It’s official: Coffee can do anything. Our newest kitchen staple is proof positive. Coffee flour has captured our imagination and made its way into our mixing bowl at home.
This antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense flour crafted from lightly roasted beans or discarded coffee-cherry husks contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as dark chocolate, and is also brimming with iron, fiber, protein and potassium. The superfood packs an antioxidant punch into baked goods, while also containing compounds that temper the blood sugar spike that accompanies sweet treats. Talk about the best of both worlds!
Dr. Daniel Perlman, a senior scientist at Brandeis University specializing in functional foods, created this unusual flour a few years ago after examining coffee’s antioxidant properties in a laboratory setting.
What he determined is that deep roasting kills off much of coffee’s antioxidants. But you can’t just grind up green coffee beans either, as the raw product runs contamination risks and doesn’t taste appealing. Instead, coffee flour is best developed from a gently-roasted sweet spot, with light roasts having roughly twice the antioxidant content as dark roasts.
Perlman found that spot somewhere around 300 degrees Fahrenheit (rather than the usual 450-degree-range where coffee is roasted). That gentle toasting improves flavors and reduces moisture content for an easier flour grind, while sanitizing and preserving beans. Coffee flour is also created using a by-product made from drying the outer cherry of the coffee plant, which gets removed during processing. This reduces waste and is an excellent alternative.
Unfortunately, you can’t try making your own at home -- The full process requires cold, sterile conditions for sanitation. But you can purchase a bag of this fascinating food at most natural markets, and even Trader Joe's, to use in your kitchen experiments.
The pale brown, powdery coffee flour has a mildly nutty flavor, and can be baked into just about anything from cookies to breads. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to mix other flours into your recipes. Since coffee flour contains no gluten, it cannot stand alone in pastry products. The general rule is to use about 10 to 15 percent coffee flour in place of other flours when adding to any recipe. Coffee Flour Peanut Butter Brownies, anyone? Oh, definitely.