Coffee Facts

Latte Macchiato vs. Flat White


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Have you ever found yourself staring at a menu with fancy names at your local coffee shop? Well, with the amount of espresso-based drinks on offer these days, it’s normal for confusion to creep in.

In such a case, you’ll always end up opting for any type of espresso or, rather, the first name on the long list that captivates you.

When it comes to flat whites and latte macchiato drinks, their similarities and differences are apparent even at a glance. So if you’re looking to broaden your coffee horizons, this article will help you do just that ‒ learn the differences between these two espressos.

Let’s get started!

latte macchiato vs flat white
 Latte MacchiatoFlat White
Coffee TypeEspressoEspresso
Standard Serving Size2.5oz5oz
Caffeine LevelHighHigh
Milk TypeLayered milk and frothBlended milk and microfoam on top
FlavorRobust, bold, strong espresso flavorMilky, creamy, balanced
Calories13120

What Is a Flat White Coffee?

A flat white is a milder coffee-based drink that traces its origin back to the 1980s. It’s made with espresso and steamed milk.

In 1985, an enterprising barista named Alan Preston made a new creamy coffee drink that resembled the traditional latte. However, it was unique as it had a flat film of microfoam on top. A microfoam is made by whisking thick milk foam until it produces microscopic bubbles.

It’s also known as the Australian latte as coffee drinkers in Sydney, Australia, commonly drink it. The drink is called ‘flat white’ because of the thin layer of microfoam on top.

Generally, a flat white looks like a latte, but it’s smoother. It also has a stronger taste and a velvety texture.

If you’re looking for a cup of coffee that allows you to taste the espresso but with a milky coffee mouthfeel, a flat white is a good bet for you.

How to Make a Flat White at Home

The flat white is typically an excellent base for other espresso-based coffee beverages, especially the Bailey Flat White. In this section, you’ll learn how to prepare a tasty flat white like a professional barista.

Here is what you need:

  • Coffee machine with a frothing wand/arm
  • Ceramic coffee cup, 165 milliliters (6 ounces)
  • Milk jug
  • Espresso 
  • Milk

Instructions:

Step 1

First, prepare a quality espresso shot. In addition, weigh your coffee dose before brewing, measure the amount of espresso produced, and record the time taken to brew your shot of espresso. This ensures you create a correctly proportioned flat white every time.

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Step 2

Foam your milk, paying attention to creating a nice smooth microfoam rather than a dry stiff foam. 

Step 4

Pour about three ounces of milk (100 milliliters) into your espresso. This will produce a rich floating cream at the top.

Step 6

Serve in a ceramic cup and enjoy every bit of it.

What Is Latte Macchiato Coffee?

The name macchiato is of Italian origin and means’ stained‘. Initially, latte macchiato was drunk by Italians as a way to dilute their mid-day espresso.

It was a way to find pleasure in the taste of coffee without the full-bodied flavor of the stronger drink. Usually, they would serve it in a demitasse.

Unlike the flat white, which has a blended look, latte macchiato is generally created in layers. It has distinctive espresso, foam, and milk layers, with milk at the bottom, straight espresso in the middle, and foam on top.

Also known as espresso macchiato or cafe macchiato, this espresso-based drink has a bolder flavor and more caffeine than other dark coffee drinks. Although it has the same ingredients as a regular caffé latte, its appearance and preparation are different.

The fact that it’s served in a glass to expose the layers makes it quite appealing. You can stir it before drinking to avoid getting the coffee first.

When making this drink, you need to remember that you only need a small amount of warm milk compared to espresso. Milk is essential because it helps stain the coffee.

How to make latte macchiato at home 

Here are some simple steps to make yourself a classic cup of macchiato with or without an espresso machine.

Making a Latte Macchiato with an Espresso Machine

What you need:

  • Espresso machine
  • Espresso roast coffee
  • ¼ cup whole milk

Instructions:

Step 1

Make a single or double shot of espresso and pour them into a glass.

Step 2

Steam the milk to the optimal 150ºF temperature. You can always measure the temperature with a food thermometer or approximate it by testing with your finger.

