Defining the Difference: Australia’s Flat White vs. American Latte

The Flat White and the Latte are both popular espresso-based drinks, however they differ in flavor and preparation. The Flat White is a staple in Australian coffee culture and was first introduced to the United States in the early 2000s. This drink is a single shot of espresso with steamed milk; resulting in a velvety, rich beverage. This drink is typically made with expertly foamed milk to create a creamy, smooth texture.

On the other hand, a traditional Latte in the United States is made with two espresso shots added to a mug before being topped with steamed and frothed milk. As a result, a Latte is much sweeter than a Flat White and typically has more foam on the top of the beverage. Additionally, lattes often include flavorings such as vanilla or caramel for an additional layer of sweetness. The Flat White is generally considered a stronger and more espresso forward drink than the Latte.

Background on the development of the Australian flat white

The Australian flat white is a type of coffee that is becoming increasingly popular all around the world. Although the flat white originated in Australia, it is now popular in other countries such as the United States and New Zealand.

It is important to note that the Australian flat white has some significant differences when compared to the more well-known American latte. The key distinction lies in the amount of foam that is used to make the flat white. Latte drinks generally have a greater amount of foam, which can range anywhere from one-third to one-half of the total volume of the drink. The Australian flat white, however, generally has just a thin layer of foam on the top.

The coffee base of both drinks is also different. An American latte typically consists of espresso shots mixed with steamed milk and a bit of foam, while an Australian flat white consists of espresso shots mixed with hot micro-textured or “velvety” milk. This results in a less bitter-tasting coffee, as well as a creamier texture in the mouth. The flat white also has a richer body than the latte.

In summary, an Australian flat white typically consists of espresso shots with a thin layer of micro-textured foam on top and a velvety texture, while a latte usually contains espresso shots mixed with steamed milk and a larger portion of foam. The flat white is noted for its less bitter taste and richer body compared to the latte.

The development of the Australian flat white is a bit contested, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming its invention. It’s generally believed that the flat white started appearing in coffee shops in the 1980s in Sydney, Australia. The term “flat white” was supposedly used to describe a white coffee – a term used in Australia and New Zealand to refer to a coffee with milk – that is flat, meaning not frothy or foamy.

Cafe owners and baristas started using this term to distinguish between the cappuccino, which has a lot of froth, and the latte, which has a moderate amount of froth. The Australian flat white was characterized by its size and the consistency of its milk, which was steamed and not frothy, creating a ‘flat’ texture. This not only led to a distinct coffee flavor, but it also offered baristas a blank canvas for latte art.

The flat white gained popularity quickly within Australia and New Zealand, and in the early 2000s, it started to spread globally. Major coffee chains like Starbucks began adding it to their menus, introducing the flat white to a wider audience and helping to cement its place in modern coffee culture.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the specifics can vary greatly from one coffee shop to another, and what one considers a flat white might be different elsewhere. Despite this, the general principle of a flat white remains the same – a smooth, velvety coffee with a thin layer of micro-foam that distinguishes it from its frothy siblings like the cappuccino and latte.

Introduction to the differences between an American latte and an Australian flat white

The main difference between an American latte and an Australian flat white is the size of the drink. An American latte is larger (typically about 12 ounces) and contains more milk than a flat white (typically about 6 ounces). American lattes also usually contain a large amount of foam generated by steamed milk, while flat whites are made with less foam. Additionally, an American latte typically contains more espresso than a flat white.

Flat whites are more concentrated and have a stronger espresso flavor than American lattes. In Australia, the frequency of the espresso shots used to create a flat white is often higher than with a latte. The difference in foam content and flavor of each drink also results in a different taste. An Australian flat white has a smoother and more velvety flavor than a latte, with a greater emphasis on the coffee beans.

In terms of milk content, an American latte will have more milk than a flat white. In a latte, the espresso is experienced as a slight background tone rather than the main characteristic. While flat whites are known for their creamier texture, they’re also known for their strong coffee flavor because of the higher espresso content.

Overall, a flat white is a smaller, stronger, and less creamy drink than an American latte.

Differences in Taste

Australia’s Flat White vs. American Latte: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between a flat white and an American latte is the texture and strength of the coffee. In a flat white, the texture is more finely ground and the flavor is more intense, whereas in an American latte, the texture is usually courser and the flavor more subtle. The ratio of coffee to milk in a flat white is typically 1:2 or 1:3, with more espresso than milk, while in a latte the ratio is usually 1:1 or 1:2, with more milk than espresso. The texture of a flat white also makes the drink denser and creamier than a latte. Overall, the flat white is a stronger coffee beverage and the latte is more of a milky, coffee-flavored drink.

