Thursday 9 October 2014

Working in Montréal today --Flat White Crack

Good morning folks,

It will be working in Montréal today.

This is a fluff piece.  No stark political accusations, no indictment of our path to a totalitarian dystopian future where the appliances all speak to each other but the people do not and where big brother tracks our every purchase, every book we read and every vote we cast.

No.  Not this time Mr. Goldstein, you get a free pass.

Instead.  A tribute to the new crack, my new crack.  The Flat White.

This is the brief story of my descendence into New Zealand coffee hell and the happiness I have found by being there.

A number of weeks ago while returning from lunch at the food court across the street in Toronto with Mel and Matt, Matt noticed a sign in front of Second Cup advertising a new coffee addition to their line up.  The Flat White.

Matt was immediately enthused.  He explained quickly that he had had Flat White coffee in New Zealand (or Australia, to be honest, I wasn't really paying attention at the time) and he hadn't found one on this side of the planet.

Sidebar.. New Zealand's island chain The Antipodes were originally called the Penantipodes, literally, Next to the Antipodes.    This was simply because New Zealand and Australia too were originally called the Antipodes by those in the UK as they are near the antipodal point of Great Britain (which would actually be just to the south in the Pacific Ocean).  Eventually the islands' name was shortened to simply The Antipodes.  I explained the whole thing in a prior Pulp devoted to the study of Antipodal points.

And we are back.  Btw, this stuff just pops into my head and for some reason not easily explained I feel compelled to explain and share with you.  Go figure.

Now that particular day I did not try the Flat White but did have a Espresso Macchiato.  Somewhat satisfying but kind of.. meh.   Matt had a Flat White -enjoyed immensely, and Mel skipped out entirely.

But the next day..  I partook.  Oh my.  I am now thoroughly addicted to the Flat White.

The Flat White is quite simple in its deliciousness.  1/3 Espresso.  But the espresso needs to be of sufficient quality and grind that it yields forth a nice layer of creama across the surface..  Creama is a rich thick foamy mixture of proteins and oils from the bean.  To this 1/3 espresso , 2/3 micro foamed steamed milk is added.

Not aerated milk with foam to perch on top of the coffee like a poorly fitted wig.. No.  But rather a steamed milk with very little air, just enough to make very wee bubbles.  And something else...  When the milk is steamed and brought up to about 120 degrees F., a bit of magic occurs.

The lactose which doesn't really taste sweet in milk at all, gets split into two sugars, glucose and galactose.   When this microfoamed milk gets poured through the espresso that mild and delicate sweetness is spread throughout the cup.

It is important to note, do not let the milk get close to 140, bad, terribly bad things happen.  All of the proteins in the milk become cooked, denatured, the sugar bind with the proteins, cats and dogs start living together in sin and it can lead to increased hair growth on the back of your hands and frogs raining down from your ceiling.  Don't do it.

As a final step, top the coffee off with a little bit of slightly more aerated milk (the stuff hanging around the top of your heating cup) for a bit of 'latte art', a leaf, heart, or my personal signature.. the squished mosquito.  That's right folks, I confess that my barista skills are left wanting in the art department.

In my effort to ensure a steady stream, an infinite availability of this Flat White concoction, I have begun a steady campaign of educating all coffee shops in the making.

The Star Bucks coffee shop in Watsonville, California can make a passable one, but really it's just a short wet cappuccino, and the MMmmmuffins/Timothy's across from the Toronto office received their first training yesterday with yours truly standing behind the barista counter steaming the milk and rolling it gently under the rich creama and of course if you drop by my house, I will make you one personally.

Have a great day, enjoy your coffee break :)


  1. There is no equal. And, btw, having sampled the Flat White from both Second Cup and Bridgehead.... Bridgehead is superior in every way.

  2. I just walked down to Louis and Dom's favorite espresso bar down McGill in Montréal and they had never heard of. She wanted to know how, did my best /she did her best. Good espresso bean and technique, nice creama, but her milk had a bit too much air. Good temperature on it though and a A+ for trying new things!

  3. We're, "Pulp famous," now Louis! I love that place though, great coffee. I'll have to keep ordering it so they can perfect it for your next visit.