Move over, frappe lovers - there's a new beverage in town.
It's all over coffee shops on the refined, progressive streets of Sydney, Auckland, and London - and it's invading cities all over the world.
It's called a flat white. Essentially, it's an espresso-based beverage that is made with steamed milk, and it is increasingly growing in popularity as a more refined coffee beverage that isn't too heavy on the milk or sugar as a cappuccino or a frappe does.
While adding milk to coffee can be a no-no for coffee fanatics who enjoy tasting the pure flavor and roast of the coffee, a good flat white retains all the aspects of the roast, with just the right amount of milk and microfoam to take it to the next level - without ruining the flavor.
A flat white is a great way to enjoy a milky, creamy blend of coffee that retains the depth and profile of the coffee bean's flavor, coalescing effortlessly with the milk to create a heavenly, satisfying beverage that would appease even the most exacting coffee aficionados.
Well, we're here to tell you that you don't have to go to your local neighborhood coffee roaster or coffee shop for you to enjoy a bold, smooth, and creamy flat white at what could be exorbitant prices; you can just as much make one that's just as good, if not better, in the comfort of your own home.
We'll show you just how.
What Is A Flat White?
First, let's get specific with what constitutes a flat white.
In a nutshell, a flat white is just an espresso-based drink that is prepared with steamed milk. Central to the flat white is its microfoam, which is composed of aerated steamed milk - which results in silky-smooth milk peppered with barely-visible air bubbles
Flat whites are typically served in small sizes - definitely smaller than your usual cup of latte or cappuccino.
The ones you'd find at your local Starbucks can go much larger than their original sizes, hence they're not technically the real deal. As large-scale coffee chains typically use standardized serving sizes, the ideal coffee-to-milk proportions that make a proper flat white are changed to fit them, subtracting to the flat white's decadent flavors.
An Underappreciated Art Form
It's a literal art form - an underappreciated one, at that. See, there is an art and style in diluting an espresso's robust flavors using cold or hot milk - as more milk is added, the body and depth of espresso are reduced, as the sweetness of the milk cuts out its flavor profile.
The key to making a great flat white lies in preparing the perfect espresso shot as well as creating the perfect microfoam at the same time.
Therefore, making a flat white at home will require the basics: an espresso machine and a milk frother. Otherwise, a great option that can do both is the Mr. Coffee Café Barista, which can do both. It wasn't just listed as a top buy on our own espresso machine review page, but also on sites like AllTheStuff and TechGearLab.
A proper flat white would showcase the full flavor of coffee featuring a well-balanced dose of silky, bubbly milk all in one. Let us show you how to make it.
How Do You Make It At Home?
These directions will work for you regardless of what machine you use.
Prepare a well-balanced espresso shot
Make sure your coffee dose and its espresso yield are just right to your taste, as well as the time it takes to make it. Again, proportion is key - you'll want to base the amount of espresso you use depending on your taste and how you want your coffee. For a regular flat white, let's start with a double espresso, and put it into a cup.
Steam your milk
The ideal temperature for steamed milk varies around 55-62 °C. Practice getting a feel for how the right temperature should feel like when you're holding it inside the pitcher; else, use a thermometer to take the guesswork out completely.
Swirl it/give it a tap
The secret to making the milk reach a silky-smooth texture is to gently swirl it and/or give it a tap on the counter to remove any large bubbles. You'll want it to resemble white glossy paint
Pour it quickly before the milk separates
As soon as you finish preparing your steamed milk, pour it quickly on the espresso shot you prepared earlier.
You may not get it perfect the first time, but once you've mastered the technique of preparing the steamed milk and microfoam, we'll guarantee you'll never go out to have a flat white - ever again
And that's it! Prepare to impress your friends with your flat white skills. Feeling artsy? Make an art pattern on the flat white's surface! Voila - a flat white worthy of its own coffee shop in London.