Factors that determine the taste of American lattes

In Australia, flat whites are made using only espresso shots and steamed milk, while American lattes are made using espresso shots and steamed milk, topped with a layer of foam.

The difference between the two is largely due to the way they are prepared. The espresso shot in the flat white is made using a finer grind and is extracted for a shorter amount of time, resulting in a higher concentration of flavor. To contrast, American lattes typically use a coarser grind and a longer extraction time, resulting in a more mellowed flavor. Additionally, American lattes are greater in total milk volume, so the espresso-to-milk ratio produces a drink that is less strong in flavor than a flat white. For American lattes, a layer of foam is usually added on top when poured, providing a unique texture and helping to add sweetness to the beverage.

The taste of an American latte is also heavily influenced by the quality of the roast of the coffee used. For a richer flavor and absolute best results, freshly roasted beans are essential for a great-tasting latte. The type of milk and sugar used, as well as the method of preparation, will also determine the taste of an American latte. All of these factors come together to create a unique flavor for the drink.

Factors that determine the taste of Australian flat whites

The key difference between an Australian Flat White and an American Latte lies in the amount of espresso and milk. In Australia, an espresso-based flat white is made with a double shot of espresso and creamy, steamed milk with micro-foam. Its taste is slightly creamier and stronger due to the espresso content. American lattes, meanwhile, are comprised of a single shot of espresso with more steamed milk, creating a stronger coffee flavor with less creaminess.

In terms of taste, the key factors that determine the flavor in an Australian Flat White are the espresso blend, milk type, and the quality of the espresso shots. The espresso blend will provide the base flavor, the milk type will affect the creaminess or sweetness, and the degree of crema and espresso shots determine the strength of the coffee. Additionally, barista technique also plays a role in the quality of flat white created. When made properly, an Australian Flat White should have a slight acidic yet nutty taste.

Differences in Preparation

Australia’s Flat White and America’s Latte have numerous differences in preparation, despite superficial similarities between them.

The primary difference between an Australian Flat White and an American Latte is in the amount of milk used. While Lattes contain more milk—sometimes up to double the amount used for Flat Whites—Flat Whites are made by giving the espresso and microfoam a more even texture, resulting in a thick yet creamy texture. The ratio of espresso and milk in a Flat White is also much stronger than that of a Latte, adding a more robust flavor to the Flat White.

Flat Whites are also made by pouring the espresso into the heated milk, rather than steaming or frothing the milk separately and then adding the espresso. This results in a smooth and balanced texture that is very different from the texture of a Latte.

In terms of presentation, Latte art is a common part of most American Lattes, while the smaller cup size of an Australian Flat White does not often accommodate for such creative designs. This is often due to the thicker texture of the milk in a Flat White than that of a Latte, making it more difficult to present art within the cup.

Preparation process for American lattes

In Australia, a Flat White consists of espresso shot, micro-foam (textured milk), all poured into a cup about 180-220 mL in size. The espresso shot has a slightly higher two-thirds to one-third ratio of steamed milk to espresso shots — creating a smooth, velvety coffee beverage. Due to its smaller size, it’s usually served without a top layer of milk foam although some shops may leave some foam on the top to indicate an artisan-crafted beverage.

On the other hand, an American Latte is much larger than the Flat White, usually having a capacity of 8 to 12 ounces. The size allows for the addition of some steamed milk to be added to the cup before the espresso shot is poured. This helps to ‘cut’ the bitterness of the espresso shot. The measured ratio of one espresso shot to two steamed milk produces a creamy and smooth texture. Most American Latte cups include a top layer of micro-foam with a very slight dusting of chocolate powder or flavoring.

Though the brewing process for Flat Whites and American Lattes are quite similar, the difference lies in the type and amount of milk used. As the Flat White is smaller, the amount of milk in it is fairly smaller making it thicker and creamier than the American Latte. On the other hand, the American Latte has more steamed milk in the cup as compared to a Flat White, making it a milkier and lighter beverage with a more diluted espresso flavor.

