The flat white is the new kid on the block when it comes to coffee. Originating from Australia or New Zealand, depending on who you talk to, it is now filling menus in coffee shops around the world – but what makes a flat white a flat white?
What is Flat White?
A flat white is an espresso-based drink that contains steamed milk. That much is probably already obvious. But when prepared and served properly they are very different drinks.
Looking into a flat white recipe in more depth, the specification is a silky, thin textured milk (up to 0.5cm in depth in a 5-6oz cup) on top of a double shot of espresso, which in itself can be quite large with modern serving styles, sometimes even up to 60g in weight.
The rest of the drink is made up of the steamed liquid milk created with the aid of a steam wand. Overall, the recipe is extremely flexible as you’ll find it in cafes across Singapore.
When it comes to coffee beans, each coffee shop may have different beans according to seasonality and roasting styles. Different beans mean different recipes which also affect the flavor of your flat whites.
The origin of flat white
There is some debate about whether the flat white originated in Australia or New Zealand. Either way, it has been around down under since the 1980s. In the years since, it has popped up on menus in the US, UK, and elsewhere and is now a specialty café standard.
At that time, coffee drinkers transitioning from instant coffee to espresso-based coffee were seeking something familiar rather than cappuccino, which at the time had mountainous sea-foam peaks, and so asked for it ‘flat’. The actually drink has evolved to be ‘flatter’ than a cappuccino.
When Starbucks began to serve flat whites as a “bold” alternative to latte in the USA, it became clear that the drink had entered the mainstream.
How to make flat white?
- Make a quality espresso shot. Ensure to weigh your coffee dose, the yield of espresso and the overall time taken to brew it. These are key factors to consider in creating a flat white of the correct proportions.
- Steam your milk. Steaming adds air to your milk. To steam milk using a steam wand on an espresso machine pour the cold milk into a small metal pitcher. Then, insert the steam wand into the milk, just below the surface. Engage the steam output dial to a steady stream of steam.
- Keep your milk moving and swirl your espresso shot. Get rid of any bubbles in the two of them separately, then mix them together by pouring.
- Make a latte art pattern on the surface of the flat white. And finally ejoy the flat white.
How to enjoy flat white?
Flat white is a great base for other espresso based coffee beverages, like Baileys Flat White, and for latte art. If prepared correctly, flat white can deliver the subtle characteristics of a well roasted coffee while at the same time offering a mild milky/creamy taste.
So in conclusion, to enjoy a tasty flat white, a well roasted bean is essential.