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The latest trend that’s brewing up a storm within the coffee community is white coffee. While fast gaining in popularity amongst the curious coffee aficionados everywhere around the world, many people who are enjoying this beverage aren’t entirely sure what it is. So, what is white coffee?
White coffee refers not to a specific bean or type of coffee, but to the roasting process of said bean. It comes from the Yemeni tradition of roasting beans at a low temperature, for a short period of time and adding Hawaij spices. The result is a brew-tiful, cultured cup of coffee that has been loved for centuries.
Part of what makes white coffee so appealing is that it seems to be shrouded in mystery. It appears that almost everyone has their own opinion on it. There are many different variations of it and finding credible information on the topic is a difficult task.
Many people have questions around white coffee. What does it taste like? Is it healthy? What’s the difference between white and black coffee? Does it contain more caffeine than regular coffee? If you also have these questions, then I have good news for you.
Today, we’ll be spilling the beans on all thing’s white coffee—where it comes from, what it tastes like, how it’s made, how to brew it and where you can get your hands on some.
We’ll also be providing answers to common questions people have and give you information on anything you might’ve been wondering about the latest coffee craze.
So, without further ado, go grab yourself a cup of coffee and prepare to learn everything there is to know about this elusive coffee beverage.
With a name like ‘white coffee’ you’d be forgiven if, like most people, you assumed that this beverage is simply regular coffee with the addition of a splash of milk or cream.
Other beverages like flat whites, cappucinnos, piccolo lattes and even different types of tea’s are also often mistaken for white coffees, which only enhances the confusion around the topic as a whole.
White coffee is essentially an under-roasted coffee bean that tastes aboslutely nothing like the regular coffee you and I have become accustomed to drinking.
It possesses a unique flavor profile that, when combined with a certain set of spices, is a coffee drink unlike any other. On top of the spices used, what makes it special is the unique roasting process that occurs on its journey from bean to cup.
What makes it standout from other specialty coffees is how it is made?
The same beans as those used to produce regular coffee, mainly Arabica and occasionally Robusta, are used to produce white coffee. These beans, up until the roasting, go through much of the same process as regular beans do. This long and thorough process includes picking, pulping, soaking, drying, inspection and, finally, bagging the beans and sending them on their way.
The coffee beans are then transported to the roaster, and this is where things get interesting! This step of the journey is what differentiates it from regular coffee. Once the beans have been inspected once again, they are finally ready for roasting and are one step closer to becoming our favorite beverage.
While roasting sounds simple, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Roasting is actually an incredibly delicate procedure that requires plenty of planning, highly specific equipment and advance knowledge of the anatomy of a coffee bean. Even more so when roasting beans for white coffee.
It is made by roasting coffee beans at a temperature that is significantly lower than what is usually used to roast coffee beans. Beans used to make regular coffee are roasted at temperatures of between 450 to 480 degrees whereas beans to make white one are roasted at 325 degrees.
In addition to the very low roasting temperature, the roasting time required is also much shorter than the time that is required to roast traditional coffee.
Because of this massive difference in temperature, it is often referred to as ‘half-baked coffee’. Many people wonder if the beans can even be classed as ‘roasted’ given the very short time and temperature at which they are roasted.
But we can confirm that white coffee beans can in fact be defined as roasted. If we compare how it is made to the typical roasting process of coffee beans, the roasting journey of beans used would be considered complete at the first crack.
When it is drank on its own, white coffee has a distinctively mild and nutty taste with pronounced acidity. Thanks to the minimal roasting time it undergoes, the beans’ natural sugars aren’t caremelized so the bitter after taste that is usually associated with high quality coffee is not present in a cup of white coffee.
As is the case with most coffee roasting techniques, it’s important to remember that the choice of bean used will alter the taste of the coffee produced so be sure that the white coffee you select is a high quality bean.
Traditionally, it is enjoyed with a mixture of spices called Hawaij. The individual aromatics found in Hawaij spice differ according to region and unique Yemenite family recipes. Some commonly used ingredients that make up the special Hawij spice include ginger, cinnamon, fennel seeds, aniseeds, cardamom and cloves.
The addition of the Hawaij spice elevates this mild and nutty brew to a warm, hearty, and wholesome cup of flavourful goodness that is bound to please even the pickiest of palettes.
