How to make a flat white

The flat white is a popular coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk, originating from down under. Our simple brewing guide will walk you through the steps it takes to make the perfect flat white every single time — silky, smooth and sumptuous as can be.

What you need

Espresso Machine
Milk jug
18g ground coffee
Milk or milk alternative


  • 1.Grind your coffee into the portafilter until full to the brim, making approximately 18g.
  • 2.Flatten the coffee using a tamper, evenly applying pressure to the grounds to make a flat surface.
  • 3.Attach the portafilter to your espresso machine and place your mug beneath it, then pull a double shot of espresso.
  • 4.Fill a jug with your milk of choice up to around half capacity (usually to the bottom of the spout).
  • 5.Purge your steam wand by briefly activating the steam for 1-2 seconds out of the milk, then turning it off again. Insert the wand in the centre of the jug, positioning the tip just below the surface of the milk. Tilt the jug slightly to the side.
  • 6.Activate the steam and lower the jug so that the wand rises in the milk. Do this until you hear a slightly squeaky hissing noise. A whirlpool should form.
  • 7.Allow the milk to rise slightly, then raise the jug again to avoid too much foam developing. Once the base of the jug is hot to the touch, turn off the steam and remove the wand. Purge again and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • 8.Tap the jug firmly on your work surface and lightly swirl the milk to break up any large air bubbles. At this point, your milk should look smooth and silky.
  • 9.Holding your mug at a slight angle towards the jug, gently pour a stream of milk into your coffee.
  • 10.Once your mug is around halfway full, bring the jug closer to the surface of the coffee and pour the remaining foam into the middle to leave a milky white centre. Voilà!

Origins of the flat white

Brew historians tell us that the first description of a flat white appeared on menus in Sydney, Australia back in the 80s. By this point, coffee culture was well embedded down under, and ‘flat’ was used as a descriptor for coffees that didn’t include too much foam.

To meet consumer demand, baristas set out to develop a brew for the coffee lover who wanted something a little flatter than the standard cappuccino, but with a little more oomph than a latte. As a result, the flat white was born, comprising espresso and steamed milk with just a touch of microfoam.

What is a flat white?

A flat white is a coffee drink made with a double shot of espresso and topped with steamed milk, slightly textured with microfoam bubbles. The flat white differs from other styles of espresso-based drinks thanks to its higher ratio of coffee to milk, which creates a bolder coffee drinking experience.

Flat White FAQs

What is the difference between a flat white and latte?

A flat white typically features less steamed milk and foam than a latte, allowing the flavour of the base espresso to come through that little bit more. While the exact amounts will vary, a latte tends to hold a ratio of around 4:1 milk to espresso, while a flat white is closer to 2 or 3:1, served in a smaller cup.

How much caffeine is in a flat white?

The average flat white contains about 130mg of caffeine if two espresso shots are used as the base. However, this amount will vary with the kind of coffee bean used.

What’s the best milk for a flat white?

Whole dairy milk is generally recommended for a flat white, to create a creamier foam without interfering too much with the coffee’s flavour. If you’re going dairy-free, unsweetened alternatives like almond, soy or oat milk will steam nicely without clouding the tasting notes of your coffee.

What size cup is a flat white usually served in?

A flat white is traditionally served in a small cup sized between 5 and 6oz (approximately 150-160ml).