Flat White vs Cappuccino

What is the difference between a Flat White and a Cappuccino

Flat White vs Cappuccino

Welcome to the world of specialty coffee where every cup offers a unique experience. If you’re someone who enjoys the velvety goodness of milky coffee, you may have come across two popular choices – the Flat White and the Cappuccino.

While these beverages may appear similar at first glance, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, I will guide you through the nuances of the Flat White and Cappuccino, helping you understand the differences in flavor, texture, and overall coffee experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Flat White and Cappuccino are both milky coffee drinks but have distinct differences.
  • The Flat White originated in Australia/New Zealand, while the Cappuccino has its roots in Italy.
  • A Flat White is made with less foam and more textured milk, while a Cappuccino has equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam.
  • Flat White offers a smoother and creamier texture, whereas a Cappuccino has a lighter foam layer.
  • Choosing between a Flat White and Cappuccino depends on personal preference, caffeine content, and desired milk-to-coffee ratio.

The Origins of Flat White and Cappuccino

In this section, I will delve into the origins of both Flat White and Cappuccino. We will explore their historical roots, where they originated, and how they have evolved over time.

The story of the Flat White begins in the cafes of Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. While the exact origin of the Flat White is debated, it is believed to have originated in either Sydney or Melbourne. This creamy and velvety espresso-based drink quickly gained popularity in the region and eventually spread to coffee culture around the world.

The Cappuccino, on the other hand, has a much longer history. Its origins can be traced back to Italy, specifically to the coffee houses of Vienna in the 17th century. The name “Cappuccino” is derived from the Capuchin friars’ brown robes, which the color of the drink resembles. Over time, the Cappuccino became an integral part of Italian coffee culture and eventually made its way into cafes worldwide.

Both the Flat White and the Cappuccino have undergone changes and adaptations as they gained popularity in different parts of the world. Each region has put its own spin on these drinks, leading to variations in taste, presentation, and even the ratio of coffee to milk.

To better understand the origins and evolution of these beloved coffee beverages, let’s take a closer look at their characteristics and what sets them apart.

What is a Flat White?

In this section, I will focus on the Flat White specifically. I will explain what a Flat White is, including its ingredients, preparation process, and key characteristics. We will also discuss the flavor profile and texture of a Flat White.

A Flat White is a popular espresso-based beverage that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It is made by combining a double shot of espresso with steamed milk, creating a velvety and smooth drink.

Unlike other espresso drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, the main feature of a Flat White is its balance between espresso strength and milk texture. The milk used in a Flat White is carefully steamed to create microfoam, which is then poured over the espresso shot.

The microfoam gives the Flat White its signature smooth and creamy texture, making it different from a cappuccino that has a thicker layer of foam on top. This velvety texture allows the flavors of the espresso to shine through, resulting in a rich and well-rounded drink.

When it comes to flavor, a Flat White is known for its strong and bold taste. The double shot of espresso provides a robust coffee flavor, complemented by the subtle sweetness of the steamed milk.

Overall, a Flat White offers a balanced combination of espresso strength, velvety texture, and bold flavor. It is a perfect choice for coffee lovers who enjoy a strong yet smooth and creamy cup of coffee.

Comparison of a Flat White and a Cappuccino

AspectFlat WhiteCappuccino
IngredientsDouble shot of espresso, steamed milkDouble shot of espresso, equal parts steamed milk and foam
Milk TextureMicrofoam, velvety and smoothThick foam layer on top
CharacteristicsStrong espresso flavor, balanced milk to coffee ratioStrong espresso flavor, more pronounced foam presence
TasteBold and richStrong and creamy

What is a Cappuccino?

In this section, I will provide an overview of what a Cappuccino entails, including its ingredients, brewing method, and notable features. Cappuccino is a classic Italian coffee beverage that is beloved by coffee enthusiasts around the world. It is made by combining equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, resulting in a delightful and creamy drink.

The key ingredients in a Cappuccino include:

  • Espresso: This forms the base of a Cappuccino and provides a strong and robust coffee flavor.
  • Steamed Milk: The addition of steamed milk gives the Cappuccino its velvety texture and adds depth to the flavor profile.
  • Frothed Milk: The frothed milk is added on top of the steamed milk, creating a layer of creamy foam that adds a touch of elegance to the drink.

To prepare a Cappuccino, the espresso is first brewed using an espresso machine. The steamed milk is then poured into the espresso, followed by a layer of frothed milk on top. This layering technique ensures that every sip of the Cappuccino is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

A classic Cappuccino is known for its visually appealing presentation, with the frothed milk on top often adorned with cocoa or cinnamon powder. This adds a touch of aesthetic beauty to the drink, making the Cappuccino even more enticing.

With its perfect balance of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, a Cappuccino offers a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that is hard to resist. It is an indulgent beverage that delivers a rich and creamy experience with every sip.

Now that we have explored the components and preparation method of a Cappuccino, let’s move on to the next section where we will compare the flavor and texture of a Flat White and a Cappuccino side by side.

