What is Flat White coffee? The recipe and history of this drink

Flat White. What is it?

Let's take it one at a time, by defining Flat White coffee. When you order it, expect coffee with milk. Whereby the contents of the coffee will be represented by 2 espresso and the rest of the cup - or most often the glass - will be topped up with whipped warm milk. Together these ingredients form a Flat White and this has a volume of about 160 ml.

But not all bakeries bake bread the same way, so ask your barista for the exact composition, or volume of the drink, the ratio of ingredients and the amount of coffee. It's ok to make both the Flat White smaller (140 ml) or larger (180 ml) even the strength of the coffee may vary.

Apart from the correct pronunciation, as I mentioned at the very beginning of this article, I have come across orders like: "I'll have a flat!... One flat please!... Two flats." But now let's get down to the preparation and basic recipe of this drink.

Preparing the Flat White

The base of the drink is espresso and topped up with whipped milk. Therefore, to prepare this coffee you will need:

Basic Flat White recipe

  • Double espresso (approx. 50 ml)
  • Whipped milk (more than 100 ml, depending on the volume of your latte)
  • a cup for coffee (like the kind you use for a cappuccino)

General recommendation for making a Flat White: ⅓ coffee and ⅔ milk.

How to make a Flat White

  1. Prepare 2 espressos.
    - The double espresso in the base of the drink brings with it stronger and stronger coffee flavors. The right espresso recipe is so much more important than when making, for example, a Café latte. There, the excessive milk content hides many of the coffee flavours.
  2. Whisk the milk.
    - Use proper
    milk whisking procedure to create a smooth and creamy microfoam. A single tap on the table will get rid of any bubbles on the surface. Swirling the milk in the jug will polish the texture.
  3. Pour the milk into the coffee.
    - What else is left but to combine milk and coffee into one delicious drink or Flat White. Finish the milk pour with the latte art technique, i.e. a picture on the surface.

Differences between Flat White, cappuccino, latte

How do they differ in volume and price?

Flat White vs. cappuccino vs. latte

It is usually smaller than a latte and larger or the same volume as a cappuccino. Always more coffee-strength than the other two drinks being compared. Price-wise, the Flat White is closer to the Caffé Latte, although it has less volume, but more coffee - espresso - for that.

2 espressos 1 espresso 1 espresso
100 ml milk 110 ml milk 150 ml milk
volume 150 ml volume 140 ml volume 180 ml
approx. 60 - 80 Kč approx. 50 - 70 CZK approx. 60 - 90 CZK

The listed volumes and prices are of course illustrative and vary according to the pricing policy of individual cafés. In particular, there are noticeable price differences between different regions of the Czech Republic. For more information on coffee prices in the Czech Republic, see the article on Espresso Index.

Flat White traditionally in glass, cappuccino or large latte cup. So that everyone can order the right ratio of coffee and milk in their cup. According to your own taste.

Types of Flat White coffee. How is it made in the world?

The differences in the preparation of Flat White coffee are minor, the recipes vary from cafe to cafe and barista to barista. If we go over the history of the origin of this coffee drink, baristas from Australia and New Zealand will be at its birth.

Two countries arguing over the patriotism of the Flat White drink and two original recipes. Well, who was the first? Third-party opinions agree that the Australians most likely incorporated the Flat White into their café offerings before New Zealand did.

Recipe for Flat White from Australia vs. Flat White from New Zealand

The Australian Flat White is traditionally based on a base made up of 2 ristrettos, or "shorter espressos". The second recipe differs in the base. In New Zealand they typically make their Flat White from one strong espresso. If you own a naked lever aka naked portafilter, you can make an espresso of say 36ml. Which is close to two espressos.

The Australian recipe for a Flat White from 2 espressos is the same as the one used by the ubiquitous Starbucks. This global coffee giant with its unrivalled reach and marketing strategy has made Flat White a hit among coffee drinks. And the aforementioned countries have started a "war" to gain worldwide recognition that they gave Flat White to the world.

The story of Flat White coffee from Sydney

The year was 1985. In Australia, specifically on Sussex St. in Sydney, a then 30-year-old Alan Preston opened a coffee shop called Moors Espresso Bar. At this time, the strong influence of Italians settling in Australia in the twentieth century made drinking and making coffee a very popular activity for Australians. The Italians brought with them the trend of drinking coffee in their typical form, the espresso. Therefore, Alan Preston opened a café dedicated to espresso-based drinks.

In the 80s, milk drinks with a really high layer of milk foam were typical. However, Alan Preston came up with a coffee that would be similar to the latte popular in Australia, but the coffee flavour would be more pronounced. Another difference was just the alignment of the level of the drink. Not a mound of milk foam like a classic Italian cappuccino.

Australia, as a country full of different cultures, created a "hybrid" coffee. A coffee with typical whipped milk, but aligned to the rim of the cup. Easily drinkable without stirring, delicious, smooth thanks to the milk and at the same time strong by using a double dose of coffee. This, Alan Preston's favourite coffee drink, had to be included in the menu of his new café. His flat white coffee, or Flat White.

This story is widespread in the community of baristas and coffee lovers around the world. The inventor himself, Alan Preston, is suitably proud of this Australian treasure and has created awebsite detailing his memories relating to the history of this popular drink.

There was an additional rationale for writing and publishing information about the origins of the Flat White. This was Australia'slong-standing dispute with New Zealand over the invention of this milky coffee drink.

The Wellington barista and the first Flat White

At the same time as Australia, New Zealand also claims credit for the invention of the Flat White. The two countries, separated by the Tasman Sea, have been at loggerheads for several years over the origins of the popular coffee drink (the two countries, not too far apart, have had multiple disputes with each other, such as the one over the origins of the world-famous Pavlova cake).

In New Zealand,the story of the creation of Flat White is associated with chance and failed coffee.

Fraser McInnes, working at Bar Bodega coffee shop in Wellington in 1989. That year, in late summer, during a weekday shift, it happened that the cappuccino ordered by the barista, which at that time was prepared in the typical Italian way, with a high "cap" of milk foam, failed. Fraser McInnes failed precisely in whipping the thick milk. He then desperately apologised to the customer for the then uncharacteristic flat appearance of his coffee: "sorry, it's a flat white". Before long, the Flat White appeared on the menu board.

Whatever happened to the world's first Flat White coffee, it continues to delight millions of coffee drinkers across continents every day. You now know what a Flat White is, how to order it properly and how to prepare it. I wish you to enjoy your coffee moment, whether at home or in a café!

The hit of this summer is the Ice Flat White

Coffee with milk in the most delicious ratio, at least according to the growing trend of drinking Flat White, is a hit in summer too. But it does so in an iced version as a refreshing Ice Flat White.

How do you prepare it? Similar to the classic version. Same ratio, volume of drink and ingredients. Plus ice.

This time the milk is not whipped on the nozzle of the machine, but poured straight into a glass with ice. Just pour a double espresso and sip this iced coffee on the terrace in the sun.

An icy refreshment that's just right coffee and milk at the same time. Image source: Mirka Vnenkova

Almond Flat White on ice

Maybe someone will crave for an even more exceptional taste of such iced coffee. In that case, definitely try using its plant-based alternative instead of the classic milk. In particular, I recommend the "milk" from almonds. Such Almond Flat White is simply a joy. Hot or on the rocks.

Glass, ice cubes, almond milk and espresso - straight double. That's Almond Flat White as sweet-smelling iced coffee. Image source: Mirka Vnenkova

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