What is “white coffee”?

White Coffee is generally a light-roast coffee that a few coffee shops have started to sell. The consensus seems to be that it is simply a seriously under roasted coffee bean. The advertising hype that goes with it would agree with this assumption although the people selling this product will not say anything about how it is made.

Because barely roasted coffee beans are extremely hard a special coffee grinder is required to grind the beans themselves.

White Coffee is actually fairly difficult to roast properly, given that roasting imparts many of the flavor changes most people associate with what a “coffee” is. Light roasts retain many of the prominent single origin coffee bean flavors, along with more of the plant-based chemicals and organic acids that aren’t the most pleasant tasting. This higher volume of organic acids and other compounds is exactly what purportedly makes it healthier however, and is impacted to a great extent by the severity of the roast.

Unfortunately there’s no consensus on what a white coffee really is – companies that produce their private branded coffee obscure the origin as well as roast level intentionally to create consumer lock-in. While a company may simply be selling a low-priced coffee, the lack of transparency means that they can price it as high as they want. There’s also no real evidence that white coffee is substantially healthier than a regular, light-medium roasted coffee, or coffee in general.

Those who have tried it typically describe it as having nutty, almost grass-like flavor, which adequately describes the first early stages of coffee roasting.

Is a “White Coffee” actually white?

No, while it will be a lighter brown color than most darker roasted coffees, it will not actually be white.

White Coffee Caffeine Content

One of the common claims about white coffee is that it is higher in caffeine than normal coffee. In theory, coffee loses caffeine by volume as it is roasted so it probably does have more caffeine by volume. This point is negligible compared to the variations between different origins – a high grown Ethiopian coffee bean for example would have more caffeine than a low-altitude Brazilian coffee because it takes more time to develop on the tree and therefore gains more nutrients.

In reality, there’s only minor losses going from a light roast and a dark roast – just 5.4% – not enough to have a noticeable impact on caffeine levels and certainly not enough to justify choosing a coffee based on roast alone.

Caffeine did not undergo significant degradation with only 5.4% being lost under severe roasting.

One theory that has been proposed is that the blend may be all or mostly Robusta coffee beans to boost the caffeine. This would indeed boost the caffeine content, and cost less to manufacture as Robustas are typically less expensive. The significant problem with this theory is that Robustas are generally not great tasting, and a light roast would do nothing to cover those flavors.

Chlogorenic Acids

Once consideration is that the roasting process does transform Chlorogenic Acids (CGAs), which has been attributed to many of the health benefits of coffee.

It’s important to note however, that different origins and blends will have different levels of CGA, and can vary so widely that a light roast of one origin may have the same levels of a medium roast of another origin. Purchasing a non-descript generic “white coffee” therefore doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier than another coffee, without the chemical analysis to back up the claim.

Other “White Coffee” Drinks

In Australia a white coffee or a “flat white” can be any number of different espresso and milk of coffee and milk drinks. Starbucks has introduced the “flat white” into North America, but does not refer to it as a white coffee.

In the US and UK you will from time to time hear coffee with milk or cream referred to as white coffee, but has nothing to do with the coffee roast.

White coffee can also refer to a cup of instant with a dash of cold milk.


55 thoughts on “What is “white coffee”?”

  1. What I have heard about white coffee is…

    ..that one shot of the white espresso has triple the amount of caffeine that regular espresso has. It also has less of the acidity that reg coffee has and doesn’t upset your stomach.

    The other benefit of it is if you don’t like the taste of coffee, white coffee is perfect since you could put it into a white or dark mocha and you won’t taste it. It simply tastes like a hot chocolate! I’ve picked these “facts” up from the baristas who work in the cafes that serve the white coffee.

    I have been drinking white coffee whenever I can get my hands on it for the past couple of years and love it. I also got my non-coffee-drinking boyfriend started onto coffee with it and slowly moved him over to regular espresso..lol.

    I am a barista myself and have been in the coffee business for years so of course I was extremely interested in this product. Still looking to find a site that has concrete facts about it though!

    1. White Coffee is originally

      White Coffee is originally from a small town in Ipoh, Malaysia about 60 years ago.

