Flat White, Latte, Cappuccino, Espresso and more…What’s the Difference?

Have you ever had one of moments when you just feel like something a little different for your daily caffeine fix? You look up on the board a little perplexed with the variety, and, with a line up behind you, decide to just opt for  your usual. Our baristas have a wealth of knowledge and are always happy to help you decide, so feel free to ask at any time.  We also thought we would help out and break it down for you.


The flat white originated in Australia so you will be hard pressed finding the exact replica anywhere else in the world. Sure you will find variations that will give you some enjoyment on your travels but the saying “same same but different” will spring to mind. In America, for example, their version of the American latte is nearly exactly the same as our flat white.

At the end of the day, a flat white is textured milk and an espresso shot with a thin layer of foam to finish off.

The flat white will be strong in flavour, combined with that velvety smooth feeling we all know and love.

Flat White made at Quest Coffee Roasters


The key to a great latte is in the art of steaming/texturing the milk. Texturing milk plays a big role in creating the perfect latte. Firstly, the most obvious, is to bring the milk to the desired temperature for drinking but it also creates micro foam. You can’t make micro foam without air being added into the milk – that all too familiar “hissing sound” you hear in the café is the sound of micro foam…that is when perfection is being made.

What is in a latte? Espresso shot, steamed milk and approximately 1cm of micro foam on top.

For those of you who wonder what the difference is between the flat white and the latte…it is quite simply the 1cm layer of foam.

Latte made at Quest Coffee Roasters


The cappuccino is a traditional Italian drink and some would say that it is defined by its froth. The cappuccino is typically a stronger beverage.

It has three parts and is generally made with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 textured milk, 1/3 froth, then finished off with chocolate dusting powder. What makes the cappuccino special is the equal quantities of each component.

What you will most likely notice while consuming the cappuccino is that the foam is nice and stiff to begin with and finishes with a rich milky coffee underneath.

Cappuccino made at Quest Coffee Roasters



This one doesn’t take much to explain…a mocha is just a cappuccino with chocolate. We know what you chocoholics are thinking…YUM!


Pouring a double shot of espresso over hot water makes the popular long black. It is similar to the Americano except that the long black retains the crema (the glassy layer on the top of the drink) and has less volume, which gives it a stronger flavour.

The barista’s job is important, as they need to monitor the shot speed so that they can produce the best possible extraction. Allowing your long black to rest, as it cools from slightly boiling to a drinkable temperature, is the best way to enjoy a great tasting long black.

The great thing about a long black is that you are able to taste the undertones, flavours and sweetness of the coffee.

Long Black made at Quest Coffee Roasters


Many people have the misconception that an espresso is a dark and bitter to burnt-flavoured coffee. Let’s clear that misconception up for you. Espresso often forms a bold, not bitter, flavour. It is quick to make, doesn’t interfere with flavour and is often referred to as the drink of coffee connoisseurs.

The big difference is that you get the same caffeine hit you would get in any other of the espresso-based drinks, minus the larger volume of liquid. It is therefore, quick, easy and convenient and packed full of flavour.

An espresso is meant to be intense and the art of the good barista is to create a balanced flavour. There are many factors involved in making a good espresso; the grind size, temperature, freshness of the beans and the length of the shot. A little more complex than it looks, right?

Drinking espresso is the best way to experience the true flavour of the bean; mild/medium/strong, chocolate or fruity, and all those special undertones.

It is best consumed straight away, before the gassy layer dissipates and the liquid cools down. A cooled espresso will taste completely different to a fresh one.

Espresso made at Quest Coffee Roasters


Macchiato means ‘marked’ or ‘stained’. In short, it is an espresso with a ‘stain’ of hot milk (a dash of foam). The quantity of milk is just enough to stain the colour of the black coffee.

The macchiato takes the edge off an espresso, adding a different aspect to the drink. It is worth a try for the coffee enthusiast who enjoys a strong, full bodied flavour but is not a big fan of the straight espresso.

