About a month ago, I was about to check my email when out of the corner of my eye I saw “white coffee” as part of an article title. I decided to ignore it. But a few days later, my husband told me a co-worker of his mentioned it, and wanted to bring it to my attention.
I should have clicked that link.
So off I went to do some research. I found some articles and forums that mention white coffee, dating as far back as 2009. It’s said that around that time, some coffee shops in Washington and Oregon started to offer this type of coffee, usually served as espresso.
What is it?
White coffee is made from beans roasted so lightly that they don’t taste like coffee. The roast is also called “light roasted” coffee, or as a “blonde roast” at Starbucks. The light roast results in a tan beverage that tastes like a light, nutty tea rather than coffee.
How is it roasted?
Dry processed beans are typically used, and the roast can be best described as under-roasted or partially roasted coffee. It’s roasted like normal, but for a shorter period of time — usually half the time — resulting in very hard beans that require a special grinder. (They will break home grinders.)
What is the flavor profile?
Due to the fact that it’s so lightly roasted, it doesn’t have any chocolatey, toasty or other earthy tones typically found in coffee. It lacks bitterness, but has more acidity and tang in its flavor profile, and is often described as having a peanut-buttery tea taste, light-bodied mouth-feel and grassy, hay-like undertones and aftertaste. It’s supposedly more palatable to those who don’t like the taste of coffee, and the lighter roast also purportedly contains more caffeine.
How is it served?
White coffee is often prepared as espresso, sometimes with additional ingredients. The preparation is recommended to be a part of a sugary latte or mocha, not stand-alone.
What is the origin?
From my research, those who have tried both white coffee and Saudi coffee say that white coffee is very similar to Saudi coffee, also known as Arabic gulf coffee. Both are brewed from lightly roasted coffee and have similar flavor profiles, and often served with additional flavoring.
What is Saudi coffee?
Saudi coffee is one of two types of Arabic coffee, the other being Turkishcoffee. Preparing Saudi coffee calls for a Bedouin technique that exercises Saudi Arabian rituals of generosity. The host will roast, grind and brew the coffee in the presence of guests before finally pouring the brew.
The beans are roasted a yellow-to-light brown stage — right as the first crack starts, or before. They’re then very coarsely ground with cardamom pods, using a mortar and pestle, not only because of tradition but also because of the hardness of the beans. The mixture is then prepared in a dallah (Arabic) or sometimes a cezve (Turkish). Different tribes have various recipes, some adding sugar, or adding cinnamon and/or saffron to the brew. It’s served unfiltered in demitasse cups, or small Arabic coffee cups called fenjan (about three ounces), one-half to three-quarters of an ounce at a time so that it cools to a drinkable temperature quickly.
The freshly made, boiling hot brew is served immediately with dates, and guests may be given the option to use warm milk or creamer. It should taste like herbal tea; grassy but not sour.
Saudi coffee recipe (makes two servings):
A cooking pan
A mortar and pestle
A small pot (any stovetop type or dallah or cezve)
Small serving cup(s) demitasse or fenjan
5 grams each green coffee beans and cardamom pods (total 10 grams) OR 2 tbsp/10 grams ground Arabic coffee and ground cardamom blend (1 tbsp or 5 grams per serving)
6 oz water (3 oz per serving)
2 tsp sugar (1 tsp per serving)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp saffron (optional)
Lightly roast green coffee beans in a pan to yellow/light brown stage.
Let coffee beans cool.
Ground and blend coffee beans and cardamom pods using mortar and pestle.
Discard cardamom pods, leaving bits and pieces behind.
Put water in pot.
Put coffee blend and sugar in water, do not stir.
Put on high heat and bring to rolling boil (1st boil).
Keep an eye on it.
Remove from heat to prevent from boiling over.
Let sit 5 minutes.
Replace and bring to slow boil for 10 mins (2nd boil).
Optionally add cinnamon and/or saffron.
Lower heat and simmer for 5 mins.
Just prior to serving bring back to high heat to rolling boil (3rd boil).
Pour in serving cups in small portions less than 1 oz.
Serve immediately with dates.
Offer warm milk or creamer.
Angela Greenberg is a Christian, a homeschooling mom of four, and a coffee lover. She roasts coffee as a hobby and loves learning about coffee. You can follow her on Twitter @tazzadiluna.