The flat white is the new latte

A latte alternative: the flat white.

A latte alternative: the flat white.

Attn: espresso drinkers. Curious to hear what you think of the latte's Down Under alternative, the flat white.

The flat white originated in Australia and New Zealand (and became popular in London) as a sort of hybrid between a latte and a cappuccino, and a close cousin of the Spanish/Latin cortado. It's nothing new, per se--Starbucks UK started serving the drink about a year and a half ago--but it's still a little under-the-radar here in the states.

Basically, a flat white combines a shot or two of espresso with steamed milk, like a latte, but in a smaller amount, so the ratio of coffee to milk is closer to that of a cappuccino. A latte and flat white use the creamy microfoam from the bottom of the steamed milk pitcher, where the cappuccino incorporates more "dry foam" from the pitcher's top. The milk for a flat white is steamed to a lower temperature, which keeps the milk sweet and velvety. Basically, when a latte sounds too milky and a cappuccino not milky enough, you go with the flat white.

There's an excellent flat white on the menu at Royal Grounds (42nd and Grand in Minneapolis), priced slightly less than a latte, but if you don't see it listed at your local shop, ask the barista.