You know that old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, it turns out that might not be true after all. In fact, according to a recent study, coffee is actually the fruit that keeps the doctor away! Who would have thought?
Yes, that’s right, coffee is a fruit. Or at least, it comes from a fruit. The coffee bean is actually the seed of the coffee plant, which is a small red berry. And like all fruits, coffee beans are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can benefit your health.
If coffee comes from a fruit, does that mean what we consume is not actually a bean? Let’s dive into all the details and figure out is coffee a fruit or a bean!
How does coffee grow?
The coffee tree is actually a small shrub that produces red or yellow berries. The coffee berries are about the size of a peanut and contain a single seed, which we call a coffee bean.
While we always refer to coffee as a bean, this is a misnomer. A bean is a type of seed, but not all seeds are beans. For example, peanuts are beans, but they are not coffee beans.
Coffee plants are native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and South America. Today, coffee is grown in more than 70 countries around the world. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia.
The coffee plant grows best in warm, humid climates between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Coffee plants will also grow at high altitudes, up to 6,000 feet (1,800 meters).
To thrive, coffee plants need four things: sun, water, soil, and air.
- Sun: Coffee plants need direct sunlight to grow. They will not flower or bear fruit unless they get at least 4 hours of sunlight each day.
- Water: Coffee plants need lots of water, about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) per week. Too much or too little water can damage the plants.
- Soil: Coffee plants need well-drained, fertile soil. The ideal pH level for coffee plants is between 6 and 7.
- Air: Coffee plants need fresh air to grow. They will not thrive in enclosed spaces.
How does coffee go from fruit to drink?
The coffee plant produces a small, red coffee fruit called a coffee cherry. Each cherry contains two beans. Coffee cherries are harvested by hand or by machine. The cherries are then sorted by ripeness and color.
After sorting, the cherries are hulled to remove the outer skin and flesh. This leaves the coffee bean inside. The coffee beans are then washed and dried.
Once the beans are dry, they are roasted to create the familiar flavor of the coffee. After roasting, the beans are packed up, ground, and then brewed to make coffee.
That’s the basics of how coffee is grown and processed. Now, let’s take a closer look at the coffee bean itself.
What makes up a coffee cherry?
The coffee bean is actually the seed of the coffee plant. And like all seeds, it contains everything the plant needs to grow. The coffee bean is surrounded by a thin layer of flesh called the parchment. The parchment is surrounded by a thin layer of skin called the husk.
The husk and parchment are removed before the beans are roasted. This leaves the beans with their familiar shape.
The coffee bean is composed of two parts: the endosperm and the embryo. The endosperm is a starchy tissue that contains nutrients for the embryo. The embryo is a small seed that contains the plant’s DNA.
When the coffee bean is roasted, the endosperm breaks down, and the embryo expands. This is what gives the roasted seeds their characteristic flavor and aroma.
Now that you know how coffee grows and what makes up a coffee bean, let’s look at how coffee is roasted.
How is coffee roasted?
Coffee roasting is a complex process that involves heating the beans to high temperatures. This causes the beans to expand and change color, flavor, and aroma.
The roast process begins with an unroasted green coffee bean. The beans are then heated to high temperatures, usually between 400 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit (200-300 degrees Celsius).
As the beans are heated, they turn yellow, then light brown, and finally dark brown. Coffee beans become darker the longer they are roasted.
The roasting process also affects the flavor of the coffee. Lightly roasted beans have a milder flavor, while darkly roasted beans have a stronger, more intense flavor.
Coffee roasting is a complex process that requires careful timing and temperature control. Different roasts produce coffee with different flavors and aromas.
Coffee has health benefits, just like fruits and vegetables
Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant, which is a small red berry. And like all fruits, coffee beans are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can benefit your health.
Some of the most important nutrients in coffee beans include:
- Protein: Coffee beans are a good source of protein. One cup of coffee (8 ounces) contains about 2 grams of protein.
- Fiber: Coffee beans are also a good source of fiber. One cup of coffee contains about 4 grams of fiber.
- Potassium: Coffee beans are a good source of potassium. One cup of coffee contains about 500 mg of potassium.
- Magnesium: Coffee beans are a good source of magnesium. One cup of coffee contains around 80 mg of magnesium.
- Antioxidants: Coffee beans are a good source of antioxidants. One cup of coffee contains about 1,000 mg of antioxidants.
Is coffee high in antioxidants?
The health benefits of coffee beans are primarily due to the antioxidants they contain. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from damage. This amazing compound has been linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Some of the most important antioxidants in coffee beans include:
- Quercetin: Quercetin is a type of flavonoid. Flavonoids are a class of antioxidants that have been linked to several health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved heart health.
