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How to Make a Flat White

Every day around the world, coffee lovers roll out of bed and indulge in one of over two billion cups of the other Vitamin C – Caffeine. They may even have another mid-afternoon. We all find it hard to get properly started without a caffeine fix and for many people the order of choice is easy – a Flat White please. The jury is still out on whether this iconic coffee was conceived in Australia or New Zealand in the 1980s, and also whether or not it was created as a backlash against poorly textured foam served on top of cappuccinos, but what isn’t in question is the bona-fide popularity of this velvety coffee style all around the world. So, do you want to uncover the secret of how to make a Flat White? You’re in the right place!

Firstly, where does the name come from? When you’ve got Espresso, Doppio, Ristretto, Latte, Lungo, Macchiato, Cortado, Cappuccino, Americano, Affogato, and Mocha, surely a Flat White should sound fancier? But no – Flat (no foam) and white (milk), though it could more accurately be described as a thin layer of foam. Now, the internet is full of experts, with many people offering their views on what constitutes a proper Flat White, with statements ranging from: ‘A true Flat White ought to have…’ or ‘It must be served in a 150ml-160ml cup…’ So being experienced in hospitality with a number of restaurants and bars in our hotels, we thought we’d set things straight.

The Steps of How to Make a Flat White:

  1. Ideally the milk is full fat – This allows the milk’s texture to become micro-foam as opposed to a stiff froth. An easy visual cue of good milk is when the top layer is glossy, with another layer of wet foam made of tight bubbles which you can barely see as it’s poured.
  2. Once steamed, hold the jug carefully as the milk is then poured over the espresso, so that there’s no separation between liquid coffee and textured milk. As per every other coffee, the temperature should be around 70 degrees Celsius max. 
  3. Let the coffee do the talking, not the steamed milk, though you can always create a pattern or shape, just pour close to the surface. The coffee bean needs to work well with a velvety sweet textured milk. If the bean is too fruity or acidic, then you may get a curdled taste. The Flat White should soften some of the harsher taste profiles in coffee and amplify others. It can be made with a single or double shot of espresso, so long as the milk is correctly proportioned. Use high quality coffee, not over-roasted, and it must be portioned and ground correctly to ensure the perfect extraction of the espresso (if using a machine, always close the sidebar).
  4. Pack as much taste as possible into a small package – it’s usually served in a medium size, so it’s bigger than a Macchiato but smaller than a Latte. Aim for about 5.5oz (162ml) per serving, and remember that smaller cup = less milk = same amount of coffee = more flavour. Use the right size cup and pour to the surface of the drink.

So, grab a cup and start! And take your time, great coffee is worth waiting for. We’ve seen skilled baristas spend around 3 mins on a single order. Just remember, whatever your preferred style of coffee, and whatever your foam, milk or size choice, coffee is a personal preference and one that gets us functioning each morning. So whether you order Espresso, Ristretto, Cappuccino, or Flat White, just find a great café that serves it the way you like it, because you should never underestimate the importance of being properly caffeinated.

Are you a coffee addict? Check out our other coffee related articles