A staple of the urban Kiwi diet is to be unleashed on the United States.

Coffee giant Starbucks will next week introduce the mighty flat white to Americans.

The multinational cafe chain describes the beverage on its website as "expertly steamed whole milk poured over two shots of espresso, topped with microfoam swirled into beautiful latte art".

The drink is believed to have originated in Sydney in the 1980s but just like pavlova, Phar Lap and Crowded House, there has been some argument over who really owns it.


There are New Zealand roasters who argue the flat white, as we now know it, was actually developed to its modern form in Wellington later that decade.

The rise of the quintessential Kiwi coffee began in the US a few years ago but New York magazine placed the credit squarely with the Aussies.

"Although available in New York's few Australian restaurants and meat-pie shops for at least a decade, it has grown in prominence with the rise of our coffee culture," the February, 2012 story said.

But the rollout by Starbucks has been met with scepticism by some stateside.

US website Vox responded to Starbucks' announcement with a piece entitled: "The flat white is Starbucks' attempt to get more respect from coffee snobs."

It said the company had been "classing up its act in the last year or so, trying to appeal to coffee snobs and not just busy workers looking for a caffeine fix".

Regardless of Starbucks' motives, the move is likely to find favour with ex-pats keen for a taste of home.