Land of the Long Flat White

Flat White No Hearts

(published in Savvy Magazine, July 2013)

I still can’t get over how good the coffee in New Zealand is. It’s mostly sublime. And even the not-so-sublime coffees are pretty damn good. How did that happen in a country so far from anywhere? And how did little New Zealand start a worldwide coffee phenomenon of its own? Let’s have a look…

It may surprise you to know that the glorious cappuccino (one of the hardest beverages in the world to spell right!) didn’t originate in Italy. People were drinking its earlier incarnation, the ‘kapuziner’, in Viennese coffee houses way back before Captain Cook landed in New Zealand.

The Latte arrived on menus in the 1800’s, the cafe version coming from America. By the way, if you ever order a Latte in Italy, be sure to put the word ‘Cafe’ in front of it, or you’ll just end up with a glass of milk!

The Flat White is the young, trendy whippersnapper of coffee culture. As everyone knows (except, perhaps, the Australians) this invention was born right here in New Zealand in the 1980’s and has caused a global frothy-white storm.

What makes the Flat White so massively popular? When you look at it, the only difference to a cappuccino is a few measly millimetres of foam. Hardly a groundbreaking change.

The answer, bizarrely, seems to be because of its appeal to blokes. Cappuccinos are a bit too la-di-da and airy-fairy. And proper blokes will actually edge their seat away from a man drinking a Latte. The good, old Flat White, on the other hand, is ‘flat’ and its ‘white’. Nothing fancy about that. It’s an honest Kiwi drink.

Until you start stencilling love hearts on the top of it!

The attached photo is of one of the many fantastic flat whites available in New Zealand. This particular one was drunk in the Boatshed Cafe, Rawene.


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