Flat White 101: What Is It And Where Can I Get It In Manila?


For most of us, coffee is the ultimate source of life. It’s not just warm, delicious liquid in a cup–it helps our foggy morning brains cope with work, has the ability to make bad vibes disappear, and is overall just great at helping us be better human beings.

If you say you love coffee and you can’t go a day without it, then it might interest you try out all the different variations there are of this caffeinated drink. And there’s one kind in particular that has been rising in popularity lately–the flat white!

Flat White

If you’re not familiar with the flat white yet, here’s a quick lowdown on this ‘in’ coffee drink. Find out exactly what it is and how it came into existence so you can step up your coffee game!

The newbie’s guide to the anatomy of the flat white

Ask all the coffee connoisseurs out there and you’ll probably get a ton of different explanations as to what the flat white is. And they could all possibly be correct! There isn’t any one definition of the flat white but there are key elements that make this coffee drink different from a cappuccino, a latte, a macchiato, or a cortado.

The simplest way to describe the flat white is that it’s an espresso-based drink with microfoam poured into it. But it gets a little more detailed than that if you want the longcut answer. To start off the technicalities, the flat white is typically made with not one but two shots of espresso. This way, it’s the coffee that runs the show and not the milk.

Latte Macchiato vs. Flat White

Image from 1912pike.com

Another unmistakable quality of the flat white is the velvety texture of the microfoam. The bubbles have to be so incredibly tiny that they can barely be seen! The small, tightknit bubbles are created by steaming the milk at a consistent temperature using a steaming wand. It’s the perfectly prepared microfoam that gives the flat white its luxurious consistency and its subtle creamy flavor.

Also, there’s a very particular way of putting the espresso and the microfoam together. The microfoam has to be free poured into the espresso so that the foam is blended in throughout the entire drink, leaving no distinguishable layers of coffee and milk. (Tip: One of the best ways to tell if you’ve been served a proper flat white is to see if the milk has been seamlessly combined with the coffee!)

And lastly, the size of the cup matters. The ideal way to serve the flat white is in a 160 to 165 ml tulip cup. This makes the flat white smaller than lattes and cappuccinos but bigger than macchiatos and cortados!

Australia or New Zealand: Who really invented the flat white?

The origin of the flat white is a hotly debated topic between the Aussies and the Kiwis. Alan Preston from Australia insists that he invented the beverage in 1985, claiming that his cafe, Moors Espresso Bar, was the first one to ever have flat white on the menu.

But then there’s Fraser McInnes, an ex-barista from New Zealand who’s adamant that he (unintentionally) created the drink when he screwed up a cup of cappuccino in 1989, naming the accidental concoction a “flat white.”

The world might never really get to find out who the true founder of this well-loved coffee creation is, but history is probably the last thing on any drinker’s mind when sipping on a delicious cup of flat white anyway!

Where you can get yourself a cup of flat white in Metro Manila

Whether it’s from Australia or New Zealand, all that really matters is that the flat white is here in the Philippines now. An increasingly popular choice among the coffee lovers of the country, you’ll find the flat white being served in a lot of places in Metro Manila, including these seven third-wave coffee shops listed in alphabetical order!

1. Costa Coffee

While many of us have the notion that Brits only drink tea, the coffee scene in the UK is actually a pretty big deal too. And last year, we got to find out what it’s like to have coffee in London when their biggest coffee chain opened up a branch in Metro Manila! Costa Coffee has since then been serving Filipinos with coffee drinks that are identical to the ones in their UK stores.

Costa Coffee's Flat White

Photo from EJ B.’s looloo review for Costa Coffee

Ask any of the brasitas at Costa Coffee for their bestseller and they’ll probably point you to their famous flat white, meticulously prepared by tilting the cup of espresso at a forty five-degree angle and swirling the milk in. Their flat white is best paired with their Classic Red Velvet Cake!

Costa Coffee can be found at these locations.

2. Habitual Coffee

For those who can’t break their coffee-drinking habits, Habitual Coffee understands you! It’s this specialty cafe’s goal to provide all the caffeine-dependent people of the metro with quality coffee, using just one humble but respectable instrument to do so–the aeropress. As for their beans, they’re locally sourced from Belis Washing Station in Atok, Benguet!

