The Comprehensive Guide: How To Make Flat White Coffee

Flat white coffee is a popular espresso-based drink that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It is known for its smooth texture, velvety microfoam, and strong coffee flavor. Making a perfect flat white at home requires attention to detail and the right technique. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of making a delicious flat white coffee, including the ingredients and equipment you will need, as well as tips for choosing the right coffee beans.

Quick Answer: How To Make Flat White Coffee

To make a flat white coffee, you will need to brew a shot of espresso using a high-quality espresso machine, steam and froth milk to create velvety microfoam, and carefully combine the espresso and milk to achieve the signature smooth texture of a flat white.

Ingredients And Equipment Needed


  1. Freshly roasted coffee beans
  2. Fresh milk (whole milk or alternative milk such as oat, almond, or soy)


  1. Espresso machine with a steam wand
  2. Coffee grinder
  3. Milk pitcher
  4. Thermometer
  5. Tamper
  6. Espresso cups

Step-by-Step Instructions For Making Flat White

Step 1: Grind The Coffee

Start by grinding your coffee beans to a fine consistency, similar to table salt. The quality of the coffee grind is crucial in achieving a well-extracted espresso.

Step 2: Prepare The Espresso

Using your espresso machine, pull a double shot of espresso into your espresso cups. Ensure that the espresso is rich and crema-topped, indicating a well-executed shot.

Step 3: Steam The Milk

Pour cold, fresh milk into the milk pitcher. Purge the steam wand to remove any residual water, then submerge the wand into the milk, positioning it just below the surface. Steam the milk, aiming to create velvety, silky microfoam. The ideal temperature of the milk should be around 140-150°F (60-65°C).

Step 4: Tap And Swirl The Milk

Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, tap the pitcher on the counter to eliminate any large air bubbles, then give it a gentle swirl to integrate the microfoam and milk.

Step 5: Pour The Milk

Hold the milk pitcher with a slight angle and pour the steamed milk into the espresso cup with the espresso shot. The key is to pour in a slow, steady stream, allowing the milk and espresso to integrate seamlessly.

Step 6: Create Latte Art (Optional)

If you are feeling ambitious, you can try your hand at creating latte art by manipulating the milk as you pour. This step takes practice and skill but adds a visually pleasing touch to your flat white.

Step 7: Serve And Enjoy

Your flat white coffee is now ready to be served. It should have a smooth, velvety texture with a rich coffee flavor. Sip and savor the creamy indulgence of your homemade flat white.

Choosing The Right Coffee Beans For Flat White

Selecting the right coffee beans is essential for achieving the distinctive flavor profile of a flat white. Look for medium to dark roasted beans with a balanced flavor profile that can stand out when combined with steamed milk. Some popular options include Brazilian, Colombian, or Ethiopian beans, known for their rich and chocolatey notes. Additionally, consider beans that are specifically labeled as espresso blends, as they are formulated to deliver a balanced and complex flavor when brewed as espresso.

Making a perfect flat white coffee at home requires attention to detail and a good understanding of the techniques involved in pulling a quality espresso shot and steaming milk to create velvety microfoam. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this guide, as well as carefully selecting the right coffee beans, you can indulge in the luxurious experience of sipping on a professionally crafted flat white from the comfort of your own home. Experiment with different coffee beans and milk types to find the perfect combination that suits your taste preferences, and soon, you’ll be impressing yourself and others with your barista-level flat white-making skills.

The Importance Of Milk And Foam

Flat white coffee is a popular espresso-based beverage that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It is characterized by a velvety-smooth texture and a balance of espresso and steamed milk. Making a perfect flat white requires a combination of skill, technique, and attention to detail.

One of the key elements that sets a flat white apart from other espresso-based drinks is the quality of the milk and foam. The milk should be silky, velvety, and have a glossy texture. It should be well-integrated with the espresso, creating a harmonious balance of flavors. To achieve this, it is crucial to use fresh, cold milk and to steam it properly.

Related  The Comprehensive Guide: How To Make Caramel Syrup For Coffee

Techniques For Steaming And Frothing Milk

Steaming and frothing milk is a delicate process that requires skill and practice. Here are the steps to achieve perfectly steamed milk for your flat white:

  1. Begin by filling a stainless steel milk pitcher about one-third full with cold milk. It is important to use fresh, cold milk as it creates better foam.

  2. Position the steaming wand of an espresso machine just below the surface of the milk at a slight angle. Open the steam valve and start frothing the milk.

  3. Initially, the steam wand should create a hissing sound as it introduces air into the milk. This process is known as stretching and helps to incorporate air bubbles into the milk.

  4. As the milk starts to expand and rise, lower the pitcher while keeping the steam wand near the surface of the milk. This helps to heat the milk evenly and create a smooth texture.

  5. Pay close attention to the temperature of the milk during the steaming process. The ideal range for a flat white is between 55 to 65 degrees Celsius (130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit). Using a thermometer can help you monitor the temperature accurately.

