Flat White Vs. Cappuccino (Explained)

The Flat White and Cappuccino can seem very similar. Still, these two internationally popular beverages are very different if you look more closely. The differences between these two espresso-based drinks become more apparent when comparing them directly – this is Flat White Vs. Cappuccino explained.

The Flat White is made with two espresso shots, smooth, textured milk, and is typically served in a smaller cup. The Cappuccino is made with a single shot of espresso, textured milk, and a thick layer of foamed milk on top. The Cappuccino is available in several varieties and is a lighter drink.

Let’s examine these two drinks more closely and compare how they are made, their ingredients, and what makes these drinks unique to better understand the differences between them.

Flat White Vs. Cappuccino: Table Summary 

FLAT WHITECAPPUCCINO
165ml – 175ml(5.6 – 5.9 oz) Total Volume75ml – 360ml (2.5 – 12 oz) Total Volume
Smooth and textured milkTextured milk
No foamed milkThick layer of foamed milk
Crema mixed with microfoamNo microfoam, crema mingled hot milk
Double-shot of espressoSingle-shot of espresso
No variants7 recognized variants
Intense-tasting  and strong beverageEasy-drinking beverage

How Are A Flat White And A Cappuccino Different?

The Flat White and The Cappuccino are both iconic espresso-based coffee drinks that have become popular worldwide.

However, there are clear differences between these two drinks. When you know what to look for, these two coffees become completely different in drinking experience and taste. To the keen eye, Flat Whites and Cappuccinos even look completely different.

The main difference between the Flat White and the Cappuccino is the amount of espresso used in the regular recipes for the drinks and how the milk is prepared for each drink.

Flat Whites are typically prepared with a double-shot of espresso and are made with a thin layer of textured milk, with no foam. Flat Whites are usually smaller drinks than Cappuccinos, except for traditional Italian Cappuccinos.

Cappuccinos are prepared with a single shot of espresso, hot textured milk, and a layer of foamed milk on top. This makes the Cappuccino a more easy-drinking coffee. Still, one of the most difficult espresso-based drinks to prepare properly.

The difference between these two drinks becomes clearly apparent in the drinking. Flat Whites are strong drinks prepared with milk that makes the coffee taste even stronger still. There is no foam, so the milk feels very smooth and silky when drinking, enabling the espresso to be the dominant flavor of this drink.

Cappuccinos have a thick layer of foam that makes the coffee taste lighter. A single shot of espresso makes this drink easier to drink. The layer of textured milk mingles well with the espresso, preventing the coffee from overpowering the drink’s taste.

Let’s examine the unique preparation techniques of these coffee drinks to more clearly define the differences between them.

How Are Flat Whites Made?

The Flat White consists of two shots of espresso, textured hot milk, and a very thin layer of microfoam mingled with the espresso crema.

This very thin, flat layer of microfoam is what gives this drink its name.

Standard Flat Whites are usually between 165ml (5.6 oz) and 175ml (5.9 oz), including espresso and milk.

The Flat White is prepared by pouring the double-shot of espresso into a small ceramic cup, typically with a saucer. The milk is textured to create a silky texture with as little foam as possible.

This foam is referred to as microfoam, as the bubbles within the milk are so small that they cannot be seen individually.

The milk preparation in a Flat White allows the microfoam to mingle with the espresso crema, making the top of the Flat White uniformly brown and creamy in appearance. This mingling gives the Flat White its signature texture and contributes to the flavor of the drink.

The double-shot of espresso in the Flat White causes a very strong espresso flavor. However, Flat Whites tend to use more mild beans and not usually including Robusta beans.

This all makes for a very strong, smaller cup of coffee that is very smooth and intense tasting.

The Flat White is technically a variation of the Italian Cappuccino. Still, there are no variations of the Flat White itself.

How Are Cappuccinos Made?

cappuccino

The Cappuccino is among the most popular coffee drinks in the world, especially among coffee connoisseurs. The Cappuccino is one of the most challenging coffee drinks to prepare correctly, but there are many variations of this drink that have been developed over time.

The standard Cappuccino recipe includes a single shot of strong espresso, hot textured milk, and a thick layer of foamed milk.

This drink is prepared by pouring the espresso shot into a cup or mug, depending on the size of the drink, and layering textured milk into the espresso. Foamed milk is added along with the textured milk and is often used to create milk art on the drink’s surface.

This layer of thick foamed milk must be more than 1cm (0.4″) deep. This foamed milk is the signature mark of the Cappuccino and gives this drink its light and frothy texture.

The three main types of Cappuccino that are typically accepted: the Italian Cappuccino, the European Cappuccino, and the American Cappuccino.

The Italian Cappuccino is the original variant and is made with 25ml (0.8 oz) of espresso and equal parts textured milk and foam. The Italian Cappuccino is the smallest and strongest Cappuccino variant.

The European Cappuccino is made to be 150ml (5 oz) – 180ml (6 oz) total volume, including espresso, milk, and foam. This also uses one shot of espresso, but it is not typically measured to be equal parts with the milk and foam.

The American Cappuccino is the largest variant of this drink. It still only contains one shot of espresso but is made with much more milk and foam. The American Cappuccino is typically 360ml (12 oz) total volume, including espresso, milk, and foam.

This makes the American variant the least strong of all the Cappuccino types.

The Cappuccino is the most versatile espresso-based coffee drink. There have been several additions made to the variety of Cappuccino drinks over time.

These modern variants include :

  • The Double-Cappuccino – made with two shots of espresso.
  • The Cappuccino with cream – made with full cream rather than foamed milk.
  • The Cappuccino Freddo – a cold Cappuccino variant that originates from Greece.
  • The Iced Cappuccino – a cold, iced version of the Cappuccino from The USA.

The Final Word

Which drink you should order is entirely down to personal preference.

The Flat White is a much more intense drink than the Cappuccino, but it is a much smoother and more textured drink.

The Cappuccino is far more easy-drinking than the Flat White, but it is a weaker drink both in strength and taste. There are more variants of the Cappuccino than the Flat White, which makes it a more versatile drink and easier to refine for your own taste.

When it comes down to it, choose your drink based on how much caffeine you want to consume and the overall flavor of the beverage.

Take the opportunity to try both types of drink, and don’t be afraid to mix things up with variants! Instead of limiting yourself to one or the other, base which drink you order on your mood and requirements on a particular day, and you will never be disappointed with your coffee!