Habitual Coffee

Photo from Anna d.’s looloo review for Habitual Coffee

Among looloo reviewers, the flat white is a common order at Habitual Coffee. As Josette P. put it in her looloo review, it has a strong flavor but smooth at the same time because the milk is blended in well. Try ordering your flat white with a side of their popular Ensaymada Toast!

Habitual Coffee can be found at 2135 Chino Roces Ave., Makati, Metro Manila.

3. Local Edition

Local Edition is a coffee shop that embodies what it means to love your own. Fueled by the goal to make a brighter future for Philippine farmers and producers, their coffee beans come only from local sources. They’re also in full support of the creative minds of the metro, providing a space where they can come together, drink coffee, and get inspired!

Local Edition, Legazpi Village, Makati

Photo from Mary Love S.’s looloo review for Local Edition

One of the most popular drinks to sip on here is the flat white, which Ac T. described in her looloo review as simple but delicious and served at the right temperature. If you want something to eat with your flat white, order up Local Edition’s popular Gooey Grilled Cheese!

Local Edition can be found at 116 Perea St., Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila.

4. Recession Coffee

When you’re in between pay days and you’re trying to save what’s left of your money, it may seem like coffee breaks are out of the question. Luckily, there’s a cafe that lets you pay whatever amount you want for your cup of joe! Here’s the hard part at Recession Coffee though: you’ll be asked how much you’re willing to pay before you get to taste your coffee.

If you want to order up their bestselling flat white but not sure how much to shell out, you can use what looloo reviewers have been saying as your benchmark. Reich T., who paid a hundred bucks for it, wrote in her looloo review that it was smooth, strong, and worth every penny!

Recession Coffee can be found on the 3/F of Eastwood Mall, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave. (C5), Eastwood City, Quezon City, Metro Manila.

5. Toby’s Estate

If you’ve always wondered who the Toby of Toby’s estate is, he’s an ex-lawyer from Australia who gave up his career to pursue his passion for coffee. He travelled all around the world, including top coffee-producing countries like Brazil and Guatemala, to learn everything about the trade. He then went back home to Sydney to open up the first of his many Toby’s Estate stores!

Among looloo reviewers, Toby’s Estate is the clear favorite when it comes to the flat white, often referred to as “the best” in Metro Manila. In her looloo review, Mary Love S. described her cup of flat white as ‘divine’ and mentioned that it pairs well with the Sticky Toffee Pudding!

Toby’s Estate can be found at these locations.

6. Where’s Marcel

Hailing all the way from Australia, Where’s Marcel quietly snuck into Metro Manila and opened up a branch in Pearl Drive in Ortigas without a lot of people noticing. This Aussie coffee shop deserves a lot more attention though because its artsy interior makes for great IG-worthy content and their crop-to-cup coffee drinks are meant to please discerning taste buds.

Where's Marcel, Manila

Photo from Dennis O.’s looloo review for Where’s Marcel

Because it is from Australia, the flat white is an obvious bestseller here. In his looloo review, Dennis O. expressed his fondness for the beverage, saying that he loved the thick, foamy, milk and that it’s how all real flat whites should be. He also commended the impressive latte art!

Where’s Marcel can be found at these locations.

7. Yardstick

If you’re looking to increase your coffee knowledge, Yardstick is one of the best places to learn in Metro Manila. This cafe’s open layout allows you to freely walk around and observe the baristas as they skilfully prepare cups of specialty coffee. Yardstick even doubles up as training space, offering workshops and courses for both coffee professionals and amateurs alike!

But if you’re just coming in to enjoy good coffee, one of the drinks you can try out is their flat white. According to looloo reviewers, it’s the perfect thing to order up if you’re looking for something strong that’ll keep you awake for the rest of the day!

Yardstick can be found on the G/F of Universal LMS Bldg., 106 Esteban St., Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila.

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About Author

Denise Jose

Denise is a recovering food addict. She distracts herself with photography and keeps off the pounds by doing pilates. She is still struggling, however, and has occasional relapses. Her food comas are mostly induced by oily burgers and chocolate desserts.