Coffee Brewing

Flat White Vs Cappuccino

Written by

Erica Cervenkova

Coffee Holli Top Pick

Flat White vs Cappuccino


Espresso is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

In the pursuit of accommodating people who find espresso too intense, there are a dozen espresso milk combo drinks to drink. 

However, there are too many. 

This post compares cappuccino and flat white, two of the most popular espresso-based drinks. 

With that out of the way, let’s get into it. 

What is the Flat White


Flat white is a unique espresso milk combo drink that is commonly mistaken for a latte. That’s why some people refer to it as a smaller latte or a wet cappuccino. 

But if you taste it you will easily tell they are totally different. 

The flat white was invented back in the 1980s but only started getting mainstream in Europe and US during the last decade after Starbucks introduced it in their menu.

Both Australians and New Zealanders claim to have invented this drink but most coffee scholars regularly credit Australia. 

How to Make Flat White

Flat white is normally made with 2 shots of espresso and 4 ounces of whole milk. And then served in a 180 ml ceramic cup.

However, the uniqueness of flat white is the form of milk.

Unlike other espresso drinks, flat white is milk is expertly steamed until it achieves a smooth, velvety texture and a glossy finish. 

The magic in flat white is solely in the velvet textured milk. 

Steaming the perfect milk for a flat white is hard, which is partly why flat white drinks are typically pricier than other espresso drinks. 

What is a Cappuccino

A cappuccino is a more popular espresso-based drink that was invented in Italy back in the  17th century.

This drink derives its name from the brown robes worn by the Roman Catholic priests; the Capuchin friars. 

Today, cappuccino is one of the world’s most ordered espresso-based drinks. 

How To Make A Cappuccino


Cappuccino is made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam and served in a 150ml cup. 

According to the  Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano, cappuccino is made with 25ml espresso and 100ml of fresh steamed milk. 

Because foam is made from milk, cappuccino ends up with more milk than espresso. 

Start by brewing 25ml of espresso using 7 grams of ground coffee.


Using a steam wand or milk frother, steam the 100ml milk until the volume increases to 125ml and temperatures rise to about 130 Fahrenheit.

Pour the espresso into a cup and add the steamed milk and top with the foam and your favorite toppings. 

It’s that simple.

Outside of Italy, the serving volume may differ but the ratios remain the same

For instance, some coffee shops use double shots of espresso.  Other coffee bars replace steamed milk with whipped cream

A perfectly prepared cup of cappuccino should combine some sweetness and the bold espresso taste. In terms of sweetness, cappuccino is not as sweet as a latte, since it contains less steamed milk.

Flat White vs Cappuccino – Comparison Table 

Flat WhiteCappuccino
OriginNew Zealand/AustraliaAustria and Italy 
PopularityMost popular Australia and New ZealandThe most popular espresso drink in the world
Ingredients 2 shots of espresso and 4 ounces of steamed milk1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 steam milk foam
Amount of espresso 2 shots of espresso1 or 2 shots 
Amount of milk4 ounces whole steamed milkEqual to the amount of espresso 
Foam FlatEqual to the amount of espresso
Ground coffee 14g of coffee for 2 shots7-9 grams for 1 shot 
Serving 180 ml ceramic cup160ml cappuccino mug
Taste Stronger coffee tasteCreamy, a little bit sweet, and espresso taste.
Popular FlavorsNone(Starbucks has an option for different flavors and toppings.Wet and Dry
Serving TemperatureHotHot
Best time Mid- to late-morningIn the morning 


While white flat white and cappuccino are made using espresso and steamed milk, they are two different coffee drinks because of the ratios and how the milk is steamed. Flat white is prepared with 2 shots of espresso and smooth velvety textured steamed milk.  Cappuccino is made with equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Flat White Vs Cappuccino

Is a flat white stronger than a cappuccino?

There has always been confusion on what is stronger between flat white and cappuccino. The easiest way to assess is by looking at the ratios. For this comparison, let’s use the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano cappuccino recipe.

25ml of espresso (≈1 shot) + 100ml of whole milk (3.3 ounces) that is steamed to 130ml volume.

Let’s compare that with the most common flat white recipe

2 shots of espresso + 4 ounces of milk. That is 1 shot of espresso + 2 ounces of milk (59 ml)

As you can tell:

Flat white is stronger since it contains less milk per ounce than a cappuccino. However, this only applies to these specific recipes.

Is a flat white the same as a cappuccino?

No. Cappuccino and flat have different ratios of espresso and steamed milk. Cappuccino is made with equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, while flat white is made with 1/3 espresso and 2/3 milk. Apart from the difference in the ratio of espresso and milk, flat white milk is expertly steamed to attain a velvet texture.

Is flat white the strongest coffee?

No, the flat white isn’t the strongest espresso-based drink. Macchiato is the strongest espresso drink since it contains the least amount of milk in relation to the amount of espresso.

Erica Cervenkova
Coffee Connoisseur, SCA Member

As a coffee connoisseur and member of the Specialty Coffee Association, I am dedicated to understanding the sustainability of coffee pods and the impact it has on the environment. My expertise lies in the realm of capsule coffee machines, from the likes of Keurig and Nespresso to other well-known US brands. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping others make informed decisions about their coffee choices. Whether you're a coffee enthusiast or just looking for a new way to enjoy your morning cup, I'm here to help.


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