The Flat White

Most countries in the world like coffee.  But only New Zealand actually wants to marry it.

Formerly a nation of PG Tips and Nescafe drinkers, around the late 1980s to early 90s, Kiwis embraced coffee hard.  The real-coffee revolution started with young, urbane women and gentlemen considered ‘light of foot‘, but it wasn’t until the invention of the Flat White – half way between a Cafe Latte and a Cappuccino, only minus the effete European name (a coffee, in other words, that no-nonsense Kiwi men could at last order in public without fear of sounding ‘like a bloody shirt-lifter’) – that our national obsession really took off.

There is some debate over the origin of the first Flat White. Auckland cafe DKD’s claims to have first coined the name to the now famous ‘not too frothy, not too milky‘ blend. Others point to it’s origins in Australia, but since they can claim better beaches, warmer weather, Crowded House, and billions of dollars worth of f**king minerals, is it really fair to let them have this as well?

New Zealand is now so immersed in the culture of the Flat White, that;

  • It is one of the few countries in the world who imports their beans raw and roasts them locally. Connoisseurs claim that the lifespan of the freshly roasted bean is less than 10 days before losing flavour. Whether this is true, or simply bullshit sprayed with fancy cologne, it is enough worry $20 a bag for beans out of obsessive, caffeine withdrawn customers.
  • Kiwi blokes, from all walks of life, are now as likely, if not more likely, to catch up over an organic panini and fair trade Flat White, than five pints of DB and a pack of Winfield down the local, without even the faintest whiff of the ‘love that dare not speak it’s name‘.
  • After nearly ten years of complaining about not being able to get a decent coffee in London, expat New Zealanders can now enjoy a flat white at one of the rising number of Kiwi owned cafes taking over the capital. This recent addition to the London lifestyle, when combined with the Kiwi tendency to share a flat with 10 other New Zealanders, socialise with the same networks of people as back home, and work in industries populated by other Kiwis, finally removes any need for New Zealanders to actually interact with the locals.
  • NZ is the only country in the world where middle aged suburban couples buy $4,000 espresso machines to make burned frappuccinos with a gnome’s hat of badly frothed milk. Conforming to the pioneering, ‘do it yourself’ Kiwi stereotype, they are therefore unlikely to ask anyone for advice on how to actually operate it.