Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages all over the world. According to statistics, about 30 to 40 percent of the world’s population drinks coffee regularly. It is a staple in many breakfast tables for starting the day awake and energized. Coffee is also valued for its antioxidant and science-based health benefits like easing diabetes, heart problems, and neurological issues.
Coffee came from trees that grow in tropical and subtropical regions. The most expensive cup of Kopi luwak is said to come from the feces of the Asian palm civet or wild cat – but that is another story.
The regular coffee that you brew and consume comes from the seeds of the coffee tree. Coffee bears these cherry fruits that hold the bean-like coffee seeds. When the fruits turn deep red, they are harvested, sun-dried, and hulled. The beans are processed into coffee while the hulls called cascara are turned into compost.
For a long time, cascara has been regarded as a waste material. But, it was found out that there is more to it than just fertilizer. High-quality coffee cherry is regarded as a superfood that is made into herbal supplements and smoothies.
Benefits of Coffee Berry
Coffee (Coffea arabica) is a drink with a stimulant and analgesic medicinal action. It has several other healing properties which makes it an important plant in traditional medicine. Raw and unprocessed coffee berry is purported to have the following benefits.
Promotes Brain Health
Coffee berries are not only rich in caffeine but also in polyphenols like procyanidins. These compounds are cell-protective that prevent cell degeneration. It also raises brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) to boost the survival and growth of neuronal cells. Taking coffee berries prevent neurological and age-related brain damage like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It also keeps the brain active to improve memory retention and cognitive health.
The chlorogenic acid present in coffee fruit is an important antioxidant that removes free radicals. Free radicals that accumulate in the body cause oxidative stress and cell damage. It could lead to many diseases including cancer. Coffee berries may stop the spread of liver and endometrial cancer and prevent the formation of many other cancer types. Its antioxidants bind with the free radicals to make it easier for the system to flush them away.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Chlorogenic acid in raw coffee is also potent in decreasing blood pressure when taken properly. Coffee extract, a healthy diet, and regular exercise can ultimately help manage blood pressure. It is beneficial for patients with mild hypertension and reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Coffee, when used without sugars and other high-calorie enhancers, is an excellent beverage for promoting weight loss. Coffee cherry is more potent in managing weight than ground coffee because of its higher chlorogenic acid content. Chlorogenic acid disintegrates fat cells and inhibits their new growth and formation.
Coffee cherry’s caffeine content also boosts the metabolic rate and increases fat burning. However, people can become tolerant of coffee, and over time, its effectiveness decreases. Thus, the coffee berry is effective for weight loss management only when used for a short period.
Coffee berries are effective in improving immune function by improving cell regeneration. The presence of antioxidants and polyphenols can activate the immune cells which help build the body’s resistance. Coffee also has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties to combat common diseases. Moderate consumption of coffee fruits prevents seasonal illnesses and reduces the number of sick days.
Coffee berry extracts are used in many modern cosmetics and skincare products. They are valuable for their powerful antioxidants that help in skin rejuvenation. Like ground coffee, raw coffee can also lift sagging skin and promote a youthful glow. The topical application of raw coffee helps enhance the skin’s texture and improve its elasticity. It wards off premature skin aging and improves the overall complexion.
Coffee Berry Use
As a superfood, coffee fruits are rich in caffeine, riboflavin, magnesium, chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, antioxidants and diterpenes. These compounds are present in ground coffee but are inferior to what is found in raw coffee berries. Production and processing reduce their nutritive value, especially their antioxidant levels. Thus, the antioxidant property in unprocessed coffee is about 25 times higher than in coffee grounds.
Coffee berries were considered inedible back in the day and were harvested only for their beans. But knowing they are safe for human consumption, coffee is now available in a variety of forms for medicinal use. There are coffee food supplements in liquid extracts, tablets and capsules. Their dosages are not yet established, but are likely safe in doses between 100 to 800 mg a day.
Coffee berries are also available as skin care products like facial masks, body masks or creams for skin inflammations.
Other Uses of Coffee Berry
The discarded pulps of coffee are often used as mulches and fertilizers. Here‘s how you can turn every kitchen scrap you throw out into free and nutritious fertilizer for your plants.
Coffee berries are acidic in nature and help compatible garden plants to thrive. With its nutrient-dense compounds, taking the fruit also brings promising benefits for the human body.
Ripe coffee fruits are somewhat sweet, pleasant and quite mucilaginous. Some people may enjoy eating them raw, but may not be palatable to others. If you want to incorporate it into your daily diet or skin care regimen, here are a few recipes you can try to get the most out of it.
Qishr Cascara Tea (Traditional Yemen coffee)
You need ½ cup dried cascara (coffee husk), 2 cups of water, 1 tsp. grated ginger, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. caraway, ¼ tsp. star anise and sugar (or honey) to taste.
- Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, strain and flavor it with sugar or honey before serving.
Coffee Berry Cocktail
You need 3 tbsp. coffee fruit, 10 oz hot water, 1 tbsp. orange marmalade, 1.5 oz rum and lemon (optional).
- Steep the coffee fruit into hot water for 4 minutes.
- In a mug, combine the orange marmalade with rum and stir well.
- Top with the coffee water and add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
Coffee Berry Scones
You need the zest and juice of one orange, 2 ½ cups flour, ½ cup white sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, ½ cup heavy cream, 1 cup coffee berry hull (cascara).
- Soak the coffee berry in the freshly squeezed orange juice until tender.
- In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients with the orange zest.
- Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly.
- Whisk the wet ingredients together and incorporate them into the dry ingredients.
- Gently fold in the cascara and combine well.
- Work the dough into a ball and flatten them into a disc about an inch thick. You can add more flour if the mixture is still wet.
- Cut them into triangles and bake at 400⁰F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Coffee Berry Face Mask
You need ¼ cup coffee berry, ¼ cup water and ¾ cup liquid glycerin.
- Crush the coffee berry using a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin.
- Put them in a glass jar, pour in water and glycerin, and swirl them around to mix.
- Let the mixture sit for about a week, shaking the jar regularly to infuse.
- Use the mixture as a face mask or cream to clear wrinkles and sagging skin.
Coffee Berry Jelly
You need 2 cups coffee cherry, water, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup powdered pectin and 5 cups sugar.
- Place the coffee cherries in a saucepan, cover them with water and let them boil. Let cool then strain, squeezing all the liquid out.
- In a large pot add about 2 to 3 cups of the coffee mixture. Add the lemon juice and dissolve the pectin and boil.
- Add the sugar at once and bring to a full and rolling boil. Continue boiling for a minute until it cannot be stirred down.
- Remove from heat and transfer the coffee jelly into a clean jar to set in.
Coffee cherries are by-products that are not worth sending into landfills. Its powerful health benefits rank it as a superfood that can be consumed in various ways. Coffee is not limited to an energy drink but is also enjoyed as a cocktail, food or skin care product. Its fruit extract is processed into food supplements and used for many health maladies.
Coffee fruit is high in antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds. They have superior nutrients that are low in caffeine, which can be tolerated by many users. You can enjoy the benefits of coffee by using coffee berries instead of coffee grounds. When intending to use it as a food supplement to treat an illness, do talk to your doctor first. Coffee may interfere with some medications which can only worsen the problem.