What is white coffee? And when it comes to white coffee vs black coffee, is there one that’s “better”?
To start, white coffee is not, as its name might suggest, white. And it’s not a flat white drink either.
White coffee is a coffee type that has gained popularity in recent years due to its unique taste and low acidity. It is also known for its milder taste, which makes it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts who prefer a crisp and bright cup of coffee.
This article will explain everything you need to know about white coffee and how it’s different from regular black coffee, so you can decide for yourself if one is more magical than the other.
Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect:
What Are White Coffee Beans?
White coffee beans are normal coffee beans. But because of these lower temperatures, the beans only partially roast. So they retain a lot of their original color, which is actually green for those who don’t know.
Coffee beans exhibit a lime green color that is quite pale, resembling the appearance of being covered in an almost transparent layer of paper, but it’s not just any green. They’re quite beautiful when still unroasted (at least to me), so seeing them like this is cool.
Some people call it “ghost coffee”, too, because they have that strange faded white color going on. Spooky! 👻
Green but not really green, white-ish lime green. Not really a marketable name. Hmm. Let’s go with “white coffee”. Close enough!
Taste Differences Between White Coffee vs Black Coffee
White coffee has a unique taste compared to regular coffee due to its light roasting process. White coffee has a milder taste with a nutty, floral, and slightly sweet flavor profile. Its aroma is less strong and less bitter than other types of coffee drinks.
The lower temperature and shorter time used for roasting also create a lighter color that makes it visually different from traditional roasted coffee.
Some popular places where you can find white coffee include artisanal roasters, specialty coffee shops, and online retailers that specialize in selling unique coffee beans.
Or at least that used to be the case; more and more I see white coffee in the most unlikely places. In plain sight and easily accessible! I’ve found it in big supermarkets, and local coffee shops. Just a quick look around is sure to get you some results. And if not, ask your local barista. Trust me, we love getting these kinds of questions.
Origins of White Coffee
Things are confusing regarding the origins of anything in the coffee world. Many people claim to have discovered this or that or invented the flat white here or there. It can be… unnecessarily complicated.
Some people say that it originated in Malaysia, but that’s not true – it only became known to us through Malaysia.
White coffee’s origins can be traced back to Yemen, where it was traditionally known as “qahwah bayda“. To make white coffee, they roasted coffee beans for a shorter time than usual, resulting in a lighter color and milder taste than regular coffee.
They typically served white coffee during special occasions such as weddings and celebrations in Yemen. It was also believed to have medicinal properties and was used to treat various ailments.
Over time, the popularity of white coffee spread to other parts of the world, including Malaysia and Singapore, where it became a favored local beverage. In these countries, white coffee is made by roasting coffee beans with margarine or butter, which gives it a unique taste and aroma.
The popularity of white coffee around the globe, including in the United States and Europe, has led to a greater interest in the unique brewing process that makes it so special in recent years.
White Coffee vs Black Coffee: How Is White Coffee Different?
The primary difference between white coffee vs black coffee is the way both types are roasted and then brewed. Black coffee is made by brewing coffee beans with boiling water, whereas white coffee’s water is best when slightly cooler.
The beans used to make white coffee are also roasted for a shorter period of time than those used to make black coffee. Let’s go deeper into these two major differences.
Roasting Process for White Coffee vs Black Coffee
The roasting process of white coffee is also different from the roasting process of regular coffee. While regular coffee is usually roasted to a medium or dark roast level, white coffee is only lightly roasted from its natural greenish hue to a pale or yellow color.
The roasting temperature is also lower for white coffee, typically ranging from 160 to 180 degrees Celsius (320 to 356 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to the higher temperatures used for regular coffee.
The lower roasting temperature and shorter roasting time used for white coffee result in a milder flavor profile and a lighter color.
The beans retain more of their natural flavor and aroma, while the characteristic bitterness and burnt flavors associated with darker roasted coffee are absent. The lower temperature and shorter time also cause less caramelization and pyrolysis, which are chemical reactions that occur during roasting and can produce undesirable flavors and compounds.
