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What is a Flat White?

Nowadays, it seems everyone is after a Flat White.Originally an Australian speciality coffee drink, it is now found all over the world and considered quite mainstream across chain coffee shops and local cafes alike. Aussies have been making flat whites for over a decade now and it only seems to be increasing in popularity. Not as fluffy as a cappuccino but not as plain as a latte, it is a perfect middle ground for those goldlocks coffee drinkers out there. If you’ve yet to taste one, it is worth a try!

So, what exactly is a flat white?

Same as all milk-based coffee drinks, it consists of steamed milk and espresso. The milk is steamed to be a lot creamier than a latte but stopping before the point of becoming overly fluffy as you would with a cappuccino. Another key characteristic of the flat white is that it is a smaller drink than regular coffee drinks, usually coming in anywhere between 5-8oz, leading a much higher espresso to milk ratio compared to a latte or cappuccino regularly being anywhere between 8-16oz. Flat whites are typically served in a small, ceramic coffee mugs, or a small takeaway cup.

In a nutshell, a flat white is a milk based coffee drink with a high coffee to milk ratio and silky steamed milk.

Although Australians (and New Zealanders) have bee making this simple coffee drink for years and years now, it was only started to gain traction around the world around 2010, as the speciality coffee wave was increasing demand for coffee drinks. The flat white was perfectly positioned for coffee enthusiasts that enjoyed milk based drinks, as the increased coffee to milk ratio made the drink a lot more reliant on quality ingredients compared to other more dilute coffee drinks.

As we’ve mentioned already, a flat white is all about it’s ingredients, ratios and textured milk. How does it differ to the other milk based drinks?

Compared to a cappuccino, it is less frothy, less milky and generally a smaller cup of coffee.
Compared to a latte, it is more silky, less milky and generally a smaller cup of coffee.
Compared to a cortado, it is more silky, more milky and a larger cup of coffee.

One of the most important factors, however, is the texture of the milk. The key to making a flat white is learning how to create “microfoam“. That is where the name comes from, as the microfoam leads to a very “flat” top to drink. The bubbles are so small that rather than feeling like individual bubbles, it should just create a velvety, silky texture in the mouth.

It is not easy to learn how to create that silky, microfoam. Your best bet is to use whole milk and to gently introduce the air to milk, taking your time with it. You will know that the milk was done correctly because the surface of the milk will be completely uniform, flat and almost glossy.

Well, that’s it. That is a flat white. A small, silky, delicious coffee beverage that has taken the world by storm. If you are interested in trying to make this at home, we would recommend one of our amazing Brazilian coffees such as Brazil Fazenda. That would really shine in a flat white!