The highs and lows of a flat white masterclass

Costa flat white

Y’all know I love a flat white. A flat white is the luxury you can afford when you are new to London and branded two-minute noodles is fancy AF. A beautiful coffee gives me ‘pause’, a chance to breathe out before tackling the insanity of London. And of course since joining Instagram, a well poured flat white gives me the chance to show off my nail polish #dontjudge. What all of this means is that I have become Judgy McJudgeface about the florets on top of the coffee, if the barista messes them up I write him/her off to the tenth circle of hell and assume that they are a terrible person. Me, harsh? Never.

Then Costa came along and offered to put me in my place. Well, to be fair they offered me a place on a flat white masterclass where I could try doing coffee art for myself – but we all know that the gauntlet had been thrown. It was time to prove myself, time to prostrate myself in front of the coffee Lords and see if my microbubbles would float to the top. If I failed, New Zealand would disown me and I would drift through the world stateless and only drinking tea.

The master class had us in store let loose on the coffee machine, the big coffee machine. I was totally cocky until I was actually stood in front of it and then suddenly felt like I was about to diffuse a bomb: point 1 to the baristas (see my face below to get an indication of how I was feeling). I chose my roast, going with the special Old Paradise Street 17 that is on at the moment (request it instead of the normal roast, then send me flowers to say thank you for the suggestion). The coffee part went fine, by which I mean I managed to get coffee in the cup. But then came the pressure test – the milk. To achieve the micro foam that makes the flat white so unique I had to hold the milk jug so that the wand hit the side, and then keep it there until the milk looked like a mirror. Yes, to achieve a flat white you need mirror milk.

Runawaykiwi failing at making coffee

So far so good, I had milk that I could see myself in and a perfect roast in a cup. Oh god, it was time for the art. My instructions were; Middle, forward, wiggle, cut. Holding the cup at 45degrees I started pouring the milk in the middle, brought my pour forward, then wriggled the jug to get the points in the fern and then cut the flow so I didn’t spoil the design. HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA NOPE. Following the instructions terribly, I achieved something more akin to the instructions for a waltz than a silver fern. In my defence our barista Matyas had to make 558 flat whites before Costa gave him the coveted flat white pin. Yes, the baristas in Costas get flair to show their progress (so always ask the guy with the most pins on his collar out on a date… guaranteed good coffee).  So me failing on my first attempt was understandable, and besides maybe I am just ahead of the game on the abstract coffee art game.

Abstract coffee art

One thing I was on a mission to discover at the master class is why their cups are so big. Every time I have had coffee at Costa over the years, the largeness of the flat white cup they use has always put me off and I have ordered a cortado instead. I asked about this at the master class (note to self: in future don’t start a conversation by marching up to a stranger and saying ‘can I talk to you about cup size’), and they are trialing the traditional smaller flat white cups at their Shelton Street branch. Apparently the market demand is currently for the larger cup, but I hope that the smaller variety makes it into the rest of the stores soon.

It was damn fun to be let loose on the machine and see how hard it is to get that perfect Instagramable flat white art. Costa is running a free flat white masterclass next week so you can all create your own waltz pattern coffee, its free and I seriously recommend heading down just for the lols. I 100% think my skills lie in drinking coffee not making it (that is my excuse and I am sticking to it), but I would love to have another go just so I can impress people at parties.

To finish I thought I would publicly declare that I will never again hate on a barista that does not give me the perfect flat white topper. Although I will continue to propose marriage to anyone who makes me a coffee perfect enough for Instagram…

This post is sponsored by Costa.

2 Comments

  1. September 16, 2016 / 9:02 pm

    Awesome effort… Definitely harder than it looks… I had to sign up! Bring on next week!

  2. September 17, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    I’m with you on the better-at-drinking-it-than-making-it. My latte art skills are non-existent, despite training from the reigning UK Latte Art Champion!

    And good for you for asking the cup-size question. I’m less convinced with the answer though: when you give the consumer a choice of “large”, “extra large” and “wow! that’s a bucket!” then “market demand” is always going to be with larger cups…

    I think I should challenge you to a abstract latte art throwdown. I reckon I can do a better waltz (although mine would be an Argentine Tango) than you 🙂

    Thanks,
    Brian.