Cappuccino vs Latte vs Flat White


Friends enjoying coffee

I'll be honest and say that 90% of the time I drink my coffee black, that's just how I like it. I certainly don't begrudge this country's most popular choices. I'm not just making that up by the way, most people will choose between a cappuccino, a latte or a flat white.

So what is so special about these three selections and what really is the difference?

All three are made with a strong shot of espresso. Then it’s down to the different amounts of steamed or frothed milk that is added and of course where these selections originate. 

The Cappuccino comes from Italy. The latte has a different name in different countries, but the commercial Caffè Latte is an American invention. Opinions remain divided on the origin of the Flat White; is it New Zealand, is it Australia? One thing is sure: somewhere in the Pacific.


The Cappuccino

A Cappuccino consists of a bottom layer of one or two shots of espresso, (traditionally one), followed by a second layer of steamed milk and finally a thick layer of foam. When it comes to flavour it is usually the strongest in terms of espresso taste.


The Latte

The Latte or Café Latte, is sometimes assumed to be a bigger version of the cappuccino. That is not really correct. Again one to two shots of espresso with the one shot being the traditional version, especially worth noting if you are watching your caffeine intake. The espresso shot should make up 1/3 of your drink with 2/3’s being steamed creamy milk, the finishing touch being a small layer of foam. The texture of the milk is important here in order to get that silky finish which aids appearance.

The latte is also the coffee that is most likely to be flavoured. Some might say that this makes it a little less serious but really I don’t see why people can’t just have what they want. 


The Flat White 

Like the two previous coffee drinks, the Flat White consists of espresso and milk. Like the latte the flat white is about ½ espresso to 2/3 steamed milk. There is a distinguishing factor, however, and that is micro-foam, which is steamed milk with bubbles which means it's layer is not like the stiff foam layer that sits atop a cappuccino or late. It's stronger than a latte, but also wetter than a cappuccino. Some claim that the flat white has a greater espresso flavour but I’m more swayed by the cappuccino on that count. Ultimately it is down to personal preference so try them all and make up your own mind.


Is one more healthy than the other? 

Not particularly but you could argue for the Cappuccino as it contains less milk and therefore less calories.



  • Ratio: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 frothed milk or micro foam
  •  Serve: cup of 150 - 180 ml
  • Origin: Italy



  • Ratio: 1/3 espresso, or double shot,  2/3 steamed milk (170 – 225 ml), 1 cm foam
  •  Serve: cup/glass of 240 ml
  • Origin: America 



  • Ratio: double shot of espresso, 2/3 steamed milk (with ideally micro foam)
  •  Serve: cup of 150 - 180 ml
  • Origin: New Zealand or Australia