White coffee is great and after my mini-series on the topic Jordan, a coffee lover reached out to ask, what is white espresso.
This article is my reply and details white coffee, white espresso, how to make it and what it tastes like and its origins.
Keep reading to find out what you need to know about white espresso and the intricacies of brewing it.
What Is White Espresso?
White espresso is a shot of espresso that is made with a unique roast of coffee beans, white coffee beans.
A white espresso is not as easy to pull as a regular shot due to the peculiar difficulties of brewing with this half roasted coffee and extracting the flavor.
For a start, these coffee beans cannot be ground by your own grinder, and you absolutely must request that your grounds are pre-ground to a fine espresso grind of 200 microns.
Due to the reduced roasting temperature and time, the beans are denser and much harder and absolutely need an industrial grinder to break them down. A regular commercial grinder, even the best ones, will break when grinding the.
(I found out the hard way).
A white espresso looks very different, it is not that dark black look that you would expect. It almost looks like a cortado or flat white with too much milk added (except a white espresso has no milk added).
I’ll get to how to make a white espresso in a moment, hang on!
Read: How to brew white coffee
White Espresso Vs Espresso
Let’s have a closer look at white espresso vs espresso and starting with the part that you will be focusing on most – how they taste.
A traditional espresso has a strong traditional taste of coffee, a sweet tone and rich caramel notes and a quality texture with a thick rich crema on top. The flavor is the result of the skill of the barista to extract the best from the coffee beans and control of the water temperature, grind size, freshness of beans, and brew time as well as the water pressure.
It should never be sour nor bitter.
A white espresso has a very different taste, one that really does not taste at all like a traditional espresso. It has a pronounced and prominent nutty taste and is notably sweeter with only the slightest hints of a bitter aftertaste. No caramel taste at all, none.
I’m never one for saying which is better as that is a matter of personal choice and a white espresso is a very welcome change.
The very light flavor and nutty taste make it a difficult – but possible espresso to pull. It can also serve as a great base for espresso-based drinks like a flat white, latte, cappuccino, mocha, macchiato, cortado and more. These milk based drinks take real skill and working with your machine and beans to get right.
Now, let’s get to making a white espresso.
Read: How much caffeine is in white coffee?
How To Make A White Espresso
It is said by many lovers of white coffee that brewing under pressure and the use of heat is the best way to make a white coffee.
That makes a white espresso one of the ideal ways of brewing this rather peculiar type of coffee.
You will need to ensure that you have the right grind size for pulling a shot. A fine powder-like grind of 200 microns is ideal. I have found with an espresso, 96C (205F) and 9 bars (130 PSI) of temperature and skipping on the tamping and pulling your shot.
It took a fair amount of experimentation to find that not tamping white coffee grounds produces a better tasting coffee. Very peculiar, it is better that you throw your first shot and pull a second one with the same grounds to that perfect white espresso.
I’m not pulling any wool over your eyes here – it is a difficult coffee to get an espresso shot out of due to the very light roast level. You will need to know your machine and know at least the basics of pulling an espresso shot.
You will need to know your machine, and it is best if you can make some adjustments and put in the practice as it is worth it as not even the fanciest of gourmet hipster coffee shops will have white coffee available. It is such a rare roast and hard to find coffee.
To get it spot on and get it right I suggest that you use a coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5, using 20 grams of coffee grounds and 30 grams of water when you are pulling your shot.
Ensure that your brew time is still 25 seconds for both shots that you pull and use the second one as you will notice that it is the second shot that has a greater nutty taste. Remember to skip the tamping of your grounds.
What Is White Coffee?
White coffee is often confused with coffee with milk, a flat white or a latte. This is due to the English language tradition of asking for a white coffee meaning a brewed coffee with milk added.
It is only the highly dedicated coffee lovers and coffee enthusiasts that know that a white coffee is in reference to a very special roast of beans that is roasted at 325F (162C) and for only 5 to 6 mins. The nearest regular and known roast of coffee is a blonde roast which is roasted at 355F to 400F (180C to 205C) and for 10 to 15 minutes.
White coffee is all about the coffee beans and is a very special light roast, the lightest of them all and produces a bean that is an off-white color that is similar to white chocolate.
White coffee is not new, it has been roasted to this rather lightest of light roasts for over 200 years, the exact location is not known for certain with some point to Yemen, while others point to China as it was the preferred liking of Chinese migrants.
What is sure, and from my 10+ years of living in Asia, there is a distinct coffee vibe around white coffee, and it is seen as a special drink.
It is, at the very heart of it, another roast and if you are into home roasting and got on to the home roasting revolution I’d suggest roasting with low quality cheap coffee beans to start with until you can get it perfected and then use high quality specialty grade green coffee beans as due to the very light roasting you will, with your roasting skills, get all the amazing unique tastes from the origin into your beans and your cup of coffee.
Read: What is white coffee?
White Coffee Origin?
