There are many types of coffee out there, but one of the lesser known is the flat white. A flat white is similar to a cortado, which is a beverage that consists of either coffee or espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk in order to reduce the acidity. In fact, the two drinks are so similar that many people get them confused. Which brings up the question, what exactly is a flat white?
A flat white is an espresso-based coffee drink that is believed to have originated in Australia. It differs from a cortado because it contains textured milk and is typically much hotter. That increased temperature and texture creates a thicker, hotter cup overall. While the amount of espresso is the same in both drinks, they are prepared in different ways, which creates noticeable differences between the two.
A flat white is commonly made in a 6-ounce cup with a double shot of espresso and 4 ounces of steamed milk. Those ratios mean it has less milk than a latte and denser froth than a cappuccino. That creates more coffee flavor throughout the drink, and makes it so there is no foam layer on top.
Flat whites are mostly new to a lot of places in the world, but they are steadily becoming more popular over time. For that reason, you may be curious about making your own delicious cup at home. The next section will show you how to make that happen.
How to Make a Flat White Coffee
Before making a flat white at home, you are going to need to get two key ingredients. The first is good espresso. A flat white’s flavor is determined by the type of coffee used. That means you need to make sure you have a trusty blend that you know you enjoy. Once you brew your coffee, you can move onto the next step.
The other ingredient you need for a good flat white, which is even more important than the espresso, is a velvety microfoam. To achieve that, you want to steam your milk in a way that creates a thick, velvety texture with no large bubbles.
Creating the Perfect Flat White Microfoam
To make your microfoam, you want to first pour out the desired amount of milk (you want 1 cup for each cup you are going to make) into a pitcher. Then purge your steamer’s wand by briefly turning it on to expel any excess water in its system, and position the tip of the wand at a 15-degree angle just below the surface of the milk. Once you have the right position, turn your steamer onto full pressure.
As the wand works, you should stretch the milk by moving the wand across its surface. The milk is going to slowly expand during this process, and you need to be sure to keep the tip just below the surface. Do not let the liquid get away from you, or you are going to have the wrong consistency. This motion should only take a few seconds and will sound like tearing a sheet of paper.
Once the total volume of the milk has increased by roughly two thirds of its normal size, you should work the wand further into the liquid. Hold your container at an angle that generates a strong spin. This will help you mix in the fine air bubbles as thoroughly as possible. Continue that process until the side of your pitcher becomes too hot to touch. That signals you are done. If you want to be more precise, you can also take the temperature of the beverage and stop when it hits just below 150 degrees.
After you are finished, you want to swirl your pitcher around to dislodge any bubbles that could still be trapped in the liquid. Your goal here is to have a milk that appears similar to wet paint.
Once that is done, you pour the milk into your prepared coffee as soon as possible.
Extra Tips for Building Your Flat White
Now that you know how to make a flat white, there are a few extra tips that you want to consider. When steaming, it helps to get small bits of air in early. This will get the swirl to break up bubbles and create a fine, consistent microfoam. Always remember to be efficient when steaming. You do not need a lot of milk to make a good flat white, and it is going to heat very quickly.
Finally, try to pour a little bit away from your cup and make sure the milk enters in one single spot in the center. This will encourage the milk and coffee to mix, giving you the perfect blend.
You now have all you need to enjoy a great flat white coffee. Building your microfoam is not easy, and may not happen on the first try, but if you work at it you will be a pro in no time.