The latest coffee trend, which is now on the drinks list in many hip cafés and coffee houses, comes from Down Under. But, is the Flat White really that new? And how is it actually made? We provide answers to all questions about the Australian coffee latte cult, which is currently sweeping in from overseas in great waves, and we show you how best to do it.
The flat white and its origins
What at first glance looks like a simple cappuccino, on closer inspection turns out to be a separate variant of milk coffee, which is characterized above all by its flat surface. As the name suggests, this is not characterized by a piled-up milk foam cap, as is the case with cappuccino, but closes flat with the rim of the cup.
Precisely this “flat white” is now conquering more and more cafés and coffee bars. But, where does the coffee specialty made from two espresso and the finest milk foam come from? The origins go back a long time and – as so often – have to do with a wonderful mix of cultures.
The name Flat White first appeared in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. Its real story begins much earlier, however, and goes back to the waves of immigration from the British and Italians. While the former brought their tea from home, the Italians later introduced coffee. Since the English were used to drinking their tea with milk, they did not want to do without it with coffee and thus laid the foundation for the popular white coffee in Australia. For the morning enjoyment of milk coffee, people later frothed the milk and conjured up the first delicious flat whites. The preparation of the milk foam is an art in itself – just like the latte art that is normally used to decorate a flat white. But, what is the difference to cappuccino?
Flat white versus cappuccino
Flat white is to Australians what their cappuccino is to Italians. However, anyone who thinks that both are the same is wrong. Both milk coffee variants are served in a 150 to 160 ml, rather wide cup – but the milk foam – as so often – makes the fine but noticeable difference. If the cappuccino is topped with a dry “foam hood ”, the flat white is characterized by a particularly fine-pored whipped milk foam cream. It ensures that the Australian trend drink feels velvety soft on the tongue and is becoming increasingly popular.
While the cappuccino conquered the European cafés many years ago, the Flat White is now also on many drinks menus. But, if you want to prepare the new cult drink at home, you should practice first because the production of the milk foam with the typically creamy consistency requires a lot of practice. It gets even more difficult with the latte art, which should adorn every real flat white.
The flat white and the right milk foam consistency
For this cult drink, you need a particularly fine-pored, liquid milk foam. A steam nozzle on the coffee machine is therefore essential to conjure up the approximately 120 milliliters of liquid milk foam that you need for a flat white.
For good milk foam, professionals like to use whole milk. Lactose intolerants and vegans can also use soy milk. Although it tastes a little different, it is relatively suitable for frothing. Due to the higher protein content, the foam result is significantly worse than with whole milk. On the other hand, soy milk can score with lower fat content.
Almond milk can be frothed much better and ensures a creamy milk foam. In terms of taste, however, you can feel a subtle almond note and a slightly sour foam. While rice milk does not foam well, it provides a pleasantly sweet taste. A good alternative with a creamy, firm foam, on the other hand, is rice and almond milk. However, oat and spelled milk offer the best foam results. Although they taste a bit like grain, they also deliver a slight sweetness. With the good milk foam result of these vegan milk types, you may even succeed in the latte art, which we will introduce in a moment.
By the way: If milk flakes in the coffee, it is not due to spoiled milk, but above all to the acidity of the coffee. In addition, the proteins in older milk can also lose their solubility more quickly and form lumps. The acidity in coffee, on the other hand, is determined by the degree and type of roast. The acid content in coffee is also higher the longer it is kept warm.
Latte Art – the art of pouring milk froth
A good flat white should be decorated with artful latte art. Hearts, swans and fantasy figures are particularly popular. However, these are not – as most people think – drawn with a stick, but are created by pouring the milk foam into the cup. The cup with the espresso is held at an angle and the pouring height of the fine-pored milk foam is varied by pivoting. How to do this correctly? You can learn in appropriate courses and in many videos like this one on YouTube:
A coffee machine with a steam nozzle is also required. Because only with this steam nozzle the milk can be properly frothed and becomes as fine-pored as you need it for the latte art.
A coffee specialty at the push of a button?
For a true flat white you usually need five things: a professional portafilter machine, good coffee beans, fresh milk, a steam nozzle and an experienced barista who has mastered the craft of latte art. But with the new fully automatic machine from DeLonghi this should now also be possible at the push of a button!
He ensures that every coffee specialty gets the right milk foam and thus brings the Flat White into the home kitchen. One drawback, however, remains: With this machine there is no such great latte art as the professional one. For this, you have to practice.
Read more about latte art here:
Like cappuccino and latte macchiato, flat white only consists of coffee and milk, but as is often the case, the preparation and the amount make all the difference. The flat white is usually decorated with latte art, while cocoa powder does not belong on it!
This belongs in or on a white coffee:
- a double espresso for full coffee enjoyment
- about 120 ml of liquid, fine-pored milk foam for a velvety taste
- imaginative latte art for the eye