Volumetric shot time of Flat White vs Latte/Cappucino

Hi guys,

I was talking to a friend at another cafe recently and he said that they have two buttons on their Linea PB, one which they use for regular double shots, and the other specifically for Flat White shots. This runs 5-6 seconds shorter than the regular double shot button. My question is, is there any reason for this. I was trying to make the case with him, that as they use the same dose of coffee for both shots, surely the Flat White shot will be under-extracted. Furthermore, I know the differences between drinks has been argued to death, however most in the speciality scene would be pretty unanimous in the fact that all drinks are served with the same double shot, unless a single is specified?

Any help to solve this debate would be appreciated!

Cutting the shot short on a FW will make the shot stronger since it is more concentrated, and that then makes it really ‘punch’ through the milk, making sure that the flavour and profile of the espresso can be tasted better, unlike a latte/cap in which the milk can make the espressos profile more subtle, this is only relevant if the flat white is being served in a smaller cup i.e 6oz, the ratio of coffee to milk is a bit higher.

The other thing to note is, does underextracting make it taste worse? given that it’s only going in the flatwhite, and not as an espresso or a long black. Did they try the shot that goes into lattes and caps as a flat white? Odds are, although they are stopping the shot shorter, it might be better than letting it run the recipes length!

Hope this helps in some way!

Not sure the concentration argument holds, as the water added in the espresso is relatively insignificant compared to the milk.

A quick back of the envelope suggests that if we assume a 14g dose and 200g milk, then a 30g espresso into which 20% of the dose is extracted is comparable to a 20g ristretto into which 19.2% of the dose is extracted (with respect to the concentration of extracted material in the final beverage).

In fact, if we add an extra 10g of milk (to approximately compensate for the 10g of espresso), then you would have to extract 20% the dose, to achieve the same concentration. This suggests that a ristretto based drink will always have less extracted material than an espresso shot, all else being equal.

1 Like

that’s cool as man! thanks for that, i always thought a shorter shot with the same dose would have a higher concentration compared to a normal espresso shot

It will, but the resulting milk drink won’t.

1 Like

Disclaimer: I use the same shot parameters in all espresso based beverages. There is absolutely a decent chunk of cafes that abide by this flat white recipe “6 oz bev. with a double ristretto”. It makes sense if they are in that camp/school of thought. I appreciate the back of the envelope calculations @DIYCoffeeGuy but in my experience a 1:1-1.5 ristretto will make the coffee taste much stronger in the drink. ( I would rather have a more subtle sweet and balanced coffee profile in our milk drinks). I don’t have all the science but I suggest doing a very basic experiment. Use your normal shot parameters make 3 espressos. Use these ratios of dry dose: espresso yeild
A.1:1 B.1:2(or whatever your normal ratio is) and C.1:3. Put them in flat whites and taste! (The shots won’t be well dialed in for the ristretto and lungo but it will save you time and I believe the taste differences will be noticeable)

@nathanderuvo - really all my simple model does is demonstrate that this reported “stronger” taste cannot be the result of a higher concentration.

I wouldn’t pretend to be a taste perception expert (or even particularly knowledgeable about it), but suspect that what is percieved as an increase in “strength” is actually driven by changes in the relative concentrations of different extractable components - what one might describe as “the balance of flavours”.

Earlier this year I created a simple model to explore/explain the change in relative concentration. Very interesting (yet difficult to validate).

An extension to your experiments - take those three espressos and dilute them with water (to an equal shot mass or TDS), prior to tasting them or adding them to milk.

Maybe, just maybe, you could just taste the drinks side by side and see which one is better?

1 Like

Your friends cafe is doing a rather lazy attempt at a ristretto shot, which is what you’re supposed to pull for a flat white. Ristretto is Italian for restricted and essentially just means you have a smaller yield than a typical double shot.

Example: normal shot (normale) - 18g in, 34g out
Ristretto shot - 18g in, 25g out

Unfortunately you don’t achieve a ristretto shot by just lessening the yield, you also need to dial in accordingly. So your pal is putting out some very inconsistent flat whites, I’d advise him to wise up on his espresso dosing.


If you pour your shot short for a flat white but still top up your drink to the top of your cup you now have less solubles than the flat white with a regular espresso. So your ristretto flat white has less soluble coffee in the cup than the espresso equivalent. Something lets me less coffee doesn’t ‘cut through’ the milk better than more coffee content…

Ie DIYcoffeeguy is on the money.