In January, Starbucks introduced the "flat white," perhaps Australia and New Zealand's most popular coffee drink. But most Americans had no idea what it is, and after trying it, what all the fuss was about. It tastes like any other milky latte.
Well, that may be true when the drink is in Starbucks' hands, but when made by an Australian barista, the flat white is truly different. And there's finally a place in Portland where you can try it for yourself. Australian native and former barista Anna Phillips, who is now the manager at Christopher David cafe/home store in the Pearl, recently put the flat white on the menu after teaching the staff how to make it properly.
"It's an 8-ounce drink made with a double shot of espresso and milk steamed to 150 degrees — that's the size of a cappuccino at the temp of a latte," she says. "And it has micro foam and what is called 'wet' milk, so you only end up with a small layer of foam at the top." Think of it as a slightly milkier cappuccino with less foam, or a small latte with more coffee and less milk. She says it's imperative that the drink be no more than 8 ounces to achieve its proper coffee-to-milk ratio. That means no "grande" or "venti" or it's just not a flat white.
Phillips says the flat white is traditionally served in a porcelain cup, but "at CDExD we've chosen to serve ours in a 12-ounce glass with an 8-ounce pour, so customers can see their beautiful drink as the espresso and milk combine." As for the coffee itself, customers can choose between Water Avenue's espresso or a single-origin beans from a rotating producer. Right now it's Ethiopian Ardi from Torque Coffee Roasters in Vancouver.
"The flat white may be the most popular cafe drink in Australia," says Phillips. "I remember my parents ordering it when I was a child." And she thinks it has legs here in Portland. "People here seem to be interested in enjoying coffee without adding countless extras — sugar, flavors, etc. And when you have perfectly steamed micro foam it will naturally bring out the sweetness in the milk. Combined with great espresso it's a delight to drink."