How to make a flat white at home

The flat white is an espresso-based beverage taking the world by storm with its unique balance of rich espresso and velvety textured milk. 

Although it hails from Australia and New Zealand, the perfect flat white recipe doesn’t require a trip down under. In fact, with the right tools (and a touch of practice), you don’t even need to leave your kitchen.  

Below, we’re exploring how to make a flat white like a pro.

What is a flat white?

The flat white, claimed by both Australia and New Zealand as a native invention, often finds itself compared to a latte or cappuccino because of its espresso and steamed milk composition.

What sets the flat white apart, however, is its distinct texture combined with a shorter ratio of milk to espresso — creating a creamy consistency of steamed milk without overshadowing the key ingredient: espresso.

The flat white offers much more than a luxurious mouthfeel though; its velvety texture accentuates the finer properties of the espresso itself. Essentially, it's a coffee-rich, full-bodied experience unlike any other. It’s a similar ratio to a cappuccino with the texture of a latte. Best of both worlds? That’s for you to decide.

Equipment you'll need

To recreate the exquisite taste of a flat white, you must ensure you have the appropriate equipment. Here's a list of the essential tools you’ll need:

● Espresso machine – Central to your flat white expedition is an espresso machine with a steam wand. A separate milk steamer can work, but a properly equipped espresso machine will have the steam power needed to create the right texture for a flat white.

● Steaming pitcher – Steamed milk bubbles are the secret ingredient to a flat white, and it isn't accidental. A durable steaming pitcher designed for consistent frothed milk is essential.

● Thermometer – A thermometer can be a home barista’s best friend before achieving the art of simply using your hand. It’s important to reach an optimal temperature to bring out the right sugars as well as generate enough time to introduce air and integrate the foam correctly. Milk can scald which will destroy the inherent sweetness that we are trying to bring out for the final beverage.

● Coffee grinder – Espresso, our second key ingredient, begins its journey from the coffee bean. Freshly ground coffee, whether it’s a blend or a single origin coffee, is the bedrock of a flavorful shot, so opt for a burr grinder to ensure uniformity and consistency.

An adaptable home barista learning how to make a flat white can work with any level of equipment. That said, the right tools can certainly help simplify the process, particularly when it comes to crafting a quality flat white.

Flat white ingredients

Ultimately, a flat white is a duet between espresso and milk. Fully understanding these ingredients is thus fundamental for a masterpiece flat white recipe.

● Espresso – Opt for freshly roasted coffee beans. Whether you use a single or double shot, the final beverage will be a ratio of espresso:milk and depending on your final vessel, you may want to adjust this.

● Milk – The best milk for frothing is whole milk—its fat content provides a richer, creamier texture essential for that signature flat white taste. For non-dairy diets, suitably thick plant milks can also be substituted.

While these two ingredients serve as the foundation for the flat white coffee, the most important part lies just ahead.

How to make a flat white step-by-step

With your ingredients and equipment ready, it's time for the crescendo—crafting the flat white coffee. Let’s go through the process step by step.

1. Begin by choosing the right vessel. The definition of a flat white may vary depending on who you speak to, but the one thing that should stay the same is the overall ratio of espresso to milk. Choose a cup no larger than 8 oz if possible. We’re aiming for a stronger beverage by not adding too much milk. This is what differentiates a flat white from a latte.

2. Next, begin grinding your espresso beans. Then, extract a double or single shot, dialing in your espresso machine for a sweet, syrupy shot.

3. With fresh milk in your steaming pitcher, engage the steam wand. Keep it submerged just below the milk's surface, aiming to create a vortex. The temperature sweet spot lies between 140°F to 149°F, or 120°F to 130°F for non-dairy milk.

4. Achieve the appropriate milk texture. As steam permeates the milk, gently integrate the larger bubbles into the body, striving for a velvety, consistent texture that’s relatively “flat” across the surface. This lighter texture is what differentiates the flat white from a cappuccino.

5. Gently pour the milk over your espresso, maintaining that prized textured milk on top, roughly a quarter-inch thick.

And there you have it! With these five simple steps, you can master the art of how to make a flat white at home.

Ways to enjoy your flat white

Since a flat white is, at its core, espresso paired with milk, there are any number of variations and customizations available to you. 

Here are a few other ways to enjoy your flat white:

● Try a pinch of cocoa – A quick dusting of cocoa, matcha, or other powdered flavorings can add a unique spin to the classic flat white recipe. 

● Add a drizzle of caramel – Threading in some caramel syrup can add a bit of extra warmth and a sweeter edge, enhancing a flat white’s already delightful experience.

● Slip in a shot of sugar-free vanilla syrup – Perfect to pair with oat milk, a dash of sugarless vanilla syrup adds a guilt-free (and sugar-free) flavor twist.

Whatever add-ons suit your palate, experimentation is the privilege of the home barista, allowing you to personalize your flat white and make it truly yours.

Perfect your flat white with the right tools from Breville

Like other coffee recipes, flawless flat whites depend not just on skill, but also the quality of your tools. Whether you’re just starting on your home barista journey and learning how to make a latte or simply looking to expand your arsenal, Breville’s espresso machines offer a range of features to streamline your coffee creations. 

From automatic steam wands to pre-programmed flat white espresso settings, Breville ensures you can enjoy luxurious coffee any day—all from the comfort of your own kitchen.



1. StarbMag. What is the best milk temperature for flat white?

2. Food and Wine. What Exactly Is a Flat White? Everyone's Favorite Coffee Order.

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How to make a flat white at home