We can all agree that coffee is one of the most delicious drinks on earth. Whether you take yours black, iced, with almond milk, or as a double shot of espresso, there’s a reason why people around the world drink coffee daily.
We can also agree that coffee has a variety of health benefits. In fact, many of us use that as a reason to justify having that second, third, or fourth cup.
But if it’s so tasty and so good for us, why are we only drinking it?
Should we be eating it instead? Can you even eat coffee beans?
Technically, yes, coffee beans are edible, but we rarely see anyone pop a roasted bean in their mouth and start chewing away. Yet, there actually are lots of ways to eat coffee (just not in the way you may expect).
Ready to get your taste buds excited?
Also see: 13 Delicious Recipes for a Fancy Coffee Mood.
The Health Benefits of Coffee
Coffee is high in antioxidants, and those are a powerful way to improve our immune systems and lower our risk of getting certain diseases.
But it does more than that …
Because coffee contains caffeine, it improves energy levels and aids you in being more physically active. It helps burn fat, it can help to fight depression, and it can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Some studies even suggest that it can protect you from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep in mind, ingesting too much coffee can have serious side effects. Because of its high caffeine content, coffee can cause sleep disturbance and increase your blood pressure. In some people, it can trigger heartburn. In others, it can cause a laxative effect.
Yet, when consumed in moderation, coffee has fantastic health benefits and is an excellent source of various nutrients.
The way you brew your coffee is also a determining factor in the benefits or side effects it can cause. French press and Turkish brews both encourage cafestol to come through the coffee beans. Unfortunately, this can be harmful to people with high cholesterol.
It’s important to keep your caffeine intake to a minimum. The recommended maximum dose of caffeine for an adult is 400 milligrams per day or about four cups of coffee. Whether you’re drinking it or eating it, it’s in your best interest to keep your coffee consumption within reasonable limits.
In moderation, you can eat coffee beans straight. But there are much better ways to get your daily coffee fix. By brewing, mashing, and grinding coffee beans, you can add that delicious coffee flavor to everything from donuts to a steak dinner.
Where Does Coffee Come From?
If coffee beans are beans, then they must be safe to eat, right?
Yes and no.
The coffee plant doesn’t exactly grow beans — it produces the coffee fruit. And inside each little coffee fruit are the seeds, more commonly referred to as the coffee beans.
But they’re not the brown color you might expect them to be. They actually start out as green coffee beans. They only turn that beautiful brown color once they’ve gone through the roasting process.
It’s those beautifully brown-roasted coffee beans that you’ll want to have on hand in your kitchen to make the following coffee-infused foods. Many recipes call for the use of brewed or ground coffee, but it all starts with having the best beans!
For more information on the growing, picking, and roasting process, check out our post Is Coffee a Vegetable?
Coffee Ice Cream
Love the taste of coffee but don’t want to eat highly-caffeinated coffee ice cream?
Buy it in a store, and it’s likely to be high in caffeine. But if you make it yourself, you can make it with decaffeinated beans instead!
Making ice cream at home takes some trial and error.
First, you need to steep a few different ingredients together. Then move it on and off the heat to get the proper consistency. Not to mention: temper egg yolks, strain, whisk and do all sorts of other fancy kitchen work.
The irony is that working with the coffee beans themselves is the absolute easiest part of the process. Making coffee ice cream requires you to use whole coffee beans and a small amount of finely ground coffee. Super easy and inarguably delicious!
Want coffee flavor without actually eating coffee ice cream?
It’s time to try some affogato.
Affogato is perhaps the easiest coffee-flavored dessert that exists, and you can make it in a matter of a few minutes.
Affogato is a fancy name for an Italian dessert that’s actually super simple.
It’s just two scoops of ice cream (we prefer it with vanilla) topped with a single shot of espresso or about three tablespoons of very strong brewed coffee. Add some chocolate shavings on top, and you’ve got an utterly decadent coffee-flavored dessert.
If you’re throwing a dinner party for coffee-loving friends, this is what you should be serving at the end of the meal. If you want to make it the authentic way they do in Italy, substitute the ice cream with gelato. Delizioso!
Are you a coffee aficionado? Find out now by checking our Guide to Becoming a Coffee Connoisseur.
Coffee and Chocolate Sauce
Have you ever had a chocolate mole sauce infused with coffee?
If you haven’t, maybe you’re not eating at the right Mexican restaurants.
Perfect as a sauce for tacos, enchiladas, baked chicken, and steak, mole sauce with coffee is a great way to take any dish from simple to spectacular.
The traditional mole sauce contains all sorts of yummy peppers, garlic, onions, and spices. And, of course, the chocolate cacao that gives it that rich brown color. But you can punch up all those flavors if you brew coffee first and stir a cup of coffee or two into your saucepan.
It’s so good, it’s ridiculous!
Not in the mood for a savory coffee dish?
Many sweet and decadent desserts taste even better when topped with a chocolate coffee sauce.
Add Coffee to Desserts
Coffee and donuts are pretty much a sweet staple pairing around the world. But there are endless ways to infuse coffee into desserts, rather than just enjoying a sweet dessert with a cup of espresso on the side.
