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Cup size for flat white and milk amount

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  • Cup size for flat white and milk amount

    Searched for this on the internet and no one can really agree... I used to make mine "wrong" for years and years... I would basically use 14g of coffee in my old silvia, let the machine run until a 250ml cup was half to 2/3rds full and then filled the rest of the cup with steam milk. It made a very bitter but strong coffee - not very nice but good for a hit...

    Now I have a new machine I'm trying to do it the right way. I got an 18g VST basket. Aim for about 36-40g of espresso then filled the rest of a 250ml coffee cup with full cream milk (steamed)... I found that I thought that was just too milky for my tastes so I reduced the cup size to an old 200g Ancap cup I had which I always considered to small for a cup of coffee lol.

    Well I think now that tastes an awful lot better than what I used to make in the old days - really very nice. Recently I read competition cups are about 150ml - but they must be using a single shot in them perhaps? What then am I making with a double shot of espresso in a 200ml cup? Is that a normal recipe?

    I also notice Ancap make a Torino 200ml cup and a Palermo Cup at 190ml. The Torino cups are less bowl-like... Maybe I'm better off with a 190ml cup?

  • #2
    The correct cup size and milk quantity for a flat white? Well I nearly always make mine in a Duralex Picardi 220ml glass. Add enough steamed milk to fill the cup over a 25-30ml shot. These are estimates as I don't weigh my shots or pursue brew ratios. Blasphemy, eh?!

    Unless you're in a barista competition, it doesn't really matter. If you and/or the people you are making the coffee for like it, then it is the right cup and milk quantity.
    If you make something the same way all the time, sure you get repeatable results but you miss out on variety. You don't discover things like what happens if you updose the shot and get a longer preinfusion or loosen the grind and pour a long lungo.

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    • #3
      Like you, I have upgrade from a Silvia not long ago. When I was making coffee with the Silvia, it was to me the best coffee I could not get anywhere else. However, when I got the new machine, I tried to make coffee the way I used to and found it was weak and milky. I started to question everything about coffee-making with the Silvia including the cups I used. I, too, look for the definitions of flat, latte, cappuccino, etc on the Internet and books. I have also contemplated buying a new set of cups that adhere to a "standard".

      It took me the best part of the honeymoon period with my new machine to realise that the technique I used with the Silvia cannot be migrated. I needed to work out new doses and recipe for my new equipment. I decided to persevere with this thought as buying new cups after spending plenty on the new machine wasn't terribly appealing. I started playing around with doses and brew ratio and finally got to a point that I could again say that I have the best coffee at home that I couldn't get anywhere else. I was using the same 190ml cups I was using with my Silva.

      I think there is enough variables that will allow you to work out what works for you with your existing cups. That is one of the reasons why we make coffee at home: to tune our coffee to our needs.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by lancruiser View Post
        I think there is enough variables that will allow you to work out what works for you with your existing cups.
        This is true. You can always put 200ml into a 250ml cup but not the other way around. I was tempted to buy new cups a few weeks ago but I came to the conclusion that even if a 350ml mug is all thats left in the cupboard, I don't have to fill it!

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        • #5
          In the end any 'standard' recipe should be just a starting point with your taste buds having the final say in what's the right answer for you and your equipment.


          Java "It's all about the taste!" phile
          Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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          • #6
            Thanks for the responses. I sorta knew it would come down to personal preference but I'm interested to hear everyone's thoughts and perspectives.

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            • #7
              Google coffee recipe charts. Most are based around rough ratio of espresso to steamed milk to foamed milk. eg:
              - flat white is 1:2:0 (ie a 40ml espresso : 80ml steamed milk : no foam ----> yields 120ml volume
              - cappucino is 1:1:1
              - latte is 1:5:0 <-- it's basically all milk!

              Then you get weird things like americano and long black which are the thing but the espresso goes in first in the former but last in the later. Just don't stir

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Superman View Post
                Google coffee recipe charts. Most are based around rough ratio of espresso to steamed milk to foamed milk. eg:
                - flat white is 1:2:0 (ie a 40ml espresso : 80ml steamed milk : no foam ----> yields 120ml volume
                - cappucino is 1:1:1
                - latte is 1:5:0 <-- it's basically all milk!

                Then you get weird things like americano and long black which are the thing but the espresso goes in first in the former but last in the later. Just don't stir
                Are we talking ml's or grams here? For example if I have an 18g basket and make 36g of espresso would that be something like 70mls volume (this assumes the volume of aerated espresso is about double its weight in grams or half the density of water...) If it worked like that then 70mls espresso and 140ml of milk would make a flat white in a cup of around 200mls (or 210mls if I wanted to be mathematically precise).

