Quick Question: Can You Eat Coffee Cherries?

Many coffee lovers are familiar with roasted coffee. But, one question that lingers on many of these coffee lovers is – can you eat coffee cherries? Before answering this popular question, it would help to understand what a coffee cherry is first.

In this post, we explore more concerning coffee cherries. For example, can you eat them? Do they contain caffeine? Keep reading for more!

What is a Coffee Cherry?

So, what is a coffee cherry? First, the coffee cherry is not like money because it, in fact, grows on trees! The coffee cherry is the coffee plant’s fruit made up of skin, flesh, and the coffee bean, which is a seed.

Furthermore, they look like other berries and usually start as green, tiny, and unripe fruits. When it matures, the cherry turns red, and you might see some yellow on some coffee varieties. The fruit ripens within two months, but if you grow it at higher altitudes, it might take longer.

When processing coffee, you remove the cherry skin and flesh and remain with the coffee bean, which you wash, roast, and brew. The chaff is the skin’s final layer that comes off the bean during roasting.

The coffee cherry contains:

  • 144.9 calories for every 3.53 ounces (100 grams)
  • 0.015 ounces (425 milligrams) of calcium
  • 1.8 ounces (51 grams) of fiber
  • 0.012 ounces (333 milligrams) of magnesium
  • 0.0006 ounces (15.7 milligrams) of sodium
  • 22 mmol of antioxidants
  • 0.0017 ounces (49.6 milligrams) of iron
  • 0.017 ounces (530 milligrams) of caffeine
Coffee cherries in a bag

Can You Eat Coffee Cherries?

Mostly, people grow coffee berries to harvest the seeds inside, turning them into coffee beans. Well, coffee cherries are fruits meaning you can eat them! Like any other fruit, the part you eat is the flesh. 

The seeds are usually tasty when you dry them up, but you might not enjoy eating them raw. However, you will not find a local grocery store selling coffee cherries. Therefore, if you want to taste them, it would help to visit a coffee farm. Alternatively, you can grow a coffee plant.

When you get the chance to eat a coffee berry, the first thing is to ensure it is ripe. Then, use two fingers to squeeze the coffee cherry to pop out the two seeds.

The coffee cherry has a thin layer of skin and pulp. Therefore, don’t bite straight into the berry as you might bite the seeds. You can eat the flesh part like in any other fruit.   

What do Coffee Cherries Taste Like?

Are coffee cherries edible? Yes, you can eat coffee cherries. If you have never tasted coffee cherry, trying it for the first time is worthwhile. The cherries have a pleasant sweet taste. Most people who have tasted coffee berries claim it tastes like a mango.

The fruit has three parts:

  • The pulp (flesh) is sweet and contains some caffeine. It sticks to the bean like a peach or mango. Although the coffee cherry pulp is tasty, the cherry does not have enough of it to justify eating it as a fruit;
  • The skin whose taste is plain or a bit bitter. It can be a bit rough and sticky;
  • The seed is the innermost part of the coffee bean cherry.

You are probably asking why they are not popular if they have a sweet flavor! There is a good reason why the coffee cherry is not a popular fruit. First, farmers don’t grow coffee in a manner that optimizes the fruit flavor.

They also have little flesh, and their skins are tough and leathery. Also, the cherry is mostly seed, and the tasty fruit part is very little. Finally, there is no nutritional value in eating the coffee cherry.

So, if you were asking yourself, can you eat coffee fruit? Yes, you can. Just ensure you manage your expectations; don’t expect much flesh from each fruit.

Do Coffee Beans Come From Cherries?

The beans you roast, grind and brew to make your delicious coffee are seeds of a fruit. The coffee plant normally produces coffee cherries, and the beans are the seeds contained in these fruits.

As mentioned earlier, the coffee cherry has three main parts: the coffee cherry beans are the innermost. The other parts (skin and pulp) protect the cherry coffee beans.

Organic coffee cherries

Do Coffee Cherries Have Caffeine?

Coffee contains the highest natural caffeine, which we mainly consume from coffee beans. The coffee seed produces the most caffeine from the coffee plant’s other parts. Even though the coffee cherry generates caffeine, it is in smaller quantities.

Coffee lovers globally consume coffee cherries as coffee cherry tea. This is herbal tea they make from dried skins of the cherry. Also, they include the dried cherries, which remain after they have collected the coffee beans.

Can Animals Eat Coffee Cherries?

Yes, in fact, humans have animals to thank for the discovery of coffee if the Kaldi legend is anything to go by. The old legend states that Kaldi, an Ethiopian herder noticed his goats were suddenly energetic each time they ate coffee cherries.

Have you heard of kopi luwak? This is a coffee whose manufacturers make with beans that wild cats eat. There are also other bizarre coffees globally that are food for elephants, bats, and other animals. Reports suggest wild animals only eat the ripest and tastiest coffee cherries. This means they only handpick the best fruits!

The coffee cherries the animals eat are also incredibly beneficial to coffee lovers. But how? You must ask! Once the animals eat the coffee cherries, their digestive systems break down the cherries’ pulp.

But, it does not digest the husk meaning the coffee beans pass through the animal and end up in the poop. In the process, the animal’s digestive juices ferment the coffee beans.

Coffee lovers then collect these defecated beans, wash them thoroughly and process them like any other coffee beans. After that, they enjoy the “animal poop coffee!” The available animal poop coffee includes kopi luwak, elephant poop coffee, bird poop coffee, and monkey poop coffee. By the way, animal poop coffee is among the most expensive in the world.

What is Cherry Coffee?

Cherry coffee is a specialty drink you make from the coffee cherry. For example, you can make cascara or coffee cherry tea using dried coffee cherry skin. The name emanates from the Spanish term cascara meaning husk or shell.

If you are interested in trying coffee cherry, cascara is an excellent option. But, it is more like tea than coffee and contains almost the same amount of caffeine as a cup of black tea.

Note that cascara is a bit controversial! Some people opine that the dried fruit might grow excessive amounts of mold. Therefore, regions such as the European Union, which have tested it thoroughly, forbid it.

Is Coffee a Vegetable or a Fruit?

Well, because we make coffee from a bean and a bean is a vegetable, many people conclude that coffee is a vegetable! While this sounds correct, it is not!

First, technically speaking, beans are legumes and not vegetables. To make it even more complicated, coffee beans are not beans from a technical perspective! Their name notwithstanding, they are, in reality, seeds.  

Coffee usually grows on shrubs and bushes, which produce tiny red fruits, which we call coffee cherries. Coffee beans are the seeds of these little red fruits. Therefore, coffee is not a vegetable.

However, because coffee beans are seeds of fruits, does that imply that coffee is a fruit? The coffee cherry plant produces a fruit that we call the coffee cherry. But, the coffee bean is just a part of the fruit.

Therefore, it is correct to state that coffee is not a vegetable. Coffee beans are seeds, and the coffee plant produces fruits which we refer to as coffee cherries. Read our article and find out How to Make Cafe Bustelo Like a Pro.

Picking coffee cherries

A Final Word

Enough said! The bottom line is that coffee cherries are the coffee tree’s fruit. Like any other fruit, they have skin, flesh, and seed (coffee beans). Despite their small size, they are edible, although you might not enjoy eating them.

You can consume the coffee cherry’s skin, flesh, and seed. The dried flesh and skin can also make a drink, the cascara or cherry coffee. On the other hand, animal poop coffee is an excellent option if you love fermented coffee. We have also established that coffee is not a vegetable but a fruit. How do you like to consume your coffee cherries?