What is a flat white? Here’s all about this espresso drink: how it’s different from a latte, and how to make a flat white at home!
- 2 espresso shots (2 ounces)
- 4 ounces steamed milk
- Prep for the flat white: Grind and tamp the espresso, but don’t pull it. Store your milk jug in the refrigerator: the colder the milk is the more time you have to get the right texture. Or, rinse it in very cold water, dry and refrigerate for a few minutes. Fill your milk jug to just below the spout, about 3/4 cup, using very fresh whole milk (or oat milk for vegan).
- Make the espresso: Use an espresso machine or manual espresso maker to make two shots of espresso and pour it into a mug (or try our Aeropress Espresso).
- Steaming method (espresso machine): Heat the steam wand. Once prepared, place the wand just below the surface of the milk about 1/2 inch from the side, tilting the jug slightly. Keep it in that position for about 5 to 10 seconds, stretching the milk by about 20 to 25% in height, with very slight movements up and down. Once stretched and slightly foamy, lower the nozzle about another 1/2 inch and tilt the pitcher just enough to get a spinning vortex, which incorporates the foam, turning it into a velvety microfoam. Keep that still and spinning until the temperature is about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. (Using a pitcher with a temperature sticker is very helpful.) Turn off the steam before removing the wand from the jug. Wipe the wand with a clean cloth. Turn it on for 1 second to purge the nozzle. Tap and swirl the pitcher to incorporate any bubbles on top. The final texture should look like wet paint or melted ice cream, smooth and velvety. You’ll use only about half of this quantity and can discard the rest (see the * note below).
- OR, heat the milk to scalding and foam it (without espresso machine): Heat the milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot to the touch but not simmering. Measure with a food thermometer, or you can approximate by testing with your finger. Use a milk frother, French press or whisk to froth milk into small, even bubbles. For a latte you’ll want small bubbles and lightly thickened milk (if you’re using a milk frother, don’t go too far: you want the milk to mix in with the coffee so you don’t need too much froth**). For the French press method, note that it’s useful to have at least 1 cup to have more milk to work with: this makes enough for 2 drinks. We highly recommend reading How to Froth Milk if this is your first time frothing. Wait 30 seconds to 1 minute to get the foam to incorporate into the milk and separate slightly (exact timing depends on your foaming method).
- Serve: Tap the milk container on counter and swirl it to break down any large bubbles. Pour milk into center of the espresso, ending with light foam.
*This makes enough for 2 drinks, because it’s easiest to steam a larger quantity of milk. Discard the extra milk. If you have an espresso machine with two espresso taps, you could use this to make another flat white. (The milk becomes less frothy while it sits, so it’s not ideal for waiting to make another espresso.)
**The milk frother works well; for the French press pump vigorously until frothy, about 25 times. Do not overwhip, as the foam will deflate!
- Category: Drink
- Method: Espresso machine
- Cuisine: Espresso
Keywords: Flat white, What is a flat white, How to make a flat white