CharacteristicCappuccinoFlat White
OriginItalyAustralia/New Zealand
Main IngredientsEspresso, Steamed Milk, Frothed MilkEspresso, Steamed Milk
TextureCreamy, Velvety FoamSilky, Smooth
TasteStrong Espresso, Balanced MilkBold Espresso, Creamy

Flavor and Texture Comparison

When it comes to coffee, flavor and texture are key factors that differentiate one brew from another. In this section, we will compare the flavor and texture of a Flat White and a Cappuccino to help you understand the distinct characteristics of these popular coffee options.

Flat White: Smooth and Velvety

The Flat White is known for its velvety texture and balanced flavor. Made with a double shot of espresso and steamed milk, this Australian-born coffee beverage offers a rich and creamy mouthfeel. The microfoam created during the steaming process gives the Flat White a smooth and silky texture that lingers on your palate.

The flavor of a Flat White is characterized by a harmonious blend of the espresso’s boldness and the sweetness of the steamed milk. The coffee’s nutty and caramel undertones are complemented by the velvety milk, resulting in a well-rounded and mellow taste.

Cappuccino: Bold and Frothy

The Cappuccino, on the other hand, is known for its bold flavor and frothy texture. Made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk, the Cappuccino offers a more pronounced coffee taste. The foamed milk creates a thick, airy layer on top of the beverage, adding a touch of elegance to its presentation.

With its robust espresso base, the Cappuccino delivers a stronger flavor profile compared to the Flat White. The espresso’s intensity shines through, while the creamy milk adds a hint of sweetness and a velvety finish. The frothy texture of the Cappuccino adds an additional layer of indulgence to each sip.

A Side by Side Comparison

Let’s take a closer look at the flavor and texture comparison of Flat White and Cappuccino:

AspectFlat WhiteCappuccino
FlavorMellow, balanced, nutty, and caramel undertonesBold, strong espresso, touch of sweetness
TextureSmooth, velvety, creamy microfoamFrothy, airy, creamy

As seen in the table, the Flat White is known for its mellow and balanced flavor with nutty and caramel undertones, while the Cappuccino boasts a bolder flavor with the strong presence of espresso. In terms of texture, the Flat White is smooth and velvety, thanks to its creamy microfoam, while the Cappuccino has a frothy and airy texture.

Now that you have an understanding of the flavor and texture differences between a Flat White and a Cappuccino, you can confidently choose the coffee beverage that suits your taste preferences!

Choosing the Perfect Coffee for You

When it comes to choosing the perfect coffee, it all boils down to your personal preferences. Both the Flat White and Cappuccino have their unique qualities that can align with your taste buds and caffeine needs. Here are some factors to consider:

Milk Ratio

The milk-to-espresso ratio plays a crucial role in the flavor and texture of your coffee. If you prefer a creamy and velvety mouthfeel, the Flat White might be your best bet. It typically has a higher proportion of milk, resulting in a smooth and indulgent experience. On the other hand, if you enjoy a more balanced blend of espresso and milk, the Cappuccino offers a harmonious mix with equal parts of each.

Caffeine Content

If you’re looking for a stronger caffeine kick, the Cappuccino might be your go-to choice. With its traditional recipe of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothy milk foam, the Cappuccino tends to have a higher caffeine concentration compared to the Flat White. However, it’s worth noting that caffeine levels can also vary depending on the size of the cup and the coffee beans used.

Flavor Profile

The flavor profiles of the Flat White and Cappuccino also differ subtly. The Flat White offers a more intense espresso taste with a sweeter and richer flavor profile. Its smoother texture allows the espresso’s bold characteristics to shine through. In contrast, the Cappuccino has a delicate balance of flavors, with the espresso blending harmoniously with the creaminess of the milk. It provides a milder, yet still enjoyable, coffee experience.

Ultimately, the choice between a Flat White and a Cappuccino comes down to what you value in your coffee-drinking experience. Consider your milk preferences, desired caffeine levels, and flavor preferences to make an informed decision. Trying both options and experimenting with different variations can also help you discover your perfect cup of coffee.


Understanding the difference between a Flat White and a Cappuccino is essential for coffee enthusiasts who appreciate the nuanced flavors and textures of specialty coffees. While both beverages involve espresso and steamed milk, the key distinctions lie in the milk-to-foam ratio and overall taste.

A Flat White is known for its velvety microfoam texture, achieved through a higher proportion of steamed milk to foam. This results in a smooth and creamy mouthfeel, highlighting the richness of the espresso. On the other hand, a Cappuccino features equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam, delivering a more balanced blend of flavors and a light, airy foam layer on top.

To enjoy a Flat White, opt for a velvety and mellow coffee experience, while a Cappuccino offers a harmonious combination of flavors for those who prefer a slightly stronger espresso presence. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on personal preferences for milk-to-foam ratios, flavor profiles, and overall mouthfeel.

Whether you find delight in the smoothness of a Flat White or the balanced flavors of a Cappuccino, both these specialty coffees have their own unique charm. So the next time you visit a coffee shop, you can confidently make an informed choice and savor every sip of your favorite caffeinated indulgence.