What happens if I eat some coffee beans? It’s a question many coffee lovers have no doubt pondered each time they open up a fresh bag. If you’d like to try chewing your caffeine fix, this article aims to give you all the essential information…
Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee fruit (or cherry). During processing, the fruit part is stripped away and the seed inside is dried to leave raw green coffee beans. These green beans are roasted on a scale (from light to dark), which gives us the coffee beans we all know and love. The roasted beans are ground and brewed to make our favorite drink.
The short answer to this is, yes. The longer answer is, yes…but in moderation. When you drink brewed coffee, the ground beans are essentially diluted with water (and milk, etc.). However, when you eat coffee beans, you’re getting the full concentrated effects: good and bad.
Views have long been mixed over whether coffee is good or bad for us. At the moment, the consensus seems to be that it has many positive health benefits that outweigh the negatives.
One of the main ways coffee is thought to be good for us is its high antioxidant content. Coffee is actually high in a group of antioxidants called dietary phenolic compounds. These antioxidants are said to protect us from cardiovascular disease, inflammation and other nasty things.
While these antioxidants can be found in lots of plant-based food and drink, coffee is a particularly good source. It’s no surprise that undiluted whole coffee beans are packed extra full of antioxidants.
Nutrition-wise, 1oz of coffee beans contains about 85 calories, 13g of carbs and 11g of fiber.
Just as any health benefits of coffee are amplified when eating the beans, so too are any negative effects.
If you find brewed coffee gives you heartburn or other unwanted side-effects, these are likely to be worsened if you chew coffee beans in any significant quantity.
Eating too many might also have a laxative effect or even lead to high cholesterol. Of course, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition that means you should exclude or limit caffeinated or acidic food/drink, eating coffee beans is probably not a good idea. If in doubt, seek medical advice.
Maybe the most important thing to consider when eating coffee beans is the additional caffeine you’re ingesting.
There has been a flurry of research suggesting that caffeine can have all kinds of health benefits. These include enhanced memory and protection from diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and even some types of cancer.
However, while we all have different tolerances to caffeine, it’s important to bear in mind that the recommended safe level of caffeine for adults is around 400mg per day (kids should stay off it altogether).
This represents about four cups of brewed coffee. As a guide, coffee beans can contain up to 6mg each. So, it’s worth keeping track of how many you’re eating, especially if you’re also consuming other caffeinated drinks.
We’ve all been there. That one cup of coffee too many that leads to headaches, jitters and mood swings. Other symptoms that suggest you’ve taken too much caffeine onboard include insomnia, heart palpitations and muscle tremors.
Consume too much (over 500mg a day) on a regular basis and you might be looking at liver damage, high blood pressure and addiction, which could lead to a period of withdrawal when you quit.
Again, this is worth bearing in mind if you decide to start snacking on coffee beans.
Not really. Medium or dark roast beans may well be more enjoyable (if oilier) to eat from a flavour point-of-view, but that really depends on personal preference.
In terms of caffeine content, the jury is out about which roast contains the most. The National Coffee Association suggests lighter roasts have a slightly higher caffeine content and it seems a good bet that they know what they’re talking about when it comes to coffee!
Yes, coffee grounds are also OK to consume. Again, in moderation. They’re also good as fertilizer and can make an excellent body scrub, among many other household uses!
Hopefully we’ve answered all your questions and even dispelled some myths about eating coffee beans. So, the next time you fancy trying those chocolate-covered espresso beans you’ve seen for sale at your favorite coffee shop, you can snack away with confidence!