Plant-Based Decoding: Unveiling the Chemistry Behind a Creamy Flat White Coffee

As Google pays homage to the iconic flat white coffee on March 11th, it is the perfect time to uncover the science behind its luxurious creaminess. The key to this culinary alchemy is emulsifiers and stabilizers working in harmony to create that velvety microfoam atop your espresso.

the chemistry at play

A complex chemical reaction occurs when steaming milk to make a flat white. The heat causes the milk proteins to unravel, creating a network that traps air bubbles. Additionally, emulsifiers and stabilizers such as hydrolyzed lecithin and stabilizing systems added to plant-based drinks enhance this process even further. These ingredients enhance the velvety texture and contribute to the overall chemistry that transforms a simple cup of coffee into a symphony of flavors and consistency.


The market for plant-based beverages is experiencing significant global growth, projected to reach over $71,62.7 billion by the year 2030¹, primarily attributed to growing consumer demand for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to traditional dairy products. Consumers are increasingly opting for plant-based beverages due to health and environmental concerns, including lactose intolerance, food allergies, and the desire to reduce the consumption of animal-derived products². Plant-based beverages, such as almond, soy, coconut, oat, and others, are gaining popularity, representing a significant portion of the non-dairy beverage sector. This rise in demand is observed not only in developed countries but also in emerging economies.

The industry is responding to this growing demand with a wide range of plant-based beverage options, offering varieties in flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Additionally, innovations in the development of new products and improvements in existing formulations are underway to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers.

Emulsifiers and stabilizers are like culinary magicians. They play a crucial role in ensuring the perfect texture, consistency, and appearance of many foods and beverages. In the world of coffee, they work their magic behind the scenes, creating that dreamy foam that makes your coffee experience so enjoyable.

When it comes to crafting a flat white with plant-based milk, hydrolyzed lecithin takes center stage. Hydrolyzed lecithin is a natural emulsifier derived from soy or sunflower (our GIRALEC HE range and VEROLEC HE range). It ensures a smooth blend of oil and water, producing a creamy foam that is just as good as dairy milk.

Additionally, hydrocolloids, especially our SWISSGUM D-3012, play a crucial role in stabilizing the foam, ensuring it stays fluffy and luxurious. These compounds are essential in plant-based milk, where protein content may vary, providing consistent results with every pour.

plant based milk


A well-foamed flat white coffee not only looks appealing but also delivers a velvety texture that enhances the taste and aroma of the espresso.

Furthermore, hydrolyzed lecithin and stabilizing systems allow baristas to achieve consistent results across different batches, regardless of variations in plant-based drink composition or environmental factors. This reliability is essential for meeting the expectations of discerning coffee enthusiasts who demand perfection in every cup.

Next time you indulge in a heavenly flat white, take a moment to appreciate the science behind its creamy perfection. From dairy to plant-based options, emulsifiers and stabilizers work tirelessly to deliver that blissful sip, making every cup a masterpiece.

Let’s give a cheer to the often-overlooked heroes of the coffee industry – emulsifiers and stabilizers – for their crucial role in bringing us our daily dose of liquid happiness. 


[1]Skyquest research report (2024). Global Plant-Based Beverages Market Size, Share, Growth Analysis, By Type(Soy, Coconuts), By Product(Plain and Flavored) – Industry Forecast 2023 – 2030.

[2] Food Research International (2023).


Contact us for more information

If you’re interested in discovering more about how Lasenor can assist you in selecting the appropriate hydrolyzed lecithin and stabilizing systems for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.