Coffee Appreciation

How to Make the Perfect Flat White Coffee: A Step-by-Step Guide

Flat white coffee has gained global popularity for its smooth, velvety texture and rich, bold flavor. Originating from Australia and New Zealand, this espresso-based drink is a favorite among coffee enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned barista or a home coffee lover, mastering the art of making a perfect flat white can elevate your coffee experience. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to achieve that perfect cup.

What You’ll Need

Before we dive into the steps, let’s gather the necessary tools and ingredients:


  1. Espresso Machine: Essential for brewing the espresso base.
  2. Milk Frother/Steam Wand: For steaming and frothing milk to the right texture.
  3. Coffee Grinder: Freshly ground coffee beans make a significant difference.
  4. Tamper: To compress the coffee grounds evenly.
  5. Milk Pitcher: For frothing and pouring milk.
  6. Thermometer: To ensure milk is steamed to the correct temperature.
  7. Digital Scale: For precise coffee measurements.


  1. Fresh Coffee Beans: Preferably a high-quality medium to dark roast.
  2. Fresh Milk: Whole milk is traditionally used, but you can substitute with alternatives like oat milk or almond milk if preferred.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Preparing the Espresso

Grinding the Coffee

  1. Measure the Beans: Use a digital scale to measure out 18-20 grams of coffee beans for a double shot of espresso.
  2. Grind the Beans: Grind the coffee beans to a fine consistency. The grind size should be similar to table salt.

Tamping the Coffee

  1. Distribute the Grounds: Pour the ground coffee into the portafilter basket. Ensure an even distribution by gently tapping the side of the portafilter.
  2. Tamp Evenly: Using a tamper, press down firmly and evenly on the coffee grounds. A consistent tamp ensures even extraction during brewing.

Brewing the Espresso

  1. Preheat the Machine: Run a blank shot (without coffee) through the machine to preheat the group head.
  2. Brew the Espresso: Lock the portafilter into the machine and start the extraction process. Aim for a brewing time of 25-30 seconds to yield about 30-40 ml of espresso for a double shot.

Step 2: Steaming the Milk

Choosing the Milk

  1. Select the Right Milk: Whole milk is ideal for a flat white due to its higher fat content, which creates a creamier texture. However, if you prefer non-dairy milk, choose one that froths well, like oat or almond milk.

Frothing Technique

  1. Fill the Pitcher: Pour cold milk into the pitcher, filling it just below the spout’s base. This allows enough room for the milk to expand while frothing.
  2. Purge the Steam Wand: Release steam for a few seconds to eliminate any residual water in the wand.
  3. Position the Wand: Submerge the steam wand tip just below the surface of the milk at a slight angle.

Steaming Process

  1. Start Steaming: Turn on the steam wand and position the pitcher to create a whirlpool effect. This motion helps incorporate air and create microfoam.
  2. Monitor Temperature: Use a thermometer to keep track of the milk temperature. Aim for 55-65°C (130-150°F). Avoid overheating the milk, as it can scorch and affect the taste.
  3. Achieve Microfoam: As the milk heats, lower the pitcher slightly to keep the wand tip near the surface, creating tiny bubbles (microfoam). Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, turn off the steam wand.

Step 3: Assembling the Flat White

Texturing the Milk

  1. Swirl the Pitcher: Swirl the milk in the pitcher to incorporate the foam and liquid, creating a smooth, velvety texture.
  2. Tap the Pitcher: Tap the pitcher gently on the counter to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Pouring the Milk

  1. Start with Espresso: Pour the freshly brewed espresso into a preheated cup.
  2. Pour the Milk: Hold the milk pitcher above the cup and begin pouring the milk slowly into the center of the espresso. Aim for a consistent stream to blend the espresso and milk seamlessly.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

  1. Create Latte Art (Optional): If you’re feeling creative, practice basic latte art techniques by adjusting the pour and using a slight wrist motion to create patterns like hearts or rosettas.
  2. Serve Immediately: A flat white is best enjoyed fresh. Serve your coffee immediately to savor the perfect blend of rich espresso and creamy milk.

Tips for the Perfect Flat White

  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Freshly roasted coffee beans and high-quality milk make a noticeable difference in taste and texture.
  • Practice Frothing: Achieving the perfect microfoam takes practice. Experiment with different angles and positions of the steam wand.
  • Consistency is Key: Pay attention to the grind size, tamp pressure, and brewing time for consistent results.
  • Clean Equipment: Regularly clean your espresso machine and steam wand to ensure optimal performance and taste.


Making the perfect flat white at home is a rewarding experience that combines precision and creativity. By following these steps and tips, you can enjoy a café-quality flat white any time you crave one. Happy brewing!

By mastering these techniques, you’ll not only enhance your coffee-making skills but also deepen your appreciation for the art of espresso-based drinks. Enjoy the journey and the delicious results!