      My co-workers and I are not hardcore coffee drinkers, but we picked up slowly starting with white coffee. It creamy taste and smell are what set it apart from the rest of the coffee.

      1. re:White Coffee is originally

        Their comment that regular coffee is roasted with sugar and butter is wrong. Coffee is roasted with nothing but more coffee. I question their claims with the exception of the claim of it being regular coffee roaster lighter.

        1. Where can i buy white coffee?

          I’m french, my best friend is a pastry maker in a parisian restaurant and he’s looking for white coffee to make a white ice. In France, we can’t find that.
          Please, i’d like to surprise him by finding this precious white coffee, could you help me to identify some online shop?
          Thank you for your attention.

          1. Call lowery’s coffee out of

            Call lowery’s coffee out of Spokane Washington
            800-767-1783 I bet they would send it that far

      2. RE: White Coffee is originally

        I am leaving this one even though it points to a commercial page because it is an interesting take on “white coffee”. I do not think it is the same as what is being talked about here. Actually it’s something very different than any coffee I have ever heard of.

      1. RE:Order White Coffee

        Contact info has been removed since it breaks the no advertising rule.

        Joe – If you would like to advertise in this section please contact me and we’ll see if we can work something out.


    2. White Coffee

      I wish I could find this stuff online or somewhere “back east”. I’ve only recently moved to the east coast from Washington state… and I really really miss the white coffee!

      I can’t stomach much of the “regular” heavily roasted “burnt bean” type coffee. It’s generally too acidic for me. However, the White Coffee is less acidic and carries a caffeine kick of a mule! Wowsers! Very quick lift.

      If anyone knows where to get either the green (entirely unroasted) or white (lightly roasted) beans online, I’d appreciate a line.

      1. RE: White Coffee

        White coffee may be hard to find but un-roasted green is plentiful. Check out Green Coffee Vendors on this site for a start but that is not a complete list.

      2. I agree , I also live here in Washington, I’m being told white coffee in some forms may be a marketing scam. To not be scammed find some beans that are such., still looking for this myth buster white coffee bean.

        1. You should pay special attention when ordering green coffee beans (or extract) for consumption without roasting. The roasting process kills off any residual pesticides/herbicides/fungicides/fertilizers so roasted coffee is safe, however green coffee is not treated and may contain any number of chemicals.

          You’ll want to buy an organic coffee that is traceable – no garbage off Amazon.

      3. Prize crew has the best I’ve ever had. Nutty and delicious. They are out of Puyallup WA. I drive up from Portland just to get it.

    3. Actually, white coffee shots do not have more caffeine. The coffee beans itself, yes. But given the fact you only extract a white coffee shot for 7 to 8 seconds versus 19-26 like a normal espresso shot, the white coffee shot has much less caffeine then a regular shot. I’ve been through extensive espresso training for several years. I am a Barista manager and supervisor.

  2. WOW! Thanks for your article,

    WOW! Thanks for your article, next time, white coffee will be my choice. But I think iit is better to buy popular blends that move fast, while in a supermarket vacuum packaged containers with expiration date are your best bet although all canned coffee will be stale to some extent. It should be noted that in order to vacuum pack coffee industrial coffee producers actually let the coffee sit before it is packed. As soon as coffee is roasted it starts to release CO2 in a process called outgassing. This actually helps to protect the bean from staling. Unfortunately for the people vacuum packing coffee or putting coffee in tins this also will inflate the bags. This outgassing is the reason that you will see one way valves on some coffee bags. These valves allow the CO2 to escape while keeping oxygen out of the bag. I really like drink coffee, when very business trip time, I never forget my coffee with some sugar to my hotel. I do not know its a bad habit or a good one. But can no change.

  3. Trying it now

    I’m trying a cup right now. My first impression is the color. It looks like black tea. The aroma is nutty and maybe a little sweet. The first sip taste similar to green tea with roasted rice. It’s not a bad flavor just different. I like it but its mostly hype and I don’t think I’ll have it again. It’s not worth the cost over something that is pretty unextrodinary.

