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Flat White vs Latte – What’s The Difference?

Ashe Samuels
Last Updated: January 1st, 2024

Are you feeling up for a little coffee, but aren’t up to your usual mug?

It could be indigestion that has you feeling under the weather. It might be too much caffeine…and yes, that even includes decaf drinkers!

The latte is a well-known staple some have to step away from once in a while. The flat white, on the other hand, is often misconstrued.

The most notable difference between flat white and latte is that a flat white is a more concentrated drink that will stronger coffee taste, this is due to it using two shots of espresso, which also gives it a higher amount of caffeine.

This makes the flat white a fan favorite and one that many prefer over the popular latte.

How can the flat white be a superior choice to the latte? Let’s break it down. I’ll explain the flat white vs latte below and why you might prefer one over the other.

The Difference Between The Flat White Vs Latte

flat white coffee
Image: Russell James Smith

Minor changes to the latte’s foundation can result in entirely new drinks. The flat white, to many, won’t seem worthy of its own distinction. Others, however, would argue differently!

The flat white is the latte whittled down to its most brass tacks. It has less milk and a little more espresso, with a velvet layer of microfoam instead of a pile of froth. It’s served in a smaller portion, too, and is perfect for those who want to lessen their coffee input without missing out on quality.

If you have indigestion issues or find yourself drinking less milk to keep your skin clear, flat white is the superior option. I’m even considering making the switch from now on, despite my long-standing love of huge lattes.

The latte, comparatively, is predominantly milk with a splash of espresso. Two espresso shots are the standard, with additional ones often costing extra. Despite its popularity in cafes around the world, some don’t like how it doesn’t quite prioritize the subtle layers of espresso.

It can also be far too much dairy for others. While you may be tempted to simply order a smaller latte, the flat white still has a unique flavor approach you could find delightful.

The flat white vs latte isn’t the only area that gets people confused.

The Confusion Between The Flat White And White Coffee

Whew, this one is commonly mixed up. It’s not surprising. Not only do they have similar names, but they also have a similar appeal.

For some the latte is far too rich, boasting too much milk and not enough of that sharp espresso flavor. Likewise, some want coffee to be a side detail, preferring milk and sugar standing out.

The white coffee changes a little depending on the location but usually means its prioritizes milk, milk alternatives, and sweetener. It’s nicknamed as such for its pale color, drowning out the coffee in favor of a creamy and mild drink. I prefer my coffee to be a touch darker, so it’s not usually something I make at home.

White coffee, however, can also refer to the roast level of the drink. Coffee roasts are generally known as light, medium, and dark. Their color reflects this vividly, ranging from a soft tan to a deep, shiny brown.

Some Western definitions of white coffee will exclusively use very lightly roasted coffee beans, making the color a result of both the roast and the milk added. Unlike the latte, this is a definition that can change from shop to shop.

I haven’t even touched on coffee substitutes, which give you all the flavor with none of the caffeine…or the coffee!

What’s In A Coffee Substitute?

This is an important question, especially if you’re like me and religiously read through food labels to know what I’m putting into my body.

The coffee substitute is designed for a few different people. You have some who don’t want too much fuss making their cup: just add some hot water, milk, and go. Many people like the flavor of coffee, but want to avoid caffeine.

That even includes decaf, which still bears trace amounts after the decaffeination process. These coffee substitutes can have all sorts of interesting ingredients, from different types of herbal tea to oats to grain.

One of the most well-known coffee substitutes is chicory. It’s a tasty and comforting drink that’s been around for a very long time, with some historians seeing similar brews in ancient civilizations.

It’s ground up and roasted similarly to coffee beans but has its own unique mineral content and no caffeine. The result isn’t quite as thick as coffee, though, and often has a more herbal tea scent and mouthfeel. Your mileage may vary as to whether or not it’s an effective replacement!

Each chicory brand is unique and will offer just as much variety as today’s coffee roasters. Give it a try if you want to switch up your diet in 2024.

The flat white is a pretty delicious drink. Sometimes it’s the only thing that hits the spot.

