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America is going crazy for the flat white. But why is it a big deal?

It’s not just an average coffee… there’s microfoam involved.

YOU CAN ORDER thousands of different variations of coffees if you walk into any Starbucks, but up until now, the States was missing one vital one–the flat white.

The flat white has been available in Irish Starbucks for a few years now, and continues to be a staple in coffee shops all over the city. But yesterday, it was introduced to cafes in the States.

So, what is it?

A flat white is described by Bon Appetit as Australia’s answer to a latte–basically, espresso with hot milk. It originated in Sydney and was named in line with the short black and long black. The coffee was then standardised in Wellington, New Zealand, and both countries argue that they own it. Needless to say, they’re none too pleased with Starbucks.

Why does it have to be a special menu item? Sounds like a coffee with hot milk

Sure, it’s just espresso with hot milk, but the difference is in the preparation. A flat white must be made with microfoam, which is velvety hot milk with minimum bubbling (as opposed to a cappuccino) and consistent in thickness throughout the cup (as opposed to a latte which only has a foam coating).

Making a flat white Source: adactio

The microfoam is achieved using a unique steaming method and is served in a smaller cup–usually 150-160 ml–over two shots of espresso. Starbucks serve them in these cups, as opposed to their infamous big mugs.

freebie flat white Source: Ambernectar 13

It’s also common to use latte art on the top of the flat white foam, just because. The foam is also shinier on the surface. Yes, really.

Flat white Source: adactio

So there you have it, you practically need a degree to make one so don’t go ordering them if they aren’t on the menu–at least if you expect a good one.

How is it going down?

It’s a mixed bag. The US Guardian had the scathing verdict of ‘not bad’.

Woman’s Weekly Australia were a little tougher, saying was “too hot, too runny and it was served in a paper cup”.

ABC’s Red Symon’s said it was a bit weak but he was “happy with the foam”.

But what about the average US citizen?

Happy out.

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