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What is White Coffee? Beans, Benefits, and 3 Recipes

Maybe you've heard about white coffee at your local cafe or from a health-conscious friend. Is it the same as a flat white coffee, or does it come from a different type of coffee bean? Let's dig in and find out all there is to know about this unique type of coffee.

white coffee health benefits

Guide to White Coffee

White coffee is not very common. There's a pretty good chance that you didn't know it existed until today.  But that's about to change. By the end of this post you'll know enough to give it a try or take a pass.

So, just what is white coffee? White coffee is very lightly roasted coffee. It is roasted slowly and is becoming a popular choice in North America.

But this isn't the only coffee known as white coffee. Here are the four kinds and how they differ.

how to make white coffee

How Many Kinds of White Coffee Are There?

There is a little bit of confusion about white coffee because it could be (and is) used in reference to any number of coffee drinks that have milk added to them. Or, to white coffee made from very lightly roasted coffee beans.

The first three in the following list get their name from the milk or creamer that's added to the coffee.

But the final white coffee is in reference to the coffee beans that are light, or “white” in color because of how they've been roasted. (This is the kind that this post is about).

Here are four types of coffee known as white coffee:

  1. Malaysian/Ipoh White Coffee – made with condensed milk and palm oil margarine).
  2. Indonesian Kopi Putih White Coffee – made from lightly roasted coffee beans. If you search for Indonesian white coffee you'll most likely come across a popular brand of Luwak (a brand name – not to be confused with kopi luwak) instant coffee called Luwak White Koffie which contains a non-dairy creamer.
  3. Flat White Coffee – made with espresso and silky smooth microfoam frothed milk.
  4. White Coffee – made from very light (slowly) roasted coffee beans and is becoming a popular choice in North America. (The focus of this post.)

Okay, now let's talk about how white coffee differs from other types of coffee.

what is white coffee

What's the Difference Between Regular and White Coffee?

This coffee has a different flavor profile and higher caffeine content than some other kinds of coffee.

The beans are harder so it's usually sold as ground coffee. Trying to grind it at home could damage your coffee grinder.

It does not necessarily come from a different kind of coffee bean, it can be made from arabica or robusta. White coffee comes from green coffee beans just like regular coffee does.

The difference comes in when you look at how long and at what temperature the coffee beans are roasted. The roasting process affects the color and flavor of the beans.

Normally the longer coffee beans are roasted the darker and less dense they get.

White coffee is made from beans that are very lightly roasted at a lower temperature (lower than regular coffee beans) which makes them lighter (in color) and harder than beans that are roasted longer.

raw coffee beans

Green (raw) coffee beans.

Does White Coffee Have More Caffeine Than Regular Coffee?

Yes, white coffee has more caffeine, but how much more is debatable.

Some say 50% more, others say less – and there are some who say 75% more. There is no concrete answer to this question, but at least we can safely say that there is more caffeine because of the science behind the roasting process.

The length of time the beans are roasted affects their caffeine content. Generally speaking the darker the roast – the lower the caffeine.

Because white coffee is a very light roast it has a higher (scoop for scoop) caffeine content than darker roasts.

If you weigh out your beans than you probably already know that you'll be getting roughly the same caffeine kick (light/medium/dark roast) because caffeine content is determined by how dense the beans are.

Fewer white beans would be needed to reach the same weight as darker roasts because they are denser. If we're talking scoop for scoop – there would be the same amount of beans (regardless of the roast) but more caffeine because the white coffee beans are denser.

white coffee

What Does White Coffee Taste Like?

It has what many describe as a light, nutty flavor.

Because it's such a light roast it will not have the same rich roasty, smokey, bitter flavor notes or deep aroma that you get when drinking medium or darkly roasted coffee.

White coffee will usually taste, smell and look lighter – with more of a nutty flavor than regular coffee. It also has a consistency more like tea than regular coffee.

benefits of white coffee

The darker the roast the farther the flavor gets from the original flavors in the green coffee beans (which are actually seeds). So with a roast this light you are getting a flavor profile closer to the original in the green beans. This may be the reason it's described as smelling a little grassy or hay-like by some.

I'm a big fan of rich flavorful coffee. The roasty, chocolaty flavor notes and deep aroma of my coffee are something I look forward to. I may be more inclined to add white coffee to a smoothy when I want the kick of coffee but I'm not looking for those rich coffee flavor notes.

But you may love the feel and flavor of white coffee on its own. Please let me know what you think of it by commenting on this post.

Here's a short video of a white coffee fan:

Watch on YouTube

And here is a video from of a couple of guys who are not fans (or at least not from their first encounter):

Watch on YouTube

The roasting process affects more than just the flavor and the color of the beans. Let's talk a little bit about that.


What Are the Benefits of White Coffee?

White coffee is said to retain more chlorogenic acid (which is an antioxidant) than regular coffee.

This could be a bonus for health-conscious people because they may be getting more health benefits from drinking it than from regular coffee. (I say “may” because the jury is still out about the health benefits of coffee in general, and I'm neither a doctor nor a scientist.)

Again these benefits would come from how lightly the beans are roasted. The more (or darker) coffee beans are roasted the more the chemical profile of the bean changes. So the lighter the roast the more similar the chemical profile and nutrient content will be to the original green coffee bean which is higher in chlorogenic acid than roasted coffee beans.

