If you are a coffee fan, there is nothing more irresistible than the sumptuous smell of coffee emanating from a newly opened coffee bean bag. You may have been tempted to grab a bean and put it in your mouth, but have hesitated because you’re unsure whether eating coffee beans is something you should be doing.
Well, let’s get straight to the point, and answer this question. Yes, you can definitely eat coffee beans!
However, there are some considerations you should take note of before eating coffee beans, such as their benefits and side effects, as well as how you should be eating coffee beans!
We will cover all of this and more, but first, let’s get started with the basics.
What Is A Coffee Bean?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
This might seem like a basic question, but coffee beans are not actually beans. They are the seed of the coffee fruit (or coffee cherry). Once harvested, the coffee cherry actually undergoes some processing to extract the seeds or “beans”.
This is usually done using the wet process or the dry process.
The wet process involves pulping the coffee cherry using a machine, leaving the mucilage relatively intact (which surrounds the seed). The mucilage by the way is a sticky substance that is produced by almost all plants, and coffee is not the exception. These then undergo fermentation for a few days,releasing sugars and amino acids, giving coffee its characteristic taste.
The dry process simply means leaving the coffee cherry to dry and ferment under the sun for several weeks. Once dry, the seeds are removed from the coffee fruit. It can be an arduous task.
Finally, the coffee seeds are roasted to become the coffee beans we are all so familiar with.
So, Can You Eat Coffee Beans?
As we briefly mentioned, yes! You can safely eat coffee beans, when consumed in moderation. But now that we have covered the basics, let’s dive a little deeper.
Coffee beans have actually been consumed for centuries, way before coffee and brewing were popularized in the 16th century in Europe. Coffee was at first some sort of stimulating food rather than a drink.
There is evidence that east African tribes would mix coffee beans with animal fat, around the 8th century AD. Legend goes that a goat herder discovered the potential of the coffee plant when he observed his goats eating a red fruit from a tree. After eating, they became much more energetic than those goats who hadn’t eaten any!
So, coffee beans have been safely consumed throughout history. But why should you eat them instead of drinking a cup of Joe?
Coffee beans have the same health benefits (and side effects) as coffee, but are amplified.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Coffee Beans?
The main benefit of eating coffee beans is that they pack the same health benefits as a cup of coffee but in a much more concentrated manner. However, you need to be careful how many coffee beans you eat, as both the benefits and side effects can be amplified. The key is moderation!
Benefits of eating coffee beans include:
- When you eat coffee beans, the result is a faster absorption of caffeine through the lining of your gums and mouth. This means you will feel that energy boost much quicker than when you drink coffee, boosting your productivity.
- Coffee beans have a greater concentration of caffeine than a drink of coffee. You only need to eat 8 to 10 coffee beans to achieve the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. This is a double-edged sword, however, as you can easily exceed your daily caffeine intake limit. Use this caffeine calculator to work out how much caffeine you’re consuming.
In addition to the above benefits, you receive the same benefits as a cup of coffee when you eat coffee beans.
- Coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants, including significant amounts of chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, combat inflammation and may have anti-cancer benefits.
- Coffee can reduce the risk of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Coffee helps fight liver disease such as cirrhosis and hepatic fibrosis.
- Consuming coffee may reduce the risk of stroke.
- Our friend coffee can even help fight depression.
Are There Any Side Effects If You Eat Coffee Beans?
The side effects when you eat coffee beans are similar to the ones of drinking coffee. But again, these are amplified as coffee beans are a much more concentrated source of nutrients and caffeine. These include:
- Heartburn and upset stomach due to the presence of catechol which can increase stomach acid content.
- Laxative effects. We are all too familiar with this feeling after having a cup of coffee.
- Having coffee at an appropriate time may result in sleep disturbances. We all need to sleep! The effects of caffeine can last for up to 9.5 hours in some individuals.
- Increased risk of pregnancy issues. I would not recommend that you eat coffee beans if you are pregnant. Please talk to your doctor.
