Coffee lovers constantly upgrade and improve their drink and get creative:
We’ve got third-wave coffee brewing methods, such as Chemex or Aeropress, we’ve got Cold Brew and viral Dalgona coffee.
But wait, there’s more!
Turns out, whole coffee beans are totally safe to eat, and some manufacturers are already selling them as a snack, coated in chocolate or caramel.
If you want to try eating coffee beans, you’re in the right place:
This article covers all the things you need to know about incorporating this unusual snack into your diet!
What Do Coffee Beans Taste Like?Those who haven’t tried eating coffee beans may wonder what they taste like. The answer depends on many factors, such as:
- Type of coffee beans. There are four types of coffee beans: Robusta, Arabica, Liberica, and Excelsa. The latter two are mostly used for making specialty coffee blends, so if you try to find whole coffee beans to eat, these will be either Arabica or Robusta. And these two types have totally different flavor profiles. Arabica is overall more fruity and acidic and has a honey or caramel aftertaste. Robusta, on the other hand, carries rich chocolate and burnt-sugar flavor and has more bitterness.
- Roast. There are three stages of roasting: Light, Medium, and Dark, and each stage drastically changes the flavor profile of coffee beans. Light roast preserves the maximum amount of the “original” coffee flavors, whereas the Dark roast releases more caffeine and bitter notes to the taste. Medium roast is the most balanced between the two, so if you want to try chewing on some coffee beans, you can start from here.
- Storage conditions. How you store coffee beans — and how they were stored before you purchased them — will also affect the taste. Improper storing conditions can add stale and unpleasant notes to coffee beans.
- Additives. Chocolate or caramel coating will surely affect the taste of the coffee beans. Thus, make sure you choose quality-made chocolate or caramel without artificial additives.
How many Coffee Beans Can You Safely Eat?
Eating coffee beans is generally safe — after all, we’re consuming a beverage made of them — but that doesn’t mean you can overdo it.
Coffee in your cup is diluted with water, and you can consume up to 4 cups per day without any adverse effects — which is about 400 mg of caffeine for an adult (1).
Whole beans are much more concentrated. Although the amount of caffeine depends on the strain, roast, and size, each coffee bean contains about 12 mg of caffeine on average. Robusta contains about twice as much caffeine as Arabica.
So, by referring to 400 mg of caffeine per day for an adult, and by dividing this amount by the amount of caffeine per 1 bean, we get about 33 coffee beans per day.
Pros & Cons of Eating Coffee Beans
Any food you put in your mouth can have different effects on your body. Coffee beans are no exception, so let’s break down the main pros and cons of eating them.
We’ll start with the good:
- Fast caffeine absorption compared to drinking coffee. Your digestion starts in your mouth, and when you chew on coffee beans, you begin to absorb some caffeine with your mouth lining, which means it will start to act in your body more quickly.
- Great source of antioxidants. Whole coffee beans are an excellent source of chlorogenic acid, which belongs to the family of polyphenols. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that can combat inflammation and may prevent some types of cancer.
- Metabolism improvement. Caffeine is a stimulant, and if you try to snack on coffee beans instead of drinking espresso, you will get a higher dose of caffeine, which can be beneficial for physical and intellectual performance.
Now, the cons of eating coffee beans might be the following:
- Sleep disruption. The stimulating effects of caffeine can be a drawback for those who are overly sensitive to them. Caffeine can induce insomnia and change sleep architecture (2), so don’t snack on coffee beans after 3 p.m.
- Heartburn and stomach upset. A higher concentration of caffeine and fats in coffee beans can trigger stomach upset in some people. Plus, they are pretty high in catechols, which are linked to the increased acidity of gastric juices.
- Laxative effects. Stimulating effects of caffeine can affect your gut movements and cause diarrhea. Since coffee beans typically have higher doses of caffeine, you should consume them with caution, especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome.
So, Can You Eat Coffee Beans Regularly?
Coffee beans make a great snack, and you can consume them instead of your regular coffee — just be sure you don’t eat more than 30-33 beans per day, and consider possible side effects if you have a sensitive stomach or are prone to insomnia.
Also, it’s better not to combine coffee beans with regular coffee, and not to eat them after 3 p.m. so that the caffeine can properly metabolize and leave your body.
What are Different Types of Edible Coffee Beans?
By the way:
Eating coffee beans isn’t a new idea, and some companies produce them as a snack similar to chocolate nuts. Others coat the beans in caramel or sugar and sell them like candies.
Let’s see how these two approaches differ:
- Chocolate-coated coffee beans. These can be coated in milk or dark chocolate and aren’t that different from chocolate nuts. Note though, that chocolate has some caffeine in it as well, so it’s better to limit an intake of these sweets.
- Candied coffee beans. Candied coffee beans have a coating made of caramel or melted sugar. They have a more potent sweet kick, which contrasts the flavor of coffee beans. However, candied coffee beans may not suit people who are trying to limit their sugar intake.
Can You Eat Green Coffee Beans?
You get green coffee beans after you remove the pulp of the coffee berry. These are raw coffee beans, and eating them can be unpleasant because of their hard and woody texture and potent bitter flavor.
Can You Eat Coffee Grounds?
Yes, you can!
Ground coffee beans are no different from whole beans in terms of aroma and taste. Moreover, they are more convenient for adding them in desserts, cakes, and even to use as a meat rub! Today, numerous recipes use ground coffee beans as an additive to enrich their flavor (3) and you can try incorporating them in your cooking!
How to Store Coffee Beans?
If you plan to nib on your coffee beans from time to time, you need to store them properly to preserve all the layers of flavor.
The best way to do it is to purchase a coffee canister, which will protect your coffee beans from direct sunlight, outside smells, and oxygenation. Coffee canisters are compact and durable, and they will keep your coffee beans fresh for longer.
However, if you don’t have a canister, you can use an airtight container — it’s best to use glass, and not plastic — and store your beans in a dry, cool, and dark place.
Coffee beans are pretty versatile and can make a perfect snack or food ingredient along with their usual use. Try chewing on your home coffee beans and experiment with the blends and roasts to see which tastes the best for you.
If you tried eating coffee beans, we’d love to read about your experience! Share it in the comments below!
- Mary Jane Brown, Ph.D., RD (2019, February 13). Can You Eat Coffee Beans? All You Need to Know. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eating-coffee-beans#amount
- Karacan I, Thornby JI, Anch M, Booth GH, Williams RL, Salis PJ (1976, December 1). Dose-related sleep disturbances induced by coffee and caffeine. Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/article/MED/186223
- Audrey Bruno (2019, March 21). 16 Recipes That Prove Ground Coffee Makes a Delicious Seasoning. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/gallery/recipes-ground-coffee-delicious-seasoning
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.