  4. To Joe and other advertisers

    Joe and other advertisers,

    I appreciate that you are trying to get your commercial message about your product out but it is inappropriate to continue posting commercial messages to the message sections. With the exception of the paid advertising around the border of the site there is no advertising allowed. I have replied to one of your messages before letting you know this.

    Put more bluntly if you want to use this side as a sales tool buy Google Advertising space. I think there is even a way to request inclusion on specific web sites. In the mean time any messages posted by an advertiser or referring to an advertiser in a suspicious way will be deleted the same way they are in every other message board on this site.

    Please do not continue to abuse the comments. Since there seems to be interest, I would love for one of the white coffee vendors to buy ad space so I and other interested parties could purchase this coffee but I will not allow spam in the comments section.


    1. I understand. Sorry. I

      I understand. Sorry. I notice more advertising farther down the page. Or was it just me you were mad about?

  5. White Coffee

    The white coffee I drink at Perk central is stronger than the regular coffee and it has a nutty flavor to it. Yesterday, the server said they roasted the white coffee a little more than usually so it would have more of a kick. I have the white coffee in my white mocha on ice drink. It just looks like milk but they do put a lot of ice in their drinks which I like.

    1. White Coffee

      I love White Coffee! I hate the taste of regular coffee, so White Coffee is great for me. My typical drink if a place does not have White Coffee is: White Chocolate Vanilla Mocha Non-Fat No Whip. I can still taste the coffee, but it is the closest I can come to White Coffee if they do not have it. A White Coffee White Chocolate Vanilla Mocha is like drinking sweetened milk. It reminds me of the milk after you have eaten the Lucky Charms. Love it!

    2. If they roast it longer it

      If they roast it longer it loses caffeine. He probably meant roasted for a shorter time.

  6. I would like to try

    I have been looking for a place to purchase white coffee but I can only find Ipoh which is not white coffee. Any suggestions?

    1. Cafe Elite and I think

      Cafe Elite and I think Tully’s has white coffee. Big Foot Java also has it. Ask around at your local coffee shops, they can usually tell you where to go if they do not have it. I love toasted marshmallow white coffee.

  7. white coffee

    I purchased white coffee for home but I can not find any recipies for white coffee on the internet anyone have any good suggestions for white coffee drinks what flavors I should try with it?

    1. 2 shots of white coffee- 8 oz

      2 shots of white coffee- 8 oz steamed milk- 2 shots each white chocolate and marshmellow and if you have it 1 shot biscotti flavoring  It is called a Smores Ghost   also 2 shots white coffee with 8 Oz steamed milk and 6 Oz Egg nog (not the flavoring but actual egg nog) it is sweet and a bit thicker but it is so good on a cold night or morning.    These 2 are my favs.

  8. White Coffee

    You can find it at Cash and Carry’s if you have one around.  A good recipe is just 2 shots of white coffee (or more if you want), 8 oz of steamed milk, and some white chocolate.  We use powdered white chocolate and use 3 scoops, and also a little bit of cane sugar syrup.  It is really sweet and the cane sugar syrup isnt needed but we like it.   I’ve also made it like an americano with the same stuff but with water instead of milk and its not bad.  And ive had 4 shots of white coffee with the white chocolate and just a little milk to top it off and its not too bad either.


     Also, we use the wired willy’s white coffee, and its great.  Olympic Crest also makes a white coffee but it is a little bit darker.


    Hope this helps.

    1. Cash & Carry & White Coffee

      Not all Cash and Carry have the White Coffee. I can find it up in Tacoma, WA but not here in Salem, OR.

      1. white coffee

        The Cash n Carry in Eugene has it,off of Bertelson,off of w 11th. It is really caffeinated and will wake you right up! You have to buy a five lb. bag though. I think it is around thirty five dollars.

      2. I heard yesterday that the Cash and Carry in Bellevue,Wash has a couple brands of white coffee.. comes in bulk.. next to hiway 520 in Bellevue by the Harley dealer 😉

  9. white coffee

    I use Wired Willeys White Coffee. I Purchased a bag at the Cash & Carry In Spokane while on vacation. I live in Florida so I just called the number on the White Coffee Bag and placed an order. I was suprised at how cheap it was even with shipping, the same company sells syrups for my mochas in plastic bottles which helps when being shipped. The number on the bag of white coffee is 800-767-1783 try calling them if you need white coffee its so good I can’t live without my white coffee mocha every morning.