  6. Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, turn off the steam valve and remove the steam wand from the pitcher. Gently tap the pitcher on a countertop to remove any large air bubbles and swirl the milk to achieve a smooth texture.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to steaming milk, so be patient and keep refining your technique to achieve the desired results.

Achieving The Perfect Milk-to-Coffee Ratio

The perfect milk-to-coffee ratio is essential in creating a balanced flat white. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Evaluate your espresso shot: Start by pulling a double shot of espresso using a high-quality espresso grinder and machine. The espresso should have a rich, balanced flavor with a thick layer of crema on top. Adjust the grind size, dose, and extraction time if needed to achieve the desired taste.

  2. Pour the milk: Start by pouring the milk into your espresso shot. The optimal amount of milk for a flat white is typically around 6 ounces (180 ml), but you can adjust this based on your personal preference. Pour the milk slowly and steadily so that it integrates smoothly with the coffee.

  3. Observe the microfoam: As you pour the milk, pay attention to the texture of the foam. The microfoam should have a velvety consistency and a glossy appearance. It should also be well-incorporated with the milk, creating a seamless integration between the espresso and the milk.

  4. Assess the color and layering: A well-made flat white will have a beautiful layering of coffee and milk. The coffee should be visible at the bottom, with the milk sitting on top. The color should be a rich, caramel-like brown.

By carefully considering the milk-to-coffee ratio and maintaining the right texture and layering, you can create a perfectly balanced flat white.

Adding Flavors And Sweeteners To Flat White

While a traditional flat white is made with only espresso and milk, you can personalize your drink by adding flavors and sweeteners. Here are some popular choices:

  1. Vanilla: Add a few drops of vanilla extract or a shot of vanilla syrup to your flat white for a hint of sweetness and aromatic flavor. Stir gently to blend the flavors evenly.

  2. Caramel: Drizzle caramel syrup on top of your flat white for a delicious caramel flavor and a touch of sweetness. You can also opt for caramel sauce or even homemade caramel for a more indulgent experience.

  3. Hazelnut: For a nutty twist, try adding a splash of hazelnut syrup to your flat white. It adds a delightful flavor that complements the espresso and milk perfectly.

  4. Chocolate: Enhance the richness of your flat white by adding a sprinkle of cocoa powder or chocolate shavings on top. This adds a touch of decadence to your drink.

  5. Sweeteners: If you prefer a sweeter flat white, consider adding sugar, honey, or a sweetener of your choice. Adjust the sweetness to your liking, but remember to keep the balance with the espresso and milk flavors.

Experiment with different flavors and combinations to find your perfect flat white. Keep in mind that a well-made flat white should still highlight the natural flavors of the coffee, so use the additional flavors and sweeteners sparingly.

Making a flat white involves attention to detail and a focus on the quality of both the espresso and milk. By mastering the art of steaming and frothing milk, achieving the perfect milk-to-coffee ratio, and adding flavors and sweeteners selectively, you can create a velvety-smooth, balanced, and delicious flat white coffee. So grab your espresso machine, fresh milk, and perfectly roasted beans, and start honing your skills to make the perfect flat white at home.

Tips For Laying Latte Art On Flat White

Flat white coffee is a popular espresso-based drink that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It is known for its smooth texture, velvety microfoam, and balanced flavor. Making a perfect flat white requires attention to detail and a few key techniques.

Related  The Comprehensive Guide: How To Make Thai Iced Coffee

One of the defining characteristics of a flat white is the beautiful latte art on top. While it may seem daunting at first, with practice and a few tips, anyone can create latte art on their flat white. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Milk Texturing: Achieving the perfect texture for your milk is crucial for latte art. Start by using fresh, cold whole milk, as it creates the best foam. Pour the cold milk into a stainless steel milk jug, filling it halfway. Position the steam wand just below the surface of the milk and turn it on. As the milk expands, lower the jug to maintain a consistent depth with the steam wand. Continue to heat the milk until it reaches around 60°C (140°F). Be careful not to overheat the milk, as it can scald and ruin the texture.

  2. Pouring Technique: Begin your pour by holding the jug with the spout close to the surface of the coffee cup. Tilt the cup slightly to create a steep angle. Start pouring the milk slowly and steadily, aiming for the center of the cup. As the foam begins to appear on the surface, gently raise the jug while maintaining a continuous pour. This will create a pattern on the top of the coffee.

  3. Wiggle and Shake: To create intricate latte art patterns, you can try using the "wiggle and shake" technique. As you pour the milk, gently wiggle the jug from side to side while simultaneously shaking it back and forth. This will help the milk create intricate patterns and designs. Practice this technique with different pour speeds and amounts of milk to achieve different results.

  4. Use a Smaller Jug: Using a smaller milk jug can make latte art creation easier. The smaller jug allows for more control over the pouring process, helping you to create precise designs. Additionally, it is recommended to use a jug with a pointed spout, as it gives you more control over the direction of the milk flow.

