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Flat White Vs. Cappuccino: What’s the Difference?

You may find yourself craving a rich, creamy coffee from time to time.

However, if you’ve ever been to a serious coffee shop, you’ve discovered there are far more versions of the beverage than you thought. Case in point: the flat white vs. cappuccino.

Like most coffee concoctions, the flat white and cappuccino are milk and espresso-based drinks. Both require combining one or two espresso shots with steamed milk (or milk alternatives).

The difference between flat white and cappuccino is in how the milk is prepared and how much of it goes in the cup.

What is Flat White?

flat white

Unlike practically all other Italy-bourne espresso-based drinks, the flat white has its origins in Australia. Flat whites are commonly served in glasses, although they can also be served in small mugs.

Roughly 200ml or 7 oz in size, they’re traditionally served with two espresso shots, which give them a lovely, smooth flavor when combined with the milk. As the name implies, the amount of foam used should be flat, and microfoam is the key to the flat white process.

Steamed milk that has been aerated just enough to generate very thick, little bubbles is known as microfoam. This microfoam is carefully poured over the espresso until it reaches the last inch or so of the cup, then swiftly poured to finish. The pouring method is how a white dot – the drink’s signature – appears on the top of a flat white.

People sometimes add flavored syrups to flat whites, similar to a flavored latte, but the majority of flat white drinkers tend to stick to the unflavored version.

Flat whites are ideal for latte art because they have less foam and more espresso. The double espresso and softly cooked milk provide a great contrast.

What is Cappuccino?

what is cappuccino

An espresso-based coffee beverage that has loose origins in Austria, the cappuccino was developed in Italy around the time of the first and second World Wars. The modern cappuccino includes an espresso shot, crema, steamed milk, and foam.

In artisan coffee shops, the espresso shot is poured into the bottom of a wide ceramic cup. An equal amount of steamed and texturized milk is added to the espresso, and the drink is topped with a large dollop of foam.

In Italy, a cappuccino is capped at roughly 6 oz, but in American coffee shops, patrons can order 12 oz drinks as well. Because there is more air in the milk foam, the perfect cappuccino has a strong coffee flavor and a creamy mouthfeel.

In Italy, cappuccinos are frequently topped with chocolate syrup or powder. Other syrups like vanilla or hazelnut can also be added to cappuccinos to give them a sweeter flavor. A “dry” cappuccino is another variation desired by some coffee drinkers. In a “dry,” there is no steamed milk — just 1/3 espresso and 2/3s foam!

Flat White vs Cappuccino

What are the key differences between flat white and cappuccino? They come down to three areas: strength, foam, and calories.


Flat whites have a substantial amount of milk in them, which dilutes the espresso. The milk to espresso ratio gives them a milder flavor than Cappuccinos.

Cappuccinos have less milk and more foam, giving them a stronger or richer flavor.

If you want a stronger-tasting beverage, order a cappuccino. If you want a smoother drink with a “lighter” flavor, a flat white should be your go-to.


The way the milk component of these drinks is prepared is what sets them distinctly apart.

A cappuccino has a thick, frothy top coat of foam covering a cup of espresso and steamed milk, whereas a flat white has a smooth, velvet-like milk blended with espresso to make a silky finish.

Micro-foam is what you’ll get if you order a flat white. As the two liquids mix together, the micro-foam is free poured over the espresso to create a delicate, smooth texture.

Cappuccinos, on the other hand, have a distinct, fluffy foam on top. Steamed milk is poured into espresso, and the foam is saved until the very end and then poured on top.

In both drinks, the milk should not overshadow the espresso flavor.


A traditional cappuccino without added flavors may have fewer calories than a flat white. This is due to the fact that half of a cappuccino’s milk volume is froth.

However, cappuccinos are often served in a larger size than flat whites in many coffee shops, and these larger servings contain more milk. So it is possible for the smaller, unflavored flat white to have fewer calories.

You might be tempted to use nonfat milk to reduce the calories and fat in either beverage, but this would change the texture of the foam and is not always recommended.

FAQs About Flat White and Cappuccino

What does a cappuccino taste like?

The flavor of a well-made cappuccino is fantastic. The drinker will be hit first with the strong coffee flavor, but there is an underlying sweetness from the natural lactose in the milk.

If the traditional taste is not sweet enough, you can also add syrups, table sugar, or chocolate powders to sweeten the drink up.

Which is stronger latte or cappuccino?

Even though both drinks are likely to include the same amount of espresso shots, a cappuccino has a considerably stronger espresso flavor than a latte since it contains less milk and more foam.

Flat white vs. latte vs. cappuccino: what’s the difference?

A shot of Espresso is the primary component for each of these coffee beverages, as it is for most coffee-based drinks.

The remainder of the coffee cup is filled with milk, but the variation in how the milk is applied is what makes the difference in these three drinks.

The flat white is one or two espresso shots, a large amount of steamed milk, and a thin layer of microfoam on top.

The latte is one or two espresso shots, a more considerable amount of steamed milk with a layer of foam on top.

The cappuccino is one or two espresso shots, a small amount of steamed milk, and a lot of silky foam.

No Matter Which Way You Go, It All Comes Down to Beans

The flavor of the flat white and the cappuccino boils down to the quantity and texture of the milk and foam. However, the beverage’s flavor will ultimately come down to the beans!

For a high-quality coffee beverage, the flavor of the beans needs to cut through the fats and sugars that naturally occur in the milk or milk substitute.

Central American or African coffee blends are a good choice for flat whites or cappuccinos. While they do have more delicate or sweet flavors, the milk content in these two drinks is well suited for the more subtle flavors.

South American and Southeast Asian blends have prominent flavors and notes of spices, chocolate, and nuts. These blends work well with the milkier latte drink.


Now you are ready to attack your coffee craving head-on with your flat white vs. cappuccino knowledge!

Which of these espresso drinks you prefer will be determined by your tastebuds. You’ll likely order a flat white if you want a milkier coffee flavor or a cappuccino if you prefer a foamier beverage.

Remember that many coffee shops have changed traditional formulas, so it’s a good idea to inquire about how each of the drinks is made.

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I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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