  10. By The Way Espresso Redmond Has it

    By The Way Espresso in Redmond has it! 8005 161st AVE NE Redmond 98052 in the parking lot of Aqua Quip.  It is amazing with White Chocolate Hot, Iced, or Blended.  Plus the Barista there is great you will become a loyal customer your first time, I did.

    1. Try the white coffee with

      Try the white coffee with white chocolate, marshmellow and if they have it biscotti (the flavoring not the biscuit)  It is called a smores Ghost and it is SO good   White coffee is also good with egg nog    Enjoy


      I found what is called white coffee at Blue Castle Coffee & More in a new section of Battle Ground, WA, 802 SE 14th Ave, (360) 666-9542.  Had them make a dark chocolate mocha with white coffee, and found it quite delicious.  Wish I knew of other shops in the Vancouver area that have white coffee.  No, I don’t drink Darkbucks, but Black Rock is interesting, and I like Peet’s.

  11. It says to google white

    It says to google white coffee but that’s what I did to get here this is getting me nowhere… Ahahahaha 😛

  12. white coffee

    I buy the white coffee at cash and carry to use in my esspresso machine then use coffemates coconut cream, yummm ..!

    what a treat.. 

  13. White Coffee

    I buy my white coffee from Shorty’s Coffee Shop in Ferndale, WA. 5719 Barrett Road.  They get it from Moka Joe’s. They roast it locally in Bellingham, WA.  It’s best if you grind it yourself. You dont need a special grinder but you do need to clean it out really well because it has kind of a nutty taste/smell to it. It is sooo soo good.  It’s roasted fresh and delivered the next day.I have bought it fron Cash N Carry (Wired Willeys) which is ok but nothing like the fresh roasted….


  14. White coffeeeee

    You can find it at Cash and Carry in Spokane Valley.. Going there tright now to pick some up.. Happy java everyone!

    1. White Coffee Heaven!!!

      lol… Interesting, that you’re in Spokane, because the first time I ever tried White Coffee was 18 or 19yrs ago on my first job. It was route sales and I was having a bad day in the hot sun of summer in West Spokane’s concrete jungle. I popped into one of these at that time new fangled Barrista stands for a Quad Mocha to get me going. But the girl convinced me to try this Special White Coffee w/ just a double shot, white chocolate and absolutely wonderful home made Double Dipped Vanilla Biscotti, instead of that quad mocha. I fell instantly in love. With the coffee…. not the girl of course! lol


      So speaking with long lived authority on the subject now, I wanted to explain to readers here what white coffee is and what it isn’t and where it came from. First off it has nothing to do with what you add to it like Ipoh drink in South Asia or even white chocolate, steamed milk or other additions. Now let me first explain exactly how it got it’s name. When Coffee beans are first harvested, good pickers will choose the brightest ripe red coffee berries. New workers will often throw in some not so ripe berries in. But after they are run through the skinning process, there’s very little difference in the undried coffee beans. It just that some are a little whiter than others.


      Legend has it that this story took place somewhere in the White highlands of Kenya. But after these white beans are let dry in the sun, these so called Green Coffee beans all turn to a more beige white color, leaving little difference in sorting out not so ripe beans except when they’re hand graded (rare). These are all Arabica beans grown this part of Kenya. But the same grading process takes place for Robusta coffee beans as well. After drying they’re fed onto conveyor belts for the grading. In Africa this is also done by hand pulling both bad beans and whiter beans, along with sorting into sizes in bags. They always grade #1’s as being largest beans and best quality. But most are sorted into the #2 and #3 bags. The rest including the bad beans are sorted out for extracting caffeine and more recently Chlorogenic Acid that’s now used as a dieting aide.


