How many coffee drinks have you tried?
There are more than 70 coffee beverages. While this means there is a large pool to choose from, mastering each of the drinks can be a challenge.
This post compares Cafe Au Lait and Flat White comparing their history, ingredients, preparation, and taste.
If you are unsure of which one to order and when to drink it, this guide will make it easier for you.
Having said that, let’s get into it.
Cafe Au Lait Vs Flat White
The Cafe Au Lait is a coffee drink made with strong brewed coffee (Drip coffee, French Press coffee, or Moka pot coffee) and hot or steamed milk. A Flat White on the other hand is an espresso-based drink containing espresso and microfoam (finely textured milk).
The difference between a Cafe au Lait and Flat White is not just about the base coffee, there are more. Below is a table comparing the origin, ingredients, caffeine and calorie content, and taste.
|Cafe Au Lait||Flat White|
|Ratios||1/2 brewed coffee and 1/2 steamed or warm milk||1/3 espresso and 2/3 velvety smooth milk|
|Base||8 ounces of brewed coffee||2 shots of espresso|
|Serving size||13-16 Oz||5-6 Oz can go up to 20 Oz|
|Caffeine content||95 mg (8 ounces of brewed coffee)||126 mg (2 shots of espresso)|
|Taste||Intense coffee flavor. A little bit sweet.||Strong espresso flavor. Rich mouthfeel. Sweet.|
The Cafe Au Lait coffee drink originated in France in early 1600. This is before the invention of the Caffè latte (Coffee with milk) by the Italians.
The French word Cafe Au Lait also means “Coffee with milk” in English just like the Italian Caffè latte.
Unlike the Cafe Au Lait, which is more than 400 years old, the Flat White is a recent invention. Flat White’s origin is contested, but it originated in either Australia or New Zealand in the mid-1980s.
Most scholars point out that the drink originated in Australia but was perfected in New Zealand.
Since Café au lait is coffee and milk, the drink has different names.
- Poland – Kawa biala
- Brazil – Café com leite
- Germany – Milchkaffee
- Portugal – Café com leite
- Hungary – Tejeskávé
- Dutch – Koffie verkeerd
Coffee Shops have a different name for the Cafe Au Lait. For instance, Starbucks’ Cafe Au Lait is called Caffe Misto.
There are also variations of Cafe Au Lait such as the New Orleans version that contains chicory.
Traditionally, Cafe Au Lait is made with brewed coffee (not espresso) and milk. This can be French Press coffee, Drip coffee, or Moka coffee.
The reason why Cafe Au Lait is traditionally made with brewed coffee is that during its invention, there were no espresso machines. Today, however, some cafes use espresso to make a Cafe Au Lait.
The milk can be steamed or warmed over a stove.
Flat White, on the other hand, is an espresso drink made with espresso shots or ristretto shots, and microfoam. The velvety smooth microfoam is the signature feature of this drink.
Since you don’t require an espresso machine and a milk frother to make a Cafe Au Lait, it’s one of the easiest coffee drinks to make as long as you know how to brew coffee.
Unlike Flat white, which has espresso as the base, Cafe Au Lait is prepared with either Drip coffee, French Press coffee, Moka Pot coffee, or sometimes espresso.
Since the drink contains equal parts of the base coffee and steamed or hot milk, the coffee taste is toned down and the drink gets a little bit sweet.
The specific taste will depend on the base coffee, beans, and roast.
Since a flat typically contains 2 shots of espresso, it has a strong espresso flavor. The steamed milk injects some sweetness and texture.
The French Cafe Au Lait is traditionally served in a wide-mouth porcelain bowl. This design allowed the person drinking to dip their favorite pastries, which are commonly baguettes or croissants.
Since the bowl has no handles, it is held with both hands, helping to keep the hands warm in the morning. However, it is not uncommon to find Cafe Au Lait being served in cups.
The standard serving size of a Cafe Au Lait is 13 -16 Oz.
Cafe Au Lait bowls are favorite collector items among coffee connoisseurs.
While the standard Flat White serving is 5-6 Oz that is 2 shots of espresso and 4 ounces of microfoam, some coffee shops sell larger sizes of up to 20 Oz.
Flat white is served in ceramic cappuccino cups.
Since an espresso shot contains an average of 63 mg of caffeine, the standard Flat White serving containing 2 shots of espresso has about 126 mg of caffeine.
A standard 16 Oz Cafe Au Lait serving containing 8 ounces of coffee and 8 ounces of milk contain about 95 mg of caffeine.
What does this mean?
A Flat White serving containing 2 shots of espresso has more caffeine than a 16-ounce Cafe Au Lait.
When it comes to calories, a 6 Oz Cafe Au Lait contains 3 ounces of milk, while a 6 Oz Flat White has 4 ounces of milk and 2 shots of espresso.
In terms of calories, a Flat White has more calories since it contains more milk and also has more caffeine.
Cafe Au Lait and Flat Whites are two completely different coffee beverages. Here is a recap of how they differ.
- The Cafe Au Lait originated in France in the 1600s.
- A Flat White came from Down Under in the mid-1980s.
- A Cafe Au Lait contains half coffee and hot or steamed milk.
- A Flat White is made with 1/3 espresso and 2/3 microfoam.
- A Flat White is traditionally a small drink of around 6 Oz.
- A Flat white has more caffeine and calories than Cafe Au Lai.
And there we have it. A simple way to differentiate a Cafe Au Lait from a Flat White. Go ahead and try one and see if you will love it.
If you’d like to contribute to this topic or have a question, leave them in the comment section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
A 16 Oz bowl of Cafe Au Lait has about 95 mg of caffeine.
The standard serving of Flat White containing 2 espresso shots and 4 ounces of milk has 126 mg of caffeine.
No, a Cafe Au Lait and a Flat White are two different coffee drinks. A Flat White uses espresso shots, while a Cafe Au Lait uses brewed coffee.
The major difference between a Caffe Latte and Flat White is the milk. While a Caffe Latte is the milkiest and largest espresso drink, Flat White’s signature feature is the velvety smooth microfoam that has a silky texture.
A Café au Lait contains equal amounts of coffee and steamed milk, while a Flat White has more milk than the espresso.
Thus a Café au Lait has a stronger coffee taste compared to a Latte’s espresso taste.