Can You Eat Coffee Beans?
In recent weeks, there has been much hoopla in the media about the health benefits of coffee.
A new study reported decreased incidences of liver disease, stroke, and certain cancers among those who drink three cups a day.
Given these results, it makes sense to wonder if you can achieve the same, or even better, effects by simply eating the beans.
So, can you really eat coffee beans?
And perhaps more importantly, would you want to?
What You Need To Know About Eating Coffee Beans
The short answer is yes, of course you can eat coffee beans. I’m sure you’ve come across chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans on the shelves of your local supermarket.
Coffee beans are perfectly edible.
Whether or not you’d want to consume them is the far more interesting question.
Eating unroasted coffee beans is also an option, though not everyone will enjoy the taste. Green beans are described as tasting grassy or woody and highly acidic without any of the caramelized flavors that emerge during the roasting process.
They are also very hard and can be difficult to chew.
As it turns out, eating coffee beans, whether green or roasted, provides similar effects to drinking coffee, but magnified. This means that not only are the benefits greater, but the downsides are also worse.
Keep reading to learn all about the pros and cons so you can decide if eating coffee is right for you.
The Advantages of Eating Coffee Beans
Many of coffee’s acclaimed health benefits stem from the beans’ high concentration of antioxidants in the form of chlorogenic acids.
These phenolic acid compounds have been proven to ward off cardiovascular diseases and reduce inflammation.
Green arabica beans have as much as 150 mg of these antioxidants per gram, nearly double of what is found in green tea. Unfortunately, nearly 50 - 70 percent is lost in roasting, while another portion is left behind when coffee is brewed.
Green beans, or those with a very light roast, are therefore the best bean to eat if its the antioxidant effect that you’re looking for.
Coffee beans are high in fiber, with a serving of thirty beans providing approximately 3 grams or 10 percent of your daily recommended intake. For comparison, a brewed cup of coffee has exactly 0 g of fiber.
Fiber benefits your body in multiple ways.
For one, it bulks your stool as it passes through the digestive tract, helping to prevent constipation. It also promotes a feeling of fullness, even in small quantities, making it valuable for weight management.
As compared to drinking brewed coffee, eating the beans provides you with even more caffeine.
Furthermore, it is absorbed better through the mucous membranes in the mouth.
Studies have shown that caffeine can improve memory and mental functioning, decrease fatigue, and may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, for those looking to limit caffeine, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women or those with high blood pressure, drinking brewed coffee is probably a safer option.
Anyone with difficulties sleeping should also avoid consumption of the beans which are known to cause sleep disruptions, particularly late in the day. There is about 5 to 10 mg of caffeine per coffee bean and the recommended maximum daily intake for an adult is 400 mg.
And The Disadvantages
For those with acid sensitivity, drinking coffee can lead to painful heartburn.
Eating coffee, unsurprisingly, can make it even worse. Along with their naturally occurring acids, coffee beans contain a number of substances, such as caffeine and catechols, that are known to boost the production of stomach acid.
They are present in higher quantities in whole beans as compared to liquid coffee.
There is some evidence to suggest that eating, rather than drinking coffee may lead to increased production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol.
This is due to the presence of two compounds, cafestol and kahweol, which are present in coffee beans in 10 to 40 times greater quantities than in brewed coffee.
While the link between cholesterol and coffee is not well-established, it may be prudent to avoid eating the beans if high cholesterol is a concern.
Without going into too much detail, the laxative properties of coffee are well-established and often considered beneficial. However, when amplified, they may present a problem.
Be cautious when binging on coffee beans to avoid any uncomfortable situations.
No matter how much you love a dark cup of bitter black coffee, it is still a far cry from the bitter graininess of crunching down on a roasted bean.
Not many people would advocate for either the taste or texture of coffee beans.
Fortunately, there are several delicious ways to eat coffee beans.
The most recognizable is probably chocolate-covered coffee beans. While this certainly amps up the deliciousness factor, it also increases both the sugar and fat content. Another popular option is to eat unbrewed coffee grounds by incorporating them into baked goods or nutrient rich protein shakes.
Watch this video for some inspiration:
To Eat or not to eat...
So now you know, not only are coffee beans perfectly edible, they may even be medicinal!
As long as extenuating circumstances like pregnancy, acid reflux or high cholesterol aren’t a factor, coffee beans are a healthy addition to your diet.
Have you tried eating coffee beans? Do you like them straight up or dipped in chocolate? Have you tried snacking on unroasted green beans?
Do you have a favorite recipe using coffee grounds? Let us know in the comments below.
Have any friends who are curious about the pros and cons of eating rather than drinking their coffee? Please pass this article along.
If you are interested in learning more about coffee beans and where do they come from, then check this informative article.