Created in Australia and New Zealand, a flat white is a coffee-based drink that was later brought to the United States and United Kingdom. It is similar to the latte, but the milk used to create it must be steamed to a smoother texture.
Makes 1 serving
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1/4 oz (7 g) medium roast ground coffee OR 1 tsp (5 ml) instant coffee
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
Part One of Three:
Part One: Make the Microfoam
Method One: With an Espresso Machine
Pour the milk. Pour the milk into the metal pitcher you use with your espresso machine.
Note that the volume of the milk will double by the time you finish steaming it, so during this step, the milk should not exceed half the total volume of the pitcher.
Purge the steam wand. Quickly turn on the steamer function of your espresso machine. Switch it on for 5 to 10 seconds before turning it back off.
Do not place your pitcher of milk beneath the steam wand yet.
Purging the steam wand causes any water previously trapped in the system to drain. This prevents that water from tainting the texture or taste of the milk.
Place the milk beneath the steam wand. Position the pitcher so that the steam wand touches the surface of the milk, dipping slightly beneath it.
The steam wand and milk should meet at an approximate 15 degree angle.
The goal is reduce the amount of air introduced into the milk at the surface, thereby preventing dry foam from forming on top while creating tinier bubbles all throughout the milk.
Turn on the steamer. Switch on the steamer function to full pressure. Stretch the milk as it steams by moving the tip of the wand around the surface.
The volume of the milk will gradually increase. You’ll need to keep the tip of the wand beneath the milk the entire time, though.
If the process is working correctly, it should sound similar to the noise paper makes when being torn.
Submerge the wand further. Once the volume of the milk has increased by roughly two-third, dunk the tip of the steam wand further beneath the surface.
Tilt the pitcher further, stopping at an angle that creates a rapid spin in the milk. During this time, the fine air bubbles you previously created in the milk will be mixed throughout.
Stop once the pitcher becomes hot. Keep one hand on the side of the pitcher during the process. When the metal pitcher becomes too hot to comfortably touch, the milk should be ready. Switch off the steamer and remove the pitcher.
More precisely, the milk should reach a temperature of approximately 153 degrees Fahrenheit (67 degrees Celsius). The maximum temperature is 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). Use a food thermometer if you want to be precise.
After removing the pitcher, purge the steam wand as you did before and wipe it clean with a damp cloth.
Remove any bubbles. Gently swirl the pitcher in your hand and knock the bottom against the table or counter once or twice.
Agitating the milk in this manner should pop any large air bubbles.
The texture and appearance of the milk should cause it to look similar to wet paint.
Method Two: Without an Espresso Machine
Pour the milk into a saucepan. Pour the milk into a 2-qt (2-L) saucepan. Set the saucepan on your stove.
Heat the milk to a simmer. Turn on the burner to medium heat. Warm up the milk until it reaches a gently simmer.
The temperature of the milk when you prepare the flat white should be no more than 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). It can be a little hotter at this stage since it will cool slightly when you whisk it, but not by much.
Use a food thermometer if you want to achieve a greater level of precision.
Whisk well until frothy. Switch off the heat and remove the saucepan from the stove. Whisk well, using a wire whisk, until the milk becomes notably frothy and nearly doubles in volume.
As you whisk, make sure that you are folding any froth you create on the surface of the milk back into the liquid. The process can take several minutes and may require practice to perfect, but when done well, you should have an even layer of velvety foam with very small bubbles.
Dislodge any large bubbles. Carefully tap the bottom of the saucepan against the counter to dislodge and pop any large bubbles from the milk.
The goal is to create a smooth, even microfoam throughout the entire pan of milk. It should look similar to glossy, wet paint when ready.
Transfer the milk to a small pitcher. Pour the milk from the saucepan into a small syrup pitcher or into a liquid measuring cup with a spout.
You need to be able to create a steady stream of milk when you pour it into the espresso later on. As such, a container with a spout makes the process significantly easier.
Part Two of Three:
Part Two: Make the Espresso
Method One: With an Espresso Machine (Ground Coffee Method)
Pack the ground coffee into the portafilter. Remove the portafilter from the group head at the front of the machine. Place 1/4 oz (7 g) of coffee grounds in the portafilter and pack them in.
Each machine is a little different, but usually, you will need to remove the portafilter by twisting the handle to the left and pulling it straight down.
Use a temper to press the grounds into the portafilter. Press down on them at least twice to make sure that they are as packed as possible.
You can technically use previously ground coffee, but for the freshest flavor, grind fresh coffee beans immediately before you prepare the drink.
While you can technically use any roast you prefer, medium to light roast coffee beans are strongly recommended.
Place the portafilter in the machine. Secure the filled portafilter back into the group head at the front of the machine.
The method for replacing the portafilter is essentially the reverse of removing it. Your machine may vary, but typically, you need to push the portafilter up into the correct position and twist it to the right until it feels tight.
Place a wide-mouthed coffee cup beneath the portafilter spout, as well. This cup will be the one used for your white flat.
Add the water
Fill the water tank with enough water for your shot of espresso. In this case, 1 fluid ounce or 2 Tbsp (30 ml) should suffice.
There are different ways to fill the water tank, and the correct method will depend on your machine. You may need to pour the water through a tray at the top of the machine. Alternatively, you may need to remove the water tank, fill it, then secure it back in place.
Heat the water. Turn on the hot water knob. The water should warm up and the machine should begin to brew the espresso shot.
Usually, you will need to switch the knob to a halfway setting for 5 seconds to 10 seconds to let the water heat up. Afterward, turn the knob to its maximum setting.
Switch off the machine once the shot is poured. The machine should pour the shot of espresso from the portafilter spout within 30 to 35 seconds.
Turn the hot water knob off after your shot has been poured.
If you have more water in the tank than necessary, you should switch the machine off once the espresso starts looking pale or inconsistent in color.
Method Two: Without an Espresso Machine (Instant Coffee Method)
Measure out the instant coffee. Scoop 1 tsp (5 ml) of instant coffee and place it in a wide-rimmed coffee cup.
This should be a rounded spoonful, not an even one.
Mix in very hot water. Pour one shot of very hot water over the instant coffee. Use a spoon to mix the two ingredient together until the coffee granules have dissolved.
One shot of hot water is equal to 1 fluid ounce or 2 Tbsp (30 ml).
Part Three of Three:
Part Three: Make the Final Flat White
Hold the pitcher close to the surface. Position the spout of the pitcher or measuring cup as close to the surface of the espresso as possible without actually breaking the surface.
Pour carefully and quickly. Pour the microfoam into the espresso using a steady hand.
Note that the entire process should be done at a relatively quick pace to prevent the microfoam from separating.
Improve your control over the microfoam by placing a finger on either side of the pitcher as you pour.
With enough skill and practice, you can even learn to create latte art while pouring the milk. For now, however, you merely need to focus on pouring the milk evenly over the surface of the espresso shot.
The milk will blend into the surface of the espresso shot, creating a very creamy coffee. A little of the microfoam will be visible from the surface, but the majority should sink and blend into the drink.
Enjoy. Your flat white is now ready. Drink it immediately to enjoy the best flavor and texture.