How to Make a Starbucks Flat White

If you’ve ever tried a Starbucks Flat White? I bet you would like to learn how to recreate this drink at home. Now you can make your own flat white coffee that will taste just like one from a fancy coffee house. It’s easy to do with this copycat recipe.

homemade Starbucks flat white coffee in a mug.

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What is Flat White Coffee?

Before we get into how Starbucks makes its special coffee drink. Let’s talk about what a flat white really is. A Starbucks Flat White is a super-strong espresso topped with creamy milk froth.

A super-strong espresso is called a ristretto, which is like a regular espresso, but ristretto shots are made with less water. Learn more about espresso vs ristretto at Real Good Coffee.

The origin of the flat white with its velvety texture was possibly the result of a happy accident, or perhaps someone stumbled onto the right coffee to milk ratio for so many of us.

Alan Preston from New Zealand claims he invented this drink in the 1970s when he was making a cappuccino. He could not get the milk to rise. He called it a flat white. So you could think of this as a failed cappuccino because it’s 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.

Starbucks introduces new drinks regularly. It seems like every time you look at the menu, there are one or two new beverages. It’s fun to try the new drinks, but sometimes you just crave a classic, and that’s the flat white. It’s a classic drink that’s easy to make at home.

overhead view of a homemade Starbucks flat white coffee.

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 snuggling inside a blanket. It gives you a case of the warm fuzzies and makes you nostalgic for the past all at once. If you order one from there, often they come with a latte art dot on the top of the beverage that is made up of a delicious creamy micro-foam of the milk of your choice.

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 consists of only two key ingredients. But don’t let the two ingredients fool you; it packs a punch.

Flat White Coffee Ingredients

Wondering what is in flat what coffee? It’s just a few simple ingredients:

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Sugar (optional)
Starbucks flat white coffee ingredients.

How to Make Flat White Coffee

  1. Prepare two shots of espresso and pour them into a glass over the sugar (if desired).
espresso in a glass mug.
  1. Steam the milk and then froth the milk for at least a minute to get it foamy.
frothing milk for a Starbucks flat white coffee.
  1. Pour the hot frothy foamed milk over the espresso.
homemade Starbucks flat white coffee, coffee beans, frothing cup, and espresso machine.

The Key to Making a Flat White like Starbucks

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. I love the inexpensive Bialetti Moka Pot. For under 40 bucks, you can make espresso at home just like the Italians do.

The Mr. Coffee Espresso System with Milk Frother is a relatively inexpensive and dependable espresso maker.

You can also try espresso powder such as Medaglia D’Oro Instant Espresso.

Espresso is different because the water goes through the coffee as steam, not just as a drip. It’s the steam pushing through the coffee that gives it its signature espresso taste. I think a super-strong regular coffee is ok for lattes, but if you want this distinctive espresso flavor, you need to step up your toolkit.

Steaming and Frothing Milk

So what’s the difference between frothed milk and steamed milk? Frothed milk has more volume with a good amount of foam. Steamed milk is heated and more delicately aerated, resulting in small amounts of microfoam. Let the Coffee Maven guide you on how to steam milk at home.

What Is Microfoam? Steaming milk requires two steps: incorporating air to create the desired foam and heating the milk to the desired temperature. Microfoam results when the first step is done well. The air bubbles are so tiny they’re almost invisible, making the resulting foam light, creamy and smooth.

Let’s consider the froth now. A straightforward method to make milk nice and frothy is to place the heated milk in a jar with a lid and vigorously shake it. If you want to get fancy, you can buy a milk frother like the handheld MatchaDNA Milk Frother.

How to Froth Milk with a French Press: Pour the heated milk into your French Press (don’t fill more than one-third). Place the lid on and pull and push down on the plunger until the milk doubles in volume.

How to Froth Milk in an Automatic Frother: Pour cold milk into the frother and set the temperature.

What Is the Best Milk for Frothing?

It’s easier to achieve a good froth if you use low-fat or skim milk (Starbucks uses 2% milk). Whole milk has more fat making it heavier and harder to froth. Almond, rice, and soy milk all work well.

Whichever type of milk you choose, it should be cold (straight out of the fridge). 

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 artwork with foamed milk? Check out this video on how to create artwork on your coffee.

Recommended Equipment

homemade Starbucks flat white coffee and coffee beans.

Do you love Starbucks drinks? Try these copycat recipes!

Yummy Coffee Drink Recipes

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

homemade Starbucks flat white coffee in a mug.

How to Make a Starbucks Flat White

You can make Starbucks Flat White coffee at home with this easy copycat recipe.
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Flat White, Flat White Coffee, Starbucks Recipes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 156kcal


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


  • Prepare your espresso shots 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!



Bialetti Moka Express
Electric Milk Frother


Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 419mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 276mg

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. Lav

    5 stars
    Thank you for this. I hate spending 30+ dollars a week on these. They are good, I used Starbucks coffee I bought a the grocery store.

  2. 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?

  3. 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???

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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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