The Great Foam Debate: Flat White vs. Cappuccino Showdown

Written by
Brian Roxborough

The Epic Saga of Espresso: Flat White vs. Cappuccino

In the rich and aromatic world of coffee, two espresso-based drinks have captured the hearts of coffee enthusiasts worldwide: the classic cappuccino and the trendy flat white. Join us on a journey through time and taste as we explore the origins, evolution, and unique characteristics of these beloved brews. We'll also reveal why our local coffee shop has a special place in its heart for the flat white, especially when paired with our signature Liquid Night coffee beans.

A Tale of Two Origins:

Cappuccino: The Elder StatesmanThe cappuccino's story begins in the coffee houses of 19th century Vienna and later Italy. Its name is inspired by the Capuchin friars, whose brown robes resembled the color of the drink when properly prepared. The modern cappuccino as we know it today, however, didn't emerge until the 1930s with the invention of the espresso machine.

In post-World War II Italy, the cappuccino became a breakfast staple. Traditionally served in a 150-180ml cup, it consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. This perfect trinity creates a harmonious balance of flavors and textures that has stood the test of time.

The cappuccino's popularity spread globally in the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a symbol of Italian coffee culture. Its iconic status was cemented by the rise of coffee chains in the 1990s and early 2000s, introducing the drink to a wider audience.

Flat White: The New Wave ChallengerThe flat white's origins are shrouded in friendly rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, with both claiming its invention in the 1980s. The most widely accepted story credits Alan Preston, who added the "flat white" to his Sydney café menu in 1985. Others argue that the drink evolved in Wellington, New Zealand, as a response to poorly made cappuccinos.

Regardless of its exact birthplace, the flat white represented a shift in coffee preferences. It catered to those who wanted a stronger coffee flavor without the thick layer of foam found in cappuccinos. The drink typically consists of a double shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam.

The flat white gained popularity in its Australasian homeland throughout the 1990s and 2000s before making its way to the UK and then the US. Its rise coincided with the third wave coffee movement, which emphasized quality, origin, and craftsmanship in coffee production and preparation.

Distinguishing Features:

While both drinks start with a base of espresso, their differences lie in the milk preparation and ratios:

  1. Milk-to-Espresso Ratio: Cappuccinos have a lower coffee-to-milk ratio, while flat whites pack more of a coffee punch.
  2. Foam vs. Microfoam: Cappuccinos boast a thick, luxurious layer of foam. Flat whites feature a thin layer of microfoam, creating a velvety texture.
  3. Size: Traditionally, cappuccinos are served in larger cups (150-180ml) compared to flat whites (150ml), though sizes can vary by café.
  4. Temperature: Flat whites are typically served slightly cooler than cappuccinos due to the lack of insulating foam.

Why We're Flat White Fans:

At our local coffee shop, we've embraced the flat white for several reasons:

  1. Coffee Bean Showcase: The flat white's higher coffee-to-milk ratio allows the nuanced flavors of our locally roasted coffee beans to shine through.
  2. Texture Sensation: The microfoam creates a silky smooth mouthfeel that enhances the overall coffee experience.
  3. Versatility: Its balanced profile makes it suitable for any time of day, pairing well with both sweet and savory treats.

Perfect Pairing: Liquid Night Coffee

For an exceptional flat white experience, try it with our Liquid Night coffee beans. This special dark roast blend offers notes of chocolate, caramel, and a hint of spice that perfectly complement the flat white's smooth texture. The result is a rich, indulgent coffee that's perfect for savouring.

Ready to experience the flat white difference? Order our Liquid Night Flat White online at Whether you're a cappuccino convert or a flat white fanatic, we're here to fuel your coffee passion with the finest local coffee beans and expert preparation.

Published On
June 14, 2024
Brian Roxborough
Master coffee roaster
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