There is nothing like opening a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans and being enveloped by that rich and deep aroma. It can be almost tempting to grab a handful of coffee beans and eat them outright. Which begs the question, can you eat coffee beans and should you for that matter?
We are going to explore that question in the article below. If you are wanting a quick answer the long and short of it is that YES you can eat coffee beans! Coffee beans are packed with antioxidants and caffeine which help boost energy and lower the risk of certain diseases, however you shouldn’t consume too much at one time… or you can experience some rather unpleasant side effects.
What Are Coffee Beans?
You may be surprised to find that a coffee bean is actually the seed or pit of a type of cherry. These cherries grow on coffee trees and are harvested when they are ripe. The cherries are then processed by different means to strip away the fruit flesh from the seed. The seed is then dried to leave a raw green bean. Green beans are then shipped around the world to different roasteries where they are roasted to different levels from light to dark to produce freshly roasted coffee beans… Delicious!
Can You Eat Roasted Coffee Beans?
So when your bag of freshly roasted coffee beans arrives can you eat some of those beans? The answer is Yes! Coffee beans can be delicious to eat especially if they are smothered in chocolate! But they should only be eaten in moderation. This is because when you eat a coffee bean you get the full concentrated effects in comparison with when the beans are ground and then used to brew coffee. In the latter case the effects of the beans are diluted with water or milk.
So How Do Coffee Beans Taste?
Roasted coffee beans have a strong, bitter flavor – great for the coffee junkie wanting that quick caffeine hit. Most people find beans that have been roasted to a medium to dark level are more enjoyable to eat as they have rich, roasty pronounced flavor. To be fair, however, coffee beans do have a somewhat unpleasant gritty texture which does put some people off.
Can You Eat Raw Coffee Beans?
You may have heard it said that you should never try and brew coffee with green coffee beans as the resulting brew tastes disgusting! So can you eat raw green coffee beans? The answer is by all means raw coffee beans can be safely eaten, however, we would strongly recommend against it! Green, unroasted coffee beans are very hard, almost tooth cracking! They also have an unpleasant grassy taste and are very acidic.
Is Eating Coffee Beans Healthy?
So this all begs the question, is eating coffee beans healthy? Eating coffee beans provide similar health benefits to that of drinking coffee however these are usually magnified. We will outline the benefits and drawbacks of eating coffee beans below.
The Benefits of Eating Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are packed with antioxidants in the form of chlorogenic acids (1). Antioxidants are molecules that help fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals can cause harm if you have high levels in your body and are linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A green arabica bean contains the highest quantity of antioxidants. However, unfortunately up to 70% of this is lost during roasting. So the first benefit of eating coffee beans is that they contain a high amount of antioxidants which help protect against illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, Liver Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
Coffee beans are also high in fibre. Fibre is good and essential for a healthy diet as it helps with the feeling of fullness, is good for weight management and helps keep bowel movements regular. Eating a handful of coffee beans a day may provide up to 10% of your daily recommended fibre intake. In comparison, a cup of brewed coffee has exactly 0g of fibre!
It should come as no surprise that coffee beans contain more caffeine than a cup of black coffee. And the reason? When you brew coffee a portion of the caffeine is washed away whereas when you eat a coffee bean you consume all the caffeine concentrated in the bean.
However bear in mind that you do have to consume a good deal of coffee beans to get the same caffeine fix as you would sipping that cup o’joe. A normal cup of coffee contains 95mg of caffeine. A single coffee bean meanwhile contains about 6mg which means you will have to eat 16 coffee beans to equal it.
Caffeine is associated with many health benefits; including increasing brain function, slowing metabolism, and protecting against Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
The recommended daily intake of caffeine is around 400mg per day (which is equivalent to about 4 cups of brewed coffee). If you do consume too much caffeine on a regular basis you may find you experience some adverse side effects including trouble sleeping, higher heart rate and increased blood pressure (2). As a result if you are going to start eating coffee beans just be careful how much you consume at a time. Also if you are looking to limit caffeine such as if you are pregnant or breastfeeding we would not recommend eating coffee beans.
The Drawbacks Of Eating Coffee Beans
While the benefits of eating coffee beans generally outweigh the drawbacks, this is only if you don’t consume large quantities at a time. If you do you overindulge may find yourself experiencing some of the following effects.
Eating coffee beans may cause acid reflux or heartburn in some people, particularly in those sensitive to acid. If you have trouble drinking regular coffee (because it is high in acid) you will probably find that eating coffee beans is only going to make it worse. Coffee beans contain substances such as caffeine and catechols which cause a rise in the production of stomach acid.
Eating coffee beans, rather than drinking coffee, can lead to an increased production of cholesterol (3). In particular Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) aka bad cholesterol, which puts you at risk of cardiovascular disease. This is due to the presence of two compounds: cafestol and kahweol which are present in coffee beans in up to 40 times greater quantities than in brewed coffee. If you already have high cholesterol, then eating coffee beans may not be the best option for you.
It is a well known fact that coffee has laxative properties and often this is considered a good thing. If you do find yourself over indulging in coffee beans however you may find it causes some unpleasant side effects.
So as you can see eating coffee beans can result in an abundance of health benefits. Just make sure you are eating them in moderation!
Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
If you have leftover coffee beans at home you can easily transform them into a delicious treat with simply some chocolate.
- Choose your favorite chocolate and melt it in the microwave, allow to cool slightly
- Get your chosen coffee beans and dip them in the melted chocolate
- Place the chocolate coated beans on a baking tray covered with baking paper
- Place in the fridge to cool
- Enjoy! It is the perfect treat to compliment your rich espresso, or smooth pour over!
Are Coffee Grounds Okay To Eat?
Similar to beans, coffee grounds are safe to consume in moderation but I can’t imagine they would taste very pleasant! They have a very grainy, sandy texture to them. If you are looking for ways to use coffee grounds there are plenty of other options! Coffee grinds make great body scrubs or plant fertilizers or even insect repellants!
The Takeaway: Can You Eat Coffee Beans?
Well we hope this article has been informative in answering the question can you eat coffee beans? And the answer is Yes! In moderation these can make a great treat for the coffee junkie and convey multiple health benefits. So next time you open that bag of freshly roasted beans, go ahead and try one! We would love to hear what you think! Have you tried eating coffee beans? Do you like them as is or dipped in chocolate? Have you ever eaten unroasted green beans? Let us know in the comments below.
How many coffee beans are safe to eat?
The recommended daily intake of caffeine is 400mg per day. Given that a coffee bean contains around 6mg of caffeine we would recommend not eating more than about 70 a day. This may be of particular concern if you are eating chocolate covered espresso beans which are delicious- so monitor your consumption!
Does eating coffee beans help you lose weight?
If you are eating coffee beans straight up, without any added sugars you may find they help you lose some weight. With no added sugars, fat or carbohydrates they are a much healthier snack than a handful of chips or chocolate.