A Deconstructed Flat White Is Challenging and Possibly Ruining the Meaning of Coffee

By Mike Pomranz |

© Jeremy Piper/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A little over a year ago, the “flat white” was the hottest drink in the coffee world. The South Pacific spin on a cappuccino had become so popular that Starbucks added it to its permanent menu. But when is a flat white, not a flat white? Or maybe a better question would be: When does a flat white become a flat white? Or maybe a better question would be: What is the sound of one hand slapping against your forehead?

All these questions came to the forefront earlier this week when writer Jamila Rizvi ordered a flat white at a coffee shop in Australia (the purported birthplace of the flat white), and it arrived “deconstructed.” What exactly is a “deconstructed flat white”? As a photo she posted to her Facebook page showed, it is three beakers – one with milky foam, one with hot water and one with espresso – served with a spoon on a wooden board.

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As any logical person would in this situation, Rizvi lost it, posting alongside the pic, “Sorry Melbourne but no. No no no no no. Hipsterism has gone too far when your coffee comes deconstructed.” She continued, “I wanted a coffee. Not a science experiment.”

Apparently, the social media world sympathized with Rizvi’s disgust. Her Facebook post has accumulated over 23,000 reactions, nearly 5,000 shares and close to 7,000 comments as of writing, and she’s been contacted by everyone from Mashable to BBC News. “More than anything, it was not quite knowing what I was supposed to do,” she told the latter. “It makes you feel silly if you can't figure out how to drink it.” Though probably not as silly as having to talk to BBC News about your morning coffee.

Despite the drink’s international fame, Rizvi has been unwilling to tell news outlets just which Melbourne café served up the unique flat white. Turns out that even if you hate deconstructed beverages, “deconstruction shaming” is far more uncouth.

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