Coffee Talk: The Flat White

March 10, 2013 7:57 pm Last Updated: September 4, 2015 5:16 am

Becoming a household name these days, there is still some confusion as to exactly what a flat white is.

Although in some of the better specialty coffee bars, the differences in drinks are becoming less obvious, the flat white is a great “go to” drink when travelling abroad—when a latte may be a 24-ounce drink or cappuccino milk may be foamed to skyscraper proportions.

Ordering a flat white generally indicates to the barista you are well versed in coffee and you may get a little more attention whilst your beverage is being prepared.

What Is a Flat White?

A double ristretto (espresso with a finer grind or higher dose that creates a creamier shorter shot) filled with microfoam (milk steamed to perfection with very little air incorporated) which is poured with a steady hand to incorporate the milk into the crema to create a shape resembling a rosetta.

Typically the size of a traditional cappuccino (5 to 6 ounces), the flat white sets itself apart as the benchmark drink that a barista or establishment can be critiqued upon.

Flat whites started to show up in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980’s as an alternate to the frothy cappuccino.

The better flat whites will have a glass-like gloss on the surface, latte art will have perfect symmetry and a nice amber crema around the edge of the rim where you can evaluate the espresso before sitting back to enjoy the rest of the silky goodness that you deserve.

If the barista has not heard of a flat white and you need to navigate him or her through the steps, then I suggest to ask for a double shot of espresso in a cappuccino cup and steam the milk similar to that of a latte, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Adam Craig is an Australian whose new venture, Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters, recently opened in Amsterdam, Netherlands.