It must be reiterated that it in no way tastes like the traditional coffee that we all know and love and is often described as ‘perfect for people who don’t like the taste of coffee’. But, even though it tastes nothing like regular coffee, we recommend that you give it a shot and taste this unique coffee. After all, a coffee lover is a coffee lover, no?
Many establishments, such as Dutch Bros, market white coffee by claiming that it contains 70% more caffeine than what is found in a traditional cup of coffee. It’s claimed by many that white coffee has an extremely high caffeine content when compared to regular coffee, but it is difficult to prove this as a fact.
While the debate on whether a light roast or dark roast contains more caffeine is ever brewing, caffeine seems to remain relatively stable throughout the roasting process. However the general consensus is that the longer a bean is roasted, the more caffeine is lost. By that logic, a bean that is roasted for a shorter period of time surely contains more caffeine.
In saying the above, the level of caffeine found inside any single cup of coffee is also largely dependent on the caffeine content of the bean itself as much as the roasting process it goes through.
Even though it’s only recently become a trend in the Java world, white coffee has been around for quite some time. Originating in Yemen centuries ago, the recipe has been passed down through many a generation of Yemenite and is a beverage that is steeped in tradition.
A massive component of this traditional Yemeni cup of Joe is the age-old tradition of adding Hawaij spice to the brew. Hawaij means ‘mixture’ in Arabic and that is exactly what it is—a mixture of herbs, spices and other aromatics to compliment and enhance the nutty flavor profile that is unique to a cup of white coffee.
While having such a rich history in Eastern parts of the world, many people are left to wonder why white coffee is becoming so popular now. The coffee community can largely thank Dr Smood for this as the addition of Hawaji White Coffee on the menu of its organic boutique health cafe spurned a mild obsession with this beverage and is a leading contributor to its mainstream success.
Besides the obvious difference in color, there are a number of differences that are found between white and its black coffee counterpart. Just to clarify, when we say ‘black coffee’ we aren’t referring to coffee without any additives, we are referring to regular coffee that has been roasted in the traditional way.
Due to the variances in the roasting process—being the roasting temperature and roasting time—the taste of white coffee is the main difference between the two. While black coffee is known for its smoky, rich and complex flavor, the white one is known for its earthy, nutty and delicate profile. For people who adore the taste of black coffee, you might not enjoy a cup of white as much as you would like to. The two are extremely different taste-wise.
Another big difference between the two is how they can be used at home. Black coffee beans are suitable for at home grinding in your coffee machine, whereas white coffee beans are not and require use of commercial equipment. Because of this factor, the white one is most often sold in a pre-ground format and black coffee is regularly bought in whole bean format.
Overall, it’s quite difficult to compare the two as they are massively different in terms of taste, the roasting process, grinding requirements and even the color of the resulting liquid.
Believe it or not, in spite of it’s massively growing popularity—white coffee is not an item you will commonly find featured on the menu of your favorite coffee shop. Side note: if your favorite coffee shop does in fact offer white coffee on their menu, please let us know in the comments below!
Unless you have a Dutch Bros or Dr Smood’s branch located in or around your area, it can be incredibly difficult to get your hands on white coffee without ordering online from specialty coffee roasters and distributors.
Luckily for us curious coffee drinkers, a number of specialty coffee roasters have embraced the white coffee trend and it is now possible to purchase the beans online.
We’ve put together this list by rounding up five reputable roasters that will happily hook you up with your very own white coffee.
It is important to mention that we recommend purchasing white coffee directly from a supplier wherever possible as the beans are roasted to order. Sometimes when buying from affiliate sites, due to stock availability and delivery delays, coffee is not as fresh as it would be if you ordered direct.
You can purchase white coffee through Abbey Roast, a roaster located in southwest New Mexico. To achieve their white coffee roast, Abbey Roast uses Brazilian Arabica Beans which they stop roasting before the first crack.
Abbey Roast supplies white coffee as whole beans—the only supplier on this list that does so—as well as pre-ground options including coarsely ground, medium ground and finely ground. You can purchase your white coffee directly from the website in 12oz or 5lb’s bags.
You can also opt to purchase white coffee from Alaska Artisan Coffee, a family owned & operated roaster located in Palmer, Alaska.
Their white coffee is one of their best-selling items and you can buy an affordable pre-ground Polar Bear ‘Bearly Roasted’ Blend of white coffee directly from their website as a 5oz, 12oz, 32oz, 5lb or 8lb bag.
