Welcome to our new Coffee & Food Guide, where we will provide you tips and information about all things coffee and food. In our first article we discuss how to make the perfect flat white at home!
Welcome to the first volume of the Coffee & Food Guide, a series of articles where we discuss all things coffee and food related. In this piece we’re looking at a staple for most Australian café menu boards – the flat white. We’ll take you through the mechanics of this coffee technique and explain how you too can make a flat white coffee just as good as the baristas.
What is a Flat White?
The origin of the flat white has long been a dubious topic, but the consensus is generally that Australian and New Zealand coffee drinkers perfected it sometime in the 80s or 90s. In any case, the flat white is very popular in this part of the hemisphere and with good reason! Not entirely unlike the cappuccino in style, the flat white is an espresso-based beverage blended with steamy microfoam, which allows for all that beautiful latte art. It’s a favourite because of its creamy subtlety and rich flavour, less common in drinks which tend to use more hot water and steamed milk (like the cappuccino). Bearing this in mind, you may be thinking it’s far too difficult to personally make a flat white at home, but we’ve broken down the process step-by-step to help you perfect the technique from the comfort of your own kitchen.
How to Make a Great Flat White
Step 1: The Espresso Shot – The magic all starts with your espresso shot as this is where the real flavour of your coffee will come through. For a flat white to be delicious it is important to use coffee pods of a blend that you personally fancy. We recommend using a blend that complements milk well, such as a Lavazza Blue Vigoroso or a Lavazza Blue Very B Supremo.
Step 2: Preparing the Milk – Once you’ve got your espresso sorted, the next key step is the milk. For a great flat white, you’re looking for thick, velvety microfoam with no large bubbles. To get this desired texture, a wand steamer is the preferred tool as electric milk frothers are generally harder to vary for different coffee techniques.
Before using your wand steamer, be sure to purge the system of any excess water first. When done, dip the wand just below the surface of your milk and turn the steamer onto full pressure. Play with the surface of the milk with the tip of the steam wand – this process is called ‘stretching’ and will slowly increase the volume of the milk.
When the volume has increased by around two thirds, position the wand further into the milk to circulate the tiny bubbles of foam. Place your hand on the side of the pitcher while you do this and when it becomes too hot to hold, it’s ready (this should be around 67 degrees, if you want to be precise).
Swirl your pitcher a few times, your milk should have the appearance of glossy paint, as this indicates your milk has the desired velvety texture. It takes an experienced hand to get the milk just right for a flat white, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it spot-on the first time – as always, practice makes perfect!
Step 3: Bringing it All Together – The last step is to pour your milk over your espresso shot. Focus on keeping the spout of your jug close to the surface of your cup and aim for the middle. For more control, you may want to try placing a finger either side of the jug. Now is your chance to be creative! The flat white is perfect for latte art so experiment with gentle wrist movements to see what kinds of shapes and patterns you can create. When you’re satisfied, sit back, sip, and enjoy your perfect flat white coffee!