Just when we all thought it was safe to have a favourite type of coffee to drink, the flat white appeared on the scene to throw confusion on our judgment. In the couple of years since it went mainstream, the flat white has risen to become one of the best loved drinks in the UK.
So what is its secret and are you a convert or, like the McDonalds advert, are you still afraid to order one?
In the late 1990s, a character called Flat Eric landed on our TV screens. He was the latest in a long line of iconic adverts for Levi’s and he took the nation by storm, despite his dull name. Flat Eric’s bright yellow colour and big personality far outweighed his boring moniker and he soon had a generation tapping along to the ad’s song and buying replica toys.
Twenty years later, the flat white might feel the same name pain. To the outsider, it couldn’t sound more boring if it tried, but to those in the know this silky smooth coffee offering is a real winner. Yes, thankfully the flat white tastes far better than it sounds.
There’s a long-standing rivalry over who invented the drink, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming the creative bragging rights. We will probably never know for sure, but it is at least safe to say the flat white has Antipodean origins. And an international following today.
So what makes this drink popular? It may seem like an Americano and a latte had a love-child, but the flat white is way more than a hybrid. The joy of this java comes from a silky microfoam and strong punch of caffeine – all in the same cup. Like lattes and cappuccinos, the flat white begins with a double shot of espresso, but then it takes its own path.
Rather than a straight topping of steamed milk, the trick is to make microfoam by really stretching and spinning the milk. This gives a beautiful, velvet textured foam with very small bubbles. The microfoam is then folded through the coffee with no, or minimal foam left on top.
The flat white’s strength comes from the fact it is best served in a 6 or 8oz cup, compared to the 10 or 12oz used for lattes and cappuccinos. This higher coffee:milk ratio packs more of a caffeine punch and also brings out the flavour of the beans more than a milkier drink. As ever, choose those beans wisely and go for quality, expertly roasted blends - there is nowhere for mediocre to hide.
It’s easy to see why coffee fans have taken to the flat white, but could it tear you from your favourite drink? If you fancy a stronger latte hit, are trying to go easy on dairy, or simply want one of the silkiest and tastiest drinks on the menu, then a flat white is the way to go.
The amazing news is you actually don’t have to be tied to just one coffee, like children or dogs they can all be your favourite! Always bear in mind the flat white though, because it’s anything but boring.