Flat White vs Latte vs Cappuccino: Milk Coffees Explained

Flat White vs Latte vs Cappuccino: Milk Coffees Explained

If you're following this 6 week bootcamp carefully, you should have delicious specialty coffee at home, and a good understanding of how to extract it on your espresso machine. Last week you learnt to texture silky milk with your steam wand, and this week we will elaborate on how to make and pour Cappuccinos, Flat Whites and Lattes.

The best way to learn this information is to check out the video. Otherwise - feel free to read on.

The Right amount of Froth

Now if we remember from last week, depending on the coffee we are making, we will need to add more or less air into the milk when we are steaming. For example, a cappuccino is quite frothy, so if you don't add the air in while you're steaming, you won't suddenly be able to pour that frothy milk into the cup. Conversely, for a Flat White, you still need to add a bit of air to the milk, but try to make sure that your milk isn't too frothy. The best way to think about this is to think to yourself what style of coffee you're about to make, how much froth you'll need for that coffee, and then when you're texturing your milk, make sure your volume increases by that much in your jug.

For example, when I'm steaming for a cappuccino – I want 1.5cm froth in the cup. So as I'm steaming I want to notice a 1.5cm increase in the volume of the milk when I'm finished steaming. If I'm making a flat white – I want 0.5cm of froth in the cup, just to seal the crema. So as I'm steaming I want to notice that 0.5cm increase in volume when I'm finished steaming.

Flat White vs Latte

Now before we continue, there isn't much of a difference in terms of milk steaming and pouring when it comes to a latte and a flat white. The main difference between the two is the vessel that it's served in - a flat white usually being served in a cup compared to a latte being served in a taller but narrower glass. Now if these two vessels have quite a dramatic difference in volume, then it will change the taste. However if they're the same volume then the higher latte vessel with less surface area at the top will cause the texture milk to bunch up, making it have a silkier/frothier mouthfeel. If I was to take the latte and pour it out into the flat white cup with more surface area, that froth would spread out and it would look more like a flat white.


Now as a standard these three coffees would have a single shot, but obviously at home you can make them to suit your taste. I like to drink a double shot in a cup that's about 200-220mL, but in most cafes you'd split your extraction using a double shot portafilter, and use a single shot as your base. As your cup size increases, for example if you were to use a mug, you also add one shot.

The Cap

Now first of all let's look at the cappuccino. When I steam for this one, I'm adding enough air so that the jug looks like it has gained about 1.5cm in volume. To do this, keep lowering the jug as the milk expands so that the steam tip stays on the surface. When it comes to pouring this coffee, you need to keep the tip of your jug close to the cup to create an angle that allows all the froth to fall in. You can have the froth in the jug, but if you don't pour close to the cup you'll see that the froth just holds back in the jug and doesn't end up in the cup. Check out the visual demonstration in the video if you need to see this pour in motion.

Setting the Crema

Now when we're pouring a flat white/latte the main thing we're aiming to do is set the crema. You want to start your pour from about 5 cm above the cup, and you want to aim for the center of the espresso shot with your milk stream. If you pour on the edge of the espresso shot, or pour too fast at the beginning you run the risk of splashing out the crema. This will alter your first sip when you taste the coffee, as well as the coffee just not presenting as nicely. Now as the cup fills, you want to just maintain that difference in height. This will allow the frothy milk to push below the surface and keep that crema on top. If you keep the jug at the same height for the whole pour, then you'll see at the end that the white froth ends up sitting on top of the crema. Again, check out the video for the visual presentation if you need further help.

The Art of Latte Art

So if you're a bit of a forward thinker, you can notice how this jug height affects the coffee you're pouring. You might even now have a basic understanding of how you pour latte art.

To do so, you want to start off in the exact same way you'd pour a flat white or latte - by setting the crema. When your cup is about ¾ full, you then want to move the tip of the jug closer to the crema so you can pour your pattern.

Now how we get the different patterns is down to different movements with the jug – for example to pour a heart we just allow a bulb to form in the middle of the cup, and then as the cup fills we just lift the jug up, and pull through the pattern to create the bottom of the heart.

I asked on instagram if you guys would be interested in a 6 Week latte art Bootcamp after this Home Barista Bootcamp finishes up, and you literally all said YES, so I'm going to break down latte art a lot more thoroughly in the near future. If you haven't already subscribed to the Youtube channel make sure you subscribe and turn the notification bell on so that you're the first to see that series as it gets released!

Hopefully this week has given you a better understanding of making and pouring the three main milk coffees. If you have any questions - please feel free to ask, as the last episode of the bootcamp will be a troubleshooting episode answering all your questions.

Next week we will be looking at keeping your equipment clean. This is a massive part of great coffee and is often neglected with people's home equipment. Imagine spending all that money on good coffee only to have coffee grounds from a few weeks ago spoiling your brew?!

If your coffee supply is running low and you haven't yet used the discount code, you can use code '6weekbootcamp' when you check out for 20% off your next coffee purchase. My blend Keyboard Warrior is designed specifically with milk in mind.

Of course if you're loving this content and you'd really like to support Coffeefusion, you could consider a Coffee Subscription. All subscriptions start with a Free Sample pack, so you can try a selection of my coffees first to decide which ones you enjoy most.

Excited for the next episode? Make sure you've learnt everything about pouring and then click for the next lesson.

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