New Coffee Menu: The 'Long White'

Jul 10, 2017

Author, Instaurator, Managing Director, Espressology

Recently, at the Australian QSR Conference we trialled a new coffee menu: the ‘Uber Milk’ Coffee Menu. This menu is based around the Australian preference for drinking steamed milk with our everyday espresso based coffee. The result is a new coffee: known simply as the “LONG WHITE”.

Let’s go back a bit in history to trace how we got to this point.

In 1981 when I first started working in the coffee industry, it was only a few short years previously in 1979, when for the first time in Australian history, Australians drank more coffee than Tea.

But the coffee of preference back then was not the Espresso based item we now enjoy. About 90% of coffee drunk in our Sunburnt land at this time was soluble Instant coffee.

One of the results of this instant coffee consumption was that, a decade and a half later, when I operated my own new retail espresso bar in Neutral Bay Sydney, customers would come in and ask for a “Flat White” and they would assertively explain that they wanted a coffee with milk and absolutely no froth on top; not even a single speck of froth they would angrily say, or it would be your barista ‘guts for their garters’!

The reality was that these coffee drinkers were a part of the 90% of Australian coffee drinkers who had grown up drinking instant coffee, made with boiled water at just under 100’ Centigrade, with some cold milk added to avoid scalding their mouth and this would in fact be a true flat white, with absolutely no froth on top. Not one single speck of froth!

Over the ensuing two and a half decades, the humble ‘Flat White’ has become globally ubiquitous. This was helped along the way by being inflicted on an unsuspecting and still predominantly tea-drinking mother-nation as a trendy London icon at the café simply known as: Flat White! This café was established by a couple of Kiwis who had clearly experienced a parallel instant coffee upbringing.

McCafe and Starbucks along the way have also incorporated the humble Antipodean Flat white creation as a staple part of their global coffee menus.

How did this ‘Dame Edna Everage’ of beverages get this far?!

Back in my Espresso bar in Neutral Bay in the mid 1990’s I employed an Italian barista by the name of Claudio, fresh from Modena train station where he claimed he had previously worked as a barista. When our customers emphatically demanded their froth-free Flat whites, Claudio would imperviously shrug his shoulders, ignore their clearly ignorant request and serve them a Caffè Latte, just as he had served in Modena. The blue-rinse, lower-north shore fashion leading matrons of the time, would melt at the sound of Claudio’s thick Italian accent, and at the sight of his long black Fabio-length hair and his swarthy stubble-bearded face and all of a sudden they would forget about the triviality of a thin layer of milk froth on top of their coffee, let alone any idea of ‘specks of froth’.

Claudio would also want to serve his cappuccinos flat; that is: level with the rim of the cup and without adding a sprinkling of chocolate on top. Just simple creamy textured, steamed milk, much as we see it today. Most Australian consumers at this time would evaluate the quality of a cappuccino by the height of the froth above the rim of the cup. The insightful comic by Leunig below highlights the level of coffee sophistication of the time:

By the early 2000’s the difference between a Cappuccino, Caffè Latte and a flat white was evaluated by the depth of creamy, silky froth rather than the height of the froth above the rim of the cup.

Training manuals adapted from the market leading imported Italian coffee at the time, strictly specified a half a centimetre of froth for a flat white, a centimetre for Caffè Latte and no more than two centimetres for a cappuccino. Customers let you know in no uncertain terms if there was too much froth-depth in their cup. They felt ripped-off because the milk portion of their cup had been replaced by too much airy froth.

Fast forward another decade and a half to today and the reality is that these three beverages in Australia have effectively morphed into one. Customers Down-under no longer care about specs of froth on top of their flat whites or chocolate on their cappuccinos or even about the height of froth on their cappuccinos, let alone the technical difference in the depth of froth between a Cappuccino, Caffè Latte and a Flat White. As long as they can experience a smooth tasting coffee along with the silky steamed milk added to their Beverage of choice, they are happy. And modern baristas will by and large now serve a milky, cappuccino, (Caffè) Latte or Flat White as pretty much the same thing, much like my barista Claudio did back in Neutral by in the 1990’s.

This new milky coffee beverage now has a new name: “The Long White”.

The Uber Coffee Menu:

Long White/Black
Short White* /Black

(A Short white can be offered as a ‘Mac” or a ‘Pic” i.e. Caffè Macchiato or Piccolo Latte)


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Whether it's your own blend or a single estate specialty origin coffee, you can be confident that your coffee will consistently reflect your great taste to the world. So you can capitalize on a growing coffee customer base and focus on building your business. You don't have to invest millions of dollars to gain access to your very own roasting facility.

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At Espressology, we ensure consistency of flavour and quality with pinpoint accuracy. We can help you every step of the way in establishing your very own blend that exactly reflects your taste and brand.

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