How to Make a Starbucks Flat White

You have heard of a Starbucks Flat White? I bet you want to learn how to recreate this recipe. You can soon make your own flat white coffee that will taste just like it does when you go to a fancy coffee house.

flat white coffee in a glass mug

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What is a Flat White Coffee?

Before we get into how Starbucks makes their special coffee drink. Let’s talk about what a flat white really is. The origin of the flat white with its velvety texture can be thought of either as a happy accident, or someone that stumbled onto the right coffee to milk ratio for so many of us.

A Starbucks flat white is a super-strong espresso topped with creamy milk froth. So, I know you must wonder, what is a super-strong espresso? It is a ristretto. A ristretto is much like an espresso, but it has even less water.

Alan Preston from New Zealand claims he invented this drink in the 1970s when he was making a cappuccino and he could not get the milk to rise, so he called it a flat white. So you could think of this as a failed cappuccino, it’s basically a cappuccino that has no foam.

How did it really get started? We will never know, but what you can enjoy is a coffee with milk that has a layer of foam on top.  You can read more about the history of the flat white. Learn more about an espresso vs a ristretto at Go Coffee Go.

Starbucks has been introducing new drinks regularly now. It seems like every time you look at the menu are one or two new drinks. It’s fun to try the new drinks, but sometimes you just crave a classic. That’s the flat white; it’s a classic drink that’s easy to make at home.

What Makes a Starbucks Flat White Extra Special?

There’s something warm and cozy about this classic coffee drink. It’s reminiscent of a chilly night with a fire going and being wrapped in a blanket. It gives you a case of the warm fuzzies and makes you nostalgic for the past all at once.

If that’s what you’re looking for in a coffee drink, then flat white is your answer. It’s a Starbucks classic and it’s made up of only two key ingredients. But don’t let the two ingredients for you, it packs a punch.

homemade Starbucks flat white coffee

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All you really need is espresso and milk. Sugar is optional if you want to sweeten it.

Making a Flat White

Although it seems easy enough, the key to the flat white is the consistency of the milk. You need absolutely frothy milk to pour over the piping hot espresso.

What is the secret? It’s all about the equipment!

If you don’t have an espresso machine, making extra strong coffee won’t quite cut it. You are going to need to push steam through your coffee maker. Personally, I love the inexpensive Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker, for about 25 bucks you can make espresso at home.

You could also use Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Steam Espresso System with Milk Frother. This is a fairly inexpensive dependable espresso maker. You can also try espresso powder, Medaglia D’Oro Instant Espresso Coffee, 2 Oz.

Espresso is different because the water goes through the coffee as steam, not just water dripping through like many of our favorite coffee makers. It is the steam pushing through the coffee that gives it its signature taste. For lattes, I think a super-strong coffee is ok. But if you want this coffee flavor, you need to step up your toolkit.

Let’s talk about the froth now. One way to make milk nice and frothy is to simply heat milk, place it in a jar with a lid and shake it. If you want to get fancy you can buy a milk frother, I personally love this handheld model: MatchaDNA Handheld Electric Milk Frother (Silver Handheld)

How to Make Flat White Coffee

  1. Prepare two shots of espresso and pour them into a glass over the sugar (if desired).
  2. Steam the milk and then froth the milk for at least a minute to get it foamy.
  3. Pour the hot frothy foamed milk over the espresso.

So what’s next? Armed with your knowledge of how to make a flat white coffee, you can learn how to pour the milk and make some of your own latte art. Who doesn’t want to make some fancy latte art dot work with foamed milk?

homemade Starbucks Flat White Coffee in a glass mug

Do you love Starbucks? Try these copycat recipes!

Yummy Coffee Drink Recipes

Be sure to check out more Starbucks copycat recipes and the coffee drink recipes right here on!

flat white coffee in a glass mug

How to Make a Starbucks Flat White

You can make a Starbucks Flat White coffee at home.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Flat White, Starbucks Recipes
Servings: 1
Calories: 156kcal


  • 3 ounces espresso 2 shots
  • 1 cup milk steamed
  • sugar to taste (optional)


  • Prepare your shots of espresso and pour them into a glass over the sugar (if desired). Steam your milk and then using a frother, froth the milk for at least a minute. 
  • The key to making this drink is a microfoam. Pour the hot frothy foamed milk over the espresso and enjoy!


Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 419mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 276mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CopyKatRecipes or tag #CopyKatRecipes!

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. zortilonrel

    5 stars
    I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thank you, I?¦ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your site?

  2. Amy

    I have a stovetop espresso maker, but am always a little unsure if I’m doing it correctly. I’ve understood that you have to fill it completely up to the air valve with water, and the basket filled completely with finely ground coffee. But this makes substantially more than 3 oz of espresso/ coffee. Do you just toss the rest???

  3. pat

    skim milk froths better than whole mlk or 1,2,3 % and the best skim milk comes from a big box store.been doing this for ages a good kind of coffee to use is something that is real cheap usually on bottom shelf of coffee display /$`1.69 a full 16 ounce bag,,, looks to have cuban or rican name and you can make that in a pour over pot.. nothing fancy or expensive here

  4. Abby

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe and it is delicious! I just filled a cup up with 1/2 cup milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Then I frothed 2 shots of espresso into the milk and sugar. It worked great, but I would recommend warming the milk before you put it in the cup if you want it hot. Overall, GREAT recipe.

  5. Saron

    5 stars
    If you are lazy like me, you can buy the cans of double shot espresso and then make this (I do have an espresso machine, but for speed, I keep a few cans of double shot espresso.

  6. Rochelle

    5 stars
    Wow! I’m impressed! I tried this and it tastes just like Starbucks! I bought the espresso cups and brewed 4 oz on ‘strong’, heated my milk in glass Pyrex measuring cup, and frothed it with handheld immersion blender. Thanks for the recipe!! I’m my own new barista!

  7. handheld milk frother

    5 stars
    This is awesome. I needed this kind of tips. My wait is finally over. I was looking for this on the internet and found it on your website. It helped me a lot.

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