Nothing flat about latest coffee drink

Gale Hammond

Recently I began my Facebook status with the cryptic, “Oh-oh” and a cell phone photo of a cup of specialty coffee. For once in my life, I was rendered speechless.
The cause for my condition? Something I’d heard on the news about a new coffee drink launching at Seattle’s famous coffee company called a “Flat White.”
I know. The name sounds like boring old non-color ceiling primer. The only logical reason for the non-food-sounding name? Consumer protection.
Because, I ask you, how yum-a-licious does “Flat White” sound for a pricey la-di-da coffee drink? Somebody recognized this drink indeed spelled trouble and decided to give it a less-than-thrilling label. To, you know, protect the innocent.
Determining that any coffee worthy of mention on a national news program deserved to be taste-tested as soon as practically possible, which is to say the second my feet hit the floor that morning. I proceeded to the nearest drive-through sans make-up and wearing fuzzy slippers because, let’s face it, who can primp at a time like this?
Now “my” Morgan Hill Starbucks is staffed by friendly, upbeat folks including Gloria. Gloria is awesome—she knows many of her customers by name and, in my case, recognizes me over the speaker, which tells me I’m possibly frequenting the place a little too often.
(Let me interject that South Valley has several fine, independent and chain coffee houses, all of them sporting great drinks along with friendly staffs. But when a new coffee drink hits the market, I’m on it.)
After my first swallow of the Flat White, I knew it was addicting. It was smooth, creamy and wonderful. Rainbows and unicorns swirled outside my car. This coffee was SO GOOD.
Thus my compulsion to grab a quick photo on my cell phone and send a blast to Facebook friends near and far that here was Nirvana.
Within nanoseconds, a comment popped up from—who else?—my younger daughter who works from home and stays aboard her techno-gizmos pretty much 24/7.
“Do you deliver?” she wrote.
Apparently, I do.
Since I was less than fully presentable, running inside the store was out of the question. But I’ll admit re-entering the drive-through caused me heart palpitations—or perhaps it was just the buzz from the Flat White.
And, you guessed it, Gloria was at the window.
“Back already?” she laughed.
I explained my daughter now needed to give this new drink a test drive.
Explaining the drink that evening to my unconvinced spouse, I couldn’t find enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe my new cup of love.
“Can you make it at home?” he asked, cutting to the chase.
Thus began my search into the origins of the Flat White.
Starbucks, in its online description, tells us the Flat White is a “product of simplicity, crafted into artistry.” This tells me that here is no sidewalk chalk drawing—this, coffee lovers, is The Louvre. By the time I’d reached “velvety microfoam” and “silky texture,” I was practically licking my computer’s monitor.
I read about “ristretto” shots and double-boiler espresso makers until my head was spinning. It was apparent the nuances of the Flat White weren’t going to be found inside my home espresso machine, which does, I admit, make pretty decent lattes.
“Well, for about $1,200 I could probably scrape by with this new type of machine,” I suggested hopefully after doing my Flat White homework.
The look he shot back pretty much said it all. Yes, the Flat White will have to remain one of those special—really special—occasion indulgences. I think I can live with that.

Leave your comments