International Coffee

Here's Where to Order a Flat White in Houston

The Down Under drink started making the rounds in Australia and New Zealand back in the 1980s before one famous coffee company brought it to the attention of many Americans in 2015.

By Paul Galvani March 2, 2021 Published in the December 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Billy By

When Starbucks put this virtually unknown Aussie and Kiwi brew on its menu in 2015, it was thrust to the forefront of our coffee experience. But the flat white, composed of milk and espresso, had actually been known Down Under for years. The drink started making the rounds in Australia and New Zealand back in the 1980s (both countries still contend they invented it), before finally migrating to the UK in 2005. From there it went corporate, but there’s an artistry to a good flat white, according to Andreas Hager, front-of-house manager at EaDo’s upscale bakery, Koffeteria.

If you’re wondering exactly what the difference is between a flat white and, say, a latte or cappuccino, a big factor is the milk, and the way the coffee and milk are blended together—you know, the kind of thing true coffee snobs could debate for hours. But essentially, the real difference is in how you handle the milk, Hager says.

The flat white bears a strong resemblance to the traditional cappuccino, except a cappuccino is served with foamed peaks of milk stacked atop a regular espresso shot. The flat white features milk that’s been steamed (without frothing) to 129 degrees Fahrenheit and folded at the bottom of a pitcher, preserving the fats and proteins that would be lost if it were allowed to scald. The milk is then blended with the espresso (usually a shorter, stronger shot called a ristretto to better pair with the more flavorful milk) so you end up with a drink similar to a latte, but with a thin, velvety layer covering the surface.

“What makes the flat white special is that smoothness of the texture,” says Hager, who has been overseeing Koffeteria’s flat white game since the place opened in late 2019. “It’s essential to get that right.”

But that’s not all: Do try some of owner and head chef Vanarin Kuch’s creative pastry delights such as his Hot Cheeto croissant or his beef pho kolache. The wonderful thing about the flat white is it pairs well with any pastry.


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