Coffee flour could give farmers a new source of income and reduce the environmental impact of coffee production.
Once harvested, the kernels containing the precious coffee beans are extracted. These kernels are dried and washed to get rid of the fleshy pulp of the coffee cherry. They are then sorted and peeled to remove the final covering revealing the green coffee beans that are ready to be traded on the international markets. Once they have reached their destination, the beans are roasted - this is what gives them their aroma, their dark brown color and allows them to develop their full flavor.
But what happens to the rest of the fruit? The pulp and the hull? Sometimes these coffee byproducts are recovered for use as biofuel or for composting. But mostly they are thrown into fields and rivers, where they quickly break down and create pollution. "At some of the larger wet mills, you can see acres and acres of pulp five feet deep, decaying,” says Daniel Belliveau.
This former Starbucks Director of Technical Services has seen the huge waste coffee production generates every year. One day, one of his friends who had just bought a farm asked him what happened to the piles of leftover pulp. Belliveau had a revelation: why not use it to make food? His company CF Global Holdings, along with Intellectual Ventures, have developed a secret method of transforming this pulp into coffee flour. The producers take the fruit pulp to local factories where it is processed and dried at low temperature. It is then milled to the consistency of a powder.
CF Global Holdings is currently working with five mills located in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Hawaii. Coffee cherries could provide a new source of income for farmers, making them less dependent on price fluctuations and weather conditions. Processing will create jobs and reduce the waste likely to contaminate the water and soil in coffee producing areas. The icing on the cake is that coffee flour is an ingredient with very good nutritional values. Gluten-free, its fiber content is 55% (compared to 5-12% for most other flours), and it is rich in proteins, vitamins, and iron.
You are probably asking yourself the obvious question – and the answer is no, the flour produced by Daniel Belliveau does not taste of coffee and contains relatively little caffeine. According to him, it offers, "a unique flavor with floral aromas" which varies depending on the origin of the cherries. The chef Jason Wilson has already experimented with it in recipes for pasta, bread and desserts in his restaurant in Seattle. Coffee flour should be available to the general public from 2015.
- Coffee Flour, official website
- Coffee Flour on Intellectual Ventures
- Coffee production on wikipedia.org
- Everything You Need To Know About Coffee Flour, Backed By Intellectual Ventures
- Coffee flour inventor: We’re finally beyond the stage where people just call us crazy'
- Turning waste into renewable energy