White Coffee: Everything You Need to Know About It

Nicole Austin

Our guide to all the basics about white coffee, and why you may prefer it.

No, we’re not talking about the color of my coffee after I add all the fixins. (Sometimes it’s a bit on the light side, depending on my mood…) White coffee is real, and it’s a term that refers to the process used to prepare the coffee bean, and in turn, the resulting unique coffee.

This lighter colored roast is actually more of a beige or cream color, but is certainly more white than any traditional black coffee on the market. Coffee may feel timeless, but this type of coffee has only become super popular worldwide during the last few years.

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Nobody knows exactly who started this phenomenon, but it’s well known among coffee enthusiasts (especially in the United States) that white coffee is a unique and viable option. It has soared in popularity recently due to its caffeine density and flavor, not to mention the health benefits that rival those of black coffee.

If you find that your results from white coffee are not to your liking because the coffee feels too thin or weak, don’t forget that we’ve got your back with information on how to thicken your coffee at home.

Here’s everything you need to know about white coffee!

What is White Coffee?

White coffee is not a special kind of bean, but rather a special way of preparing the bean for use. White coffee is coffee that was roasted half of the way through and to a lower temperature.

It is the coffee with the least amount of roasting, with the process stopping at around 325°F.

By contrast, light roast coffee is roasted until the “first crack,” or the stage when the bean makes a popping sound while heating. This occurs somewhere between 350 and 410 degrees.

I prefer a light roast when making Bulletproof coffee, as a large amount of the appeal for me is found in the caffeine boost that light roasts are best known for.

What Is Bulletproof Coffee? Photo

Medium roast coffee, our favorite for making cold brew, is roasted until just before the second crack, somewhere between 410 degrees and 400 degrees.

The bean is much drier than a light roast bean, and starts to take on the flavors from the roasting process. This unique flavor profile is why it is ideal for culinary indulgences, such as coffee liqueur.

Finally, there is dark roast coffee, where the beans become quite dense after being cooked to a higher temperature of around 440 degrees, at the end of the second crack. It is imperative to reach a temperature between 440 and 465 degrees, because after this point, the beans will start to burn.

Dark roast beans are typically quite dense and dry. This is the coffee we recommend using in our Iced Coffee Cocktail recipe.

Iced Coffee Cocktail Image

Roasting the beans for white coffee at a much lower temperature yields a whitish-colored result that contains a much higher caffeine content because less caffeine has been roasted out.

The right roast level for you will depend on whether you like dark coffee with a more traditional bitter taste, lighter roasts, or the low acidity of white roast coffee and its unique coffee flavor.

So, with that said, what does white coffee taste like?

White coffee beans have a nutty taste and are semi-sweet, very different from their sometimes-bitter darker counterparts.

The first time you try it you may be a little taken aback by how different the white beans taste, but there are several reasons this style of preparation is increasingly popular in the coffee world. (Though that doesn't mean you can necessarily find white coffee drinks at your local coffee shop.)

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What is Flat White Coffee?

When ordering coffee, it’s important to know the difference between white coffee and flat white coffee on the menu.

Flat white coffee is micro-foamed milk poured over a single or double shot of espresso, creating a smooth texture and creamy taste. Similar to a latte, flat white coffee is stronger due to the ratio of milk to coffee.

Rather than a fluffy coating of foam on top as with a latte, there is instead a layer of “flat” steamed milk on top, hence the name.

A flat white coffee is the name given to the preparation style and resulting drink, whereas white coffee is created using a bean that was roasted differently than black coffee beans.

(Read more on that process above, if you skipped down to this section!)

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White Coffee vs Black Coffee

Both white and black coffee start with the same green coffee bean. Raw green coffee beans are roasted before coffee can be prepared. From this green starting point, white coffee beans are roasted to a lower temperature, around 325°F.

Due to the fact that white coffee is not fully roasted, it contains anywhere from 5% to 50% more caffeine than black coffee. This also means that it contains more antioxidants, as they have not been destroyed during roasting.

Another major difference between white coffee and black coffee is the flavor profile. White coffee's nutty flavor profile is more like a sweet, earthy tea, whereas black coffee has the traditional strong, sometimes bitter, distinct flavor we all associate with coffee.

Sweeteners and creamers, therefore, also perform differently in white vs black coffee. White coffee is easily complemented by other nutty flavors, such as almond milk or almond milk creamers, whereas black coffee is usually paired with cream or dairy to cut the bitterness.

Tip: See our handy guide for how long your creamer can be left out to make sure your coffee is the best it can be!

White coffee is much harder to grind at home than black coffee because the bean is quite dense, so most roasters sell it ground for ease of use.

Because it is so dense, it also does not brew the same in a traditional coffee pot.

