What exactly is a flat white?
First things first, a flat white is NOT the same thing as a latte. Now that that’s out of the way let’s get to what a flat white is and why this is such a common misconception.
Did you know, people often mix up lattes and cortados too?
Both flat whites and lattes are basically a combination of steamed milk and espresso. Steamed milk at about 130°F lessens the intensity of espresso by infusing a slight sweetness and creaminess to the mix.
Both these drinks typically feature two shots of espresso, but that is adjustable as per your preferences. The difference arises in the dairy content as lattes usually have more milk and microfoam than flat whites. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise since the word latte literally translates to milk in Italian!
So, how did flat whites come about?
Flat whites originated in Australia or New Zealand. Coffee connoisseurs of both countries argue that their country has ownership and bragging rights over this delicious coffee beverage, so the exact origins are not known. However, flat whites are extremely common in cafes and restaurants throughout these two countries.
The coffee giant Starbucks led the arrival of flat whites to the United States in January 2015. The announcement was met with a lot of confusion because the drink looked precisely like a latte. Over the next couple of years, flat whites were popularized in America as stronger lattes for dedicated coffee lovers.
How to Make a Flat White
To make the perfect flat white, you must master the two main ingredients:
- High-quality Espresso
- Silky Microfoam
The choice of the espresso is entirely up to you and will determine the base for your flat white. But what is microfoam? Put simply, microfoam is an extremely thick and velvety version of steamed milk that is described as smooth without any bubbles.
An espresso machine with a steam wand is the perfect way for you to make a flat white because it makes it convenient for both these ingredients to come together.
For the espresso portion, you will need a double shot, which usually consists of 15 grams of coffee and 60 milliliters of water. While your espresso shots are processing, you can put the steaming wand to use.
Insert the wand about an inch below the surface of milk at a slight 20-degree angle and continue to steam the milk until it reaches the sweet spot of 130 F. Swirl it around for a bit until it’s ready to pour!.
If you don’t have an espresso machine with a steam wand to steam and froth up your milk, you can also use:
- An electric milk frother
- A blender
- A frothing wand
- Electic or hand mixer
- A handheld pump frother
Once you have both components, pour the espresso into a preheated cup first. You should then pour on the microfoam into one spot in the center of the cup. Pour from an increased height to encourage seamless mixing between the two ingredients.
And that’s it; your flat white is ready!
Tips for making the perfect flat white:
- Use whole milk instead of skimmed or low fat milk because it lends more creaminess to the microfoam
- Incorporate air bubbles early on in the milk steaming process to make the microfoam smoother
- Mix the espresso and milk immediately so that the steamed milk layers do not have time to separate.
- Tap the steamed milk on the countertop a few times before mixing it into the espresso to disperse any leftover bubbles and ensure optimum smoothness.
Now that you know how to make a flat white, practice this multiple times until you get the perfect consistency you like. Steaming the milk for this drink is often the toughest part of making the drink but as long as you keep trying you’ll master the art of a flat white sooner than you know.