Here are just a few of the many decadent desserts that call for coffee as a recipe ingredient.
To make a proper tiramisu, you’ll need to brew your coffee first. Combine that with rum, mascarpone, whipped cream, and cocoa powder.
The ultimate Italian coffee-infused dessert. It’s the kind of flavor that instantly transports you to Florence (even if you’re scarfing it down in the Midwest).
The only thing that’s better than the airy deliciousness of a chocolate mousse is a chocolate mousse made with coffee.
If you know how to make a chocolate mousse, you can make a coffee mousse. Egg yolks, sugar, heavy cream, and chocolate are the heart of a chocolate mousse. But when you add in some brewed espresso, it’s a whole new level of satisfaction.
If you Google espresso brownies, you’ll find all sorts of yummy (and slightly different) recipes. You'll also find they almost all require espresso powder. But that’s not an ingredient that most of us have in our pantries.
But if you have espresso beans in your kitchen, you can make your own espresso powder. It’s relatively easy to do.
It starts by roasting your espresso beans on a baking sheet in the oven. Once they’re lightly toasted, use a burr grinder to grind them into the finest powder possible. With that powder, you can whip up a batch of espresso brownies, espresso chocolate cupcakes, or a chocolate espresso cake.
Wondering how long your ground coffee will stay fresh? Read our full article on coffee freshness (plus storage tips you don’t want to miss!).
Along with brewed espresso, you can also use espresso powder to create espresso muffins.
Making them is as easy as making a chocolate cupcake. The main difference is that you’ll need to add some freshly brewed espresso (or strong coffee). Then add an extra teaspoon of finely ground espresso to give your morning muffins an intense coffee flavor.
With espresso muffins, you can get your caffeine fix and get that delicious coffee flavor. Plus, muffins are a great on-the-go breakfast that you can take and eat anywhere.
There are endless varieties of cookies that you can buy or learn to bake from home, but one of our favorites is coffee cookies.
With some espresso powder, instant espresso, or instant coffee granules, you can turn your everyday chocolate chip cookies into coffee chocolate chip cookies. You can also get creative and add walnuts, pecans, or peanut butter chips to make your classic chocolate chips even more exciting.
With Coffee, the Options Are Endless
Baking is a science. You need accurate ingredient measurements to make your dough rise or your cookies soft, or your brownies all nice and gooey and fudgy. But when coffee is an ingredient, there are lots of opportunities for experimentation.
And that’s because roasted coffee beans come in so many varieties. Dark roast. Arabica coffee beans. Robusta beans. Light blonde coffee grounds.
With so many coffee types to choose from, you can customize any recipe. Play around to create the exact flavor profile you prefer, just like you do with the coffee you drink.
The easiest way to add coffee flavor to your recipes is by making your own coffee extract or essence! Learn: How to Make Coffee Extract for Flavoring.
Use Coffee As a Spice Rub
Coffee goes hand-in-hand with desserts and sweets. The two are symbiotic and always pair well. But coffee makes for a pretty incredible savory spice rub as well.
Combine equal parts ground coffee with salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Add ½ part pepper, coriander, onion powder, and chili powder. Add a generous dash of cayenne pepper. The result is a hot, spicy, and tasty dry rub that you can use on almost any protein.
It’s incredibly delicious on a beef roast, a nice thick steak, pork chops, or lamb chops.
The best part about making a dry rub is that you can adjust it. If it doesn’t have as much coffee flavor as you’d like, just add more!
Chocolate Espresso Beans
Of all the ways to eat coffee, the easiest and most accessible way is chocolate espresso beans.
We know a lot of coffee lovers who rely on chocolate-covered espresso beans for snacking. After all, every single bean has its own amount of caffeine, so it’s a yummy snack option that also gives a burst of energy.
You can buy espresso beans covered in dark chocolate or milk chocolate.
Just like drinking coffee, try not to go overboard with eating coffee beans. As delicious as they may be, too many can cause adverse side effects, particularly for people that need to watch their caffeine intake.
If you prefer to have complete control over your coffee, chocolate espresso beans are super easy to make at home.
All you have to do is heat and melt the chocolate of your choice in a double boiler and stir in the coffee beans. Once the beans are coated, remove them with a fork, let them drip and cool on parchment paper, and start snacking!
Check out our complete recipe for organic chocolate-covered espresso beans.
It’s All About the Beans
The most important thing about brewing a delicious cup of coffee or using it in a flavorful recipe is to have the right beans.
Coffee beans are edible, but chewing on a roasted bean isn’t how most people enjoy it. Besides drinking coffee, you can also grind, brew, and mash those beans as an ingredient for all sorts of sweet and savory recipes.
After all, coffee is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients, so eating or drinking it is an excellent way to boost your daily diet.
As a dry rub for steaks and chops or a saucy drizzle with which to top donuts or ice cream, it’s time to start thinking of coffee as more than just a drink. It’s time to start treating it as a powerful ingredient that can incorporate into all sorts of foods.
If you’re near the Sonoma County area, swing by the Taylor Lane shop to see what seasonal treats we’ve got in our case to pair with your delicious beverage!