My name is Jo. And I am an addict. After nearly thirty years on the wagon I have fallen into the clutches of a dangerous new legal high – the Flat White.
Its origins are hotly disputed. Did it first appear in Aukland or Melbourne? Maybe the Cricket World Cup should be burned and its ashes tamped into a 165ml cup so Aus and NZ can fight it out for the next century. All the rest of us need to know is it reached London a couple of years ago, Starbucks this spring, and is the answer to the question: what coffee can I get that’s not too milky, not too short and bitter, and will help me write this blog post in less than 10?
So what is a flat white? The most often quoted answer comes from a surprising source, Hugh Jackman (Wolverine himself) who explains that it’s “like a latte with a little less milk and more espresso”. Which doesn’t make it sound exactly like one of life’s essentials – except that the Aussie actor missed it so much when he moved to NY that he set up a coffee shop so he could get his fix.
I feel the same way. Not a fan of Starbucks’ version, I scoured Washington DC, San Fransisco and Sonoma Valley this summer for a place that served a decent flat white. No joy. Not on the menu anywhere. On the way home from the airport I had to divert to The Almanack in Kenilworth where I knew I could get what I needed.
And there it was: a double shot of good fresh espresso, micro-steamed milk (a tiny mousse of bubbles, not separated into froth and super hot milk), poured together into the right-sized cup so that the milk and the rich brown crema mingle to give a rich, smooth coffee with great mouth-feel, that hits the spot every time.
Flat white. That’s my drink.