What is White Coffee?

If you think of coffee that’s white, you might assume it’s because the brew’s mixed with creamer or even condensed milk. For example, In some countries, like Vietnam, coffee is often combined with thick condensed milk to cut through the bitterness of poor quality beans.

But In this post, we are referring to a type of coffee roasted in a unique way that makes the coffee white. 

So without further ado, what  is white coffee?

What is White Coffee?

White coffee is essentially beans roasted halfway between green coffee and a light roast.

It’s also roasted differently. Most coffee beans are roasted at temperatures starting from 190C (375F). White coffee, however, is roasted at a lower temperature peaking around 160C (325F). This dehydrates the beans while still retaining most of its sugars, and acids.

Roasting white coffee beans is a different experience compared to your run of the mill coffee. Firstly, It roasts much faster so you’ll have to toe the line between unroasted green beans and roasted coffee that has hit the first crack. This avoids the beans undergoing the Maillard Reaction, which breaks down all of the coffee’s nutrients and sugars.

White coffee beans seem like a good alternative for coffee lovers who want to try something new, but what do these under-roasted beans have to offer compared to a regular coffee bean?

What are the differences between regular coffee and white coffee?

There are many differences between your typical coffee and white bean coffee. The coffee’s roast profile has a big impact on taste, aroma, appearance, and even the levels of caffeine in the bean.

A lighter roast coffee contains more chlorogenic acid compared to darker roast profiles. It is a known antioxidant that helps regulate sugar absorption and can also aid in lowering blood pressure.

How the way it’s brewed and ground is different too. A white coffee bean is more prominent and denser than the roasted coffee you’re used to. The toughness of the beans makes it not viable for most home grinders. It can be quite a chore and will likely dull your burr grinder in the long haul. It has a unique appearance with the white and yellowish color due to the roasting process.

What else can white coffee offer that makes it different from your typical roast coffee?

Is White Coffee stronger than Regular Coffee?

If you’re a coffee aficionado, you’d probably know how to distinguish the taste between roast levels. 

A dark roast can lean towards strong tasting notes with a bit of smokiness while a medium and light roast tends to be a mild and complex cup of coffee. However, white coffee is a shade lighter than your typical light roast, and what does it taste like?

In general, coffee contains a variety of acids and sugars that are broken down during the roasting process. Once the chlorogenic acid is broken down, the beans release compounds that give your coffee its bitterness.

As the white coffee isn’t roasted for that long, most of these compounds are still intact, which means that it isn’t as bitter as your darker roast coffees.

These under-roasted beans are more acidic than dark roast profiles, and it can have a milder flavor. As a result, white coffee mostly has a nutty flavor and a medium body. This is unique, given how under roasted the beans are in comparison to even a light roast. 

These nutty notes pair well with milk, especially when you’re brewing it as espresso. Some white coffees can even taste fruity with a hint of sweetness, but it depends on your coffee’s origin.

Does White Coffee have more caffeine than Regular Coffee?

Most people drink coffee as their weapon of choice for a quick pick-me-up throughout their day. Contrary to popular belief, a dark roasted coffee has less caffeine than its light roasted counterparts.

Caffeine is lost in volume throughout the roasting process. If you want to stay caffeinated throughout your day, a light roast coffee contains more caffeine pound for pound. 

Since white coffee is an extremely light roast, it has more caffeine by weight. Up to 50% more in some cases, but at the very least, a lightly roasted coffee is said to have 5% more than darker roasts.

Another point to consider is that the caffeine levels depend on the variety and origin of the beans. Coffee from the Robusta variety has the highest amount of potnecy compared to other species.

If you’re feeling adventurous, white coffee has a unique taste while still containing the benefits of caffeine.

So we’ve tackled the differences between black and white coffee. Let’s go find out how and where it first started right below.

Where does White Coffee originate from?

You might assume that roasting and drinking white coffee is a recent development, but it’s been used in some countries for years.

First off, these caffeine-packed under-roasted beans are actually drunk in different parts of the world. For some, it’s a part of their culture while others roast lower-quality and cheap coffee as white coffee rather than wasting it.

Recently other people have been drinking white coffee for its health benefits and for the big boost in caffeine.

Yemen has a stake in white coffee’s origins with its centuries-old tradition of slow-roasting lower quality beans and mixing it with a spice blend called “Hawajj“. The green coffee is first roasted at a lower temperature, which is then set aside to cool. 

It is then ground and brewed with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and peppers. The robust taste of the spices makes a good pair with the nutty and light taste profile of white coffee.

In Malaysia, a similar tradition began via migrant Chinese workers in the town of Ipoh. When they were conducting business with westerners, they drank coffee, which wasn’t suited to their palate.

They instead made their version of white coffee in which the coffee beans are roasted with palm oil margarine. This gives the coffee bean an oily sheen and a buttery aroma. The beans are then ground and brewed before being sweetened with condensed milk. It gets its reputation of white coffee from the color it gets from the milk. Up until now, Ipoh is still brewing this concoction, and it’s also available as an instant coffee.

How does this unique coffee relate to our light roasted beans?

Well, foreigners who visited the country found these oily beans a bit unappealing and unorthodox. They thought that there were actual white coffee beans exclusively grown in Malaysia. Some enterprising roasters in the area saw this as an opportunity, so they imported coffee and roasted it using lower temperature until it turned into the almost yellowish hue white coffee is known for.

It is called “Kopi Puteh” in Indonesia, a variation of Malaysia’s white coffee because of its close proximity.

