What’s a flat white? Why whipped coffee? For curious and devoted java drinkers, we’re peeling back the foam on a couple of coffee trends to examine their history and nuanced flavors.
For starters, let’s sip on this enigmatic beverage called a flat white. Blending the intense flavors of espresso with the creamy mouthfeel of a dairy drink, the flat white originated in Australia and New Zealand back in the 1980s. It seems that drinkers Down Under wanted to tone down the thick foam on their cappuccinos, so baristas “flattened” it into a velvety microfoam, and the flat white was born.
Some even claim the term was first coined when describing an incorrectly frothed cappuccino. Either way, the resulting drink has since captured palates around the globe. Each barista adds a different flair, but the classic components are simple: a double-shot of the finest espresso, and some gently steamed milk with a thin layer of silky microfoam (it’s all about those tiny air bubbles).
Avoiding lactose? Not a problem. This drink is also tasty when made with plant-based alternative milks, which naturally tend to foam-up less than dairy does. Being overall less frothy and more concentrated than a latte or cappuccino, the flat white is a nice change of pace for anyone seeking a creamy-smooth beverage with the deep flavor profiles of espresso.
Shifting from flattened to fully-frothed, let’s take a closer look at the whipped coffee craze. By now, you’re likely familiar with the image of a tempting caramel-hued cloud perched atop a glass of milk and ice. The trend known as whipped or “dalgona” coffee has lately been hard to miss.
It’s made by combining instant coffee (yes, we’ll come back to that) with sugar and hot water, whipping it into a wild frenzy, and scooping the resulting bronze fluff onto a glass of chilled milk. Light and luscious, it’s a kind of coffee-forward milkshake that’s essential drinking for hot summers.
The “dalgona” term is credited to actor Jung Il-woo in South Korea, who was referencing a popular honeycomb candy. Il-woo sipped the frothy drink during a popular Korean television show, said it tasted like dalgona, and the internet took it worldwide.
What some don’t know is that these same ingredients have been whipped into sweet concoctions in India, Pakistan, Libya, Macau, and Greece for years. The drink known as phenti hui is a longtime favorite of coffee drinkers in India and Pakistan, where they flip things around by putting the foam down in the cup and pouring the milk on top. Delicious!
In Greece, the frothy frappé dates back to the 1950s, when they started shaking these ingredients into a dense foam. Some versions are even served with condensed milk or egg whites … but we digress.
Let’s get back to that whole “instant coffee” thing. At Kahwa, you know we’re all about the freshness. If you’re with us on that, but still itching to make whipped coffee at home, here’s how to substitute real beans for the freeze-dried instant stuff:
Measure out one rounded teaspoon of roasted Kahwa beans for each cup of coffee you wish to make, and grind at 30-second intervals until it’s nearly the consistency of powdered sugar. Pass these grounds through a sieve, and reserve only the finest micropowder to use in place of instant coffee in any recipe. Now you’re ready to whip up something refreshing!