I taste tested Asian White Coffee – review and photos

cup of asian white coffee
A cup of hot white coffee in Singapore.

by Nigel Ong

People love to drink coffee all over the world and everywhere you go they prepare it in different ways. Many societies have adapted coffee to their local taste buds, resulting in all sorts of coffee styles that you can experiment with and try.

Asian White Coffee is one such example. Rich, creamy, and mellow, this coffee is widely enjoyed in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.

In this post, I will try to sample a cup of Asian White Coffee and see how it tastes. I’ll also examine how to sample one of this coffee, especially if you live in North America or Europe.

What Is Asian White Coffee?

Asian White Coffee is a coffee popular in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. You may also hear other terms used to describe the coffee, such as Malaysian White Coffee, Singapore White Coffee, or Ipoh White Coffee.

Asian White Coffee is different from the regular white coffee we are used to in the West. In Western coffee tradition, White Coffee refers to a type of coffee roast. These beans are roasted under very low temperatures and pulled out before the first crack. 

This means the coffee is very light in color, giving it its name. That means you can use White Coffee beans to make Cappuccino or Latte.

Asian White Coffee is a more comprehensive term. It points to a specific way of roasting coffee beans and how to brew the coffee. The coffee gets the ‘White’ term since it uses a lot of milk, making it pale brown, almost blonde-colored.

The coffee is known for its rich, creamy, and sweet taste. The coffee is drunk and enjoyed all day. However, it is popular as a breakfast drink for many in Singapore and Malaysia. 

There are also instant versions of the drink, often called 3-in-1s. These instant White Coffees usually combine coffee, creamer, and milk in sachets. 

How Are Asian White Coffee Prepared?

Asian White Coffee may have originated during the late 19th century when Malaysia and Singapore developed their coffee-shop culture. These are often small, one-person operations where the coffee is roasted and then brewed by the same person. 

These small shops have since been replaced by Asian White Coffee restaurant chains, providing a cafe experience rivaling those of Starbucks. However, White Coffee is still prepared and served in a similar process today as in the old days. 


White Coffee roasters start by blending a range of coffee beans. Depending on the roaster, Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, or Liberica beans may be mixed together to create the desired blend. 

These coffee beans are then roasted with margarine. This is rather unorthodox and is not a practice common with Western roasters. However, it helps to produce coffee beans with a beautiful caramel finish. The coffee also develops a slightly caramelized sweetness.

These beans are then cooled and ground down into fine powders for brewing. You can also purchase these roasts as beans and grounds, especially in Asian markets near you.


The brewer starts by warming the coffee cup. This is often done by pouring hot water on the ceramic coffee cup. Warming the cup prevents it from cooling the coffee when the drink is poured into it. 

The coffee ground is then scooped up and added into a coffee sock. A coffee sock works similarly to a French press, keeping the coffee inside the sock yet allowing water to permeate and interact with the coffee ground.

This also means Asian White Coffee is brewed using immersion (e.g., French press) and filtration (e.g., drip coffee.)

Once brewed, the coffee concentrate is then added to the coffee cup. Flavorings such as milk and sweeteners are added in too. Finally, hot water is added to dilute the coffee down slightly before serving. The coffee is traditionally served in a ceramic cup or saucer. 

Asian White Coffee prefers to use evaporated milk and brown sugar to flavor the coffee. Evaporated milk may point to when the drink was invented when refrigeration did not exist.

How Does Asian White Coffee Taste?

I was lucky enough to be in Singapore, where Asian White Coffee is a popular drink. I decided to pop into Old Town White Coffee, one of the world’s largest White Coffee restaurant chains. 

Once inside, I ordered two cups of White Coffee – one piping hot and another ice cold. The aim? To describe the taste of the drink to you. 

cold white coffee and hot white coffee
You can drink white coffee cold or hot! Either way it’s quite good.


