When you point at that gooey blackberry scone in the pastry case at your local coffee shop, your savvy barista knows there’s an onslaught of dietary questions coming his way. Are they gluten-free? Vegan? (That’s asked all the time!) Are they sugar free? (We only use locally sourced honey in our baked goods. Oh, cool.) Are they caffeinated? Well, they are if they were made with coffee flour.
In a race to rid cupboards of nutrient-deficient white flour and other highly-processed varieties, including some whole wheat flours, coffee flour is the latest guilt-free alternative to woo health-conscious consumers when it hits the market next year. Made from the red husk that surrounds the coffee bean, the “coffee cherries” are packed with protein, iron, potassium and have FIVE times the fiber found in whole wheat flour. It won’t taste like coffee at all: coffee cherries taste floral and fruity, which would make the grounds a perfect base for sweet breakfast pastries, crepes and cereals. Oh, and bonus: They contain caffeine. Less than brewed coffee, according to its creators, but still enough to get bean buzzed.
But wait, you’re a shot slingin’ espresso junkie: How come I haven’t heard of these amazing coffee cherries? More often than not, the cherry is discarded when the coffee beans we know and love are harvested, resulting in about 1.5 billion cubic feet of waste per year. Tapping into this unused resource is an enormously sustainable move, one that has the potential to benefit not just us eaters, but coffee farmers who are often negatively affected by outside factors like turbulent commodity prices and harvest conditions. Now marketed as this highly nutritious product, the overlooked coffee cherry has the possibility to become an additional revenue stream, creating new jobs for workers located in some of the poorest areas in the world.
For a product with such great potential, let’s hope our palettes are ready for it. If biting into a coffee flour pizza doesn’t sounds like a culinary leap you’d like to make in the near future, you can try the whole coffee cherries as a tea now. If you’re lucky, your local craft coffee shop will have a limited stash for sale, or you can buy a tinful of Cascara online from Blue Bottle Coffee. I drink it on the regular, and a freshly brewed cup is definitely a delicacy worth hunting down. Though, maybe we could convince the gang behind coffee flour to add a few pre-ground bags to their first production run?