In Praise of the Great Flat White

03/12/2014 11:40 am ET | Updated May 12, 2014
  • Maria Rodale CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc. and book author


I'd heard about Flat Whites before I visited Australia -- they're the country's signature coffee drink. But, some of you may remember I went "off" coffee and caffeine for my trip, so I never got a chance to drink one while I was there. (Don't worry; I won't make that mistake again.)

Once back in the States and back on the black fuel, I learned about an Aussie coffee shop a few blocks from my office in Manhattan. The talk in the office was more about the cute baristas than about the coffee, but just the mention of Australia is often enough to get me out and about. And so, I went out one day for an afternoon cup at Bluestone Lane Coffee...

The first sip of my first Flat White was...revelatory. Deeply, deeply satisfying. Such silkiness, such balance of milk and espresso, such richness and flavor mixed together in a blend of smooth and velvety goodness. Sigh. I was hooked.

I normally drink my coffee black, but the way the milk is whipped and frothed, it's not "milky." And yet it makes for a gentler afternoon cup--the milky velvet soothes some of the bitterness usually found with espresso. For the record, a Flat White is two shots of espresso combined with milk that is frothed just so. It is NOT a latte! It is also not sweet. It doesn't need sugar.

But it is powerful stuff. I took a coworker who normally doesn't drink an afternoon cup of coffee for one, and she ended up singing "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" all afternoon. Good times! I confess I joined in.

So, I've been on a mission ever since. Laura Thierer, a wonderful woman who works in our cafeteria in Pennsylvania, has learned how to make a Flat White for me--all organic! AHHHHH! She sees me coming between 1:30 and 3:00 on any given workday and knows exactly what I want; I adore her.

And just this past weekend, I stopped at a Starbucks on my way home from New York (exit 33 on I-78) and a lovely young lady attempted to make one for me. It wasn't perfect, but it was almost there. And the joy she took in trying--and I took in drinking it--was beyond wonderful. As I left, she promised she'd keep working on it so that next time it would be even better.

Oh, I'll be back. I'll be back. Flat White, I love you.

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