What is White Coffee? Get All the Scoop Here!

what is white coffee?

Last Updated on January 13, 2024

What is white coffee? Well, let’s take a closer look at these odd looking little beans and learn more about why they look the way they do, and what their appearance means to a cup of brewed white coffee.

If you’re a java lover and this is your first foray into the world of white coffee, hang onto your mug because you’re in for quite a ride! You’ll also see my review of white coffee as a first-time experience. More about that below.

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What is White Coffee, Anyway?

White coffee is made when coffee beans are roasted at a temperature that is lower than the coffee you typically drink. Specifically, white coffee is roasted to around 325 degrees, much lower than the 450 to 480 degrees of regular coffee roasts.

So, our little friends the white coffee beans are not ‘baked’ as long as their darker roast cousins. And, because of the shorter roasting time, the taste, as well as the caffeine content, is different as well.

what is white coffee

It is really important to understand the distinction between white coffee beans and roast, and the coffee drinks you can make at home or order at the coffee shop.

A flat white coffee is made with espresso and steamed milk. This is not what we are talking about here.

If you were to order a white coffee in Europe, you’d most likely be served a cup of  black coffee with cream and sugar.

A white coffee in the US would probably get  you a cup of black coffee with cream.

White coffee that is brewed from very lightly roasted coffee beans is s-o-o-o much different that any of these! The world of coffee is so interesting, and should be fun, too.

Where Does White Coffee Come From? A Bit of History

We travel to Malaysia to find the origins of white coffee, specifically in the Old Town of Ipoh. The original white coffee was made from beans roasted in margarine, then ground, brewed, and served with sweetened condensed milk.

Centuries ago in Yemen, coffee beans were roasted at a temperature slightly lower than normal. After grinding and brewing, a spice blend called hawaij was added. The mix of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves, adds another level of taste and satisfaction to the brew.

The white coffee we are discussing in this article most closely aligns with the term in Indonesia, kopi putih, which stands for coffee beans that are roasted less than regular coffee beans.

 Why is White Coffee White?

why is white coffee white?

To be a bit more accurate, the coffee beans themselves are very light tan in color, thus the term ‘white coffee’, because of the shorter roasting time than a typical coffee roast (light, medium, or dark). It is the roasting process that turns the green coffee bean dark, and the longer the roasting time, the darker the coffee bean.

The brewed white coffee has a color more like a cup of brewed tea if nothing is added to it, so it definitely plays tricks on the coffee-brain in your head. It just looks so different than any other cup of coffee you’ve ever had.

whiskey barrel coffee gift

How Do You Brew White Coffee?

how do you brew white coffee

White coffee can be brewed like any other coffee, but is probably served at its best when made with a mokapot, an aeropress, or using the pour over method. 

I brewed using the pour over method and Poverty Bay ‘White Tornado’ white coffee.

Some suggest that a double pour will give a fuller bodied result, so keep that in mind.

And, some white coffee drinkers won’t touch a drop until the spice blend, hawaij, (the sweet, not savory mixture) is added to round out the taste and experience.

Does White coffee Have More Caffeine than Regular Coffee?

Well, we know that the longer a coffee bean is roasted, the less caffeine it retains. Some coffee roasting companies claim that white coffee has up to 50% more caffeine than that of a traditional roast. 

While that claim may not be supported, the fact that white coffee beans are the lightest roast among the more traditional light, medium, dark, and espresso roasts, we can conclude that there is most likely more caffeine in a cup of white coffee than a cup of traditional coffee.

Are There Benefits to Drinking White Coffee?

It is stated that white coffee is less acidic and contains more antioxidants than a traditional coffee roast.

Some refer to it as a ‘health elixir’ because of the delicate roasting process. The longer something is roasted, the greater the oxidation. In a lighter roast, the chlorogenic acid content is higher, which protects human cells against oxidation and inflammation.

What does White Coffee Taste Like? White Coffee Review

In addition to answering the question, “what is white coffee?”, I would love to tell you more about the taste of the brew, my friend. So, I decided to purchase a bag of ground white coffee and brew a cup myself. What follows is a narration of my experience and thoughts about white coffee. 

My thoughts on drinking my first cup of white coffee. I brewed a pour over using the same method as I do for freshly ground dark roast coffee.

When I opened the bag of ground coffee (it only comes as ground – the beans are so hard they would probably break your coffee grinder) and gave it a sniff, I could detect a nutty aroma, but also a coffee-like aroma. Very different from the typical dark roast java that I usually drink.

Once brewed, the color of the coffee closely resembles brewed tea. So don’t expect your white coffee to be dark in color…it isn’t.

The taste is unique and actually is not easy to describe, because it’s nothing like I’ve ever tasted. A nutty taste along with the zing of the caffeine is my take on the flavor and mouthfeel. There is a bit of a bite to it.

My body certainly knows that it is getting a jolt of caffeine, even though my mouth and my brain are not sure what it is I’m drinking. They are confused.    For me, there was no doubt that this brew contained a good amount of caffeine.

I decided to add some cream to my white coffee to see what that did to the taste. It definitely lent a smoothness that was not present before, and I think it made for a better taste, for me anyway. Some reviewers state that adding almond milk is the way to go. Decide for yourself when you get to that point in the process. 🙂

Next, I decided to add just a little bit of sweetener to my white coffee with cream. I think I enjoy the taste the best with both cream and sugar added. There is a smoothness and of course a hint of sweetness that is not present with plain brewed white coffee.

Should you try white coffee? I say, why not? Life should be an adventure, and as a self-proclaimed coffee snob I want to experience all of the facets of my good friend, the little coffee bean.

While white coffee will probably not become my #1 choice in brewed java, it is a unique and tasty variation that I will periodically partake in, cream and sweetener added for sure!

Where can you Buy White Coffee?

Well, how about right here? I’ve gathered the best selling white coffee brands currently available on Amazon. If you’re considering giving white coffee a try, it’s always a good idea to choose a brand that has been reviewed and rated in the past. If you read the reviews, these are like any other review…some people loved it and others hated it. But, you’ll never know what you think if you don’t give it a try.

Remember these four tips:

  1. white coffee has a unique taste, so keep an open mind
  2. you’re getting more caffeine with white coffee than any other roast
  3. most roasters agree that white coffee contains natural antioxidants
  4. and, when you’re friends ask if you’ve ever tried white coffee, you can confidently say, “yes, I have!”

I hope that your question, what is white coffee, has been duly answered, my friend. It is said that life is full of mysteries. You can now confidently take ‘white coffee’ off of that list!