Coffee is a really colorful drink at both extremes! On one hand, you have black coffee, and on the other hand, you have white coffee.
So what is white coffee, anyway? It’s not a flat white or any other milky coffee. In fact, it refers to a special roast of coffee which is even lighter than a blonde roast.
What is white coffee?
White coffee is coffee beans that have been roasted at a lower temperature and for a longer time, resulting in a whitish coffee bean that has a distinctly nutty and acidic flavor.
White coffee has been around for a long time, but it has only recently become mainstream. You should be able to find it in specialty coffee shops in major cities.
There’s no fixed type of bean that white coffee is made of. It can be made from Robusta or Arabica beans and from beans of any region. As you would expect, though, the quality of coffee bean used will greatly affect the end result.
White coffee actually originated in Yemen, where it was served with a special mix of traditional spices called hawaij.
What are white coffee beans?
White coffee beans are made from regular green coffee beans. Green coffee beans are very hard, and the roasting process makes them comparatively softer as they lose moisture.
To make white coffee beans, green coffee beans are roasted to around 325 degrees F and roasted for twice as long as you’d roast regular coffee beans. To compare, medium or dark roasted coffee beans need to be roasted at 425 to 450 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes.
White coffee beans are very hard, so you need to buy it pre-ground or you risk damaging your home grinder. If you order online, get it pre-ground, and if you’re buying them from a local coffee shop, ask them to grind it for you in their commercial grinder.
White coffee vs black coffee
So what are the main differences between black coffee and white coffee?
Let’s take a look.
Because white coffee beans are roasted to lower temperatures, less of the natural sugars caramelize, meaning the coffee will be much less bitter than a medium or dark roast.
Also, less exposure to heat results in less of the organic acids getting burned off, so white coffee is pronouncedly more acidic than black coffee.
The best way to describe the flavor of white coffee is “nutty and very acidic.” The nutty flavor really pairs well with the hawaij spice mix. Some people like to pair white coffee with almond milk, too.
Whether white coffee has more caffeine than black coffee is a hotly debated topic. There’s a few explanations here, so let’s take a look.
One line of thinking says that less heat means less caffeine is burned off. However, others say that the difference in caffeine content is around 5%, making it quite negligible in the grand scheme of things.
Another way to look at is by using the same reasoning as you do for understanding the caffeine content of light roast and dark roast coffee.
Caffeine content can be measured by density. The more coffee beans are roasted, the less dense they become. So if you were to measure by volume, a cup of white coffee beans is much more dense than a cup of medium or dark roast coffee beans, and thus contains more caffeine by volume.
However, if you weighed the coffee beans out, you’d end up with nearly the same amount of caffeine.
Because white coffee is roasted at lower temperatures, it contains more chlorogenic acid than darker roasts. Chlorogenic acid is the main component that makes green coffee beans so appealing to the health-conscious community.
Because white coffee is closer to green coffee beans on the spectrum, it shares many of the health benefits of green coffee beans.
However, the difference is not so much to warrant switching from black coffee to white coffee.
Unless you decide you really like white coffee and don’t want to go back, of course 🙂
How to make white coffee
Light, medium, and dark roast coffee can be brewed using any brewing method. White coffee is best brewed with a method that yields concentrated coffee.
Any pressure brewer will do the trick. Use an espresso machine, a moka pot, or an Aeropress for best results.
Once you have the concentrated coffee, you can add hawaij to it for an authentic cup or add almond milk for a more modern drink.
It’s best to temper the acidity with hawaij or dairy as it can be incredibly strong, especially when brewed as an espresso or using a stovetop espresso maker.
Almond milk does a great job of enhancing the nutty flavor.
White coffee brands to check out
These guys are big on freshly roasted coffee and proudly write the roast date on every pack so you know that you’re getting fresh coffee.
They also offer a 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t like their coffee, and they’ve got pretty decent reviews.
Poverty Bay Coffee Company
Poverty Bay Coffee Company is one of the best known brands in white coffee and they source high-quality beans that result in really great-tasting beverages.
Caffe Appasionato Caffe Bianco
Like the two roasters above, these guys are also a small-batch roastery based in the United States. A 2 lbs bag should last you for a decently long time!
Is white coffee the same as Malaysian white coffee?
White coffee is not the same as Malaysian white coffee or Ipoh white coffee. Malaysian white coffee is roasted with olive oil and served with condensed milk.
It’s a really creamy and delicious coffee treat, but it’s not the same as white coffee 🙂
Interestingly enough, white coffee isn’t actually white when you brew it. It will look more like really weak black coffee. It seems it got its name to signify a roast level that’s even lighter than a blonde or light roast.
White coffee is a great new thing to try if you’re looking to be adventurous with your coffee brewing. While the pros of white coffee don’t outweigh those of black coffee to warrant switching over if you already enjoy black coffee, it never hurts to shake things up a little and try something new!
Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API