I would like to place emphasis on caffeine safety. The daily recommended caffeine intake is 400 mg per day. This is equivalent to 2 to 4 cups of coffee per day. We had noted before that a cup of coffee contains the equivalent amount of caffeine as 8 to 10 coffee beans. Depending on the type of coffee bean (Robusta vs. Arabica), you could exceed your daily intake by only eating 20 to 40 coffee beans!
So, don’t go on eating coffee beans without paying attention to how many you have eaten! Side effects of high caffeine intake include nausea, headaches, heart palpitations, tremors, and even withdrawal symptoms if you make a habit of eating too much caffeine per day.
What Are The Advantages Of Eating Coffee Beans Versus Drinking Coffee?
There are a few advantages to eating coffee beans.
The first one is that brewing is not required. If you are a practical person and need to get things done, and you’re just looking for a quick boost of energy, you can eat coffee beans. No need to stop by a coffee shop or purchase a coffee machine.
Another advantage is that coffee beans don’t get cold. You need to drink your coffee quickly before it cools. In my opinion, drinking cold coffee is not the most pleasant thing (unless it’s iced). So you can keep a bag of coffee beans (make sure it’s sealed properly) in your car or office drawer. If you are feeling drowsy, you can have a few beans without needing to detour or get off your desk.
Talking about driving, a study found that drinking two cups of coffee (about 16 to 20 coffee beans) was as effective as napping for 30 minutes at decreasing driving mistakes that could potentially cause an accident.
How To Best Eat Coffee Beans?
Well, this is a personal preference. But I can tell you that although green (raw) coffee beans are safe to eat, they have an unpleasant vegetal and acidic taste, in addition to being super hard. So, be careful with those pearly teeth!
It is best to consume roasted beans. Most people prefer medium to dark roasts, or espresso beans, because they contain more oils, are less acidic, and have more robust flavors.
Many people enjoy eating chocolate covered coffee beans. I really enjoy the contrast of the sweetness of the chocolate with the bitterness of coffee. You can either purchase them at most stores, or you can make them at home.
To prepare your chocolate covered coffee beans at home, follow these simple steps:
- Melt chocolate in the microwave (or a bain-marie if you are fancy).
- Let the chocolate cool for a few minutes to avoid burning yourself
- Dip your favorite roasted coffee beans in the chocolate to fully cover them. I recommend dark roasted coffee beans or espresso coffee beans.
- Place the dipped chocolate coffee beans on a tray with parchment paper.
- Let cool in the fridge for a few hours.
- Enjoy your caffeinated chocolate treat!
Tip: You can let your imagination run wild here. Experiment with different spices such as chili powder, cardamom, chai blends, sea salt, and so on! This will add variety to your chocolate covered coffee beans.
Frequently Asked Questions – Eating Coffee Beans
Can You Eat Ground Coffee?
Yes you can! However, it may be difficult to track how much you are eating – you don’t want to exceed your caffeine intake limit. However, whole roasted coffee beans will taste better, as some ground coffee blends could have been grounded months ago, losing their freshness and flavor!
Do all Coffee Beans Contain the Same Amount of Caffeine?
No, they do not. The biggest factor is the coffee plant species where your bean comes from. Robustica beans tend to have twice as much caffeine as Arabica ones.
How Many Coffee Beans Can I Eat?
The maximum recommended caffeine daily intake is 400 mg. This is the same as 32 to 40 coffee beans per day for Arabica coffee beans. However, if the coffee beans are from the Robusta variety, I would half the amount.
Bottom Line – Can You Eat Coffee Beans?
You can eat coffee beans safely provided you do so in moderation. You receive the same health benefits (and side effects) as brewed coffee; however, these tend to be more amplified. Just make sure you watch out for that caffeine.
Eating coffee beans is a practical way to get a quick boost of energy.
There are many ways to eat coffee beans, you can even have green coffee beans although it would not be pleasant. I recommend that you eat roasted coffee beans, preferably darker roasts or espresso beans. You can also enjoy chocolate covered beans.
Let us know in the comments if you have tried eating coffee beans, and what is your favorite coffee bean consumption method or recipe!