Sound the alarm

A major coffee chain in the U.K. has placed the “flat white” on their menu …

… and caused a stir in the U.K.’s specialty coffee industry because of it.

Wait … what? What is a “flat white”, you ask? … well, that’s a good question. I’ve no idea. It might as well be unicorn mothers’ milk tears, touched by fairy dust, sparkling in the dewey morning light of a lost but magical world for all of its seemingly symbol-laden, weighty and mythical importance to the Australian and U.K. specialty coffee trade.

What is this damn thing?


4 thoughts on “Sound the alarm

  1. I visited New Zealand many years ago, and also wondered what a “flat white” was and ordered my fair share from various cafes.

    It’s essentially a latte but served in a smaller cappuccino cup. Therefore, it’s a little stronger than a latte since it doesn’t have quite as much milk.

    Wikipedia has a good short definition:

    But like some of the comments in the original posting said, I also believe it’s just a marketing ploy (i.e. “new and improved!”) to try and create excitement to raise coffee sales.

    1. Hmmm … so it seems as if it is something like a Gibralter (Blue Bottle) by another name. Unlike here, where every café has a different name for a drink that rests somewhere between a machhiato and a cappuccino (Blue Bottle’s is named after the glass it comes in — it’s called an “SG-120” in it’s Mint Plaza location because of the glass — it’s almost as if the flat white has caught on as an almost industry-wide style, a marker of integrity, seemingly. The name seems to carry a lot of baggage.

  2. The Flat White (as explained to me by the folks at the epynomous cafe in London) is basically a strong, short latte, chuggable in every sense of the word (the expression “knock back a couple of flatties” emblazons their wall). It is very VERY different than the Gibby or the SG-120 (which I have to agree with the folks at The Shot — they’re both non-regulation cappucinos more than anything else). The only similarity is that the flat white does have to be served in a very specific cup-form (its thin white ceramic, like a much thinner cappucino cup at about 5oz).

    The specs given were roughly one Aussie-style shot (roughly equivalent to a 26-8g triple basket, to 1.5-2oz of espresso) with milk and a very fine layer of microfoam resting at the top (it really patterns on 2oz of espresso, 2.8oz of milk and a grazing of microfoam solid enough to produce latter art but not enough to set with any particular thickness). The milk consistency and temp is key — it’s not super hot, maybe around 150 or so, and the microfoam is highly malleable. The espresso comes through thoroughly, and it is, in the right hands, emminently “chuggable”. I don’t know why Starbucks would choose to try and do it on automatics….

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