Many white coffee lovers also say that it's easier on the stomach than regular coffee.

Because of these benefits, you may hear people talking about it as part of their healthy diet regime.

does white coffee have more caffeine

How to Make White Coffee

This coffee can be brewed the same way as regular coffee. Just make sure you buy the right grinder for your brewing method. And in this case, we don't recommend grinding your beans at home because they are harder and will probably damage your coffee grinder.

If you are a lover of medium and dark roast coffee, chances are you won't be a big fan of white coffee all by itself. A great tip from the roasters over at Poverty Bay Coffee Co is to brew it half and half – a scoop of your favorite roast and a scoop of white coffee.

You may also want to add it to a smoothy. It may not affect the flavor of your smoothy as much as regular coffee because of its lighter flavor. This may be a bonus in a kale/green smoothy if you're not a fan of mixing regular coffee flavor notes with your greens.

In a cafe, they will probably brew white coffee as espresso and add other things to it, like milk and sugar…

If you're brewing it at home as coffee (not for a smoothie) you'll probably want to add milk/cream and a little sugar/sweetener.

4 Tips for Brewing White Coffee:

  1. When using white coffee in your espresso machine don't tamp it because it expands upon brewing.
  2. It may be helpful to brew it in a Chemex or Hario V60 because they slow the brewing process down a bit helping to bring out the flavors more than a drip machine.
  3. A french press is another good option for brewing this coffee because you can experiment with the steeping time to bring out more of the flavor.
  4. Also, a moka pot makes a strong cup of coffee, similar but not as strong as an espresso machine, so it's another great option.
health benefits of white coffee

3 White Coffee Recipes

Here are a few recipes to try at home. You'll probably notice that these recipes cover up much of the flavor of the white coffee.

That's because most people agree that it doesn't taste super good on its own. It's not going to be the same enjoyable experience that comes from sipping different kinds of black coffee/espresso, trying to discern the flavor notes.

You might as well go ahead and give it a sip black (or light tan as it will actually be) and see what you think of it. But then you're probably going to want to add some of the suggestions in the following recipes.

Recipes for making white coffee are similar to recipes for making regular coffee but you'll notice a significant difference in the flavor when compared to regular coffee drinks.

The coffee will taste more like the things you add to it than the flavor of the coffee. But hopefully, you'll still be getting a hint of that nutty flavor unique to white coffee.

If you have a white coffee recipe you would like to share please do so in the comments.

white coffee recipes

1. Hazelnut Iced White Coffee Recipe

  • In a drip coffee maker (or french press, or pour-over) brew 2 rounded tablespoons of ground white coffee.
  • In a tall shockproof glass pour in 2 tbsp of your favorite creamer and 1 tbsp of hazelnut syrup and a pinch of hot-chocolate powder, mix well.
  • Add about 1 cup of ice and slowly pour your brewed white coffee over the ice.
  • Stir the iced white coffee and enjoy.

2. Coconut White Coffee Cappuccino Recipe

  • Pull 2 shots of white coffee espresso.
  • Heat 1/3 cup of coconut milk and froth. Using a large spoon to hold back the foam pour the frothy coconut milk over the white coffee espresso shots until the cup is 2/3rds full, then spoon the foam on top.
  • Add a pinch of cinnamon and enjoy.

3. Almond Maple White Coffee Recipe

  • In a stovetop espresso machine (moka pot) brew your white coffee.
  • Heat 1/4 cup of almond milk and add it to your brewed white coffee, add 2 tsp of maple syrup.
  • Stir and enjoy.
what does white coffee taste like

Where to Buy White Coffee

So, now you may be interested in giving this light nutty coffee a try.

You might be able to taste test it at a local cafe (if it's offered on the menu) but if you're like me that may not be an option (small towns…) so you could order some online.

Here are a few brands to try:

1. Cafe Appassionato White Coffee

This is a 2 lb bag of ground Arabica.

This grind consistency is a bit on the coarse side which is great in a french press.

There no creamers or other flavors added.

Check the current price on Amazon.

2. Poverty Bay White Tornado White Coffee

This is a 1 lb bag of ground Arabica.

It is an espresso grind. So great for your espresso machine, or stovetop moka pot machine.

There no creamers or other flavors added.

Check the current price on Amazon.

3. Wired Willey's Ground White Coffee

This is a 4 lb bag of espresso grind.

This is also 100% Arabica coffee. There are no flavors or creamers added to the coffee.

Check the current price on Amazon.

should you drink white coffee

Should You Try White Coffee?

That's a great question. Should you try it? Well if you're like me you're up for trying pretty much any kind of coffee.

But it may be good to keep in mind that it won't taste like regular coffee. It will probably remind you more of a nutty tea.

So if you're looking for a caffeine kick to add to your smoothies (and you're not a fan of regular coffee) than white coffee just may be the coffee for you.

I would love to hear your thoughts about white coffee, please join me in the comments.

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines

Dena Haines is co-editor of EnjoyJava! - and is working to make it the best coffee blog in the world. Ambitious, right? She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of GudGear (an outdoor adventure blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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