Coffee lovers rejoice – you have options when it comes to milk-based espresso drinks at Starbucks. Two customer favorites are the flat white and latte. But what exactly sets these two caffeinated beverages apart? Read on as we unravel the nuances between Starbucks’ flat white and latte.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: The main differences between a Starbucks flat white and latte are that a flat white contains less steamed milk and microfoam while a latte contains more steamed milk and latte art. A flat white also has a slightly stronger coffee flavor.

Serving Size and Steamed Milk Differences

Flat White is Smaller

One of the main differences between a Starbucks Flat White and a Latte is the serving size. The Flat White is typically served in a smaller cup compared to the Latte. While a Latte is usually served in a 12-ounce cup, a Flat White is typically served in an 8-ounce cup.

This smaller serving size gives the Flat White a more concentrated flavor profile, allowing the espresso to shine through.

More Microfoam in a Flat White

Another difference between the two drinks lies in the amount of microfoam used. A Flat White has a higher ratio of microfoam to espresso compared to a Latte. Microfoam is created by steaming milk to a velvety texture, which adds a creamy and smooth consistency to the coffee.

The higher amount of microfoam in a Flat White gives it a luxurious and velvety mouthfeel, enhancing the overall drinking experience.

Latte Has More Steamed Milk

On the other hand, a Latte contains more steamed milk compared to a Flat White. The additional amount of steamed milk in a Latte gives it a lighter and more milky taste. This makes the Latte a popular choice for those who prefer a milder and creamier coffee beverage.

The steamed milk in a Latte also helps to balance out the strong flavor of the espresso, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

For more information on the differences between a Starbucks Flat White and a Latte, you can visit Starbucks’ official website.

Espresso Shots

When comparing the Starbucks Flat White and Latte, one of the key elements to consider is the espresso shots. Both drinks contain two shots of espresso, which provide the base for their rich and bold flavors.

Both Contain Two Shots of Espresso

Both the Flat White and Latte at Starbucks are made with two shots of espresso. This means that they both have a similar caffeine content, which can give you that much-needed boost of energy to start your day or keep you going throughout the afternoon.

However, it’s important to note that the strength of the espresso flavor can vary depending on the size of the drink and the amount of milk used.

Espresso More Prominent in a Flat White

While both the Flat White and Latte contain the same number of espresso shots, the Flat White has a more prominent espresso flavor. The Flat White is known for its velvety texture and strong espresso taste, which is achieved by using less milk compared to a Latte.

The result is a bolder and more concentrated coffee experience, where the espresso takes center stage. If you’re a fan of a stronger coffee flavor, the Flat White may be the perfect choice for you.

On the other hand, if you prefer a smoother and creamier taste with a balance of espresso and milk, the Latte might be more to your liking. The Latte is made with steamed milk and a small amount of foam, which creates a milder flavor profile compared to the Flat White.

Ultimately, the choice between a Starbucks Flat White and Latte comes down to personal preference. Whether you prefer a stronger espresso taste or a more balanced flavor, both drinks offer a delightful coffee experience.

So why not give them both a try and decide which one suits your taste buds the best?

Milk Frothing and Texture

Microfoam is Key in a Flat White

When it comes to milk frothing and texture, the flat white and latte differ in their approach. In a flat white, the emphasis is on creating a velvety and smooth microfoam. This is achieved by steaming the milk to a specific temperature and then frothing it to create tiny bubbles that are evenly distributed throughout the milk.

The result is a creamy texture that blends seamlessly with the espresso, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

To achieve the perfect microfoam in a flat white, baristas undergo extensive training and use specialized equipment. The milk is steamed to a temperature between 140°F and 155°F (60°C and 68°C) to ensure the proper consistency.

This temperature range allows the milk proteins to break down and create a smooth texture without scalding or burning the milk. The frothed milk is then poured into the espresso, resulting in a creamy and rich beverage.

Latte Showcases Latte Art

In contrast, the latte focuses more on the visual aspect of the milk frothing process. While microfoam is still important, latte art takes center stage in a latte. The barista skillfully pours the frothed milk into the espresso, creating intricate designs on the surface of the drink.

