Saturday, January 31, 2015

Starbuck's Flat White Falls a Bit Flat

If it has caffeine, I will drink it, so do take this into account when assessing how discerning my palate is for coffee drinks. Not being a Starbucks’ coffee fan in particular, I enjoy their lattes and specialty drinks more than anything else available there. Finding myself near to one on Friday, it seemed like the perfect time to try the Flat White. Without having a good grasp on the concept, I remember reading in travel books that a Flat White is popular in places like Australia and even after reading the description AND drinking one in its entirety, I still struggle to explain how this is different than a latte. 

Starbucks describes this drink as expertly steamed milk poured over ristretto shots of espresso and finished with a Starbucks signature dot. Their website features a beautiful photo, rivaling a piece of beverage art. The dot is central and floating peacefully in the mug; the beverage itself flirting with the rim of the mug. Opening up the lid to my beverage, it was dotless. On a normal order, I wouldn’t even bother to open the lid and check this, but I have to wonder – why even mention it? 

Another thing worth mentioning is that this drink cost me more than $4, and the regular hot latte costs me a bit less than that. Trying this one time, the cost difference is negligible but if it was going to be a permanent replacement as a part of a daily routine, then the price difference is something to consider. My particular order was a Venti Flat White with non-fat milk (yes, I played along when ordering that and spoke their lingo). 

Upon first sip, the beverage was good. It reminded me of a hot latte, minus the biting espresso taste that I normally enjoy. This drink reminded me more of a milder version of their coffee blended with steamed milk with a new name at a new price. The taste was smooth and enjoyable. The milk itself wasn’t as frothy as my traditional latte and perhaps it wasn’t quite as creamy either.

To be clear, I liked it and would gladly drink it again. I wouldn’t however willingly pay for this again, because I still don’t understand the drink. What is it and why am I paying more for this? Perhaps it would be fun to blindfold people and to have them taste test the flat white and a hot latte, ultimately asking them to pick which one is which. It is worth mentioning that there are people out there who are going nuts for this drink, so do try it out yourself and let me know how I can tell the difference to motivate me to pay that extra fifty cents per cup.


  1. What is the difference between a cappuccino and a latte? Haven't been able to figure that out yet. But I am sure you will be able to help me.

  2. Nancy, that's a great question! I think a cappuccino has far less steamed milk than a latte. That's about the only difference that I know of!