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What Exactly is a Flat White?

Published on 08 October 2018  | Download | back to previous

Flat White CoffeeCoffee enthusiasts across the globe pride themselves in their collective knowledge about coffee varieties, styles, and tastes. However, anyone without a critically in-depth understanding of what makes one coffee different from the next may be confused about the mystery that is a flat white. What makes a flat white different from a latte or a cappuccino? Where does it fit into the scale of milk balanced with the coffee itself? Understanding what exactly a flat white is may be a complex process, however to really appreciate its uniqueness and delicacy this is something that is entirely worthwhile to learn.

Let us begin with a brief history about the creation of a flat white. Conflicts surround the claims of initiation, for there is no real knowledge about where the flat white originated. New Zealand and Australia both pride themselves with tis claim, yet as far as is certain, we can only be sure of the time period that it was devised in.

New Zealand’s Wellington barista Frank McInnes claims that he accidentally invented the flat white that we know today in the late summer of 1989. McInnes stated that he made a mistake while preparing a cappuccino at Cafe Bodega on Willis Street, as there was not enough fat in the milk for it to froth. Apologetically he gave the botched espresso drink to his customer and said: ‘Sorry, it’s a flat white.’ On the contrary, Australian barista Preston claims the phrase originated after the opening of his Sussex Street coffee house, the Moors Espresso Bar. Preston drew inspiration from his home state, Queensland, where many cafes in the 1960’s and 1970’s offered a type of espresso typically described as ‘White Coffee – flat’. His version of events is backed by a photo from the 1980’s, which, according to Preston, have words ‘flat white’ jotted on the menu board.

Whilst the debate is clearly important for New Zealand and Australia heritage, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, a Flat White is a delicious style of coffee, independent of the country in which it was created.

So, what exactly is a flat white? To explain the taste and texture it is vital to explain the process through which it is formed…

A flat white is a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk, but without the froth characteristic of a cappuccino. Milk is steamed using a steaming wand to create frothed milk with bubbles so tiny they are barely discernible, otherwise known as microfoam. Correctly pouring and steaming microfoam is essential to blending a flat white correctly. To prevent the milk from breaking into bubbles, it must be steamed at a consistent temperature and spread evenly throughout the liquid. While it’s true that lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites are all composed primarily of steamed milk and espresso, the amount of coffee, method for steaming and pouring the milk, and container the drink is served in greatly differentiate these brews. A flat white is about packing as much taste as possible into a small dosage. The coffee should be high quality, not over roasted, dosed and ground correctly to ensure the perfect extraction of the coffee liquor. The texture should feel velvety and there should be a natural creamy sweetness.

At Aroma Coffee we pride ourselves in our ability to produce perfect coffee blends, which includes the ability to perfect a flat white. We have considered all of the necessary components of this delicious coffee style and have spent time correcting our method in order to achieve an outcome that captures the true essence and tradition of the flat white… so that our customers are completely satisfied by the result. Visit Aroma Coffee in Bridgend or Cowbridge today, to try our great quality food and drink and let us know what you think about our version of the flat white.

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