If there is a beverage which needs no introduction that is coffee. Hot coffee, espresso, americano, cold brew, cortado and many others: there are hundreds of ways to enjoy your favorite drink.
However, while sipping your coffee, you may have wondered whether this beverage, obtained from roasted coffee beans, can be considered a fruit juice. The quick answer is no. In fact, experts confirm that coffee is an infusion, activated by water, and not a juice.
Here you will find the answers to all your questions, including several interesting information about the way coffee beans are processed.
What Kind of Food is Coffee?
Coffee is a brewed beverage obtained by processing roasted coffee beans. These are the dried seeds of berries of certain plants of the Coffea species.
Many wonder whether coffee should be considered as food. Research has confirmed that the definition of functional food is based on its ability to enhance the quality of our life. Since coffee is consumed mainly for leisure and its positive effect on our body is widely recognized, we may say that this delicious beverage can be used as part of a functional diet.
A Brief History of Coffee
Is coffee a fruit? Can you drink coffee juice? Before we answer these questions, we should learn more about the history of coffee, and how these beans have travelled through the Middle East to bring us the gift of a caffeinate and delicious drink.
The earliest reports about the use of coffee date back to the 15th century, in a monastery in Yemen. According to several accounts, mystics used roasted coffee berries and beans to gain more energy. Century after century, coffee travelled through the rest of South India and the Middle East, reaching Turkey, Persia and northern Africa.
Coffee as we know it, which is a beverage made from roasted beans, was first introduced in Europe in the 16th century through slavery. Thanks to the trades between the Republic of Venice and Egypt, coffee soon became a common good which could be bought from the wealthy Venetian merchants. People in America had to wait until 1720 to enjoy their first sip of coffee.
Is Coffee a Fruit?
Despite their name, coffee beans are the seeds of the Coffee plant, and they are in no way related to legumes. Coffee seeds derive from the Coffee plant, which has fruits that resemble a red “cherry”. These can also be yellow, orange or pink, and they grow alongside the waxy leaves on these trees.
To sum up, coffee beans are not themselves fruit, but they are part of a fruit, which is the coffee cherry.
Is Coffee Considered a Juice?
As all coffee lovers know, this drink is made using roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of the fruit from the coffee plant. These beans need to undergo a long process before they can become the familiar roasted product that we use to brew our coffee. First, they are separated from the flesh of the berries, then fermented, washed and, finally, dried.
At the end of the roasting process, the physical and chemical features of the coffee beans are different. Most importantly, there is no trace of the coffee fruit. For this reason, since it is not made from the flash of any fruit, coffee cannot meet the definition of fruit juice.
In other words, coffee cannot be a fruit juice since it is not made from the flesh of the coffee cherry fruit. The best way to categorize coffee is to consider it an infusion, created by the combination of seeds (roasted coffee beans) and water. The liquid acts as a solvent, where the soluble part of the beans dissolve and create the most delicious beverages.
Can You Juice Coffee Beans?
The first thing we must underline is that coffee beans are not really beans. They only got their name because of their resemblance with these legumes. Similarly, they are often called coffee cherries, because of their similarities with this fruit.
Coffee beans are the seed of the Coffea plant, and they can be found inside a red or purple fruit (which is referred to as a cherry, because of its color). The beans that we roast to brew our favorite drink are just the pit of the whole fruit, meaning that they do not contain any juice.
Just like nuts and white rice, they consist mostly of endosperm and a very minuscule percentage of water. This is one of the reasons why juicing these beans would be impossible. On the other hand, green coffee beans, which have not been roasted yet, have higher water content. Although you may be able to obtain some juice from these seeds, you would only end up with a glass of woody and awful liquid. Definitely, not something you would enjoy on your coffee break!
Can You Juice Coffee Cherries?
All cherries, including the fruit of the Coffea plants, are known as drupes, or stone fruits. Each fruit is red once ripe and contains two green seeds, which are harvested and roasted to brew the most famous caffeinated drink. However, coffee fruits are not related to normal cherries, as they have completely different characteristics.
Before coffee cherries can be processed, they must be completely ripe. This makes the final product sweeter, with a balanced and bold flavor. Coffee cherries are edible and have a distinguishable acidity. However, there is very little edible flesh, which wouldn’t be ideal to get any juice. For this reason, these fruits are mostly harvested for their precious seeds, which are the secret for the perfect cup of coffee.
Is Coffee The Same As Tea?
Coffee cherries are particularly small, but their bright red color makes them look delicious. However, they taste nothing like coffee. Before they can release the bold aroma that we automatically associate with our favorite drink, they must undergo a long process, which will ultimately lead them to be roasted.
To obtain coffee beans, the seeds need to be separated from the cherry skin. This is then processed differently, to make a product known as cascara. Once ready and combined with water, this will produce a fruity beverage, which looks and tastes nothing like your average cuppa.
