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Where did flat white originate?

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In the UK, the Flat White has become a coffeehouse staple, often ordered alongside cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos. But have you ever stopped to wonder where this delicious coffee concoction originated? While some attribute its creation to Australia, others vehemently argue that its birthplace is actually New Zealand. This article will delve into the intriguing history of the Flat White, exploring its roots and the ongoing debate surrounding its origin.

The Basics of a Flat White

A Flat White is essentially an espresso-based coffee drink that contains steamed milk. Unlike a latte, it has a higher ratio of coffee to milk, giving it a stronger, more robust flavour. It’s the perfect middle ground for those who find a cappuccino too strong and a latte too milky.

Key Components:

  • One or two shots of espresso
  • Steamed milk with a small amount of microfoam
  • A smooth, velvety texture

The Australian Claim

Many believe that the Flat White originated in Australia, specifically in Sydney, during the early 1980s. The Aussies take their coffee seriously, and the Flat White has become a symbol of Australia’s sophisticated coffee culture.

Sydney vs Melbourne

Although Sydney is often credited with the invention of the Flat White, Melbourne is another Australian city with a rich coffee history. Some residents of Melbourne assert that the Flat White was actually born there. However, no concrete evidence can definitively settle this inter-city rivalry.

The New Zealand Perspective

Not to be overshadowed, New Zealand has its own narrative about the Flat White’s origin. The Kiwis argue that the beverage was first made in Wellington, the country’s capital, during the late 1970s or early 1980s. In fact, some cafés in Wellington are considered historic landmarks for Flat White enthusiasts.

“The Flat White is as Kiwi as the All Blacks or a good Pavlova.”

The Espresso Mafia

In Wellington, there’s a cafe named Espresso Mafia that claims to be among the first establishments to serve the Flat White. However, this claim is difficult to verify, adding another layer of mystery to the story.

The Ongoing Debate

The origin of the Flat White has been a subject of debate and controversy for years. So much so, that even politicians have weighed in on the matter. Despite the conflicting narratives, what is clear is that the Flat White has become a beloved coffee drink around the world, transcending its origins and becoming a staple in global coffee culture.

Why the Controversy Matters

Some may wonder why the origins of a coffee drink would stir such passion and debate. The answer lies in the cultural significance of coffee. Whether in Australia or New Zealand, coffee is more than just a morning pick-me-up; it’s an integral part of social life and identity.

Spreading Across the Globe

The Flat White may have originated in the Southern Hemisphere, but it has certainly made its mark globally. In the UK, it has become increasingly popular, featuring prominently on coffee menus from London to Edinburgh.

Statistics: The Flat White’s Rise in the UK

YearNumber of Flat Whites Sold (Millions)


While the true origin of the Flat White may never be conclusively established, what is undeniable is its impact on modern coffee culture, particularly in the UK. Whether you believe it’s an Australian or New Zealander invention, one thing is clear: the Flat White is here to stay.