To prepare an American Latte, here is a general process:

  1. Begin with selecting the right beans. Medium to dark roast beans are generally preferred for lattes as they pair well with milk.
  2. Grind the coffee beans to a fine espresso grind. The finer the grind, the more concentrated and flavorful the espresso shot will be.
  3. Pack the coffee grounds into the portafilter and attach it to the espresso machine.
  4. Brew the espresso shot. The standard for a latte is a double shot, which should take about 20 to 30 seconds to pull.
  5. While the espresso is brewing, steam the milk. Use a steam wand to froth the milk to a creamy, velvety texture. It should be hot but not scalding.
  6. Pour the freshly brewed espresso into a cup, then slowly add the steamed milk to it. The standard ratio is 2:1 of milk to espresso, but this can be adjusted according to preference.
  7. Top it off with a small layer of milk foam, which is usually around 1 cm thick. Some baristas will create latte art on this foam layer.

Optional: If preferred, a sprinkle of cocoa or cinnamon can be added on top.

With these steps, you can enjoy a creamy, smooth, and delightful American Latte at the comfort of your own home.

Preparation process for Australian flat whites

In Australia, a flat white is made with two shots of espresso coffee and roughly equal proportions of steamed milk and velvety microfoam. It is a smaller beverage than a latte, usually served in a 6- or 8-ounce mug. To ensure an authentic Australian-style flat white, make sure to use the right espresso blend and a machine that can produce a high-quality crema. Start off by grinding fresh quality beans to a fine espresso grind. Fill a double shot filter and tamp firmly. Pull a single or double shot of espresso before heating the milk. Place milk in a stainless-steel pitcher and use a steam wand to aerate the liquid while raising the temperature. Continue until bubbles form and a thin film of foam is created. Overlap the milk and espresso until the cup is filled. Then spoon a centimeter or two of the velvety microfoam on top of the flat white. Use a spoon or coffee stirrer to finish off the presentation.

Popularity of the Australian Flat White

In Australia, the Flat White is a popular coffee beverage made from espresso with a thin layer of steamed milk, usually served in a small cup. This is in contrast to the American Latte, which is a larger beverage typically consisting of espresso shots and a much larger amount of steamed milk. While in the U.S. the Latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks, in Australia the Flat White has gained a large following due to its lighter body and flavor profile. It is a favorite amongst Australian coffee drinkers and many coffee bars and roasters have their own take on the Flat White. The Flat White is popular mainly because it has a smooth flavor compared to the Latte, which can sometimes be stronger. It also offers more control over the strength of the coffee, as baristas adjust the pressure of the espresso shots to make it stronger or weaker.

Reasons why the Australian flat white has become more popular

1. The Australian flat white has gained in popularity due to its relatively strong espresso flavor, which is in contrast to the typically milky American latte.

2. The stronger taste of the flat white makes it a more appealing choice for those accustomed to an espresso-forward drink, or for those who want a noticeable dose of espresso with a larger cup size.

3. The amount of milk used to make a flat white is also less than used for a latte, making it a more compact (and more affordable) option.

4. The popularity of the flat white has grown due to its availability from cafes across Australia, most of which offer a flat white as the norm.

5. The flat white has been celebrated in Australian culture, leading to a rise in popularity for this type of coffee.


Although both the Australian Flat White and the American Latte are espresso-based coffee drinks, the difference lies in the quantity of milk added. The Flat White is made with a double shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed, velvety milk. It is known for being stronger in flavour than a latte. On the other hand, the American Latte is made with a single shot of espresso and a much larger quantity of steamed and foamed milk. It is sometimes sweetened to give it a slightly more flavourful and foamier drink compared to the Flat White. In short, the Flat White coffee offers a more intense and stronger flavour compared to the American Latte.

Summary of the differences between American lattes and Australian flat whites

In Australia, flat whites are made from two shots of espresso and steamed full-fat or low-fat milk topped with a thin layer of foam. It has a strong espresso flavour, a creamy consistency, and a velvety texture that coats the palate. In contrast, American lattes are made with one shot of espresso and steamed milk. As a rule, lattes tend to contain more milk than espresso, with a light layer of foam on top that gives it a sweeter, milder flavour. American lattes typically appear larger in size. In short, Australian flat whites have a more intense flavour, and contain a greater proportion of espresso, whereas American lattes have a milder taste with a larger volume of milk.

Implication of the growing popularity of the Australian flat white

The growing popularity of the Australian flat white has been largely attributed to the unique flavor profile this espresso-based beverage offers. This is because the Flat White is made using smaller amounts of steamed milk, allowing the coffee flavor to shine through more than an American Latte. Additionally, when making a Flat White, the steamed milk is smoothly blended into the espresso, creating a less bitter flavor and texture compared to a latte. This has made the Flat White a favorite among coffee connoisseurs, while the latte has become a more widely accepted beverage among the masses. As a result, the increased demand for flats whites has grown in Australia and is now finding its way to the United States, where it is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the typical latte.

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