White coffee is usually served in ceramic cups with a saucer. This gives the coffee a familiar feel and is not too alien to many. The serving size is also similar to Western coffees. I would eyeball the regular-size serving to be around 9 ounces (about 266 ml)

The coffee is usually pale brown, almost blonde-colored, due to the heavy use of evaporated milk. Unlike espresso, there is no crema. 

Instead, you get some rich, Cappuccino-like foams, which help to add some texture to the drink. The foams, however, are not as fine as those in your Lattes. 

Aroma-wise, the coffee does not have a strong aroma compared to your espresso-based coffee drinks. This could be because it is a blend of beans and not 100% Arabica. Beans such as Robusta or Excelsa do not have a strong aroma.

This may also explain why many White Coffee shops, unlike Western coffee chains like Starbucks, do not smell of coffee too much.

Flavor & Taste

The aroma only emerges when you bring the cup closer to your nose. For White Coffee, it has a mild, mellow aroma. I can easily pick up a creamy, milky smell, with caramelly sweetness and some coffee. 

On the first sip, I notice the texture of the coffee. It is smooth, with the bubbles providing some airiness to the drink. This gives the coffee a texture close to a Cappuccino or Latte.

Taste-wise, the first thing that hits your tongue is the creaminess of the evaporated milk and the sugar. This is an indulgent drink, and I think I can probably get away with using the word ‘decadent’ on it. 

The creaminess is very strong, making the coffee taste sit in second place. The coffee flavor is not strong but present. You know you are drinking a cup of coffee; it’s just that if you are looking for a bitter, strong coffee flavor, you will be disappointed.

However, if you like your coffee very milky or creamy, you will love Asian White Coffee. As I sip, my tongues also pick up some caramel-like flavors, likely from the margarine used to roast the coffee. 


White Coffee also comes in variations. In this case, Old Town offers several ways to customize your White Coffee:

Extra Rich: Extra-rich white coffee uses more coffee concentrate, evaporated milk, and sugar. It is then diluted less with hot water later to produce a stronger, richer taste.

Hazelnut: These are White Coffee with hazelnut flavor added in for a unique taste.

Stevia: If you prefer to not take cane sugar with your white coffee, you can opt for those sweetened with Stevia instead.

Cham/Ying-Yeung: This is where the Asian White Coffee is mixed with some black tea. It sounds odd, but it produces a surprisingly hearty drink.

Salted Caramel: This is Asian White Coffee with some salted caramel. The salt adds a new dimension to the drink’s taste, making it interesting to the palate.

Food Pairings

With White Coffee, it is common to pair it with light snacks. The most popular food pairing for White Coffee is the half-boiled chicken egg with Kaya toast.

The half-boiled egg is boiled to half-done, which means the yolk remains runny and the whites turn white. They are commonly served intact, with you cracking the egg to reveal the content inside. You then flavor the egg with some soy sauce and pepper. 

You can slurp the egg or enjoy it with Kaya toast. Kaya is a sweet custard made from eggs and palm sugar. These are spread on toasted bread, and you can dip the toast into the half-boiled egg and before eating it. 

Just remember to sip some white coffee as you do that. Chances are you will find the combination of sweet, creamy, and savory flavors enjoyable!

Can I Try Asian White Coffee Outside Of Asia?

Asian White Coffee may be less popular outside its home base, but it does not mean you cannot find it. If you live in the US or anywhere in the West, chances are you can try this coffee yourself.

As a start, check if Malaysian or Singaporean restaurants or food courts are nearby. In most cases, these restaurants may be able to serve you a cup of White Coffee.

If you cannot find one, well, you can always try instant White Coffee. Instant White Coffees are not too bad; they taste close to the hand-made version. This means you can get a close enough taste, without having to travel far to sample one.I have recently sampled some instant White Coffee, and I think they are closer than Starbucks Ready-To-Drink (RTD) vs. hand-made frappuccino. Bags of these instant White Coffees can be found on Amazon.

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