When taste-testing or transitioning to white coffee from black coffee, many coffee lovers prefer to add a scoop of black coffee to their white coffee. This helps cut the flavor to match what you’re familiar with, making it easier to adjust to and enjoy.

White coffee is harder to make and therefore requires more skill, making it rarer and more expensive to procure.

We should also note that, despite the similar names, white coffee and blonde espresso are not the same.

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How to Make White Coffee

You can buy your own white coffee and make it at home.

It’s recommended that white coffee be prepared in a slower fashion to extract more flavor, such as a pour-over. Doing a second pour-over is also highly recommended, as it extracts more of the flavors, along with antioxidants and caffeine.

An espresso machine is an excellent way to achieve the full strength of white coffee without a lot of extra effort. Espresso machines are, however, generally expensive- people who do not indulge in coffee on a regular basis may have more luck with a more budget-friendly option, such as a less expensive machine or an alternative brewing method.

How to Brew White Coffee in an Espresso Machine

  1. Measure the appropriate amount of white coffee (approximately 7g for a single shot and 15g for a double).
  2. Tamp the grounds firmly. While you may not do this with other roasts, it’s helpful for white coffee. White coffee grounds are very gritty and hard, so they absorb less water than traditional coffee grounds. Packing them down helps extract more flavor.
  3. Pre-soak the grounds by starting your shot, waiting 4 seconds, then stopping the shot. Allow it to soak for 20 seconds, then run the shot through as usual.
  4. Add your shots to the flavoring, milk, or water of your choice.

How to Brew White Coffee Using a Moka Pot

  1. Boil approximately 4 oz of water on the stovetop.
  2. Once water reaches the boiling point, pour into the bottom chamber. It should be about ¼ of the way full.
  3. Place the filter basket and fill with 15g white coffee, shaking it so it’s level.
  4. Screw on the top chamber, using caution as the bottom chamber will be hot, and place directly on the stove burner on medium heat.
  5. Let the water in the bottom chamber come to a soft boil until it reaches a steady and predictable stream. You will know it is ready when you hear the Moka pot “hiss.”
  6. Add your shot to the flavoring, milk, or water of your choice.

(We also recommend using your Moka pot to try Cuban coffee.)

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How to Brew White Coffee Using an Aeropress

  1. Boil water on the stovetop. It’s recommended to preheat the Aeropress by pouring boiling water through the cylinder.
  2. Place the filter into the filter cap and screw it into the bottom of the main chamber.
  3. Add 17g of white coffee to the brew chamber and shake to level.
  4. Place the base with the funnel on top of a sturdy mug, ensuring that it’s balanced and secure.
  5. Pour hot water (around 200°F) into the main compartment up to the top of the circle, using 1 as the brew size.
  6. Stir the mixture of water and coffee grounds for 20 seconds, then place the pump into the top chamber and push down slowly. Use caution not to press too hard against resistance — rather, slow down.
  7. Push until you reach the bottom, and then remove the equipment from the top of the cup.
  8. Add your shot to the flavoring, milk, or water of your choice. We don’t recommend brewing your white coffee in a traditional coffee pot. This will waste your coffee, and could make a mess.
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What Are the Benefits of White Coffee?

You may be wondering if you should try white coffee, or why so many people enjoy it. Many coffee drinkers have started to try it because of the benefits of white coffee, which has helped to explain its soar in popularity.

The main benefits of white coffee over black coffee are the level of antioxidants, and the higher levels of caffeine. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Too many free radicals are bad for your health, and can destroy certain cells when there are too many of them in your body.

For this reason, it is key to maintain a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. Stressors and environmental factors — such as illness, infection, high blood sugar, and consuming alcohol — all create a condition known as oxidative stress. This means that the levels of free radicals exceed the antioxidants in your system, creating an imbalance that leads to health issues and illness.

Antioxidants also boost your immune system and improve your overall health. The known level of antioxidants in tea is considered a large part of why it’s consumed on a regular basis. Antioxidants are also found in “superfoods,” which are foods known to be beneficial for health and wellness.

Many experts recommend that these foods should be consumed on a regular basis as part of a healthy diet, especially if you’re battling inflammation or chronic illness.

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White coffee’s antioxidant power comes from Chlorogenic acid, which is not as easily burnt off while roasting at a lower temperature for a shorter amount of time. This acid has been found in studies to be linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It can also reportedly help you maintain or lose weight, improving overall health.

Long story short, you don’t have to only drink green juice or tea to get your fill of healthy antioxidants now that you know about white coffee!

Another benefit to the lower and faster roasting time is the lack of acidic flavor that black coffee is known for. While there’s no direct health benefit to be had from taste alone, many people do enjoy the softer, nuttier flavor profile.

Hopefully we have answered all of your questions about white coffee — now the only thing left to do is give it a try and discover your perfect blend — and if you prefer it to darker roasts!

Tip: Love coffee? Explore our ultimate coffee guide.

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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