Step 3

Froth the milk until it is light and fluffy.

Step 4

Use a teaspoon to skim the top of the foam and place it on the espresso shots.

Making Latte Macchiato Without a Machine

What you’ll need:

  • Non-fat or low-fat milk
  • Microwave
  • Coffee cup
  • Jar with a lid
  • Saucepan
  • Stove 
  • Spoon
  • Microwave beaker

Instructions:

Step 1

Pour the non-fat milk into a saucepan and put it on the stove. Let the milk heat at low to medium temperatures.

Step 2

Use a spoon to stir the milk sporadically. Once the milk temperature gets to about 150ºF (65ºC), pour it into a jar if you wish to froth it; If not, pour it into your coffee.

Note: When pouring milk into the jar, ensure the container is not more than half full.

Step 3

Screw the jar lid on tightly and thoroughly shake it until the milk is about double its volume and frothy. The process should take one minute.

Step 4

Remove the jar lid and microwave the milk in the jar for about 30 seconds. The heat from the microwave will stabilize the foam in the jar.

Step 5

Pour the milk into your coffee cup. You can now enjoy your latte macchiato. 

Tip: For a tastier latte macchiato, garnish it with nutmeg or cocoa powder.

What Is the Difference Between a Flat White and a Macchiato?

Choosing specialty coffee drinks can be a daunting task for a coffee aficionado, especially when the coffee to milk ratio differs. But it’s pretty easy to choose between these two espresso drinks because they only have a few differences ‒ how they feel, smell, taste, and appear.

Appearance

A latte macchiato is usually served in a clear glass to show its layers. Generally, a traditional macchiato has a layer of espresso at the bottom, then milk, and a dollop of foamed milk on top.

However, you’ll find most coffee shops starting with milk at the bottom, then espresso, and finally foamed milk.

On the other hand, a flat white coffee may appear like a latte or cappuccino. It’s a blended (milk and espresso) coffee drink with a smooth texture and tan color.

Although there may be no coffee and milk layers, the thin layer of microfoam on top is usually visible.

Taste 

The taste of espresso will depend on the amount of milk or foam you are using. The more milk you add, the more the flavor changes.

The reason is that milk contains water that dilutes the taste, lactose that stabilizes the bitterness, and fat that coats the tongue to minimize the sourness.

If you love robust coffee, then latte macchiato is the right choice for you. It has a strong flavor, it’s less milky, and its caffeine content is high.

A flat white is more robust than a latte but less bold in espresso taste because it uses so much milk, which gives it a bland taste.

Preparation 

People will prefer home-brewed espresso that is simple to make and doesn’t take much time. Of course, making these types of coffee requires skills, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring.

To prepare a flat white, you must know how to use an espresso machine and milk frother correctly. In addition, you’ll need the skills to froth milk to bring out its characteristic smooth texture.

And if you’re okay with making a ristretto shot, then you can brew your coffee like a pro. 

Since you’ll use less milk and not necessarily need crafted microfoam, you can easily make macchiato from time to time. In addition, the whole preparation process is relatively easy and may not need too much skill and finesse.

Latte Macchiato vs. Flat White: Which One Is Better?

Even with significant differences between a macchiato and flat whites, choosing between the two is not as challenging as you may think.

However, we understand that each drink has its time and place; hence your choice will largely depend on your preference.

Generally, it would be unfair to pick one over the other. For instance, I prefer a flat white to start my day and a latte macchiato in the evening after my daily activities.

For those joining the coffee lovers family, you might appreciate the flat white more because it is milder, softer, and milkier than a latte macchiato.

Latte macchiato is better if you prefer bold and concentrated coffee with little milk and foam.

End of the Battle

If you don’t understand the difference between espresso-based drinks such as a flat white and latte macchiato, you might be missing out on your ultimate coffee experience.

You can make these two drinks using different methods, and each gives you a unique experience while allowing you to skip a visit to your favorite coffee shop chain.

Now that you know the main difference between latte macchiato and flat white, you can comfortably make your preferred coffee at home. 

Happy Caffeinating!

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