Cage Match Throwdown: Cappuccino vs. Flat White


"Fat White's got Captain Ccino on the ropes, it's not looking good for the eight ounce foam party hailing all the way from Italy...OH AND IT'S AN ATOMIC LEG DROP FROM CAPTAIN CCINO. NEITHER WE NOR THE SCRIPT WRITERS COULD POSSIBLY HAVE SEEN THIS COMING." 

I promise that's the end of my wrestling stuff. Other than GLOW I've never really watched anything WWE-esque (a phrase that I think probably emphasizes the sentiment) and I had to google 'wrestling moves' for the first sentence. I do, however, guzzle caps and flats like it's my job. Partially, I guess, because it kind of is. 

So what is a flat white, and where did it come from?

I was surprised to learn that odds are, if you live in or around the Bay and you've ordered a cappuccino, you've probably had a flat white. As Mark put it to me earlier, "Everyone in the Bay Area is serving flat whites." Now, before you go all Chris Farley in that decaffeinated coffee crystals skit, it's all good. Both are delicious and similar enough in composition that there's no need to raise a restaurant or throw a pie.

A flat white is six to eight ounces of milk and espresso. But don't think you can go around flinging that milk and espresso all willy-nilly, there are very specific amounts of each required to make it a legitimate flat white. First, two ounces of espresso. Second, and most importantly, the milk. The flat white has 1/4 of an inch of velvety microfoam on top, as opposed to the cappuccino, which boasts a whopping 1/2 inch of stiffer foam. 

Claim for the origin of the flat white is hotly contested -much like rugby superiority, ANZAC contribution, and most horrifying creature- between Australia and New Zealand. Much of the existing evidence claimed on either side being anecdotal and feisty, it's hard to nail down specifics beyond Oceana around 1980. Thankfully though, according to an article in the UK's Telegraph, an Australian man named Alan Preston cleared it all up for us by saying, "I'm telling you I was the first one to name it. Everyone who has flat white on the menu had it [after we started.]" And I mean, what's more definitive than a random person taking credit for something? 

A takeaway you can be certain of: flat whites are a delicious option for those of us who like less milk than a latte, less foam than a cappuccino, and more bang for our espresso buck. 



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