While you would usually take about 20 minutes to roast black coffee, white coffee only takes between 5 and 10 minutes to roast.
The coffee’s natural oils create a creamy texture, one of the unique stand-out characteristics of white coffee. The roasting process does not burn off these oils, resulting in a richer and creamier beverage than traditional coffee. When comparing white coffee vs black coffee, that’s definitely a point in the white coffee camp for me.
Brewing White Coffee vs Black Coffee
The brewing process of white coffee is different from that of regular coffee. The coffee beans used in white coffee are lightly roasted, which means they are roasted at a lower temperature and for a shorter period of time than regular coffee beans. This, in turn, has a big impact on its flavor profile.
And so, we mustn’t brew it just like any other coffee.
Unlike regular coffee, white coffee is not brewed with boiling water but instead, it is prepared using hot water that is between 170 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now, even though this range might still be used by experts in some cases for regular coffee, white coffee absolutely cannot tolerate higher brewing temperatures.
Regular coffee can take boiling water—even if it’s not ideal—but white coffee only really works if you brew using temperatures at the lower end of the spectrum.
For newbies who don’t have access to a lot of tools like a thermometer, I recommend boiling water and letting it sit for five minutes. That’ll get it to the perfect temperature for making white coffee vs black coffee, which is usually best made with hotter water.
Health Benefits of White Coffee vs Black Coffee
Like traditional coffee, white coffee contains caffeine. Studies have shown that caffeine can improve mental alertness, increase metabolism, and reduce the risk of certain diseases such as Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes.
But a key benefit of white coffee specifically is that its roasting process, done at lower temperatures, increases the antioxidant content of the beans.
According to several studies, lightly roasted coffee beans contain more antioxidants than darker roasted beans. This is because the roasting process breaks down some of the antioxidants in the beans. However, since white coffee is only lightly roasted, it retains more of these beneficial compounds.
Another benefit is that white coffee is low in acidity, which makes it easier on the stomach than traditional coffee. People who suffer from acid reflux or other digestive issues may find white coffee a good alternative to conventional coffee.
White coffee earns also its reputation as a premium coffee because it is made from high-quality beans, resulting in fewer additives and chemicals than traditional coffee.
Why White Coffee Is My Personal Favorite
One of the main reasons I love white coffee vs black coffee is that it’s better for my acid reflux problem. Regular coffee can be acidic and cause discomfort for people with acid reflux. While it’s possible to balance this out by adding cinnamon to your brew, I prefer my coffee without anything in it. And as explained in the previous section, white coffee is lower in acidity.
Starting my day with coffee was great for years until it wasn’t. Suddenly, it led to discomfort and pain, making me quit coffee for a while. I didn’t go out without a fight, however. I tried whole milk, cream, oat milk, a combination of almond and coconut milk, and all sorts of things. And then I came upon white coffee.
Since switching to white coffee, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my symptoms and can enjoy my morning coffee without discomfort. I can drink white coffee black without any problem at all. It’s been amazing.
Another reason white coffee is my favorite is its lighter taste. It may have slightly more caffeine than regular black coffee. But I can enjoy a milder taste without feeling overwhelmed, which can happen with dark and heavy-tasting roasts.
I also love the unique taste of white coffee vs black coffee. Its subtle sweetness and nutty flavor sets it apart from regular coffee. I find it a refreshing change from the strong, bitter taste of regular coffee and look forward to trying new varieties and blends – even though I cherish those flavors, too.
Final Thoughts on White Coffee Vs Black Coffee
White coffee is a unique and flavorful beverage that has recently gained popularity. Its mild flavor and creamy texture make it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts like me. Its benefits also make white coffee an attractive choice to those looking for a healthier alternative to traditional coffee.
But is it better than traditionally roasted black coffee? The answer is yes for me, but you’ll have to decide that for yourself. So whether you are a coffee lover who’s looking to check white coffee off your bucket list, or simply looking for a new caffeinated adventure, white coffee is worth a try.