While the flat white has become popular enough in the US to be considered mainstream — yes, you can order one at Starbucks — the Australian coffee drink hasn’t lost any of its edge in the almost ten years since it first appeared stateside. Smaller and creamier than a latte and a smidge larger than a cappuccino, the flat white lives in that delightful, liminal space between the two iconic drinks. A flat white is an undeniably pleasurable coffee experience, and if you’ve never had one, head to your local coffee shop to get your hands on one ASAP. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about this iconic coffee preparation.
What is a flat white?
Made with espresso and steamed milk, the flat white’s identity is formed with the milk steamer. “A flat white is a delicious to-the-point option for all coffee lovers,” says Rod Johnson, co-founder of BLK & Bold, a Black-owned coffee roasting company. “It’s where comfort meets intensity, and it allows the coffee drinker to truly taste the espresso with a creamy mouthfeel of steamed milk.” To make a flat white, creamy steamed milk is poured over a single or double shot of espresso, depending on the size of the drink you are making. It is a smaller coffee drink compared to others, about 5-6 ounces total, and can be served in a ceramic coffee cup or a heat-proof glass cup.
Like many classic drinks, the origin of the flat white is heavily contested, though it is certain it came from “Down Under”. Both Australia and New Zealand claim to have invented the flat white — Aussies in 1986, and Kiwis in 1989 — but both countries have been instrumental in globalising quality coffee culture. This simple coffee drink is emblematic of Antipodean coffee culture, known for an emphasis on quality ingredients.
How To Make French Press Coffee, According To Experts
What’s the difference between a flat white, cappuccino, latte, and cortado?
A flat white is all about the quantity and texture of the steamed milk used. “A flat white is distinct from drinks like a cappuccino and latte because of its volume and velvety milk texture,” says Cary Wong, director of coffee for Partners Coffee, a buzzy Brooklyn-based coffee roaster. A flat white is less frothy than a traditional cappuccino, has less milk than an American-style latte, and has more milk and froth than a tiny cortado. The drink got its name from the layer of flat, white microfoam that forms between the milky espresso and top of the drink. Microfoam, compared to regular milk foam, has tiny bubbles that can’t be felt by an individual on the palate, but rather give an ultra-creamy sensation. “The microfoam of the milk can easily blend in with the espresso crema,” continues Wong, “resulting in a wonderfully rich tactile sensation.”
How You Take Your Coffee Can Describe Your Personality
Size Does Matter
American coffee culture loves to super-size, no matter the consequences of consuming oodles of caffeine. But when it comes to the flat white, the flavour and texture of the drink is key to its success and depend on its size. “While you can order a 20-ounce ‘Venti’ flat white at Starbucks, that isn’t really a flat white anymore,” says Chamberlain. “It’s an Americanized version of the drink seriously that leans into latte territory.” To achieve the signature layering effect of silky steamed milk, espresso and microfoam, keeping the drink to a small controlled size is key. Plus, it makes for easy sipping. “My favourite thing about a flat white is how the drink’s volume is perfectly portioned for a slow drinking experience,” says Wong. “It has enough volume for an individual to sit down and enjoy during a conversation, but not too diluted with milk masking the wonderful espresso flavours.”
This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com
(Credit for the hero and featured image: Pete Willis/Unsplash)
© 2021. TI Inc. Affluent Media Group. All rights reserved. Licensed from FoodandWine.com and published with permission of Affluent Media Group. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.
Food & Wine and the Food & Wine Logo are registered trademarks of Affluent Media Group. Used under License.