Friday 12 March 2010

Flat White, Soho

Flat White was the first decent coffee shop we visited when we first moved to London. I can still remember the tears, the kissing of the ground, the hugging of the coffee machine when its joyous brew first revealed itself.

One of the primary reasons for choosing our current abode was its proximity to London's premier coffee source of the time. The only other option that we knew of then was Marylebone's "The Providores", which also makes a great cup of coffee, but the place gets so packed with locals seeking solace after a morning's shopping spree at The White Company that its not uncommon to leave with bruises.

Other alternatives have sprung up near Flat White since then. It's younger bro, Milk Bar, Fernandez and Wells, Lantana, Kaffeine, Foxcroft & Ginger, Kaffe Automat and LJ Coffee House are among them. TPG is most decidedly a Fernandez man. However, when I'm feeling a little home sick for the southern hemisphere, Flat White is a little escape where I know I'll hear an Aussie accent and taste a coffee that smells like home.

I was at Flat White during the week, when it occurred to me that I'd never published a dedicated blog post about it. Those well worn, local haunts are, at times, so much like a comfy slipper that they make the easiest omissions. And it's also the case that Flat White is not news to any serious coffee drinker. But what it means to me might not be what it means to you, and with the sudden proliferation of new options you may have simply forgotten about it - so here it is anyway.

A flat white is an antipodean style coffee (let's not get into that debate about whether it was born in Australia or New Zealand - just as for the pavlova debate, as a Melbourne gal you must know what side of the fence I'm firmly planted on). It should be strong, not overly milky, and with little of the froth that goes into your capp or latte. Don't even think about ordering grande.

Flat White opened in 2005 and roasts Square Mile beans. The flatties emanating from the shiny La Marzocco machine are rich and smooth, with that caramel like hit and just the right amount of milk. FW's coffees are generally perfect every time - although TPG would counter that they're sometimes not hot enough, and my trusty friend, The Rather Unusual Chinaman, found his recent FW flat white too milky in his review this week. Gasp!

I love the Turkish toast with simple spreads or avocado. TPG goes for the toasted banana bread or the bagel with grilled haloumi, bacon and BBQ sauce which is a corker. The pastries are also fluffy and delicious, and there's a range of salad options at lunch time.

Although the music and clubby darkness may give the impression of somewhere that's too cool for school, the New Zealander baristas are friendly and chatty, and it's just a little more frenetic than the slightly more chilled out Milk Bar. I only wish they had the weekend papers in store.

Forget about throwing another shrimp on the barbie - if you really want to channel your inner antipodean, head to Flat White and "smash back a flattie, mate".

Flat White, 17 Berwick Street (among the Berwick St market), Soho, London W1F OPT
Flat White on Urbanspoon


  1. mmmm....flat white....
    It's always far too busy to sit in there when I go - I hope to finally get a seat one day :(

    I also like The Breakfast Club's coffees and food, located around the corner on D'Arblay Street.

  2. Hi Ruduss, If Flat White is busy, Milk Bar is usually quiter - it's just around the corner and they are owned by the same team. Or Foxcroft & Ginger is just a few doors down. I like the brekkie at The Breakfast Club too.

  3. I like Flat White's flat white, but don't love it. I think I've had it about 4 times now and I always find the espresso roast to be a tad too bitter. The milk consistency and proportions are good though and it is a nice cup of coffee, that's for sure. The thing I don't like about the place is that every time I go there, I wait for ages to order (they once even just ignored me for 3 minutes even though there was no one else in the queue) and they aren't particularly friendly - to me at least :)

  4. Hi Laissez Fare - Oooh, never make me wait for that first coffee of the day. I would be quite grizzly at that too. I haven't had that experience there (and the reason I love the coffee is because I find it so smooth, never bitter), but sounds like you've given it a fair go so what more can you do? Sorry to hear that.

  5. My first visit to your blog from Tokyo! While I know a little about flat white through some food articles, the booming trend hasn’t reached Japan yet. Can’t wait to taste the difference from Cappuccino :)

  6. Hi lacquer spoon - Welcome! I absolutely love Tokyo and will definitely be checking out your blog for tips if I get the chance to head back there.


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