It seems white coffee is the next big thing to grace the coffee scene lately, and it's really brewing up a storm. It turns out this white coffee isn't exactly new, but has been hiding somewhere in Yemen up until recently.
But the West got wind of it and boy is everyone excited. More caffeine, less acidity, very nutty flavor, and a very tough bean to grind.
So what is white coffee ?
White coffee is made of regular coffee beans (either Arabica or Robusta, but usually Arabica), except they've been roasted only very little.
This is what makes the coffee 'white', as opposed to just being a light roast. This is under roasted coffee, in fact it's walking that thin line between light roast and undrinkable hay.
White coffee gained popularity and is now one of the most sought after coffees ever. You can find it in some shops, usually specialty shops, but most of the time you'll find the coffee online.
Aside from actual coffee shops that can brew a cup for you, that is.
What's the difference between white coffee and regular coffee ?
The main difference between regular coffee and white coffee is the roast level. This is where everything starts, since a very low roast level like white coffee means the bean will be very hard, very dense.
Which, in turn, means you'll need a very powerful grinder, stronger than what you can get for home grinders.
This is something you can completely circumvent by buying pre-ground white coffee. Yes, it's pre-ground and it might not be screaming fresh but do you want to replace your grinder anytime soon ? No ? Okay then.
As a result of low roasting temperature and time, you also get a nutty flavor. There's low acidity, but also an under-developed flavor that can turn off some folks, but be other folks' thing.
And this all combines to make for a coffee that definitely needs a high pressure brewing method that going to rip and tear through those dense beans and get the flavor out.
Where does white coffee come from ?
White coffee comes all the way from Yemen. If your remember, this area's got a whoooole lot to do with the very first coffee beans, ever.
Apparently in Yemen brewing white coffee is kind of a tradition. It has its own set of spices and milk to add to the drink, and yes you can find those as well, or at least make your own personal blend.
The spice blend is called "hawaij" and is made up of ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves, and might sometimes contain fennel or star anise.
There is no specific recipe for hawaij, because much like the Chai spice mix from India, it's a personal thing and each family has its own preferences and you won't find 2 spice blends of the same kind.
Making your own hawaij spice mix is easy, whether you grind them at home or buy them pre-ground and mix them at home, you're bound to make something you'll enjoy.
How do you make white coffee ?
Making white coffee, as in getting green coffee beans is fairly easy on its own. Grinding the under roasted beans is what's going to be more complicated.
When you get the coffee beans, they're green in the beginning, This is because they're the pits of the coffee fruit, and have a whole bunch of moisture still in them.
It's during the roasting process that they change their color from light green to brown.
First they stop at a pale yellow color, when the moisture is escaping them. As you expose the beans to the high temperatures of a roaster, you'll find that the beans will change color further, and begin to crack. These are sort of milestones to guide yourself by.
Most light roasts are pulled out of the roaster after the first crack - the coffee bean literally cracks open a little, and it sounds very much like popcorn.
White coffee beans are pulled out just before the first crack. They're not even light brown yet, and haven't really developed that distinct coffee flavor.
This roasting process means the beans must be kept in the roaster for a short-ish period of time, but on a lower setting than for other roast levels, like for example City Roast (medium).
The amount of time and the temperature of the roasting process can and does affect the end result. A long roast time on a low heat setting ensure a more even roast, a bit more flavorful. But it takes more time to achieve.
Once the beans have been roasted, they're left to cool off and then are ground. You need commercial-grade grinders to crack these beans since they haven't even had their first crack.
This means they are very dense, hard to crack or smash, and this becomes even more of a chore if the roaster's used Robusta beans, as opposed to Arabica.
Thankfully, most (if not all) white coffee is entirely Arabica, since a very light roast will reveal lots of the undertones that will tell you the origin of the bean and its general flavor profile. This is a very prized trait of Arabica beans.
How do you brew white coffee ?
Brewing white coffee is completely doable, provided you actually use a high pressure brewing method. What this means is that the beans, even while ground, are still very dense.
So you're going to need very hot, very fast water to really brew them. For this you'll need an espresso machine, Moka pot, or Aeropress. This is because all 3 methods use a lot of pressure and get you a nice, strong cup of coffee.
