Coffee drinks come in all shapes and sizes these days, with baristas continually inventing new combinations of espresso, milk, flavorings, and more. One coffee drink that has been growing in popularity is the flat white.

This drink originated from Australia and New Zealand, and has now made its way onto the menu at Starbucks locations around the world.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: A Starbucks flat white is a coffee drink made with ristretto espresso shots and steamed whole milk, creating a smooth coffee with a velvety microfoam topping.

What Is a Flat White?

A Flat White is a popular espresso-based beverage that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It is known for its velvety texture and rich flavor. The drink has gained popularity worldwide and can now be found in coffee shops and cafes around the globe, including Starbucks.

Origins in Australia/New Zealand

The Flat White has its roots in the coffee culture of Australia and New Zealand. It was first created in the 1980s, and its popularity quickly spread across the two countries. The drink was originally made with a double shot of espresso and microfoamed milk, giving it a smooth and creamy consistency.

Australia and New Zealand are known for their strong coffee culture, and the Flat White is just one example of the innovative and delicious coffee beverages that have come out of these countries. It has since become a staple in the coffee scene and has gained a devoted following around the world.

Definition: Two Shots of Ristretto with Microfoamed Milk

A Flat White is typically made with two shots of ristretto, which is a concentrated form of espresso. Ristretto shots are pulled shorter than regular espresso shots, resulting in a more intense and flavorful taste.

The ristretto shots are then combined with microfoamed milk, which is milk that has been steamed and frothed to create a velvety texture.

The combination of the strong espresso and the creamy milk creates a balanced and smooth flavor profile that is loved by coffee enthusiasts. The microfoamed milk is poured over the ristretto shots, creating a beautiful and distinctive pattern on the surface of the drink.

Smaller than a Latte

One of the key differences between a Flat White and a latte is the size. A Flat White is typically smaller than a latte, both in terms of volume and milk content. While a latte is usually served in a larger cup and has more milk, a Flat White is served in a smaller cup and has a higher espresso-to-milk ratio.

This smaller size allows the flavors of the espresso to shine through and creates a stronger and more concentrated taste. The texture of the microfoamed milk adds to the overall experience, providing a creamy and velvety mouthfeel.

If you’re looking to try something new at Starbucks, the Flat White is a great choice. Its unique flavor and creamy texture make it a favorite among coffee lovers. So next time you’re in need of a caffeine fix, give the Flat White a try and experience the deliciousness for yourself!

How Starbucks Makes Their Flat Whites

Starbucks, the renowned coffee chain, has its own unique way of preparing a Flat White. Let’s take a closer look at the steps involved in making this delicious coffee beverage.

Ristretto Shots

Starbucks starts by pulling two shots of ristretto espresso for their Flat White. Ristretto shots are a shorter extraction of espresso, resulting in a more concentrated and intense flavor. This process involves using less water and a finer grind, which enhances the rich taste of the coffee.

Whole Milk

To create the velvety texture that characterizes a Flat White, Starbucks uses whole milk. Whole milk contains a higher fat content, which contributes to the creamy mouthfeel of the beverage. The baristas expertly steam the milk to a specific temperature, ensuring it is perfectly heated and frothed.


The key element that distinguishes a Flat White from other coffee drinks is the microfoam. Starbucks baristas skillfully create this delicate layer of microfoam by incorporating air into the milk while steaming it.

The microfoam adds a smooth and silky texture to the coffee, enhancing its overall flavor profile.

12 oz Drink Size

Unlike some other coffee chains, Starbucks serves its Flat White in a 12 oz cup. This size allows for the perfect balance of espresso, milk, and microfoam, ensuring that each sip delivers a harmonious combination of flavors.

The smaller size also allows for a more concentrated taste, allowing the nuances of the ristretto shots to shine through.

Now that you know how Starbucks creates their Flat Whites, why not give it a try? Head over to your nearest Starbucks and indulge in this delightful coffee beverage.

Taste and Texture of a Flat White

When it comes to the taste and texture of a Flat White at Starbucks, there are a few key elements that make it unique. Let’s explore these elements in detail.

Strong, Rich Espresso Flavor

A Flat White is known for its strong and rich espresso flavor. The coffee used in a Flat White is typically a double shot of espresso, which means it packs a punch in terms of caffeine and flavor. The espresso is brewed using a fine grind, allowing for a more concentrated and intense taste.

This strong espresso flavor gives the Flat White a bold and robust taste that coffee enthusiasts appreciate. It provides a great balance between the bitterness of the espresso and the sweetness of the milk.

Silky Smooth Milk

The milk used in a Flat White is steamed to perfection, creating a silky smooth texture that complements the espresso. The milk is typically whole milk, which adds a creamy richness to the beverage.

The steaming process ensures that the milk is heated to the optimal temperature, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the espresso. This results in a velvety texture that enhances the overall drinking experience of a Flat White.

Thin Layer of Microfoam

One distinguishing feature of a Flat White is the thin layer of microfoam that sits on top of the espresso. This microfoam is created by steaming the milk, which introduces tiny air bubbles into the milk.

The microfoam adds a velvety mouthfeel to the beverage and contributes to the overall smoothness of the Flat White. It also serves as a canvas for latte art, allowing baristas to create beautiful and intricate designs on the surface of the drink.

So, if you’re looking for a coffee beverage that combines a strong espresso flavor with silky smooth milk and a touch of microfoam, the Flat White at Starbucks is definitely worth a try! It’s a delight for both the taste buds and the eyes.

How a Flat White Compares to Other Starbucks Drinks

Less Milk than a Latte

When it comes to the amount of milk, a Flat White at Starbucks contains less milk compared to a Latte. While both drinks are made with espresso and steamed milk, a Flat White has a higher concentration of coffee and a velvety texture due to the microfoam created during the steaming process.

This results in a bolder and stronger flavor profile, perfect for those who prefer a richer coffee experience.

No Flavored Syrups like Caramel Macchiato

Unlike a Caramel Macchiato, a Flat White at Starbucks does not include any flavored syrups. The focus of a Flat White is on the espresso and the milk, allowing the natural flavors of the coffee to shine through.

This makes it a great choice for coffee purists who enjoy the true taste of espresso without any added sweetness or flavorings.

Smaller than a Cappuccino

When it comes to size, a Flat White is typically smaller than a Cappuccino at Starbucks. While a Cappuccino is traditionally served in a larger cup with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam, a Flat White is served in a smaller cup with a higher concentration of espresso and a smoother microfoam.

The smaller size makes it a great option for those looking for a strong yet balanced coffee drink that is not too heavy.

For more information about Starbucks drinks, you can visit the official Starbucks website at


With its origins from Down Under and its recent popularity in the United States, the flat white is cementing itself as a coffeehouse classic. Stop by your local Starbucks and try one of these smooth, velvety espresso and milk drinks for yourself.

Savor the ristretto shots mingling with the creamy steamed whole milk topped with just a thin layer of microfoam for a luxurious coffee experience.

Similar Posts