      Most plantation growers in Kenya will also roast some of their own beans as well as bagging them up Green (white/beige color) for export. At this stage high grown Fresh Coffee beans from the White Highlands of Kenya are known to have a distinct blueberry like scent when Freshly dried. Now they’re put in the roaster and allowed to go through these different scent stages. First smelling somewhat like wet grass, then comes some of that blueberry scent back in along with vanilla and a hazelnut like scent at around first crack.


      As they progress, you’ll smell more citrus as it’s now most likely further past the “First Crack” stage as moisture is released from the beans, so are the acids and gases. Now it will reach what we know as Light Roast state prior to “Second Crack” which will be a more medium roast. Cracking is the bean opening up. From there you have your many other darker roasts and they use cracking, color and bean scent samples to mark the roast levels for comparison.


      Now back to the legend, rumor, story I’d heard years ago. Some industrious Kenyan worker decided to go over the bags of sorted out beans to find beans that maybe were good, prior to roasting. He found a bag of a bag of these whiter (from greener lighter red berries) beans, but other than that in perfect condition. So he decided to run them through the Roaster just to see what he got on his own time. Just as he was doing this the plantation owner came in and got mad about him using energy on what was considered bad bags headed for the extraction plant. Then he had him shut the roaster down immediately and it just so happened to be around “First Crack” w/ that vanilla like nutty blueberry smell coming out and that’s just not a finished roasted coffee smell.


      Afterwards the worker was wondering what he could do now with these half baked beans, because apparently this worker didn’t even know what the temperature should have been set at in the first place. So there he is with these supposed worthless beans, smelling like vanilla nut blueberries. So he decided to go ahead and let ‘em cool, rest and degas for the usual time anyway. When done he took some these more amber white colored nutty blueberry smelling beans and ground them up. He drank some of the coffee and was struck by how really different it tasted than the darker roasts he was used to. But what came next is what really fired him up!


      Yeah he got really buzzed and it lasted much longer than he’d ever experienced with the really dark roasts. He then started serving this batch of half baked/half roasted beans to his friends and co-workers. He called them ‘Tugela’ or the Blanko Coffee of Kenya. Which was also known as the White Highlands of British East Africa in past generations. So the name is from the more whitish coffee beans sorted from the very ripest beans and then only half baked to become White Coffee Beans!


      Now we get to the really unbelievable part! 😀 ….seems this worker had a blanko American friend that he’d also had try this coffee and was so taken by it that he sent a package of these beans in the early nineties to his relatives. Yeah in of all places Spokane, Washington. So somehow they got in contact with relatives in the coffee the emerging coffee industry in Seattle after falling in love with it themselves. White Coffee was born!!!  …...and I’ve been buying raw green coffee beans, baking ‘em and drinking the stuff ever since!


      But now only the best raw Green Arabica Coffee beans are being used for the finest “White Coffees”. All the rest use blends of Arabica beans and some are throwing in more flavorless Robusta beans for their much higher caffeine content. So I doubt that many having tasted these ultra caffeine rich tasteless White Coffees even know what they’re missing.


      Now I hope you don’t just settle for these poor pre-roasted (not baked properly) quality coffees. Instead I hope you try what I’ve been doing and that’s baking my own. You can start by searching for Arabica coffee beans that are described best for light roasting to bring out the natural flavors in the beans that Darkbucks has no idea what they are, for the best White Coffee. Dig out an old cookie sheet, punch lots of holes in it or buy a Pizza Crisping screen to use in your oven (preferably convection). You can also try a Hot Air Popcorn maker, buy a temp adjustable coffee roaster or last but not least steal your dogs big stainless water bowl and use a heat gun to dry bake them. But be careful whatever you use and don’t burn yourself. Join a Co-op forum for Coffee lovers and home roasters. You can even buy the raw Green beans cheaper in them, while sharing and learning the secrets to baking or low temp roasting good White Coffee! ….once you’ve tried your own fresh baked White Coffee…… well you’ll never go back to Darkbuck’s Burnt Coffee again!!!                  