You could also entrust Seattle-based Café Appassionato to satisfy your white coffee desires. Made from 100% Arabic Beans, their white coffee is hand roasted until just before the first crack.
You can order a 2lb bag of Café Appassionato’s Bianco white coffee directly through their website or through their Amazon page.
Wired Willey’s White Coffee is brought to you by Lowery’s Coffee, located in Everett, Washington. They advise not to tamp if you’re using an espresso maker to brew it as the grounds expand during brewing.
Pick from a 16oz, 32oz or 4lb bag and purchase directly from their website or through their Amazon page.
Another trusted supplier of white coffee is Poverty Bay Coffee Co., found in Seattle, Washington. Poverty Bay Coffee Co. markets their White Tornado Coffee as a product ‘for the extreme coffee lovers who need something more than 5 hours of energy’ and promoted as high in caffeine.
Pick from a 1lb, 2lb or 5lb bag of ‘special grind’ white coffee and purchase it directly from their website.
Because it has been roasted at a much lower temperature for a shorter amount of time, the resulting roasted beans are much firmer than a regular roasted bean would be.
The hardened texture from less roasting means it’s near impossible to grind these beans at home using a regular grinder without causing damage to the grinder or destroying it entirely.
So, to accommodate the grinding requirements, you’ll either need to find a commercial grinder to make use of or purchase your white coffee in a pre-ground format.
While getting your hands on it can be a challenge, thankfully, once you’ve nabbed a bag brewing white coffee is a breeze and something anyone can do without much hassle or special knowledge.
Once it has been ground, you brew it exactly as you would your normal coffee by using your home brewer or espresso machine. Different suppliers recommend different brewing methods so be sure to take note of their recommendations before purchasing. Check out this video if you’d like to see white coffee going from pre-ground grounds to cup.
Once it has been brewed, you will have a steaming cup of pale-colored coffee that, funnily enough, is most enjoyed when drank “black” without any additives.
Next, add your Hawaji mix, which can be bought online or made easily at home. If the earthy taste isn’t quite cutting it for you, add milk or cream and your sweetener of choice. Using almond milk in lieu of regular milk is highly recommended as it compliments the nutty taste of the white coffee.
Because it has only recently started making waves, much research is still to be validated on the health claims often associated with the tasty treat.
Many people are quick to list the apparent benefits that come with drinking it, but we prefer to deal only with facts that can be backed up.
Here are the benefits we know so far:
Until more conclusive research has been done, the benefits of drinking white coffee will seemingly remain a mystery just waiting to be uncovered.
In short, yes. It is as good for you as regular coffee, if not more so. This is due to the high amount of chlorogenic acid that is found in light roasted beans. Chlorogenic acid has been thought to assist with weight loss, glucose regulation, anti-inflammation, cardiovascular health and even Atherosclerosis.
Yes. As is the case with regular coffee, you can drink it during intermittent fasting provided that you drink it black and avoid using any additions like milk, cream, sugar or sweetener.
Yes. Coffee in general is a Keto-friendly beverage and white coffee is no different. You can either drink it black with no additions for a calorie-free beverage or with a heavy cream instead of milk to up the fat content.
While not exactly white in color, it’s definitely not as brown as a regular cup of coffee, that’s for sure! We know that coffee beans are green before roasting, so the usual color outcome of a cup is a light brown, beige or off-white tone.
No. It is not the same as Malaysian white coffee. The Malaysian one, also known as ipoh, is a sweet Malaysian coffee drink featuring palm oil roasted beans. It is traditionally served with sweetened condensed milk.
As you can see, the highly mysterious white coffee seems to be gaining in popularity for quite a few reasons. While there are still many questions that remain unanswered for now, we hope you’ll finish this article feeling more informed on this trending topic.
Is it really a caffeine filled elixir that is here to stay or is it just the latest fad to be featured in the coffee community, here one moment and gone the next?
Regardless, we highly recommend taking a sip of Yemeni culture and treating your coffee-loving taste buds to something a little different.
Now that we’ve learnt what white coffee is, where it comes from, how it’s made & how to brew it, what it tastes like, how much caffeine it contains and, finally, where to buy it—will you be giving this unique beverage a shot?
We’d love to hear your thoughts so be sure to spill the beans in the comment section below!