Some call it a wet cappuccino, others call it a short latte. It’s a down under creation from the 1980’s. Maybe from Australia, or is it New Zealand?
I am breaking down how to make one and give some tips for doing it well. So this one is very popular in New Zealand and Australia, we’ll stay out of the debate over where it originated. It eventually made its way to the U.K. and now baristas are being asked to make flat whites here in the U.S. as well.
If you find American style lattes a little milky and the airy froth on top of a cappuccino somewhat tasteless you’ll want to give the flat white a try. It’s generally made in a 6 ounce cup with a double shot of espresso and 4 ounces of steamed milk. So it’s a lot less milk than a typical latte and a less airy froth than for a cappuccino. That means more coffee flavor top to bottom with no foam layer on top. Espresso combines completely with sweet and creamy micro foamed milk to work with the coffee rather than overpowering it.
When steaming, get little bits of air in early. Milk takes the air better when cooler. Then get the swirl going to break up bubbles resulting in very fine micro foam with uniform consistency in the pitcher. If done well, the milk will have a shiny surface, no large bubbles and the consistency of latex paint in a can.
You’ll want to be very efficient when steaming, that small amount of milk will heat very quickly and one thing you don’t want is to get too hot. If using a thermometer about 145 degrees will be the desired temperature. If by feel, you’ll want to stop steaming well before the pitcher becomes uncomfortable to hold. Remember, milk has its best flavor below 150 degrees.
Pour the milk into one spot directly in the center of the cup. Use a little height with the pitcher to encourage the milk and espresso to mix. You can leave it like that or pour some art if inclined.
Need a video? Marc and Morgan have a great demonstration, follow along here.
The Flat White is an absolutely delicious drink. The Flat White doesn’t ever feature the milk; it lets the espresso come through and compliments it with a sweet and creamy texture. Enjoy!