If you are a regular visitor to any of the high street coffee shops you will have noticed that they have added “flat white” to the menu and even Mcdonalds have gotten in on the act.
The thing is that the big coffee shops will charge you around £3 for a flat white that you can produce yourself for less than 30p. If you want to save 90% (or £54 a month) then we will explain exactly how to make a flat white yourself and make it better than Costa or Starbucks.
A latte is a very milky drink that can take away a lot of the coffee flavour that you should be enjoying and perhaps and if you think about it what do you actually get out of all the foam that gets added to a cappuccino?
If you want a drink that takes away all the tasteless foam that comes with a cappuccino and you don’t want to be served with a latte that contains a pint of milk then a flat white may be just what you are looking for.
Visit any of the well-known coffee shops and whichever milk-based drink you choose they will give you a double espresso and add milk and/or foam to produce your drink of choice.
The problem is that due to the inexperience of the staff you will get a different drink almost every time you visit. The training seems to be getting poorer and we have experienced on many occasions that you pretty much get a latte no matter what you ask for. The double espresso gets passed to the person that adds the milk and they just fill it up with milk regardless.
The key to a good coffee is consistency and that is the last thing you will get when you visit a coffee shop and pay £3 for a coffee.
What is the difference between a flat white and a latte?
A flat white is much stronger than a latte so if you want to taste the coffee more than the milk then a flat white is the way to go.
If we are getting technical then a latte should be about 1 part espresso and 5 parts milk so a double shot of espresso will be around 60ml of coffee and you add around 300ml of milk. This obviously dilutes the coffee flavour a lot and you end up with a very milky drink.
A flat white is around 1 part coffee and 2 parts milk so a double espresso of 60ml will have only 120ml of milk added creating a much more coffee flavoured drink as opposed to a milk flavoured drink with a latte.
Is a flat white stronger than a cappuccino?
No. A cappuccino made correctly should be one part espresso, one part steamed milk and one part milk froth so a double espresso of 60ml should have 60ml of milk added and then be topped up with froth only.
The froth won’t make much difference to the intensity of the cappuccino so it will be stronger than a flat white.
What do you need to make the perfect flat white?
The perfect flat white starts off with the perfect double espresso and the quality of an espresso is determined by the quality of your coffee machine and how you choose to interact with it.
If you want to make a really great espresso then you need to prepare some of the elements yourself and then use the machine to extract the coffee.
One of the most important factors before you even start is using the freshest whole coffee beans you can find. Check the roasting date, not the use-by date and try and use beans that have been roasted in the last month.
Always grind the beans just before making your flat white. You can find a detailed breakdown in this article on the best coffee grinders which explains the importance of grinding the beans yourself. Coffee grinders are a lot cheaper than you think and you can go straight to the page for blade coffee grinders to see the best value for money coffee grinders on the market today.
The coffee machine that you use will have a big say in the quality of the end result but as with a coffee grinder, you don’t need to break the bank in order to buy a machine that will pay for itself in a matter of a couple of months. If you buy 20 coffees a month in a coffee shop making your own will be better and you will save £54 a month in the process. A coffee machine that costs £100 will pay for itself in 2 months and if you invest £200 you’ll have your money back in coffee shop savings within 4 months.
It is possible to spend in excess of £1000 on an espresso machine for your home but the best cheap espresso machine will set you back an awful lot less and if you choose the right one they represent amazing value for money.
A couple of the very best cheap espresso machines that will make a great flat white are the Klarstein Passionata espresso machine and the Swan retro pump espresso machine. Detailed reviews of both are in the links. Both of these machines require some manual intervention but you use them in the same way as the coffee is prepared in Costa or Starbucks and it’s the best way to get the best coffee.
If that’s too much of a faff for you then you can consider a bean to cup coffee machine. These coffee machines remove all of the manual intervention and no need for a coffee grinder either because bean to cup coffee machines already have a grinder integrated. These machines tend to be more expensive than a semi-manual pump espresso machine because they are fully automated. We have an article on the best bean to cup coffee machines that goes into a lot more detail.
Once you have your fresh coffee beans, a grinder and an espresso machine you are ready to make the perfect flat white.
How to make the perfect flat white
To get the proportions just right consider getting some glasses that allow you to fill them close to the top in the correct proportions for a flat white.
A double espresso made correctly will produce 60ml of liquid in the glass and you need to add 120ml of steamed milk to get yourself a great flat white.
A set of glasses like these Delonghi Cappuccino Thermo Glasses not only look amazing but they take all the guesswork out of the equation as well because filled close to the top will give you the 180ml you need for the perfect flat white when you add 120ml of milk to the 60ml of espresso.
This way the milk works with the espresso without overpowering it. If you really like coffee but neat espresso or cappuccino is a bit too strong then a flat white is a great alternative to the traditional milk-based espresso drinks of latte and cappuccino.
Frothing milk in the right way to get the correct texture is important as well. Use the steam wand to inject some air into the milk and heat to between 65-70 degrees. Anything higher risks burning the milk and that will adversely affect the coffee.
Add the glossy textured milk to your double shot of espresso extracted perfectly from your espresso machine and you will have yourself the perfect flat white that will taste 10 times better than a coffee shop coffee and will cost you 1/10th of the price.
Can you make a flat white with a cafetiere?
Flat whites are traditionally made with espresso and steamed milk but if you don’t have an espresso machine then there is no reason why you can’t create one using your cafetiere. Coffee produced with an espresso machine is much stronger and more intense than coffee from a cafetiere so we would recommend altering the ratio of coffee to milk.
Instead of the standard one part coffee to two parts milk as described above, you can try 50/50 so half coffee and half milk.
Espresso machines come with a steam wand so you can heat and froth your milk but if you are using a cafetiere then you will need a separate milk frother to get the right temperature and consistency of milk.
You can opt for either an electric milk frother that will heat your milk at the touch of a button but if you are already using a cafetiere and don’t want to mess about with another appliance that you have to plug in then a great option is this Bodum milk frother. You just add milk and plunge up and down until you get the consistency you want. Pop it in the microwave to heat and you are good to go