What's The Deal With Starbucks' New Flat White?

Welcome to Unfiltered, our weekly feature that explores the Dallas coffee scene — and how it often manages to thrive in the most unusual places. Given that we live in a time when Starbucks locations are about as prevalent as the golden McDonald's arches, when new coffee shops seem to open every other week and when almost everyone uses a ChemEx to brew their coffee, we're here to show you some alternatives — for when your coffee shop routine becomes monotonous or when you're just looking for something different in your caffeine endeavors.

Let's face it: The coffee world isn't always as flashy as the fast-paced foodie world can be.

In the coffee realm, the most exciting news mostly just deals with the latest things to put in your coffee. Or, hell, the addition of a new drink at Starbucks.

And, would you know it, the most recent coffee wave deals with the latter: Advertisements popping up at various Starbucks locations around town are announcing and introducing a concoction known simply as a “flat white” as being available for purchase.

Just to be clear: This concept isn't a new one. The drink first came on the scene in Australia in the 1980s.

That said, if the recent appearance of another espresso-and-steamed-milk order on the scene has you thinking that you're being built up for just the latest take on a run-of-the-mill latte, you'll be happy to hear that there's actually a certain genius at work. While the key difference between a latte and cappuccino lies in the amount of air present in the milk — cappuccinos, for instance, do equal parts foam and steamed milk, making it stiffer than the milky latte — the flat white finds a balance between the two with something called “microfoam.” Here, whole milk is stretched to create a velvety substance with a perfect ratio of cream to air. This is then added to a ristretto (read: more concentrated) shot of espresso with a slow pour, where the creamy foam is dolloped on the top (or formed into latte art by the more experienced barista).

The result is welcome change from many of the sweeter, less coffee-like options available around town at the moment. The flat white is something like a smaller latte, with a slightly better balance of espresso and milk — or maybe more like a thicker cortado. The ristretto shot makes for refreshingly bolder coffee taste that's balanced out by the sweet, rich cream. While the drink is similar to the cortado — mostly in that it's less milky than a latte, but stiffer than a cappuccino — the milk is steamed into a microfoam instead of simply being warmed, which gives the drink its velvety texture. Plus, at Starbucks at least, the flat white can be ordered in more than one size, making it a strong drink contender for the hipster on-the-go who doesn't feel caffeinated enough by single-sized counterparts.

Now, here's the really interesting thing: Although the drink has roots down under, it didn't find much success in that continent's now-defunct Starbucks locations. That said, the drink has href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/6726711/Starbucks-to-sell-flat-white-for-those-fed-up-with-milky-coffee.html” target=”_blank”>found refuge in the United Kingdom where customers are looking for a less milky option to pair with their espresso.

The flat white may be able to find favor in Dallas, too, considering the staggering amount of Starbucks locations at every turn and the area-wide affinity towards the cortado. Add in everyone's obsession with milk ratios and the inescapable convenience of the mega coffee chain, and coffee lovers just may have a new reason to visit their local partners for the simple treat — one that's, perhaps, the closest thing on the menu to something one might find at quote-unquote real coffee shops.

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