In my years of coffee drinking, it is rare that I come across a wholly new espresso drink, however when I heard of a flat white about a year ago, I was intrigued. A flat white is like a latte, however made with two shots and “velvety” milk that is prepared with a micro-foaming technique. The flat white hails from New Zealand, but it has made quite the impression in London, where it is on almost every coffee shop menu, and has even infiltrated Starbucks. We also noticed a smattering of cafes billed as “New Zealand-style.” I decided to go to the pioneer of flat white coffee while in London, the aptly named Flat White cafe in Soho (17 Berwick St, London W1F 0PT). The menu is very simple, consisting of only a few coffee drinks and a pastry or two with a special focus on the eponymous drink. There were expats behind the counter and filling the shop, one particularly pleased grandmum expressed her pleasure at being able to get a proper flat white. The cafe is quite small, and many just pop in for a flat white to-go cup. I placed my order and waited at a small table inside.
After a bit of a wait, the cup was slammed down on my table by a brusque barista. With some expert latte art on top, it looked the part. The flat white was quite good, stronger and smaller than a typical latte. True to advertising, it was topped with particularly “velvety” and smooth milk as opposed to the stiffer foam on a cappuccino. I could definitely tell the difference, though I don’t think it will change my routines. So there you have it – the full flat white experience from the original London pioneers. Maybe this drink will cross the Atlantic (or Pacific) to reach the US soon.