December 30, 2022 2 min read
The flat white has been around since the 1980s, but it only became popular in Quebec within the last five years. Whether the drink is from Australia or New Zealand is still subject to debate, as is the right way to make it and, what is it that distinguishes it from a cappuccino, latte or cortado? To set some of the record straight, here is our official flat white recipe:
In a ceramic cup, pour a short double espresso, filling it to one third (1/3) of the cup.
In a frothing pitcher, heat up some milk or plant-based beverage to about 140°F.
Pour the milk over the espresso, using a spoon to make sure the foam stays in the pitcher and only the hot milk pours out. The crema should stay intact.
The origins of the flat white are unclear. Some people claim the coffee was invented in Australia, while others say New Zealand. We’ll probably never know the truth, considering that 40 years later, they’re still arguing over who made the first flat white. According to historians, even the name of the drink is shrouded in mystery. But one thing we do know, is the right way to make it; the definitive method that separates it from other milk-based coffees.
When compared with a latte, a flat white has twice the amount of espresso and uses less milk. When compared to a cappuccino, a flat white has less foam and more milk. The right proportions for a flat white are: 1/3 espresso and 2/3 milk (heated to 130°F/54°C). This is the same proportions as a cortado, however a cortado is typically served in a 5.8-oz (or 172-mL) glass, with hot milk and no foam; so, a cortado is more liquid whereas a flat white has more microfoam. How you pour the milk is therefore also an important distinction: for a flat white you use a spoon to stop the thickest part of the milk from falling into the coffee, and pour in just the lighter liquid that doesn’t ruin the crema.
Another defining factor is the vessel in which the coffee is served. While a cortado typically comes in a glass, specifically a Gibraltar glass, a flat white is served in a ceramic cup. Of course, it depends on the coffee shop and where you are in the world, and the rules aren’t really that strict.
A flat white contains a double espresso, making it stronger than a latte, and with less milk. It’s also smoother than a cappuccino, but less liquid than a cortado, and it’s precisely this balance that has made the drink so popular in Australia, New Zealand, and now here!