Of course, you could also French press white coffee but you're going to have to let the beans steep for longer, something like 10 minutes as there is no high pressure mechanism to push the flavor out of the beans like with an espresso machine.
In some cases, depending on how small the white coffee was ground, you might have to run the espresso shot twice. This means packing a double shot of espresso, and running the amount of water necessary for 2 standard espresso shots.
This might make a few baristas angry, I know, but sometimes white coffee is just that stubborn and needs the extra water and heat.
That being said, I do believe that white coffee cannot and will not behave and taste and look like regular coffee, It's simply too different, even if it's made of the same beans.
And for this reason we can't really expect it to brew the same way as everyday coffee.
What does white coffee taste like ?
In terms of taste and flavor, white coffee on its own tastes a little nutty, and not very bitter. There is very little acidity, and not many of the notes of the coffee have been roasted enough to really come forward.
But you should detect fruity notes, as well as a slight hay flavor.
On its own, white coffee might not be breathtaking, but it's the hawaij blend that truly makes this coffee stand out, and what makes it white coffee.
You can drink it without the spices, yes, but why would you ?
Even for those who, for example can't stand cinnamon, that particular spice can just be omitted from the blend, or swapped for another spice.
Spiced coffee is actually a very common thing in the Middle East, so this hawaij mix should comes as no surprise to anyone.
Of course, milk can be added to the spiced white coffee and it can be any kind you like. However people have noticed that almond milk goes particularly well with this nutty, spicy drink.
Where do you get white coffee ?
You can find white coffee, but it won't exactly be easy. Most of your options would involve going to an actual coffee shop and ordering the drink, since some shops are now offering it.
It's mostly the small, artisan coffee shops for now, but this might soon change and the big names like Starbucks are probably going to put it on their menu in the near future.
In fact, going out to have this coffee made for you by a competent barista might actually be a good idea, at least before you go ordering it online.
This way you'll know whether you'll like it or not, and if you even want to grab a whole bag of the thing. And you'll also know what it's supposed to taste like, meaning you'll be able to adjust your brewing method accordingly.
As for finding the coffee online, you have a few options.
One of them is this 1 lb bag from Poverty Bay Coffee Co., roasted and ground by them. It's a small batch micro-roaster company, and this white coffee is one of the best out there.
It comes with its own ground size, which is not very explicit but is reported to be very close to an espresso grind.
One of the few truly white coffees you'll be able to find online.
You can find the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.
If you'd like to look for other options, then maybe this Wired Willey white coffee from Lowery might be for you. They're a U.S.A. based gourmet coffee company, and this is their ground white coffee, fresh from the roaster.
It comes in 3 sizes - 1 lb, 2 lb, and 4 lb. It' up to you which size you'd like, but they offer all 3.
This coffee is ground for espresso machines, but I think you could get good results with a Moka pot as well.
You can find the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.
Is white coffee healthy ?
Some would argue that white coffee is healthier than regular coffee. This is because it supposedly contains more chlorogenic acid than regular coffee, because it was roasted much less.
Chlorogenic acid has been linked to several health benefits, but the amount of extra chlorogenic acid left in white coffee isn't very well studied to definitely label this drink as a health drink.
Does white coffee have more caffeine ?
Caffeine is present throughout the entire coffee bean. During the roasting process, the coffee bean expands and this mean that when it's ground into ground coffee you will get a certain amount of caffeine.
Ground white coffee, since the bean is more dense and does not expand during the roasting process, means you may get a bit more caffeine that with regular coffee.
That being said, the amount of extra caffeine is nowhere near the 50% some claim, but much lower than that. This is because the coffee bean does not expand very much during the roasting process, which means the difference is not life changing.
But labels sell, and "50% more caffeine" does sound enticing.
The only way you'll even get more caffeine is if you brew only Robusta beans, since those have the highest caffeine level in all coffee beans.
White coffee might not be very well known right now, but do give it a try. It might just be your next favorite drink.
Due to the low acidity, nutty flavor and overall mildness, a fair amount of people who tried it reported they favor this over regular coffee.
Maybe it's because of the hype, maybe it's really that much better for them. But I'm glad we're all having the time of our lives with this white coffee.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?