Why Eating Your Coffee is Smart

For coffee drinkers, that morning Cup of Joe is a ritual that won’t soon be abandoned, but what happens if you eat your morning cup instead of drink it? For centuries, people have been brewing beans for consumption (with popularity booming since the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when America switched from tea to coffee in nearly one fell swoop) and now it’s practically a faux pas not to drink the stuff. But even before we were meeting for coffee dates and swigging Starbuck’s before a big meeting, the bean was considered somewhat of a magic fruit.

The History: Eating Whole Coffee Beans

Let’s take a little trip back in time. Coffee can trace its roots back to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. Legend has it that the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the effects of coffee when he noticed that his goats became energetic after eating the berries off a certain tree. Kaldi shared this information with the abbot of the local monastery who began turning these berries into a drink that kept him alert during evening prayers. Slowly, word moved to the Arabian Peninsula, where coffee cultivation and trade began.

The Bean: What Happens if You Eat Coffee Grounds

What exactly is the coffee bean? It’s the seed of the coffee fruit (also called a cherry). During processing, the cherry, the red exterior coating, is removed and the seed inside is dried into raw green coffee beans. These green beans are then roasted at various levels and become the mocha colored beans we know and love. When you grind these beans and combine them with hot water, you’re diluting the effects of the bean. So eating the bean has an amplified effect — you’re getting all of the caffeine and antioxidants, not just what drips through the filter. The active ingredients in coffee beans are also absorbed more quickly through the mucus membranes in the mouth when you chew them whole rather than when you sip their diluted counterparts.

The Benefits of Coffee

Not only does coffee give us a much needed pep in our step that allows to tackle the day, it also reduces the risk of liver disease, skin cancer, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lessens the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Coffee is also the number one source of antioxidants for Americans, which remove free radicals from your bloodstream, and help to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, and immune dysfunction. Eating whole coffee beans helps you absorb not only the caffeine but also the ever important antioxidants faster. Plus, caffeine is credited with boosting memory consolidation, relieving post workout muscle pain, and increasing levels of dopamine. It’s, quite simply, a magic berry! And chewing coffee beans deliver your caffeine and antioxidants more rapidly than sipping your morning cup.(We don’t however, recommend eating coffee grounds.)

Where to Get Your Fix

As the benefits of caffeine continue to be touted, more companies are putting it into more places. Sure, you could grab a handful of beans and munch away, but that might be just a bit too hard core for some. Personally, a chocolate covered coffee bean goes a long way, but energy bars are your best bet for getting portable coffee on-the-go alongside proteins and fats that help you digest the caffeine slower and steadier. Eat Your Coffee, an organic, vegan, and gluten-free bar is infused with an entire cup of real coffee. Munch on it in Mocha Latte, Coconut Mocha, and Caramel Macchiato flavors that include good-for-you ingredients like cashews, oats, coconut, chia seeds, dates, coffee, quinoa, and cacao nibs. Coffee Thins, similarly, are a sweet treat that convert 100% of the whole coffee bean into an edible ingredient that delivers on taste and caffeine.

You may not be ready to give up your morning cup of coffee just yet, but these edible options are a great way to get an extra caffeine boost on the go.

One Nation, Under Starbucks

Packaged coffee drinks

The US single serve, packaged coffee drink market has been growing at double digits for the last four years. With coffee sales rising, the industry bloomed an additional 14% in 2016 to a market size of $2.54 billion. (Yes, that’s a “B.”) Ever since Starbuck’s launched Doubleshot cans and Frappuccino bottles of serving-size coffee over a decade ago, they have dominated the market, scooping up 75% of the marketplace. Dunkin’ Donuts, a late entrant to the ready-to-drink game, has expanded its line of consumer packaged goods and launched a line of iced coffee in February to compete with the King of Coffee. Starbucks is likely to notice a score of new players going after a piece of the ready-to-drink pie: cold brewed coffees. Blended with coconut milk, brewed with coconut water or made without any added natural or artificial sweetener, these players are going after a consumer who is looking for the caffeine buzz but without the dairy, sugar, and chemicals. Or maybe they are just looking for a BPA-free package.

Organic Gemini Tigernut Horchata

Horchata, the creamy drink that dates to eighth century Spain, has a dedicated following in the US particularly among Hispanic consumers who make it with milk or rice milk. Organic Gemini takes the drink back to its roots, producing a line of TigerNut Horchata. Cultivated in Spain and west Africa, tigernuts are a type of tuber, rich in prebiotic fiber and are the historical “milk” used in horchata. Certified organic and sealed in a BPA-free bottle, Coffee flavor horchata is made with fair trade Peruvian coffee beans, cold brewed with biodynamic water to which maple syrup is added. It’s creamy, it’s sweet and the cold brew process reduces the acidity of the final product. Add a pop of nutritive value and an equivalent amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee and you begin to understand how coffee becomes something more than energy. It’s fuel.

