January 08, 2015
... But what is a flat white?
Bon Appetit summed them up best in this reported piece last month; but, to save you the read, they're basically a wetter cappuccino with the milk more evenly distributed. Of note, it's a circa-1980 Australian invention --where exactly it was born in the country is a contentious topic, apparently -- and signifier of good taste. Flat whites are to Australians what lattes are to Americans -- in popularity, at least. They're not pumping pumpkin and caramel into their coffee to the same sugar-high-inducing degree we tend to, of course. (Probably why so many Starbucks stores ended up shuttered in Australia last year, actually.)
Curious, I called around to see if flat whites are the phenomenon in Philly that they're being made out to be elsewhere. Results were mixed -- I got about as many "Flat ... what?" responses as I did overzealous, exclamation-point responses from coffee-obsessed baristas. (God love 'em.)
The pseudo-scientific results are below. Note that these responses were largely from the baristas you'd actually be approaching at the counter.
One Shot Coffee: The barista cutely referred to it as a "baby latte," the gist being that they're prepared with less foam and served a little hotter, but in a cappuccino-comparable cup.
ReAnimator Coffee: Behold, one of the more interesting cases: ReAnimator serves flat whites, but what they're serving as a cappuccino is a flat white. "What we serve isn't a traditional, foamy cappuccino. It's more of a micro-foam layer with a silky texture," Matt Scadaline, a barista and manager for ReAnimator, told PhillyVoice. "Most of the newer third wave shops are making cappuccinos in a similar way, so I think if you showed that to someone from Australia, they'd think it was a flat white."
La Colombe: Because the shop attracts people from all around the world (a lot of globe-trotting tourists, probably), their flat whites tend to be served differently based on requests. But it's served in an eight-ounce cup with the consistency of a latte and is, therefore, a lot more "wet." The main similarity to a cappuccino, I was told, is its volume.
Plenty: Again, the whole "wet cappuccino" thing. (Though they sounded less particular about it.)
Chestnut Hill Coffee: They'll make your flat white to taste, but the average eight-ounce cup will have about five ounces of a milk and half and half combination, with a sizable pour of espresso.
Bodhi Coffee: No flat whites, specifically, but they do serve cortados, which the barista on the phone likened to a flat white.
Black and Brew
Green Line Cafe
Chapter house Cafe & Gallery
Ultimo Coffee (not on the menu, though if you requested one, they might make it)
*Note: Elixr Coffee, The Last Drop, Anthony's Coffeehouse, The Bean Cafe and Old City Coffee did not respond to attempted calls.