Flat White vs. Cappuccino – The Difference

Cappuccinos and Flat Whites 

In a world where coffee often marks the beginning and end of one’s day, choosing a flat white vs. a cappuccino can be a bit perplexing. It’s not just about selecting your preference; it’s about grasping the nuances in flavors, textures, and coffee compositions. 

You are in the perfect spot if you are torn between options, particularly when deciding between a flat white and a cappuccino. 

What is a Flat White?

It is a popular espresso-based coffee from Australia. What sets a flat white apart from other espresso drinks like a latte is its balance. It has less milk than a latte but more than a cappuccino, resulting in a smooth, velvety coffee with a rich espresso flavor and a delicate, creamy texture.

It’s often served in a smaller, 5 to 6 ounces (142 to 170 grams) cup, making it a favorite choice for those who appreciate the taste of espresso with a subtler milk presence.

Flat white coffee

What is a Flat White Made of?

A flat white combines espresso with steamed milk, and the key distinction lies in the balance of these two components. It typically consists of two shots of espresso, topped with steamed milk with a fine, velvety microfoam texture. 

The carefully calibrated coffee-to-milk ratio creates a harmonious blend where the smooth and creamy milk complements the espresso’s rich flavor. The result is a delicious coffee beverage that balances the strength of espresso and the silkiness of milk.

What’s a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee beverage that combines equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. It has a balanced and creamy taste, with the espresso providing a strong, rich coffee flavor. 

The key to a good cappuccino is in the frothing of the milk, which creates a dense microfoam that sits on top of the espresso. The name “cappuccino” comes from the resemblance of the drink’s color to the brown robes worn by Capuchin friars, with the light and dark layers of coffee and foam resembling their attire.

Late Cappuccino

What is a Cappuccino Made of?

A cappuccino combines equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. It typically consists of one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third milk foam, resulting in a well-balanced coffee drink. Generally, it is 33% steamed milk, 33% espresso, and 33% microfoam.

The espresso provides a strong and rich coffee flavor, the steamed milk adds creaminess, and the milk foam contributes a frothy texture. Combining these elements creates the classic cappuccino, known for its delightful blend of coffee and milk, often served in a small cup.

The Difference Between a Flat White and a Cappuccino

Regarding espresso-based coffee drinks, the subtleties in composition and presentation can make a difference in taste and texture. The flat white and the cappuccino are two popular choices that often lead to delightful moments of caffeinated indulgence. 

While both share a foundation of espresso and milk, they exhibit distinct characteristics that set them apart. This exploration will highlight the disparities between these two beloved coffee beverages, from the milk texture and serving size to the coffee flavor and layering, helping you discern which suits your coffee cravings best.

Milk Texture

While both drinks have steamed milk, a flat white is popular for its velvety microfoam, resulting in a smoother, silkier texture. In contrast, a cappuccino has a thicker, denser milk foam on top, which can be more frothy and airy.

Serving Size

Many traditionally serve a cappuccino in a smaller cup while flat whites in larger cups.

Coffee Flavor

Due to its higher espresso-to-milk ratio, a cappuccino tends to have a more pronounced coffee flavor, making it bolder and stronger in taste compared to the milder coffee flavor of a flat white.


A cappuccino’s serving has three distinct layers – espresso at the bottom, steamed milk in the middle, and a thick foam layer on top. A flat white, while still having the same components, is more integrated, with a seamless blend of coffee and milk and a thin, silky layer of microfoam.

Top view of Cappuccino


Is Cappuccino Coffee?

Certainly, a cappuccino is indeed a coffee beverage. It consists of espresso as its coffee component, steamed milk, and milk foam, creating a coffee drink renowned for its robust coffee flavor and creamy texture.

One Last Thing to Remember

In the world of coffee, the difference between flat white and cappuccino may seem subtle, but it’s in these nuances that coffee enthusiasts find their unique delights. Each espresso-based beverage offers a special blend of coffee and milk, resulting in distinct taste experiences. 

Whether you prefer the smooth and mellow harmony of a flat white with its velvety microfoam or the bold and robust flavor of a cappuccino with its thick, frothy top, your choice ultimately boils down to personal preference. 

Exploring cappuccino vs flat white allows coffee lovers to savor the diversity of the coffee world, one delightful cup at a time.