                Why do I ask? because I've heard a single shot of espresso is something like 30ml's and a double is 60mls... so 40ml's sounds like an odd quantity. Also I measure mine in grams and haven't worked out what volume I'm pulling.

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                • #9
                  Grams. As you say, 18g of coffee yields 36g espresso which is a pretty standand 1:2 espresso brew ratio. But that said there are some wide variations, like our very fancy nespresso machine at work is like 6gm pod yields 45ml shot so thats like 1:7 but there you go.

                  Definitely don't use ml's. Here's how my current batch is extracting. So much crema it's ridiculous and would throw out any volume based ratio.
                  Attached Files

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Superman View Post
                    Grams. As you say, 18g of coffee yields 36g espresso which is a pretty standand 1:2 espresso brew ratio. But that said there are some wide variations, like our very fancy nespresso machine at work is like 6gm pod yields 45ml shot so thats like 1:7 but there you go.

                    Definitely don't use ml's. Here's how my current batch is extracting. So much crema it's ridiculous and would throw out any volume based ratio.
                    I don't really see how it works though. I'm obviously missing something.

                    Just say I go into a Café and order a flat white. The barista serves it to me a cup that I would be guessing is about 200ml. If there was only 36g of espresso and 72g (2 x 36g) of milk for the 1:2 ratio to work I don't see how they fill the cup up! Unless of course 108g of liquid (36g espresso and 72g milk) is so aerated it equals 200ml in volume.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by YeastNCaffeine View Post

                      I don't really see how it works though. I'm obviously missing something.

                      Just say I go into a Café and order a flat white. The barista serves it to me a cup that I would be guessing is about 200ml. If there was only 36g of espresso and 72g (2 x 36g) of milk for the 1:2 ratio to work I don't see how they fill the cup up! Unless of course 108g of liquid (36g espresso and 72g milk) is so aerated it equals 200ml in volume.
                      1:2 brew ratio, gives you 36 grams of brewed coffee, which is likely between 55-60mls of brewed coffee (including crema). 2 x 60mls = 120mls of milk for flat white. Total volume 180mls.

                      Now, that 120mls of milk for a flat white will weigh more than 120mls of milk for a latte (which has been stretched a lot more).

                      Switching between volume and mass measurements when they have no standard relationship is fun. Much easier with brewed water and more water.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post

                        1:2 brew ratio, gives you 36 grams of brewed coffee, which is likely between 55-60mls of brewed coffee (including crema). 2 x 60mls = 120mls of milk for flat white. Total volume 180mls.

                        Now, that 120mls of milk for a flat white will weigh more than 120mls of milk for a latte (which has been stretched a lot more).

                        Switching between volume and mass measurements when they have no standard relationship is fun. Much easier with brewed water and more water.
                        That's perfect thanks.

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                        • #13

                          The above mentioned 36ish grams in a cup would be not standard in most Australian cafes.
                          most Australian places would be single shot in a cup of 180-220ml cup, trending smaller at the moment down to 160ml.
                          Some Australian and European flat white is a dlb ristretto based 160-180ml cup

                          In short there is no standard really. Just like anything else coffee related. Flavour or profit rule depending on where you go

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ronin View Post
                            The above mentioned 36ish grams in a cup would be not standard in most Australian cafes.
                            most Australian places would be single shot in a cup of 180-220ml cup, trending smaller at the moment down to 160ml.
                            Some Australian and European flat white is a dlb ristretto based 160-180ml cup

                            In short there is no standard really. Just like anything else coffee related. Flavour or profit rule depending on where you go
                            Thank you I also sort of wanted to know how it worked in real life at a real Café too - that's great.

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                            • #15
                              All these numbers are just starting points. 18g in 36g out is a starting point and can vary pretty wildly based on the bean and what flavour they're trying to get out of it. Pretty sure any cafe would fill the cup regardless of ratios. Even if it tasted better the complaints you'd get about not serving a full cup wouldn't be worth it. Hopefully they'll dial in the brew to work with the amount of milk.

                              If you're worried about filling up a cup an 18g basked will usually take at least a gram more or less coffee or you can get a different basket if you're finding that the ratio you like leaves you without a full cup and that hits you in an OCD sore spot.

                              The joy of making your own coffee is that there aren't any labels you have to conform to. Try recommended ratios and tweak to suit.

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