If you're a diehard fan of coffee of as much as I am, every now and then, you see or even smell a coffee bean, and you can't help but think what it might taste like. Eating or chewing coffee beans has a mixed reaction from people. Some may think it tastes bitter, while for others, it's a delicious snack. But can you actually eat a coffee bean, and what effects can it have on your body?
Let's get into it.
First things first, we must get something out of the way, coffee beans are seeds of the coffee plant and not actually a bean. During the processing of coffee, the pulp and layers around the seed are removed to get to the bean.
The idea of eating coffee beans is not exactly a new one. A lot of people have thought about it since coffee has been harvested and roasted for consumption. In the past, coffee beans were actually mixed with animal fats and consumed as a snack for energy. A lot of people used to eat these while doing chores or traveling, around 100 years ago.
So, let's talk about the taste of coffee beans.
What do they actually taste like?
Those who may have had it already will tell you it tastes different according to its roast type. For example, if you eat a green or unroasted coffee bean, it'll be much harder to bite and have a bitter and grassy taste. Unroasted beans usually taste a little more acidic and earthy. The roasting process is what leads to the nutty, smoky, and sweet flavors coming out in the beans.
Mostly beans are eaten when they are roasted as the bold and gritty texture of the beans can be quite delectable. Similarly, light to medium roasts are enjoyed more due to their oils and flavor.
So now that we have gotten the taste out of the way, let's talk about if it's actually healthy for you to eat coffee beans.
Coffee beans actually have a lot of fiber and very high amounts of antioxidants, especially phenolic compounds. The most notable is chlorogenic acid that has cancer-fighting properties. Most of these antioxidants can help prevent illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and inflammation.
More research shows that coffee can also help prevent type 2 diabetes, liver diseases, and Parkinson's disease. Brewed coffee is also an easy source of energy, helps enhance cognitive function, and reduces depression. In a similar way, the coffee bean has all those effects with added fiber.
Coffee beans are a good source of caffeine and can have more caffeine than in a regular cup of coffee. If you compare a cup of black coffee and 28 coffee beans, the beans will have 3.5 times the amount of caffeine.
This is because some caffeine can be washed away during brewing or filtering, but you actually get everything that is present in a coffee bean when you eat it whole, which is why it’s gaining popularity as a way to get a quick caffeine fix.
Too much of anything can be bad for you, so coffee beans must be eaten in moderation. Since they have quite a bit of caffeine, just like coffee, it's important to monitor how much you consume. Eating too many can lead to increased heartburn, elevated heart rate, and other side effects.
Also, they have a similar laxative effect to coffee and can lead to high cholesterol over time. People with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease must consume coffee beans with caution. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition that requires limited caffeine intake, then consuming coffee beans may not be advised.
Coffee beans can also induce anxiety or make it worse. Those with sleep problems may face difficulties and feel too energized due to coffee's energy boost but this eventually crashes. Hence, it's best to avoid beans at least 7 hours before bedtime.
How Many Coffee Beans Can You Eat?
It all comes down to the caffeine levels. Adults can drink up to 4 mugs of filtered coffee a day, anything more can be considered harmful as it crosses the recommended intake of 400mg of caffeine per day. Also, it must be noted that Robusta beans contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica coffee.
So, taking an approximate of 12mg of caffeine per bean, adults can eat around 33 coffee beans per day. But this may mean higher calories, carbs, and sugar. One must also note, caffeine from other foods can cause a further imbalance.
There are a lot of ways to eat coffee beans in these days, for example, some are available roasted and sweetened or even covered in chocolate. You can find these in the market pretty easily as these snacks are gaining popularity. I would recommend you try some, but remember to stay in moderation!