      1. Raw Home Roasted Beans or Extreme White?

        Well I got scolded by my friend who originally told me this story, after she read my post. So first off I had swapped countries; White Highlands are indeed in Kenya and are so named because only white Europeans (British) were allowed to lease farms during the 30’s. My post story is actually from Ethiopia and concerns Ethiopian Highlands Harar coffee. Known for it’s Blueberry scents. But coffee is a fruit and the beans are actually pits of the fruit. Most of these East African coffees can give off various fruity scents. Like blueberry, strawberry and grape like wine scents at various times in the roasting process and afterwards when brewed.


        Since I actually buy coffee in bulk from Green Coffee Co-op, my sources can’t help you if all you want to do is give making your own light or white roasted coffee a try. This seller has green coffees average $7.00 a lb package. Now remember that after baking/roasting them, you’ve cooked off a lot of moisture. So you end up with less weight. So buy a pound, punch/drill lots holes in an old pie pan, throw in enough to leave some space between them for air, set your oven to 380 to 400* F and experiment away. Listen for cracking of the beans. This is more of roast than a slow bake, but you can get your feet wet at least. First time take them well past the first cracking has ceased, let them cool and rest (degas co2) for a good 1 1/2 to 2 days before brewing! (these won’t be white coffee beans or even light amber, but you can makes changes on next batch)

        Remember this is not a science….. it’s an art and it takes some trial and error. Afterwards though you’ll be thrilled by even your minor success. There’s really nothing like a cup of home roasted and brewed coffee for it’s refreshing taste and rewards. After all this is the way your great grandmother probably made coffee and it’s a bit sad that we’ve lost this great art in homes today. But be prepared to vent and air the kitchen out afterwards some lingering smoke and smells!



        If…. you really don’t have the time and patience for this do it yourself stuff, then here’s a link to a small Seattle roaster that sells a really potent White Coffee. A high quality outfit from whom I’ve bought and enjoyed their Extreme White Coffee:

      2. Hi, interesting story. So

        Hi, interesting story. So when you say half baked, do you mean what we would normally describe as a roast defect ‘baked’. Or do you just mean a light roast rather than traditional dark?


    2. I also found it in the cash

      I also found it in the cash and carry on division in Spokane Washington. Thanks to you and this forum. My girlfriend has been talking about it non stop and can now make her the white coffee she always raves about for far les than $5 per drink.

  15. ReBoot, a half coffee shop

    ReBoot, a half coffee shop and half computer repair center makes a mean white coffee drink in Spokane.
    It’s right across the street from the Fred Meyer on Thor.  

  16. Where to find white coffee

    You can find white coffee called white knuckle in this amazing little coffee shop in Troy, Montana It’s amazing —- it’s under roasted giving the coffee a wonderful nutty flavor.. The town is small, very very small right on the Montana Idaho border about 144 miles from Spokane, WA. The scenery is gorgeous there as well. You can also do a google search for white lightning coffee… It’s also pretty good.

    1. Troy MT coffee

      That wound be Main Street Perk and they are  exactly the  reason I googled white coffee!  So nice to see someone else noticed!

      1. Boot Knock’n Good!

        First time I had white roast coffee was at Main Street Perk in Troy, MT. They’re the reason I’m searching white coffee now! Great shop, great coffee and sandwiches.

        1. White coffee

          This is funny. We were just camping over by Troy. We had to run into town and we got some white coffee. We have now spent the last few days trying to find a place as good as the one in Montana. Amazing place.

    2. I first tried white coffee in

      I first tried white coffee in Libby, MT, not too far from Troy. Hav’A’Java was the hut. It was great! I had it as a white chocolate frappe. The combination of the nutty flavor of white coffee and white chocolate was amazing.

    3. MT White Coffee

      Funny that MT seems to have so much good white coffee!! I live in Missoula, and there is a little Kiosk here– Good Americano– that has the BEST white coffee I’ve ever tasted.

    4. White Coffee

      Bargreen Restaurant Supply, Everett, WA has a shop on Rucker Ave there where WHITE COFFEE beans can be purchased, and also enjoyed in their nice shop

      1. White Coffee at Bargreens in Everett

        I am sipping my first cup of White Coffee from Bargreens in Everett and it is delicious! Such a small shop, local so I love supporting them!

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