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I'll Have A Flat White, Please

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Neil, co-founder of Unorthodox Roasters, writes about how the flat white came into existence.

Unorthodox Roasters Flat White with heart latte art

Seeking the Ultimate Flattie!

For those that enjoy speciality coffee it has become the poster child of espresso-based milk drinks. This coffee order seems to encapsulate a combined preference for strength, flavour and perfectly textured milk. The king of coffees has skyrocketed over the last 10 years.

Its origins, purportedly, lie in Sydney, Australia at Moors Espresso Bar where owner Alan Preston created the drink and coined the term flat white in 1985. His account commands that customers were tired of fluffy cappuccinos and seeking an espresso drink with thinner milk and less foam.

Antipodean conjecture will demand that its real home is New Zealand. Nonetheless, a stalwart of modern coffee culture was born.

Flat White Soho in London is credited with bringing the drink to our UK shores. The founders from Oz & NZ were unhappy with the quality of coffee in London that was prevalent in barista burgeoning cities such as Melbourne and Wellington in the southern hemisphere. They were seeking that ultimate flattie!

As a young backpacking coffee enthusiast I remember the barista trainer in Sydney telling me that ultimately a latte was served in a glass and a flat white was served in a cup. Simple. Maybe we have over complicated things over time. The idiosyncrasies keep us interested though. At its core lies a combination of espresso and textured milk that tastes velvety and silky where the coffee flavour is pronounced and noticeable.

The Unorthodox Way?

So how do Unorthodox Roasters make a flat white? Our stoneware Japanese cups have a total volumetric capacity of around 175ml which allow us to create a perfectly formed flat white with 36-40 grams of espresso.

The milk steaming is outrageously important here. We want to introduce air and create microfoam - an emulsion of milk and trapped air with as little bubbles as possible on the surface. The steamed milk should look reflective and glossy like wet paint . Around 60-65 degrees celsius in temperature.

The next step is all about the barista. The milk dives beneath the rich crema from a height. As the barista gets closer the notorious art will form using a combination of micro wrist wiggles, tilting the cup and timing. It's not called art for no reason.

Next time you visit Unorthodox Roasters why not order a flat white and see what all the fuss is about.

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At Bar Biffi, Italian Restaurant, Bar and Cafe Melbourne, we were serving Flat-Whites in 1981. Most of the waiters, bar staff, cooks and kitchen staff had been poached from Florentino Bistro Melbourne, Tamani Bistro Toorak Rd and from Italian cafes in Carlton. The term Flat-White was used for customers who did not want any froth from a Cappuccino or the creaminess of a Cafe Latte. It was initially made by placing a saucer over the metal milk jug to block the froth, dispensing warm milk. It was then perfected to create dense micro-bubbles, giving more body to the drink. We were also doing latte-art way back then .. usually "Noughts & Crosses" or a customers initials. Bar Biffi, Albert Road…


which of your beans do you use for your flat white?

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That’s great thanks - just ordered some and looking forward to trying it!

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