Kiwi flat white goes global

KIWI FAVOURITE: Starbucks will start selling flat whites in central London before rolling out the new drink to cafes nationwide.
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KIWI FAVOURITE: Starbucks will start selling flat whites in central London before rolling out the new drink to cafes nationwide.

New Zealand's renowned coffee culture is being popularised in Britain with one of the world's largest cafe chains adding the Kiwi 'flat white' to its menu.

Starbucks has decided to introduce the stronger, smaller and less milky coffee offering British consumers a taste of the Antipodean invention.

It's the first new addition to Starbucks' coffee menu since the company opened up shop in Britain more than 10 years ago.

Starbucks will start selling flat whites in central London before rolling out the new drink to cafes nationwide. However the world famous company, which has more than 4500 coffee houses in 47 countries, says the flat white will only be offered in Britain, not America at the moment.

Flat White
Discerning London coffee connoisseurs are already aware of the Kiwi origins of the flat white thanks to New Zealander Eric Hiakita, who opened his Soho cafe Flat White in 2005.

Flat White won ‘Independent Coffee Bar of the Year in the UK’ in 2007.

While Flat White introduced the Kiwi-style coffee to London, other independent coffee shops are now also serving it, especially in areas where Kiwis and Australians work.

Hiakita says he doesn't feel threatened by the Starbucks' move.

"It all comes down to the quality of the coffee. And frankly the big chains just can't train up their staff to the high standard needed.

"Comparing us with Starbucks would be like comparing Gallo wines to Petrus," Hiakita said.

Espresso-based

The origin of the flat white is under debate.

Auckland café DKD claims to have first invented the now famous blend, though Australia also lays claim to the creation.

A flat white coffee is made with a strong shot of espresso served in a small cup with textured milk.

The drink has less milk, and the milk is less frothy, than a traditional cappuccino or latte. Starbucks will offer their flat white with full-fat milk, unlike all of their other coffees which come with semi-skimmed as standard.

To achieve the flat, non-frothy texture, the steamed milk is poured from the bottom of the jug, holding back the lighter froth on the top in order to access milk with smaller bubbles, making the drink smooth and velvety in texture.

NZ’s cafe scene

In the last couple of decades, New Zealand has undergone a coffee revolution. Many New Zealanders have become coffee connoisseurs, and cafés are found all over the country serving variations to please diverse palates.

New Zealand coffee connoisseurs will go a long way to get their daily coffee fix, and favoured cafés can be anything from a ‘hole in the wall’ or mobile outlet just big enough to accommodate a good coffee machine and its skilled operator to stylish venues with lounge-style seating serving gourmet treats and meals.

Coffee-making is also very competitive, with baristas vying to make the perfect cup of coffee and coffee drinkers becoming very selective in their choice.

- Tourism New Zealand