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The Flat White vs Cappuccino: What’s the Difference?

Flat White vs. Cappuccino: A Detailed Comparison

Coffee lovers around the world know just how crucial it is to find that perfect cup of joe. Whether you prefer dark or light roast, single origin or blended, espresso-based drinks add a whole other level of complexity and flavor that delight the senses.

And if you’re an espresso fan, there’s no doubt you’ve encountered the flat white and cappuccino, two of the most popular options on any coffee menu. But what exactly sets them apart?

Similarities and Differences

On the surface, both drinks seem quite similar.

Both are made with espresso and milk, and both should have a velvety texture and creamy mouthfeel. However, the way the milk is prepared and served creates a few key differences.

  • Cappuccino: A cappuccino is typically made with a shot of espresso and equal parts steamed and frothed milk. The steamed milk should be incorporated into the espresso first, then topped with the creamy froth. This creates a layered drink with a distinct look, with a brown espresso layer at the bottom, followed by a white layer of milk, and topped with a thick layer of foam.
  • Flat White: A flat white, on the other hand, is made with a double shot of espresso and microfoamed milk. The milk is steamed and aerated until it creates a velvety, almost liquid-like texture. When pouring, the microfoam is swirled into the espresso, so there is no visible layering. The result is a drink that is rich and creamy, but less frothy than a cappuccino.

So, what are the key differences between the two?

  • Texture: The cappuccino’s frothy milk layers provide a lighter, airier texture, while the flat white’s microfoamed milk creates a denser, creamier texture.
  • Strength: The flat white is also typically stronger, thanks to its double shot of espresso, while a cappuccino is often more balanced due to its equal parts milk.

Cappuccino Recipe

To make a cappuccino at home, you’ll need an espresso machine with a cappuccino maker attachment. Start with a shot of freshly brewed espresso, using your preferred beans.

Then, heat and froth your milk using a milk steaming technique – for a cappuccino, you’ll need equal parts steamed and frothed milk. When you’re ready to pour, hold the espresso cup at a 45-degree angle and incorporate the steamed milk first, then the froth.

The milky layers should be distinct and even, and the crema (the tan foam on top of the espresso shot) should be visible. For an extra touch of elegance, you can sprinkle cocoa or shaved chocolate on top of the foam, or even try your hand at latte art.

Flat White Recipe

To make a flat white, start by pulling a double shot of espresso using your favorite beans. Then, it’s time to perfect your milk steaming technique.

For a flat white, you’ll need to use a slightly lower temperature than for a cappuccino, and aerate the milk until it develops that signature microfoam texture. When you’re ready to serve, pour the milk into the espresso, using a slow, steady, circular motion.

The result should be a drink that is smooth, velvety, and indulgent.

History and Origins


The cappuccino was invented by Italian friars in the 16th century, who were known for their brown robes. The drink is named after the Capuchin friars, who were noted for their hooded brown robes (cappuccio in Italian means “hood”).

The color of the cappuccino drink closely resembles the brown robes of the friars, so the name is fitting. The cappuccino was initially a morning drink, meant to be enjoyed alongside a light breakfast or pastry.

Flat White

The history of the flat white is slightly more controversial, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming to have invented it. According to popular lore, the flat white was first served in the late 1980s in Australia, as a way to make a latte with less froth.

However, New Zealanders have their own claims to the drink – they say the flat white was first created in New Zealand in the 1980s by a Kiwi barista. Regardless of its origins, the flat white has become increasingly popular worldwide, with many coffee chains including it on their menus.

In recent years, the flat white has faced some controversy, especially in the UK and the United States. When Starbucks introduced the drink to their menus, some coffee purists accused the giant chain of appropriating the drink and diluting its authenticity.

Others argue that the flat white has become something of a novelty drink, with trendy cafes and brunch spots serving up increasingly elaborate versions with added spices or flavors.

Which One is Better?

In summary, the flat white and cappuccino may seem quite similar, but the nuances in texture and preparation make them distinct drinks with their own flavors and histories.

Knowing the difference between the two can help you make informed choices when ordering at your favorite coffee shop or trying your hand at home brewing. Whether you prefer the layered froth of a cappuccino or the velvety richness of a flat white, one sip is sure to bring a smile to any coffee lover’s face.

As we’ve learned, the flat white and cappuccino are two espresso-based drinks that are both delicious and beloved by coffee enthusiasts around the world. But when it comes to personal preference, which comes out on top?

Let’s take a closer look at each drink and explore some related articles that can help you discover even more coffee drink options.

Personal Preference

When it comes to personal preference, everyone’s taste buds are different.

  • Some people may prefer the traditional wet cappuccino, with its thick layer of frothed milk.
  • Others may be drawn to the novel flat white, with its microfoamed milk and creamy texture.
  • For those who enjoy a powerful espresso taste, a dry cappuccino may be the perfect choice, with a smaller amount of milk and froth.
  • And of course, there are those who prefer to stick with the classics, ordering straight espresso shots or even a simple drip coffee.

But the beauty of coffee is that there is a drink for every taste, and exploring the different types of coffee drinks can be a delightful adventure.

Exploring Other Coffee Drinks

By trying out different drinks and preparation methods, you can discover new flavors and textures that may become your new favorites. Some popular options to explore include lattes, macchiatos, Americanos, and mochas.

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between different types of coffee drinks, there are plenty of resources available online. Many articles compare cappuccinos and lattes, or delve into the history of espresso-based drinks.

By reading up on the origins and evolution of coffee drinks, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the delicious and complex world of coffee.

Brewing Your Own Coffee

In addition to exploring different drinks at your local coffee shop or cafe, you can also experiment with brewing techniques at home.

Espresso machines, French presses, pour-over cones, and more can all be used to create delicious coffee drinks with unique flavors and textures. By taking the time to perfect your brewing skills, you can enjoy cafe-quality drinks right in the comfort of your own home.

The Joy of Coffee

One important thing to keep in mind as you explore different coffee drinks and brewing methods is to not be intimidated! Coffee can seem like a complex and intimidating beverage, but at its core, it’s all about enjoying a delicious and calming drink that warms the soul.

Whether you’re a coffee novice or a seasoned pro, there’s always something new to discover and enjoy.


In conclusion, when it comes to personal preference, everyone has their own tastes and preferences when it comes to coffee drinks. Whether you prefer the rich and creamy texture of a flat white or the frothy layers of a cappuccino, there’s a coffee drink out there for everyone.

By exploring different drinks and brewing methods, you can discover new flavors and textures that may become your new favorites. So don’t be afraid to try something new, and remember – at the end of the day, coffee is all about enjoying a delicious and satisfying drink.

In this article, we explored the similarities and differences between the flat white and cappuccino, two popular espresso-based coffee drinks. We learned how the milk preparation and serving technique create distinct textures and flavors, and how personal preference plays a role in choosing between them.

We also delved into the history and origins of these drinks, and discovered how exploring different types of coffee drinks can expand our horizons and lead to new favorites. Overall, whether you’re a coffee novice or a seasoned pro, there’s always something new to discover and enjoy in the world of coffee.

So go out there and experience all the delicious tastes and flavors that coffee has to offer!

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