White coffee, like all coffee beans starts out as the same green coffee beans that are roasted to the more familiar looking medium and darker roasts. It is only that white roast is taken to a lighter roast profile by roasting them to a lighter roast profile by using a lower temperature and a shorter period of time.
The majority of white coffee is an Arabica bean, with some being a blend of Arabica and robusta beans. It is rare to find white robusta beans.
White coffee, and the roasting process is not to be mistaken with Malaysian and Indonesian white coffee (Koffee Puti) as this is a type of coffee drink where the coffee beans have been roasted with margarine and, depending on which type, a touch of salt is added (this is the case with Georgetown Penang white coffee).
The beverage is then brewed and sweetened with condensed milk. In western societies, the very light roasting of coffee to a white roast started in the US around the late 1950’s and early 1960s and spread slowly.
The real “revolution” for it in America did not really start to get going until around 2015 when extreme coffee lovers started hearing about a type of white coffee that was great for lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos but had a greater caffeine kick.
In other cultures, it dates back to the 19th century and Yemen, where it is brewed with Hawaiij, a mix of spices. It was also in the 19th century that Chinese migrant tin workers were known to enjoy a white coffee.
It is not entirely clear who and where it all began with most people leaning towards Yemen.
White Coffee Taste Profile
The color of the coffee beverage produces is a very white-beige, a very light beige color and stands out due to the very light color.
The flavor profile and tasting notes stand out and are very different from any coffee that you have tried before. Freshly roasted beans when brewed tastes stronger and bolder than a regular coffee and with a very pronounced and prominent nutty taste.
Due to the lack of caramelization of the natural sugars in the beans, a result of the low temperature and short roasting time, there is very little (if any) aftertaste bitterness. Due to the very light roasting, they are more acidic than other coffees as the coffee acids do not get the chance to evaporate.
The result is that it is quite a punchy coffee with that peculiar nutty taste being the dominant one, much greater than any other coffee you have tried.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Is White Espresso
Does White Espresso Have More Caffeine?
Yes, there is a little more caffeine content in white espresso than there is in other espresso beverages, but not a lot more. The caffeine content in coffee beans is partially lost due to the roasting process.
The average cup of coffee made with white coffee, be it an espresso, a regular black coffee or any other coffee drink is minimal as there is only 5.4% more caffeine in white coffee than other coffee beans and thus the additional caffeine punch is unnoticeable, the difference between caffeine content is not something worthwhile paying attention to as the difference is really only 65 mg Vs 68.5 mg for a shot of white espresso.
Is White Coffee Espresso?
Not all white coffee is espresso. White coffee is a particular and very peculiar roast where the coffee beans are roasted to a much lower temperature and for a shorter time to produce a coffee that is an off-white, a sort of white chocolate color.
Don’t confuse a flat white as a white coffee either as this is a balance of espresso and coffee and is made with regular medium-dark or dark roasted coffee beans.
Properly identifying a white coffee is by the beans; they are the lightest of light roasts, even lighter than a blonde roast and are notably different from other coffee beans as they don’t take in the familiar brown color that other roasts do.
Is White Coffee Unhealthy?
No, white coffee is not unhealthy; in fact, it is healthier than other roasted coffee due to being able to maintain their nutrients and loosing them during the roasting process. They also have greater levels of antioxidants than regular coffee beans.
Does White Coffee Taste Like Coffee?
No, white coffee does not taste like regular coffee, it does not have the taste that you would normally associate with a coffee. It is very nutty, notably less bitter than dark roast coffee and very light in flavor.
White coffee, when made with a good quality bean retains a lot of the flavors of the origin. Some have little to no bitterness.
It is a coffee with a very unique flavor profile, thanks to the very low roasting temperature.
Is A White Coffee An Americano?
No, a Caffe Americano is made with medium, medium-dark or dark roast coffee bean and is a combination of a shot of espresso and hot water. Can you make an Americano with white coffee beans?
Yes, you can most certainly try. You will need to make an excellent espresso shot with your white coffee beans and add hot water. Once you can perfect brewing with these beans you can make any coffee beverage that you want – it takes practice though.
Why Is White Coffee Expensive?
White coffee is expensive due to its rarity and lack of availability.
Very few coffee beans are roasted so lightly and are popular in Asia, where you will find them everywhere. You may need to visit a roastery and specifically request that they roast and grind your white beans as you need a stronger industrial grinder as the beans are much denser and will break commercially available grinders.
Please, don’t try to grind white beans in your ceramic or metal burr or blade grinder.
Final Thoughts – What Is White Espresso?
If you were searching for the answer to what is white espresso you should now have the answer and know exactly how to pull a shot and the complications to look out for. It is a difficult roast to brew with, that there is no denying – neither is the amazing cup of coffee that you will get as a result.
Put in the effort when making a white espresso as it is something that is unique and very enjoyable.
Did you make a white espresso or do you have any questions or some amazing images to share of the coffee that you made?
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