My coffee consumption doesn’t always look the same day-to-day. Depending on my energy level, I might prefer a quick pourover instead of the French Press. If I want a little less coffee and more flavor, on the other hand, the Moka pot is my go-to.

Can Coffee Be Unhealthy For You?

We hear a lot about the benefits of drinking coffee. If you keep up with coffee news, you’ve likely seen more than a few news articles discussing its benefits.

Coffee, just like anything else, still needs to be consumed in moderation. Its high caffeine content makes it an iffy choice for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, or an anxiety disorder.

Because it stimulates your stomach, it can result in indigestion that leaves your gut rumbling for reasons outside of hunger. Even decaf coffee has trace amounts of caffeine in it and should be consumed carefully.

That means drinking a cup of drip in the morning, then one in the evening, rather than one after the other.

Alongside the above, coffee doubles as a laxative, which can be a real pain for people who already struggle with bowel issues. As such, your relationship with coffee won’t look like anyone else’s.

If someone wants to drink five cups of black coffee a day, so be it. If another prefers one cup of decaf coffee at night with a splash of milk, that’s fine.

Coffee elitism purports that everyone must have the same experience with the drink, lest they be seen as inferior fans, and it’s simply not true.

The flat white vs latte is one such comparison that’ll crop up in conversations discussing coffee health, as well as flavor.

coffee with sugar
Image: Marco Verch

What Are The Health Benefits Of Plant-Based Milk?

I’ve explored the growing popularity of plant-based milk varieties. These are prime choices for those who are lactose-intolerant or, like me, who reduce dairy consumption to avoid triggering acne.

As it stands, plant-based milk is much more than a side option. Almond, soy, and oat milk all come with their own unique slew of health benefits to make them a key addition to your diet.

Today’s leading plant-based milk producers will often supplement their products with even more vitamins and minerals to ensure you’re maintaining your health.

Alongside your classic fiber, you can still get plenty of iron and protein, which is nothing to say of what you add to the milk. When’s the last time you checked your daily food groups?

That said, some choose to steer clear of soy milk due to its tendency to alter hormonal levels. For those who are trying to keep their estrogen levels balanced, soy milk should probably be avoided in favor of oat or almond.

It’s also worth mentioning that plant-based milk is a little more difficult to do latte art with than dairy. It’s not impossible — far from it — but it takes a steadier hand to achieve a similar microfoam or froth due to the lower fat content. Now’s a great time to practice your homebrewing technique so you can show off your oat cappuccino or soy flat white.

Plant-based milk is healthy, lower in fat, and great for a wide variety of unique diets. It’s easily one of today’s fastest-growing coffee trends. Speaking of which!

What Are Today’s Growing Coffee Trends?

Before we get into the flat white vs latte, let’s take a quick look at growing coffee trends. There are quite a lot, many of which revolve around sustainability, affordability, and quality.

A big discussion constantly ping-ponging between coffee producers, roasters, and consumers is that of traceability. This term refers to tracking where, exactly, coffee comes from.

It ensures that coffee is being produced fairly — from proper compensation to safe working conditions — and gives the end consumer a broader perspective on their product.

This is far from a flawless system and one that is regularly the topic of conversation in a notoriously convoluted coffee supply chain. Expect to see more coffee tracing apps, think pieces, and updated organic certifications in 2024.

Homebrewing, as you likely already know, is another. This coffee trend was already taking off thanks to the rise in remote work but has been cranked up to eleven due to the coronavirus.

Not only are people realizing just how expensive their coffee drinking habits have become, but they’re also concerned about the safety of cafes.

I suspect that homebrewing won’t quite lose its appeal even after a semblance of normality has returned. It’s more affordable in the long run and can be rather therapeutic, to boot.

About The Author

Ashe Samuels

Ashe is a B2B copywriter, digital marketer, and graphic designer for the coffee, tea, and alcohol niches. Here I share industry news, review products, and analyze social trends.

Just so you know, if you click on a product on and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

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