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Just call it an americano

Rebecca Firkser
Updated: March 13, 2018

UK-based coffee chain Costa Coffee has launched a new line of espresso drinks called the “Flat Family Range,” one of which is called the “flat black.” Though the drink is modeled in the vein of the more well-known flat white, Costa Coffee’s flat black—a drink made of espresso and water—has been met with mockery for being essentially just black coffee.

Critics of the flat black certainly aren’t wrong to question the drink. A flat white is micro-foamed milk in a shot of espresso, and Costa Coffee’s flat black is espresso and water. In Europe, where drip coffee is less of a thing, this drink is known as an americano; in the United States, it also could just be called black coffee.

The rest of the new additions to the Flat Family, a flat mocha and a coconut flat white, haven’t generated much controversy when compared to the flat black, but it’s certainly not like ordering a mocha latte or flat white with coconut milk was that much of an extra step.

Costa Coffee noticed the pushback the flat black was getting on social media, and claims the flat black is different than an Americano because of the way the espresso is pulled. According to Costa Coffee, they use “cortissimo” shots, which are short espresso shots made using more coffee and less water than typically espresso shots. Costa Coffee maintains that cortissimo shots are typically used for flat whites or cortados, while regular or double espresso shots are used in Americanos.

“Some would say the cortissimo shot is the purest coffee extraction—containing more coffee, extracted for less time and with less water—resulting in a slightly sweeter, more concentrated flavor that plays out with less bitterness than an espresso,” said a spokesperson for Costa Coffee to Metro UK. “So, when lengthened with hot water the flat black is perfect for those who want a change to their usual. It’s a dynamic black coffee with an increased coffee intensity.”

While the flat black may sound like an improved americano, keep in mind that there’s a pretty sizeable discrepancy in price. According to the Independent, Americanos at Costa Coffee start at £1.95, while the flat black starts at £2.25.

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