The ‘Flat White’ Exposed

The (still) ‘in’ drink to be seen drinking is the Flat White and for those in the know the Flat White has been the drink of choice for years, but with its adoption by the big brands it has been flung into the lime light. So as I hear countless times a week “what is this Flat White I keep hearing about?” I thought I would give the proper explanation!

I’ve been drinking and making Flat Whites since I was 13, so I’ve seen a few in my time and there are countless ways I’ve seen it made, but one of the best definitions I have found is what is written on the wall of the appropriately named Flat White café of Soho, London. It reads as follows;

flat white

noun /Austral. flaat whyette/ /NZ flet wyte/ 1 An antipodean style coffee which is served as a strong shot of espresso served in a small cup with textured milk; a damn good strong coffee. 2 51.51 (51°30′) | -0.13 (0°8′).
flattie noun. colloq. flat white; I’m gonna smash back a couple of flatties bro /NZ/ mate /Austral./

I feel that “a damn good strong coffee” sums a Flat White up perfectly, it’s a no frill, none of that fluffy milk malarky, just good espresso with a minimal amount of lightly frothed milk. We at Urban serve our Flat Whites with slightly more espresso than standard around 45mls and the reason we get away with it is down to the mild sweet nature of our espresso which mixes so beautifully with milk. To the espresso we add 180mls of very lightly steamed milk (around 70 to 80 degrease centigrade) so that once we have poured it into the cup there is only around half a centimetre of foam on top (along with some fantastic latte art)

Making a perfect Flat White is a true test of any barista, because the ratio of espresso to milk is much closer than that of a latte so the barista has a lot less time and milk to work with. Providing they can make a cracking espresso, the other main obstacle the barista faces is getting the milk correct as it is very easy to over-froth your milk and end up with something that resembles a cappuccino rather than a Flat White.

None really can say for certain whether the Flat White comes from New Zealand or Australia, but to be honest it doesn’t really mater, all that does matter is that it’s a fantastic coffee and deserves the recent recognition it has been getting .

So next time you’re in Urban and you see me swanning about behind the bar, ask me for a Flat White and not only will you get an amazing coffee, you’ll probably make my day.

Jamie – Flat White, No Sugar

Coffee Connoisseur

Urban Emporiums | 30 Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NP