What Is White Coffee?

What Is White Coffee?

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Jelisa Castrodale
Oct 22, 2017

If you're a coffee shop regular, you undoubtedly give your go-to order as one word, shouting "Tripleventisoynofoamlatte!" like an above-average Gryffindor casting a spell. (Most baristas would probably understand "Accio latte!" too).

But there's a coffee drink you probably haven't heard of and you may want to consider switching up your light or dark roast for this increasingly popular — and potentially more beneficial — beverage. No, we're not talking about the latest latte on the not-so-secret Starbucks menu.

We're talking about white coffee.

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What Is White Coffee?

We first spotted white coffee on the menu at Dr. Smood, a growing chain of healthy fast-casual cafes in Miami and New York. It's the kind of place that makes you want to put aloe vera and $28 coconut butter in your morning smoothie. But it really does have good vibes, and you will want to drink the Koolaid, er, white coffee.

Yes, white coffee refers to its color, but it has nothing to do with the amount of milk you pour into the cup, and it's also totally different than a Flat White. White coffee comes from a centuries-old tradition in Yemen, in which the beans are lightly roasted at a lower-than-normal temperature, ground, brewed, and then mixed with a distinctive spice blend called hawaij. (There are also wildly different versions of white coffee that are found in Indonesia, Lebanon, and Malaysia).

Dr. Ben-Zion, a partner in the Dr. Smood organic empire with a Ph.D in holistic nutrition, calls white coffee a "health elixir," thanks to the delicate roasting process. "When we roast something, we expose it to air, and the longer we roast the coffee, the greater the oxidation," she explains. "The lighter the roast, the higher the chlorogenic acid content, which protects human cells against oxidation and inflammation."

Some internet digging confirms that white coffee allegedly has "more plant-based chemicals and organic acids" than normal coffee and also slightly more caffeine.

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How to Drink White Coffee

The coffee itself has a mild, nutty flavor, but adding the hawaij — a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves — is what takes it to the next level.

"Hawaij is coming to us through 5,000 years of tradition in Yemen, where they use two mixtures: a sweet mixture for coffee and a savory mixture for soup," Dr. Ben-Zion says. "Back in those days, they used spices as preservatives, as a substitute for scarce vegetables, and — most importantly — as a digestive aid and immunity and energy booster. Hawaij was originally used by the Yemenite farmers to aid in digestion after a large meal, making them able to get straight back to their demanding work in the field."

Our take? You'll love white coffee, even if the most demanding thing you'll do all day is not rolling your eyes at your least favorite coworker. At the very least, it'll give you something new to say to the barista.

Have you tried white coffee?

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