Queenstown takeover
Queenstown takeover

Flat Whites in the Big Apple? Aussie cafe culture in New York City

Aussies love coffee probably as much as Americans love Apple Pie. And in the biggest apple of them all, the BIG apple – aka NYC – our coffee culture is beginning to leave its stain in cafes all throughout the city.

Aussies love coffee probably as much as Americans love Apple Pie. And in the biggest apple of them all, the BIG apple – aka NYC – our coffee culture is beginning to leave its stain in cafes all throughout the city.

It came as quite the surprise when I walked into KAVE Espresso Bar & Event Space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and saw two words up on the menu board that I instantly recognised: Flat White.

I was literally on the other side of the world, and you couldn’t get any further away from Australia here if you tried…

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But alas, it seems that our humble Flat White* has made its way to New York City, and out of interest to learn more about how this came to be, I sat down with Jose, Director of Coffee at KAVE Espresso Bar & Event Space, to talk beans, brews and whether the Flat White is actually catching on with American coffee drinkers

Jose has been a barista for eight odd years – so he definitely knows a thing or two about coffee!

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So I have to confess: I don’t know what a Flat White actually is. What is it?

Traditionally, a Flat White is an 8-ounce beverage with a ristretto shot, but ours are actually prepared with a double shot. The only beverage we carry with a ristretto shot is the magic, which is from Melbourne… I first learned what a Flat White was when I was a barista at Starbucks. It was there that I learned it was from Australia.

So who actually orders a Flat White? Are they Australians or Americans?

Surprise, surprise, but it’s mainly Australians. But increasingly more Americans are choosing a Flat White, as they think of it as a smaller latte with a lighter layer of foam. Just an interesting observation: all the Aussies in the neighbourhood seem to be from Melbourne – not a single one is not from there!

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Finally, what do you think is the main difference between Australian and American cafe culture?

There’s some pretty big differences actually. Having worked with many other Australians in cafes in New York, I’ve realised that you guys refer to your customers as ‘locals’ from the neighbourhood, and not just as ‘customers.’

Also, Australians don’t treat coffee as just another beverage to consume. Instead, for Aussies, drinking coffee is a moment of your day, a slow-down time. Not many Australians will order a Flat White (or magic) to go; they’ll order it to stay in a porcelain cup.

And ultimately that’s what I want to do with my cafe – I want to encourage people to stay, because I like to think of coffee as your moment, as your time to relax.

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KAVE Espresso Bar & Event Space is located at 119 Knickerbocker Avenue at the corner of Flushing Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Check out their Facebook page and Instagram feed for the latest updates on all things KAVE.

*Yes, as an Australian, I’m claiming that we invented it, although I realise our friends across the ditch contest the claim.

Have you ever ordered a Flat White in New York City? Let us know in the comments below.