- Kaempferol: Kaempferol is another type of flavonoid. Like quercetin, it has anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy effects.
- Chlorogenic acid: A type of phenolic acid. Phenolic acids are a class of antioxidants that have been linked to several health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved blood sugar control.
Coffee beans also contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. Caffeine can improve mental alertness and physical performance. It can also help you stay awake and keep you focused. However, too much caffeine can cause side effects, such as anxiety, jitteriness, and insomnia.
How is coffee harvested?
Coffee cherries are generally picked by hand. It is also common for coffee cherries to be harvested by machine. The coffee cherries are then sorted by ripeness and color. The ripe, red coffee cherries are then hulled to remove the coffee beans.
After the coffee beans are hulled, they are washed and dried. The coffee beans are shipped out and roasted to produce coffee.
Where does coffee grow?
Today, coffee is grown in more than 50 countries around the world. Brazil produces the most coffee, followed by Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia.
Coffee is also grown in the United States, although the country is not a major producer. In the US, coffee is grown in Hawaii and California.
The origin of coffee and soil composition greatly effect the overall flavor.
What coffee cherry looks and tastes like?
The flesh of a coffee cherry is sweet and slightly tart. The taste is often compared to that of cranberry or blueberry.
The coffee bean is the seed of the coffee cherry. The beans are surrounded by a thin, papery husk. The beans are green when harvested and turn brown during the roasting process. Green coffee beans can be used to create green coffee extract.
What do they use coffee cherries for besides coffee?
Coffee cherries can be used to make coffee, of course. But they can also be used to make other products, such as:
- Fruit leather: Made by spreading coffee cherry pulp on a flat surface and then drying it in the sun or in a dehydrator.
- Jam: Coffee cherry jam can be made by cooking coffee cherries with sugar and water.
- Syrup: Coffee cherry syrup can be made by boiling coffee cherries with water and sugar.
- Coffee oil: Coffee oil is made by pressing coffee beans. The oil has a strong flavor and aroma. It can be used to flavor food or as a moisturizer for skin and hair.
- Coffee tea: An herbal tea is made by steeping coffee cherries in hot water. It has a fruity, slightly sweet flavor. Cascara tea is made from the dried skins of coffee cherries. It has a similar flavor to coffee tea but is lower in caffeine.
- Soap: Soap can be made from the oil extracted from coffee cherries. The soap has a strong coffee scent and can be used as a body wash or shampoo.
The coffee cherry is a versatile fruit that can be used to make many different products. Next time you have a cup of coffee, think about all of the different ways that the coffee cherry can be used!
What are the different types of coffee plants?
There are two main types of coffee plants: Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica coffee plants are native to Ethiopia and produce about 60% of the world’s coffee. The beans from these plants are large and have a mild flavor.
Robusta plants are native to Africa and produce about 40% of the world’s coffee. The beans from these plants are small and have a strong, bitter flavor.
Coffee plants can also be classified by their growing conditions. There are four main types:
- Tropical: Tropical coffee plants grow in hot, humid climates. They include Arabica and Robusta varieties.
- Subtropical: Subtropical coffee plants thrive in warm, moist climates. They include Arabica and Robusta varieties.
- Temperate: Temperate coffee plants grow in cool, moist climates. They include Arabica and Robusta varieties.
- Highland: Highland coffee plants grow in cool, dry climates. They include Arabica and Robusta varieties.
Coffee is a popular drink all over the world. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, plain or flavored. There are many different ways to make coffee, and each person has their own preference.
Whether you like your coffee black or with milk and sugar, there’s no doubt that coffee is a delicious and enjoyable beverage. Thanks for reading, and happy brewing!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Coffee a Vegetable?
No, coffee beans are actually the seeds of a fruit. The coffee plant produces red or purple fruits called coffee cherries. The cherries contain two seeds, which are used to make coffee. The coffee seeds are not considered to be vegetables or legumes.
Is Coffee Good for You?
There is some debate on this topic. Some people believe that coffee has health benefits, while others believe that it may be harmful in large quantities. However, most experts agree that a moderate intake of coffee is safe and can even have some health benefits.
How Much Caffeine is in Coffee?
The average cup of coffee has around 100-120 mg of caffeine. The amount of caffeine in coffee depends on the type of bean, the roast, the brewing method, and how much water is used to create each brew. Generally speaking, Arabica beans contain less caffeine than Robusta beans. Darker roasts tend to have less caffeine than lighter roasts. And, brewing with more water (such as in a drip coffee maker) will result in a weaker cup of coffee with less caffeine.
How Do I Store Coffee?
Coffee should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It is best to use coffee within two weeks of opening the container.