Latte art has become a popular trend in coffee culture, with baristas showcasing their creativity through beautiful designs such as hearts, rosettas, and even more complex patterns. The artistry involved in creating latte art adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the drinking experience.

While the focus on latte art may slightly differ in terms of technique and presentation, the milk used in both the flat white and latte is typically the same – whole milk. However, some coffee shops may offer alternative milk options, such as almond milk or oat milk, for those with dietary restrictions or preferences.


Starbucks Official Website

Home Grounds

Flavor Profiles

Flat White Tastes Stronger

The Flat White is known for its bold and intense flavor profile. It is made by pouring a double shot of espresso over velvety steamed milk, creating a rich and creamy texture. The espresso in the Flat White is more concentrated, resulting in a stronger and more robust coffee taste.

This makes it a perfect choice for those who prefer a bolder and more pronounced coffee flavor.

According to a study conducted by The Coffee Institute, the Flat White contains approximately 155mg of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. This higher caffeine content contributes to its stronger taste and provides an extra kick of energy to start your day.

Latte Has Milkier Taste

The Latte, on the other hand, is known for its smooth and milky flavor profile. It is made by combining a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a small layer of foam on top. The milk in the Latte adds a creamy and slightly sweet taste, balancing out the bitterness of the espresso.

Compared to the Flat White, the Latte has a milder coffee taste due to the larger amount of milk used. This makes it a popular choice for those who prefer a smoother and more delicate coffee flavor. The Latte is also often enjoyed with flavored syrups or sprinkled with cocoa or cinnamon for added sweetness and aroma.

Flat White Latte
Caffeine Content Approximately 155mg per 8-ounce serving Approximately 77mg per 8-ounce serving
Espresso to Milk Ratio 1:3 1:5
Texture Rich, creamy Smooth, velvety

Ultimately, the choice between a Flat White and a Latte comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy a bold and strong coffee taste, the Flat White is the way to go. If you prefer a smoother and milkier flavor, the Latte is the perfect choice.

Whichever you choose, both beverages offer a delightful and satisfying coffee experience.

Customization Options

Limited Customization for Flat Whites

When it comes to customization, the Starbucks Flat White offers limited options compared to its counterpart, the latte. The Flat White is known for its simplicity and balance of flavors, emphasizing the rich and velvety texture of the steamed milk.

This means that there are fewer choices for modifying the drink to suit individual preferences.

While you can still choose the size and type of milk for your Flat White, the options end there. Unlike lattes, which can be customized with various syrups, flavors, and toppings, the Flat White is designed to be enjoyed in its classic form.

This allows the drink to showcase the quality of the espresso and the skill of the barista without any additional distractions.

Lattes Offer More Customization

On the other hand, lattes provide a wide range of customization options, making them a favorite among those who enjoy experimenting with flavors. You can choose from a variety of syrups like vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut to complement the smoothness of the espresso and milk.

Additionally, you can opt for different types of milk, such as almond, soy, or oat, to cater to dietary preferences or allergies.

Moreover, lattes can be topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, or even sprinkles for an added touch of indulgence. This level of customization allows you to create a personalized drink that suits your taste preferences and provides a unique experience with every sip.

It’s worth noting that the additional customization options for lattes may also impact the overall calorie count and nutritional content of the beverage. If you’re watching your calorie intake or have specific dietary requirements, it’s important to consider these factors when customizing your latte.

While the limited customization options of the Flat White may seem restricting to some, others appreciate the simplicity and focus on the quality of the espresso and milk. Ultimately, whether you prefer the straightforwardness of the Flat White or the endless possibilities of the latte, both drinks offer their own unique characteristics and can be enjoyed in their own right.


When deciding between a Starbucks flat white versus latte, keep the key differences in mind. A flat white features less steamed milk, a higher ratio of coffee to milk, and a silky microfoam topping. Lattes contain more steamed milk for a milkier taste and latte art presentation.

Both contain two shots of espresso but the coffee flavor stands out more in a flat white. Whichever you choose, enjoy your Starbucks coffee creation!

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