Wonderfuel Coconut Oil MCT Superdrink

Speaking of fuel, Wonderfuel embraces the superfood status of coconut in its Coconut Oil MCT Superdrink. Organic and non-GMO, Wonderfuel’s Coffee flavor is made with fair trade, cold brewed coffee and 7 grams of coconut oil MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), cinnamon and no added sugar. Wonderfuel is fuel. MCTs are used in medicine to treat food absorption disorders (I see you, celiac disease) and are used by athletes to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass. If you have not already embraced coconut oil and coconut milk as alternatives to dairy, this version of ready-to-drink coffee may tip you into the plant-based beverage column.

Pop & Bottle Cold Brew Coffee

Made without emulsifiers (like soy lecithin or carrageenan) and with certified organic almond milk, Cold Brew Coffee from Pop & Bottle also commits to a high level of almond milk – 20% in each bottle – killing the industry standard of 2-3%. Yes, organic almonds are more expensive but all that extra “milk” comes through in the taste. It’s fresh. It’s clean. And there is a rich sweetness from Medjool dates. The West Coast company paired with San Francisco-based Ritual Coffee for its beans. Since Pop & Bottle’s brews are more perishable than others (shelf life is 2-3 weeks, according to their website), the company only ships to western states, this partnership may guarantee the same rabid following that Ritual Roasters enjoys. For a highly perishable product, that is key.

Beach Beverages Beach Coffee

Coconut is also a feature ingredient in Beach Coffee. Here, the coffee is cold brewed with coconut water. “We do this because it makes Beach Coffee/Tea slight sweet and silky smooth without any added sugar or milk,”  says Josh Horsely of Beach Beverages. And it has the nutrient benefits of coconut water – it’s rich in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. Lighter in color and translucent, similar to a brewed tea, Beach Coffee has a smooth character, a mere 45 calories, and as much caffeine as a regular cup of joe.


It is unlikely that any of these companies can catch Starbucks dominance of the single serve, packaged coffee drinks market in the near term but the on-going embrace by the American consumer of coffee in portion-sized bottles is not slowing. As soy milk and almond milk now have a place next to the whole milk and Sweet-n-Low in coffee shops around the country, room for vegan, plant-based, ready-to-drink coffees will find their place in the cold case. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Around the World, Coffee is the Ultimate Social Snack

coffee culture, coffee evolution


Coffee and  coffee culture have gone through a revolution in the US. Half a century ago, when coffee was a commodity, we drank thin, uninspired coffee out of Styrofoam cups or at a diner. Back then, the drink’s taste was not important but rather coffee’s value as a morning energizer or social connector. My Mom kept a pot going all day, as much for sipping as to have, as Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory might say, a hot beverage ready to serve guests. Coffee was morning and all-day energizer. Freshness and flavor were secondary.

Fast-forward through instant Sanka to dark roast Peet’s Coffee to today, when America finds itself in the midst of what is called coffee’s third wave. That is, a new generation of roasters and cafes that consider coffee an artisanal product. Of course, coffee culture varies from region to region across in the US. And American coffee culture is now available worldwide through the success of Starbucks and its thousands of cafes. But coffee culture varies from country to country. No matter where you go, coffee is the ultimate social snack. Here are just a few experiences of coffee culture outside the US.


From office break rooms to family get-togethers, Chileans embrace Nescafé. A product of the Swiss packaged goods conglomerate Nestlé, Nescafé IS coffee in Chile. Served in portion-size packets, the instant coffee granules are poured into a cup to which boiling water is added. Milk and sugar are served alongside. Though all restaurants will serve you a Nescafé coffee if you ask for coffee, if you request “coffee coffee,” an espresso may appear.


The secret to Turkish coffee is in the beans, which are ground to a very fine powder before brewing. Brewed not once but as many as four times in an ibrik, a small, copper pot with a long handle for pouring, the dark liquid is fragrant and thick and, if sugar is added after the first boil, viscous. Let the coffee rest for a moment to allow the grounds to sift to the bottom of the ibrik before serving in demitasse cups. Drunk all day in cafes, coffee is also a preferred after dinner drink.


A hop and a skip across the wide Mediterranean Sea from Turkey, Italy also prefers coffee finely ground and served in small cups. Anytime except at breakfast, that is. At breakfast, an espresso is mixed with milk for a cappuccino. For the remainder of the day, through ground a bit coarser and brewed three fewer times than Turkey’s four, espresso is the preferred way to drink coffee. Cappuccinos are ordered in the morning, when there is time to sit and linger, while espresso is a “to go” drink, served at gas stations and cafes where the only option is to stand at a table to enjoy your demitasse hot drink.


Café de la Olla, or pot coffee, has roots in 18th century Mexico. Originally made with corn masa, a finely ground corn flour, the drink known as atole is swirled with cinnamon and piloncillo, an unrefined cane sugar, before heating. Whether or not coffee is added to the brew, atole is an important drink at breakfast and at dinner. As in Chile, instant coffee is important in regions where coffee is not grown and atole is also made with Nescafé.


No matter where you live, coffee is a social creature. The ritual of drinking coffee brings people together to share office gossip and family news. Coffee culture is important ritual in slowing down and enjoying the scene at a market square and a part of waking up. Whether made with artisanal beans or instant powder, coffee is the ultimate social snack.