In Western countries, people drink it for it’s perceived caffeine content and unique flavor. White coffee lovers mostly drink it with milk, especially almond milk, which increases the coffee’s nutty flavors. White coffee is mainly sold for use in an espresso machine because it tends towards the nuttier side. 

One thing in common between white coffee variations is the perceived light taste and body.

If you’re wondering where you can buy white coffee, we’ve got some suggestions right below for you.

What’s the best White Coffee?

1. Poverty Bay Coffee Co’s White Tornado White Coffee

Poverty Bay Coffee Co. has been roasting small batches of coffee since 1997. This Seattle roaster takes pride in roasting sustainable and direct trade coffee beans. Of course, that applies to their white coffee too.

White Coffee - 1lb bag of Ground White Coffee Beans Roasted By Poverty Bay Coffee Co, Special Grind
$14.95 ($0.93 / Ounce)
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Their White Tornado coffee blend is sold in 1lb bags, but if you’re a caffeine addict, they also sell it in 2 & 5lbs. They’re roasted at a faster rate than your regular coffee beans before the first crack, to be exact. The beans are kept at a steady and low temperature of 325F during the process, which is essential for white coffee.

What makes white coffee unique is that it has higher caffeine levels, the White Tornado fits the bill. It has 50% more caffeine, making it a decent cup of coffee during a groggy morning.

One thing to consider is that this ground white coffee is only available in their special fine grind. It’s best used with an espresso machine as you’ll likely obtain a disastrous cup if you brew it with a drip machine or brew using a pour-over.

This white coffee from Poverty Bay Coffee Co is a good choice for caffeine-lovers who want something unique and can still give them a jolt of energy in every sip.

2. Caffe Appassionato’s Caffe Blanco White Coffee

White coffee has a milder taste than roasted coffee beans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty. The Caffe Blanco is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans known for its flavor and aroma.

Caffe Appassionato Ground White Coffee, Caffe Bianco, 2 Lb
$23.88 ($0.75 / Ounce)
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Caffe Appassionato has expertly roasted these beans to a super light roast maintaining its nutty flavor profile. It has a taste reminiscent of roasted peanuts with a silky body and light mouthfeel.

For a complete white coffee experience, you can use it with almond milk to enhance the roast’s nutty flavors. These beans are known for being hardy and dense, which makes grinding them on your own a hassle. Don’t worry, though, because Caffe Appassionato has ground these for you!

Brewing it as espresso is a must, the roaster recommends pulling and discarding the first shot and using the second shot as your drink. This is to ensure that the flavors are well-extracted as the first shot can be weak and bland.

If you’re after a silky coffee with the  kick of caffeine white coffee is known for, the Caffe Blanco is a welcome addition to your home.

3. Wired Willey’s White Coffee

As the package of this ground white coffee suggests, Wired Willey’s is jam-packed full of caffeine, making for an energizing cup of coffee.

Wired Willey's White Coffee, 2 lb
$21.15 ($0.66 / Ounce)
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It is sold from 2lbs up to a hefty 16lbs if you’re willing to stock up on this delicious coffee. White coffee and other light roasted coffees are known for high acidity. Don’t fret because these beans are roasted to ensure low acidity, making it easy on the stomach.

Like our other picks, this is best brewed as espresso, and the roaster suggests not to tamp the ground coffee too hard. The grounds expand when brewed to ensure an even extraction in every pull.

As with most white coffees, this doesn’t taste like your traditional cup of joe. It has a distinct taste of nuts with just a hint of earthy notes. Since roasting caramelizes the coffee’s sugars flavors, this doesn’t have that bitterness because of its light roast profile.

Wired Willey’s white coffee is a must-have for adventurous coffee lovers with its caffeine-enriched body and mild nutty taste.

Summary

We’ve listed down the characteristics of white coffee and made some picks if you want to try it out.

These under-roasted beans are a departure from your regular roasted coffee. Most have a mild nutty flavor profile with a light body, thanks to how it was roasted.

The White Tornado from Poverty Bay Coffee Co. is a good pick if you’re looking for a new experience in your adventures with coffee. Our other choices make for a great espresso shot or latte as well.

White Coffee - 1lb bag of Ground White Coffee Beans Roasted By Poverty Bay Coffee Co, Special Grind
$14.95 ($0.93 / Ounce)
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We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. 10/24/2020 10:49 am UTC

Hopefully, this answers your question on what is white coffee. Feel free to bookmark this page for any updates on new white coffee beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make White Coffee?

Most white coffee beans are either sold as instant coffee or ground finely ground, which is a good fit for espresso machines. Most roasters recommend to pull 2 or 3 shots out of the same batch of coffee and to use the last shot you pulled.

Instructions might differ depending on the roaster, with some suggesting not to tamp your grounds, so it’s best to check for any info before making your purchase.

It is possible to brew using other methods, but it might make for a weak cup of coffee. You’ll have to experiment with different parameters like time and amount of grounds to pull off a good cup.

What does White Coffee taste like?

White coffee has a unique and distinct taste because of how it is roasted. Roasted coffee gets most of its flavor from caramelization, and white coffee is roasted before that process happens.

This tends to give white coffee a nutty taste, with some having earthy notes. White coffee is best paired with milk. If you want to take advantage of white coffee’s flavors, almond milk is a good fit too.

Philip Daniel Felongco

Philip Felongco

Ex-Barista and now coffee writer

A life long coffee drinker, Philip has been looking for new ways to enjoy coffee since he started in the coffee industry in 2017. His favorite coffee is a light roast Rwandan single origin. If he’s not binging on food shows or trying out new coffee recipes, you can catch him here at Sip Coffee!