How to Make a Flat White Espresso at Home

By Emily Ennis — / Recipes

How to Make a Flat White Espresso at Home

We’re a proponent of being your own barista—especially when it means you can skip the line at the café and save some money by making your own concoctions at home. And while it may be daunting to try to whip up your own espresso-based drinks, we’ve got you covered. Below, we outline how to make a commonly ordered café drink: a flat white. In no time, you’ll be a flat white pro and making them anytime guests are over—maybe this new skill will impress your in-laws enough during holiday visits so they will finally leave you alone (wishful thinking). But before we dive in, what the hell is a flat white?  

What Is a Flat White? 

A flat white is an espresso-based drink made with a little amount of steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam on top. A flat white coffee allows people to taste the strength of the espresso, while also enjoying the feel of steamed milk. It is loved all over for its smooth, velvety but strong taste. The flat white is a relatively new drink in the coffee world, originating in the 1980s in Australia. Over the years, the popularity of this drink has exploded. Since 2019, it has become one of the most commonly ordered beverages in coffee shops across the US. But what makes a flat white different from other common coffee drinks like a latte? 

milk frother pouring milk into cup[Photo credit: Daniel Yubi via Unsplash] 

Flat White vs. Latte 

A flat white might sound super similar to another coffee drink we all know and love—the latte. A latte is also an espresso-based drink made with steamed milk and a layer of microfoam on top. What makes a flat white and a latte differ depends on where you are in the world and who is making the drink. The biggest difference between the two is the milk-to-espresso ratio. A flat white will have much less milk and foam compared to a latte.  

What Is Microfoam? 

Microfoam is a texture of the foam, almost like wet paint, that is used for making espresso-based drinks. It is also used in making latte art, in case you wanted to get creative and put the Grim Reaper on your latte or flat white.  

Death Wish Coffee Flat White Recipe 

Now it’s time to make your very own flat white at home. Flat whites are very simple to make, but the microfoam layer can be a little tricky depending on what you have available, but don’t worry—there are some methods that don’t require an expensive machine.   

glass of coffee on table [Photo credit: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash] 

Ingredients: 

Directions: 

1. Brew your espresso any way you'd like. We recommend using a French press or an AeroPress to make a bold cup. Make at least 2 shots worth of espresso. 

2. Heat the milk. You can do this in two ways:  

  • Espresso Machine: Use an espresso machine and heat the steam wand. Place the wand just below the surface of the milk, tilting the jug slightly. Keep it in that position for about 5 to 10 seconds, with very slight movements up and down. This should make the milk slightly foamy. Once complete, lower the nozzle about another 1/2 inch and tilt the jug enough to get a small whirlpool to incorporate the foam, turning it into microfoam. Keep that still and spinning until the temperature is about 150 F. Turn off the steam before removing the wand. This will both heat and froth the milk. 
  • Stovetop: Heat the milk to 150 F. This should make the milk very hot but not simmering.  

3. Once the milk is heated, there are a few ways to make your microfoam: with a milk frother, whisk or a French press.  

  • Milk frother: Place the milk in a tall container and hold the container at an angle. Turn on the frother and move it up and down until foamy bubbles start to form. To break down any large bubbles, tap the container on the counter. For a flat white, you don’t want too much foam—so don’t go overboard. Let the foam rest for about 1 minute before adding it into the espresso. 
  • Whisk: Place milk in a tall, wide container and hold at an angle. Start whisking quickly until foamy bubbles start to form. Let the foam rest for about 1 minute before adding it into the espresso. 
  • French Press: For best results with this method, you’ll need 1 cup of milk. Add the hot milk to the French press and begin pumping with short, quick plunges until foamy bubbles start to form. Pour into a separate glass and tap on the counter to help break down large bubbles.  

4. Pour your espresso into a cup, followed by pouring milk into the center. Finally, add light foam on top. 

Watch out, baristas! You can get creative and join a growing group of caffeinds who are loving on another kind of quality coffee. 

Older Blogs