Rounding Up on the Milk Based Coffee Debate


We all adore a scrumptious, milk coffee every now and then. But if you have ever been lured by these sensuous looking mouth-watering delights, you may have observed that there is a diverse array of this drink than you would have thought of. Don’t you worry as this post is geared towards helping you figure out your choice out of at least two of the variants so that you can get a milk moustache from the very beverage that keeps the blood flowing in your veins.

Continue reading for a detailed discussion on a couple of milk based coffee beverages: the flat white versus the cappuccino.

Steamed milk

Similar to most of the coffees out there, both the flat white and the cappuccino are espresso centric beverages and involve blending steamed or textured milk into a couple of espresso shots. The techniques with which the milk is prepared tend to vary but the constant in this process is the espresso.

If you are looking to brew these drinks at home, then you will certainly be in need of an espresso machine. The machine will be required for both the espresso and the steaming wand needed for the milk constituents. But if you are not willing to spend a fortune on purchasing an espresso machine, the content in the post below will assist you determine the which one of the two beverages you should really order at a coffee shop in your neighborhood.

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Flat White – Just the It Should Be!

It is believed that the flat white originated in the down under i.e. in Australia and New Zealand. Fraser McInnes of Café Bodega in Wellington came up with the term “flat white” in 1989 while Derek Townsend of DF Café is considered the inventor of the beverage in 1984. Whoever invented it first, it is certain that the drink has not been around for as long as some of its other counterparts.

The construction of the flat white varies from one café to another but it does include a few fundamental ingredients. It is not as dense or thick as a cappuccino or a latte as it is void of any froth and employs a versatile micro-foam that is distinct from conventional steamed milk.

Purely textured (micro-foam) milk is poured over one or two shots of espresso to conjure flat white which is served in slightly smaller cups in contrast to the cappuccino. The cups are typically 5 ounce tulip cups. You should anticipate a froth-less drink with a silky tinge to its texture. Espresso has a dominant flavor in this beverage as flavor of the milk foam is there more specifically to complement the overall taste rather than to overwhelm it.

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With the advent and rising popularity of espresso machines, cappuccino was introduced in Italy and was typically served in Viennese Style boasting whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles at the top. The beverage evolved gradually into the cappuccino that we know of in the modern era after the World War II and became popular in Europe and America in the 1980s.

Cappuccino can be quite comfortably distinguished from other caffeinated beverages owing to its characteristic foam hat. It is typically served in 6 ounce cups which are a bit larger in size in contrast to the 5 1/12 ounce cups used to serve the flat whites (however, they are smaller than those used to serve latte).

Cappuccino consists of 1/3 airy foam at its top and 1/3 steamed milk with 1/3 shot of espresso at the bottom. It is commonly known for its low levels of acidity and dense and creamy texture.

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Foamy versus Frothy

The way the milk constituent is prepared actually sets the two beverages apart. The flat white is smooth, silky milk blended with a couple of shots of espresso and the cappuccino comes with a dense, foam covering with lots of froth over espresso shots and steamed milk.

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Wanting it foamy?

Micro-foam is what you should expect whenever you order a flat white at your local café. The foam is produced thanks to the steaming wand which is used to steam milk at uniform temperature to froth the milk with really small bubbles. The trick in this process to ensure that the foam remains mixed in the milk instead of allowing it to stay at the top.

Some up-scale cafes, however, tend to get rid of the foam as they do not mix it into the steamed milk and hold it back when pouring the beverage. This slight alteration results into a drink that resembles a small latte without any foam at its top.

However, if brewed the right way, the micro-foam is poured over the espresso shots to give a velvety texture. This should result into a dark swirl over the espresso which is created as the milk gels together with caramelized coffee.

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Wanting it frothy?

In contrast, cappuccinos come with an airy foam at the top. As discussed above, they contain an equal proportion of espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk. The milk is steamed until 654 degrees F and poured over espresso shots. The foam is held back until the drink has been poured over and then kept at the top.

The froth is not blended into the milk and should be the one third constituent of the cup. Similar to the flat white, the milk should not overwhelm espresso’s flavor that is present at the bottom. If prepared in the right manner, you tend to get a certain structure with dry, sweet foam at the top and rich, milky espresso at the bottom.

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Which one rules the roost?

Both the beverages come with a dominant espresso flavor and respond pretty formidably to added sweeteners or flavors; rendering them ideal for tinkering or fine tuning in accordance with personal preferences. So, it all boils down to the texture. If you are yearning for something dense and rich, then opt for the cappuccino. However, if you are looking for a slightly lighter and velvety texture and want to test the skills of the brewer, flat white is what you should definitely order!

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