Bakers Journal

The Final Proof: December 2014

December 1, 2014
By Jane Dummer RD

How coffee flour turned into a highly touted food ingredient

How coffee flour turned into a highly touted food ingredient.

Did you know that coffee production generates a byproduct that is considered one of the most nutritious compost and fertilizers in the world? And, did you know that if the coffee farming business has extra volume of this byproduct and does not have efficient controls in place, it could pile up and create an environmental concern?

The amazing byproduct I’m speaking of is coffee flour. But how can it be used? That question was undoubtedly on the minds of coffee flour inventors (and former Starbucks executives) Dan Belliveau and Andy Fedak when they envisioned converting coffee flour into a food ingredient.

Let’s back up for a moment and explore our current coffee environment. Coffee is the second most traded product in the world after petroleum. Our coffee culture is thriving. The numbers confirm this. Statistics Canada reports that, after water, the second most popular drink for Canadians is coffee. Coffee grows as a fruit plant and the coffee bean is essentially the centre seed of the cherry blossom (or pulp). The fleshy, nutritious cherry blossom is the byproduct, which, along with a fertilizer, has the potential for new food uses.

Fedak, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Coffee Flour, explains: “If there is excess cherry pulp it can accumulate, sometimes literally left in heaps that can rot very quickly. We have developed a process via wet milling to harvest the goodness from the cherry pulp into coffee flour. Due to a sensitive time period, we are working with wet millers globally. Our goal is to create a sustainable operation by offering another solution, creating jobs where the coffee is grown and developing a new nutritious food ingredient.”

Coffee flour’s official launch is slated for 2015. In the meantime, Fedak is partnering with chefs and product developers to create recipes with coffee flour.

Chef Jason Wilson, owner of Crush and Miller’s Guild Restaurants in Seattle, has been experimenting with coffee flour and is thrilled with its functionality, taste and colour.

“Coffee flour can be used as a shelf stabilizer, a fibre additive, protein enrichment, a spice and a structure builder for baked goods and breads,” Wilson says.

“Its texture is close to cocoa powder, and fine like rice flour. In performance, it’s unlike other gluten-free flours because it’s very high in fibre. We have successfully replaced other flours with coffee flour as high as 33 per cent in delicious batard and brioche breads. And we are testing a chocolate cake at 25 per cent coffee flour.”

I’m intrigued about the flavour and colour of the flour coming from the coffee cherry pulp and if it resembles coffee bean (seed). Wilson has this explanation: “The flavour is unlike coffee as we know it. It is more like a roasted cherry, currant or plum. There is a dry spice note to it and a lightly smoky element, like the smell of a dry place on a hot day. The colour is simple; it will darken things, so it works great with chocolate.”

When I asked about the coffee flour signature items in the restaurant lineup, the answer was: “The coffee flour batard at Crush is top, with chocolate-filled coffee flour caramels close behind.” Wilson says customers are enjoying the coffee flour items so much, they keep asking for them. He is testing out new ones all of the time.

I’m especially interested in the nutritional value of the coffee flour. Preliminary data from identifies that the nutrition is something to talk about. Similar to other agriculture products, depending on the plant variety, climate (including altitude) and soil conditions, the nutritional content will vary.

The Coffee Flour website says coffee flour has five times more fibre than whole-grain wheat flour and three times more iron than fresh spinach, plus it’s a source of protein and potassium. Also, coffee flour contains less caffeine than brewed coffee.

I’m looking forward to it hitting grocery shelves in 2015 and can’t wait to start using coffee flour in my home kitchen.

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