In Australia, where I grew up, there’s been a coffee culture for as long as I can remember – thanks to the huge influx of Europeans migrants in the 1950s who brought good quality coffee (espresso) to the country. As a high school student, I remember it being the highlight of my week when, on a Friday afternoon, I would gather with my girlfriends at the now defunct Al Fresco Café on Rundle Street (which opened for business in 1980 and was one of the first in Adelaide to introduce outdoor dining, sadly closing its doors in 2012) and order a cappuccino. So sophisticated! When I was a younger coffee drinker, a cappuccino was my drink of choice. I much preferred the frothy milk to the coffee part of the equation although, as my taste for caffeine increased, I would typically order a flat white.
A flat what???
This is the reaction that my dad has received all over the world when he tries to order his coffee of choice which, until fairly recently hasn’t existed outside Australia (in Paris recently, in some of the newer coffee drinking establishments – often owned and operated by Australians! – I was able to order a flat white, progress indeed!).
So what is a flat white? What’s all the fuss about? What makes it different? This chart might help:
According to Chris Sonnen, Vice President, Operations and Coffee Experience at The Second Cup Ltd, where the flat white officially launched last week, “the flat white an espresso-based coffee made with a double shot of Second Cup’s rich Espresso Forte, velvety steamed milk and a thin layer of micro-foam. It is known for its smooth texture which highlights the true taste of the espresso, without any bitterness or excess of milk. In fact, it’s often called an “espresso lover’s espresso” because it has a higher proportion of espresso-to-milk than a latte or cappuccino. The Flat White really is the perfect balance of rich espresso and velvety steamed milk.”
Second Cup has been piloting the Flat White in select locations over the summer and it received tremendous response. It’s now available at every one of the more than 350 Second Cup locations all across Canada (Dad, Flat White connoisseur – please take note for your next trip!) and the launch will include special events featuring unique sampling trucks (check back next week for more information about this as well as a giveaway!) offering free tastings around the country! Watch for more details on the Second Cup website, Facebook page, or by following #espressoloversrejoice on Twitter.
I’ve had the chance to sample a few Flat Whites over the past few weeks and on the whole have been impressed. It’s the exact coffee (double shot of espresso, steamed milk with less foam) that I would order at another coffee shop but it’s about $1 cheaper because the second shot is already an integral part of the drink; you don’t pay extra for it. The Flat White comes in one size only (12oz) which is my preferred size of coffee (and with 2 shots it’s the perfect strength for me). Not all the coffees I’ve ordered have had the latte art (as the coffee depicted) but all of them have been the right drink. I imagine it’s a challenge to do those pretty designs on top of coffee (one of the Second Cup baristas apologized profusely for the lack of the heart on top but told me she was practising!) so don’t be surprised if your early flat whites don’t come with a heart on top as the baristas get used to it. In any case, for me, it’s more about if the drink is made correctly than what it looks like and with each coffee, I asked myself “What would Dad think?”. In each case, I think he’d be a very happy camper!
Have you tried Second Cup’s Flat White yet? What did you think? What’s your preferred brew in the morning?
Disclosure: I have received compensation in exchange for writing this post. Second Cup has not reviewed this material prior to publication and all opinions are my own.
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