Photo: Courtesy Of CF Holdings
Whatever stance you take on the gluten-free debate, the fact is that white flour and even some whole-wheat flours are not the most nutritious things to put in your body. In America, at least, processing wheat into flour involves removing most of the fiber, B vitamins, and other important nutrients. Recently, though, a number of challengers — from rice flour to corn flour to coconut flour — have been gathering fans. But, it's a newcomer that might just steal the nutritional spotlight. Coffee flour, which is already in production and slated to hit stores next year, might just prove itself to be a killer of whole wheat.
The flour is made from the fruit of the coffee plant, which contains the valuable coffee beans we dry, roast, grind and brew on the daily. Usually, these "coffee cherries" are discarded as waste — essentially creating a big pile of trash that amounts to almost 1.5 billion cubic feet per year. It turns out, though, that we've actually been throwing out a crazy-nutritious power food all along. The coffee flour contains 50% more protein per gram than whole-wheat flour — and five times the fiber. While it doesn't taste like a cup of Joe (apparently, it "expresses more floral, citrus, and roasted fruit-type notes"), coffee flour does contain at least some caffeine, though the product's website says it's "less than brewed coffee." It's also gluten-free, if you're into that sort of thing.
Health benefits aside, though, coffee flour has a lot going for it. For one, finding a way to process and sell another part of the coffee plant would be a huge boon for the world's coffee growers, who are seriously vulnerable to outside factors like changing commodity prices, climate patterns, and unfair trade agreements. And, of course, actually producing something with the coffee cherries makes the coffee industry at least a bit more sustainable by reducing the amount of waste it generates.
Obviously, the real test will come when we can actually taste the stuff — somehow, "floral notes" in our pasta and bread doesn't quite make us drool with anticipation. But, the idea of making a simple, genuinely nutritious product out of something we all take for granted is seriously appealing. The fact that it might actually do some good in the process? Icing on the (coffee-flour) cake.