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White coffee: Nutty. Weird. but is it good?

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It doesn't have to do anything with dairy! White coffee is a unique type of light roast with a very different taste and aroma. Read to find more about it!

There are many different coffees out there, but what’s so different about white coffee? 

The story behind it is fairly recent. It all started in the United States, after experimenting with slow roasting profiles under relatively low heat.

If you want to learn more about this unique way to make coffee, keep reading!

Ipoh White Coffee: Unknown Ancestor?

Cup of Ipoh white coffee served on a vintage cup
A cup of Ipoh white coffee. Picture by: White Kopi – Old Town Kopitiam AUD3.
Published under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

In Malaysia, Ipoh white coffee is a popular drink and perhaps the only thing slightly similar to American white coffee. However, the Malaysian beverage predates the latest white coffee trend, we couldn’t find any link between them.

Ipoh white coffee roasters add butter to the slow roasting process, which makes a huge difference both for the process and the resulting drink. Furthermore, the gap between Ipoh white coffee and the American one doesn’t stop there.

The Malaysian coffee drink has sweetened condensed milk too, and it’s a treat in itself. On the other hand, making drinks with white coffee beans doesn’t have any specific recipe.

Now it’s hard to find authentic Ipoh white coffee anywhere outside of Malaysia, while American ground white coffee is available at several coffee shops, roasteries, and even online.

White Coffee vs. Black Coffee

Roasting levels were already quite confusing before white coffee. Still, it’s more than an extremely light roast. The basic difference with light roasts as we know them is that white coffee is slowly roasted most of the time. However, I have found that some roasters don’t slow the process, but use lower temperatures for a short time.

In any case, white coffee beans have a beige, creamy color, and they’re considerably harder than regular roasts.

As a result, they are almost impossible to grind at home and require commercial-grade equipment to grind them.

When making coffee with white beans, you’ll get a pale drink, with a similar beige color.

How does white coffee taste?

a toast with nut butter and strawberries. A taste that resembles some flavors in white coffee.
Nutty and slightly acidic, white coffee has a unique taste.

We found that most people describe the white coffee taste as nutty with a bright, acidic flavor that doesn’t linger long. It has almost no bitterness because of its peculiar roasting process. Sugars don’t caramelize, so the aftertaste is quite light.

However, although white coffee isn’t as bitter as regular roasts, it isn’t as acidic as most light roasts. After tasting it with some friends, we agreed on its nutty flavor. Particularly, some identified a peanut-like taste that’s hard to find in other roasts.

Still, bear in mind that other variables like origin, processing method, species, and variety will play a huge role in taste and aroma. As for any roasting level, for that matter.

Does it have more caffeine than regular coffee?

Many authors have said and written that caffeine content changes significantly through the roasting process. However, we found that most scientific evidence suggests otherwise.

White coffee might have a bit more caffeine than darker roasts, but the difference would be so minimal that nobody could notice it.

What Are the Benefits of White Coffee?

Although some claim that white coffee has more antioxidants than any other roast, it isn’t necessarily true. However, like any coffee bean, it will be a good source of antioxidant compounds.

When it comes to antioxidant activity, a recent study suggests that the roasting profile is more important than roasting levels. In other words, how quickly the coffee gets roasted changes more substantially the coffee antioxidants composition than roasting level.

How To Make White Coffee?

Most roasters recommend espresso for white coffee. Still, intense brews like Moka pot and Aeropress can make a decent white coffee cup at home.

To start, if you have a Moka pot, the standard brew ratio will get you a bold cup, packed with nutty flavors. With the Aeropress, try to keep the brew ratio below 10:1 to get a delicious cup of white coffee.

I don’t recommend adding sugar or any spice to coffee. It isn’t different for white coffee. I am sure that it’s better to try it without any add-ons first.

Final thoughts on white coffee

Although intriguing, white coffee beans are an interesting way of experimenting with new brews. Still, it takes some expertise and gear to make at home. It’s better to make it using espresso, Moka pot, or Aeropress coffee.

You’ll get a beige-colored drink, packed with nutty and zesty flavors.

In my opinion, I still prefer medium roasts, but it’s a matter of personal taste. If you’re curious and like to find new tastes and aromas in coffee, you should definitely give white coffee a try.

Read next

Does dark roast have more caffeine?

9 common myths about espresso

What is cascara?

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