Macchiato made at Quest Coffee Roasters


Last but not least, the delicious Affogato. This is really similar to the macchiato. It’s a coffee-based dessert for those times when you feel like being a little naughty. It’s quite simple really…a shot of hot espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Bon appetite!

Affogato made at Quest Coffee Roasters

Our happy baristas here at Quest Coffee Roasters are all about customer service and providing you with the best quality coffee. We have grown to understand that each individual has different likes and dislikes, and the perfect coffee isn’t just as easy as ‘black and white’. We have had so many different requests over the years that it would take a lot to surprise us.

So next time you are visiting us at our James Street, Burleigh Heads café, be sure to ask for your coffee how you like it best and we will be happy to accommodate. Don’t forget that we always have 4 different types of coffee to offer you until 3pm everyday.

Your coffee your way at Quest Coffee Roasters

The Myths of Decaf

If you visit the social media pages on specialty coffee on a regular basis, you may be familiar with the phrases “Death before Decaf”. These phrases are mostly accompanied by a photo of a diehard espresso drinker who has the text inked into the skin of their bicep.

death before decaf tattoo

“Death before Decaf”

Or you may have seen the hipster barista at you local coffee shop pull up an eyebrow when asked for a decaf. This is the drink that is also referred to as “the why bother”.

the why bother look

The “why bother” look

So we can conclude decaf is uncool, a coffee that is missing its most vital ingredient, CAFFEINE. It’s obviously something the drinker should be a little ashamed of. People rather die than drink decaf right? Wrong!

Whether you like it or not, we are currently witnessing a serious increase in decaf consumption. It is a trend that started not too long ago, possibly due to intolerance of caffeine in general, health reasons, pregnancy or people trying to limit their intake during the later hours of the day to not disrupt sleeping patterns. Some coffee lovers still want to enjoy the taste of their favourite beverage, so decaf is on the rise.

As there are many opinions about the good and bad of decaf, there seems to be equal amounts of confusion about the health benefits and the way it’s processed.


There is no caffeine in decaf:

There are a couple of different standards worldwide with the US guidelines stating that coffee needs to be 97.5% caffeine free before it can bare the label decaf. The standard in Europe sits at 99.9%, so on and so forth.

Decaf contains harsh and/or harmful chemicals:

The decaffeination process has come a long way over the years. You can now enjoy the benefits of the Swiss Water and Mt Water Processed Decaf that gets rid of 99.9% of the caffeine and is certified organic. A lot of people still refer to the Roselius Process. Roselius’ method used benzene, which is a cancer causing chemical and therefore no longer commonly used. If you want to find a really great decaf using the Mt Water Process, click here. Here’s a flow chart of how the Mt Water Decaffeination Process works.


Decaf tastes bad:

When decaf was first developed, the process was harsh and stripped away a lot of the preferred flavours and aroma. The process these days is a lot more refined and we can preserve the delicate tastes in a bean all through the decaffeination and the roasting process. Decaffeinated beans go stale like other caffeinated coffee, and we see a lot of problems with cafes over-ordering decaf and letting it sit too long on their shelves. Rumour has it there are some cafes on the Coast that think it’s acceptable just using the last part of the shot to make an espresso coffee “decaf”. This results in a poorly extracted shot and a coffee with just below caffeine levels, but nothing close to decaf.

Decaffeination takes away all the health benefits of the coffee:

Most of the health benefits from coffee come from the antioxidants part of the polyphenols contained within the coffee. The level of caffeine within the coffee doesn’t make a difference to that, neither does the decaffeination process.

So do yourself a favour. Come on in to our James Street, Burleigh Heads, café where we serve a beautiful Mt Water Process organic decaffeinated coffee made with organic Barambah milk (or non dairy option) and have happy baristas that love making it fresh.

You can sit back and enjoy a coffee at any time of the day.

Disclaimer:  This article was first published in QCMagazine in 2014