasion, I'll often even order a cortado. Now, if you’re wondering what this is, I've written another blog post describing the difference between cortados and macchiatos. Believe me, discussing coffee is not a finite task!
Written By: Lea Lou