This drink is often referred to as coffee cherry tea, although it should be more appropriate to describe it as a tisane. In fact, only the beverages obtained with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant can be categorized as teas. All the remaining water-based infusion of flowers, spices, leaves and herbs are generally recognized as tisanes.
What Is Cascara?
Cascara is a very popular drink in South America, and it is just beginning to make a name of itself among coffee lovers in other countries.
This drink is made from the coffee cherry fruit skin, which is removed from the fruit during the seeds extraction process. The procedure makes the skin turn woody.
This drink is used referred to as coffee cherry tea although, as we have seen together, it is not technically a tea.
What Does Cascara Taste Like?
Cascara is the result of the infusion of coffee cherry skin in water. It has a fruity and woody flavor, which can reach some dry tobacco notes depending on the variety of the Coffee plants used. Many advocate that the flavor of this drink resembles that of grape or dried raisins.
Is Cascara Different Than Tea?
Because of its preparation process and fruity aroma, cascara is often associated with tea and it is described as coffee cherry tea. However, since it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, it cannot be properly categorized as tea. It is, instead, a delicious fruit infusion you can get by boiling water and coffee cherries skin.
Is Cascara Caffeine-Free?
Coffee cherries contain less caffeine than traditionally brewed coffee beans. Experts confirm that a cup of hot cascara contains about a quarter or even less of the caffeine of your standard cup of black coffee.
What are the health benefits of drinking cascara?
Coffee fruits are rich in antioxidants, especially polyphenols. Studies suggest that this may offer protection against the development of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, cancers, and even neurodegenerative diseases.
On the other hand, cascara has some benefits from the environment as well. It helps reduce food wastes when producing coffee. Besides, the consumption of this product is usually environmentally friendly and sustainable, as the plants and the cherries are being harvested anyway.
Experts have confirmed that cascara is one of the biggest opportunities for the future of the coffee business. Although it doesn’t taste like your average cuppa, its sweet flavor makes it one of the cheapest ingredients for other recipes.
How To Make Cascara
After reviewing the origin of coffee beans and the way they are processed, we can confirm that coffee is not fruit juice. It is instead an infusion activated by water, which dissolves all the soluble parts of your coffee beans.
Although the list of devotees to cascara is growing day by day, this beverage is available in only a few cafes in Europe. For this reason, many people are now trying to brew this drink at home. Although the process is very simple, you should make sure to be using only the best quality of cascara. In fact, drying the coffee cherries skins without spoiling their taste may not be easy, and not all coffee producers have the proper equipment to process this precious ingredient.
How To Make Cascara Tea
Using your cascara to make some delicious coffee cherry tea is easy. If you are a fan of cold brew coffee, you will most likely be familiar with the following steeping process.
- Mix 20 g (0.7 oz.) cascara in 1l hot water. You can use any glass container, or even a French press if you usually brew your coffee at home.
- Let it steep for about 5 minutes. The longer you leave it to steep, the stronger your brew will be.
- Remove the cascara and enjoy your drink! There’s no need for any additives, as the beverage will already have a plum-like, sweet flavor. However, you can add a little bit of extra sugar if you want.
How To Make Cascara Syrup
Cascara syrup is delicious and can be used as an ingredient for many recipes. You can prepare your syrup at home, and it only takes a few ingredients.
- Let 45 g (1.8 oz.) cascara steep into 400 ml for 10 minutes.
- Once ready, add 3-6 tbsp brown sugar. If you want, you can use any sweetener of your choice, such as cane syrup, honey, or keto-friendly alternatives.
- Store the syrup in the fridge and leave to chill for a few hours before enjoying it.
How To Make Cascara Soda
Have you ever tested a soda made from coffee cherries? The sweet flavor of cascara will blend perfectly with other ingredients, making it the perfect refreshing drink for your hottest afternoons! All you have to do is to mix well the following ingredients in a tall glass:
- 60 ml (2.1 oz.) cascara syrup
- 100 ml (3.4 oz.) soda
- Ice cubes
How To Make Cascara Gin & Tonic
With its bitter aftertaste, coffee is one of the best ingredients to prepare your favorite cocktails. Similarly, coffee cherries and cascara can be used to play with different flavors and get the perfect drink. Grab a cocktail glass and mix the following ingredients:
- 30 ml (1 oz.) cascara syrup
- 150 ml () tonic water
- 4 cl (1.35 oz.) gin
- Ice cubes
- Lime wedges, to garnish
Despite their name, coffee beans are not related to legumes. They are seeds from coffee cherries, which are the fruit of the Coffee plant. Due to their sizes and nutrients, these cherries cannot be juiced. On the other hand, they can be processed and each part of them can be used to make two delicious drinks: cascara, and your hot cup of americano.
If you are a coffee lover and you want to try new flavors, you should definitely try cascara!