  5. Practice makes perfect: Latte art is a skill that requires practice and patience. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempts don’t turn out perfectly. Keep practicing and experimenting with different techniques and pouring speeds to improve your latte art skills.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Making Flat White

Even experienced baristas can make mistakes when making a flat white. Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for and how to avoid them:

  1. Overheating the milk: One of the most common mistakes when making a flat white is overheating the milk. If the milk becomes too hot, it will create large bubbles and lose its smooth texture. To prevent this, always monitor the temperature of the milk with a thermometer and remove it from the heat once it reaches around 60°C (140°F).

  2. Using the wrong milk: Choosing the right milk is essential for creating the perfect flat white. Whole milk is preferred for its creamy and rich taste. Avoid using low-fat or skim milk, as they may not produce the desired microfoam. Also, ensure that the milk is fresh, as older milk may not froth as well.

  3. Pouring too quickly: Pouring the milk too quickly into the coffee can result in a lack of control and messy latte art. Take your time and pour the milk slowly and steadily to achieve better designs and patterns. Remember, practice and patience are key to mastering this skill.

  4. Neglecting the espresso: The espresso shot is the foundation of a flat white. Ensure that you have a good quality espresso. Clean your espresso machine regularly to maintain its performance and flavor. Use freshly ground coffee beans to achieve the best taste.

  5. Improper milk to espresso ratio: The balance between espresso and milk is crucial for a great flat white. The ideal ratio is around one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk with a layer of microfoam on top. Adjust the amount of milk you pour to achieve the desired strength and flavor.

Related  How To Make Concentrated Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide

Variations And Adaptations Of The Flat White Recipe

While the traditional flat white recipe is made with just espresso and steamed milk, there are several variations and adaptations that you can try to add a twist to your flat white. Here are a few popular ones:

  1. Iced Flat White: Perfect for warm weather or a refreshing treat, an iced flat white combines the smoothness of a flat white with the cooling sensation of ice. To make an iced flat white, brew a double shot of espresso and let it cool. Fill a glass with ice cubes and pour the cooled espresso over them. Slowly pour cold milk over the ice and stir gently. Add a sweetener like simple syrup or vanilla syrup if desired.

  2. Caramel Flat White: This variation adds a touch of sweetness and caramel flavor to your flat white. Brew a double shot of espresso and add a spoonful of caramel sauce or syrup to the cup. Stir the caramel into the espresso until well combined. Steam the milk with a bit of caramel sauce or syrup for added sweetness. Pour the caramel-flavored milk over the espresso, creating a beautiful layer of microfoam on top. Optional: drizzle some caramel sauce on top for extra visual appeal.

  3. Hazelnut Flat White: For a nutty and aromatic twist to your flat white, try a hazelnut flat white. Prepare a double shot of espresso and mix in a tablespoon of hazelnut syrup. Froth your milk as usual and pour it over the espresso, creating the signature microfoam layer.

  4. Chocolate Flat White: Chocolate lovers will enjoy this indulgent version of a flat white. Brew a double shot of espresso and melt your choice of chocolate (dark, milk, or white) in a separate container. Combine the melted chocolate with the espresso, stirring until well combined. Steam the milk and pour it over the chocolate-espresso mixture, creating the velvety microfoam on top. Optional: sprinkle some cocoa powder or grated chocolate on top for extra decoration.

Feel free to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to create your own unique variations of the flat white recipe.


Making a delicious flat white coffee is a skill worth mastering. From achieving the perfect milk texture to creating beautiful latte art, each step is essential in creating a velvety and flavorful drink. Practice your milk texturing technique, be mindful of common mistakes, and feel free to experiment with different flavors and adaptations. With patience and practice, you will soon be able to enjoy a perfectly crafted flat white coffee right in the comfort of your home.

FAQS On How To Make Flat White Coffee

What Is The Difference Between A Flat White And A Latte?

A flat white is made with ristretto shots of espresso, while a latte is made with regular espresso shots. Additionally, a flat white has a thinner layer of foam and a higher ratio of espresso to milk compared to a latte.

What Kind Of Milk Is Best For Making A Flat White?

Ideally, you should use whole milk for a creamy and rich flat white. However, you can also use almond, oat, or coconut milk for a dairy-free option.

How Do I Create The Microfoam Needed For A Flat White?

To create microfoam, heat your milk to approximately 140-160°F and then aerate it with a steam wand until it becomes smooth and velvety. Be careful not to overheat or over-aerate the milk.

Can I Make A Flat White Without An Espresso Machine?

While it is traditionally made with an espresso machine, you can make a flat white at home without one. You can either use a stovetop moka pot or a French press to create a strong coffee base, and then heat and froth your milk separately.

What Kind Of Cup Should I Use For Serving A Flat White?

The ideal cup for a flat white is a 5-6 oz cappuccino cup. This size allows for the perfect ratio of espresso to milk and leaves enough room for the characteristic dot of foam on top.