How to make a Café style Flat White at home

It’s great to be able to rock on up to your local café and grab a Flat White to kick start your day.  But what happens when you want one at home?  How easy is it to make and what do you need to make a café-like Flat White?

The Vibe Coffee team have put together an informative article to guide you through the steps.

What is a Flat White?

A Flat White is an espresso beverage first crafted by Australians in the 1980’s!

It’s easy to get the Flat White confused with a Latte and Cappuccino so a quick definition of each should help…


  • A Flat White is an espresso coffee with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam on top.   A Flat White is the least frothy, and the steamed milk takes up approximately 25% of the coffee with a thin milky foam layer sitting at the top (also called a “micro-foam” top).
  • A Latte is an espresso coffee with approximately 35% of frothy milk.  A Latte also has a foam layer but its thicker than the Flat White.
  • A Cappuccino is an espresso coffee which is more frothier than the others.  It contains more froth than foam and is made up of around 60% milk.

The above are all generic guides and have come from multiple sources.  Specific barista sites vary with the above breakdown.

The Flat White also has a different technique in how to prepare the milk, giving it the “micro-foam top”.

Why is a flat white hard to make?

A flat white can be difficult to make at home because a milk steamer is used in Cafes to prepare the milk to make it foamy.  A Flat White requires a foamy not frothy milk.  There is a difference.

Frothed milk has more volume, with significant amounts of foam.   Steamed milk is heated and more delicately aerated, producing small amounts of micro-foam.  It’s this delicate aeration that produces the tiny air bubbles which creates a smooth, velvety texture and creamy taste:  this is the micro-foam.

While this is an important part of a Flat White, coffee machines with a milk steamer and/or milk steamers on their own, are expensive!

The Vibe Coffee team has scoured the web and has found an alternative to buying these expensive machines.

Making a Flat White at home:

The Espresso:

Making a good quality flat white depends on how good the espresso is.

Vibe Coffee has got you covered with a mix of Nespresso® compatible coffee pod espresso blends  and a selection of high grade coffee beans.

In fact, our customer favourite espresso for Flat Whites is our Zest Espresso Coffee Pods because of it being full bodied and full flavoured with notes of cocoa.  Vibe Coffee designed the Zest Espresso to mix well with milk.

The other favourite is the Vibrant Arabica Medium Strength Coffee Bean with Brown Sugar Notes.  It’s a delicious blend of 100% Arabica coffee beans from Eastern Africa and South America, presenting a bright and full aroma with deep flavours while still being smooth on the palate.

Preparing the Milk without a Milk Steamer:

Instead of a milk steamer you can use your microwave!  This is a safe and effective substitute to make a Flat White quickly in your own home.

To use a Microwave, you also need a microwavable container and a coffee plunger, and follow these 6 steps…

Step 1:  Poor milk into a microwave friendly cup (the volume of milk is not important – roughly enough to fill your coffee)

Step 2:  Put the milk into the microwave and heat on “high” for 1 minute

Step 3:  Pour the heated milk into the coffee plunger

Step 4:  For 30 seconds, gently lift the plunger up and down to “pump” the milk for the purpose of getting air into the milk.  This will thicken the milk and make it foamy.

Step 5:  Once Step 4 is completed, if there is a high volume of bubbles in the milk (there most likely will be), gently tap the plunger on a table and swirl it around until the bubbles settle.

Step 6:  You are now ready to pour your foamy milk into the Espresso.  Gently pour the milk into the espresso.  When pouring, be careful to pour the milk so its mixing evenly with the espresso.   The ideal technique is to pour the milk in small circles.  When pouring the milk from your plunger, the distance between the plunger and the espresso is a short distance away from each other.

As the milk reaches the top of the coffee mug, bring the plunger closer to the coffee mug to simplify the cutting (or stopping) the pour of milk.  It’s at this time where you can make the decoration on the top if you feel so inclined.

The Final Word:

You won’t ever be able to match a Barista made Flat White.  But at the same time, don’t become caught up with the need to splash out for expensive coffee machines and/or expensive milk steamers.  Start simple, and attempt the DIY method of creating foamy milk for your Flat White and you might be surprised.

And remember, if you get the Espresso right, the hardest part is done.

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