If you are a coffee junkie, it's almost certain that the thought of devouring raw coffee beans has crossed your mind. Although this is covered in detail later in the article, coffee has several benefits including autoxidation properties, better cardiac health and so much more.
However, the energy-boosting effect of coffee is chief. I'm sure I, like most people, don't care about much else.
Back to chewing beans. Just to set things clear, it's healthy to eat coffee beans.
But, just how much can you? First off, let's get over with the basics.
Coffee beans definition
Contrary to popular opinion, coffee beans are seeds and not fruits of the coffee plant. Upon harvesting, the brightly colored cherry is dried and the succulent fleshy mucilage is stripped off. The result is what we know as coffee beans. At this stage, they are still green in color. It's in this state that they are stored before roasting and packaging.
Strains of coffee beans
Before you partake, it's important to know the type of beans you are eating. There are two common species of coffee; Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is dominant over Robusta in the market. Arabica beans have a sweeter, softer, and wine-like taste compared to Robusta's stronger, harsher, woody flavor with a peanut-like aftertaste.
You may not notice the difference after roasting since they all look the same. For those reasons, Robusta is generally considered inferior to Arabica. The latter is used in processing cheap, instant coffees.
In some cases, high-quality Robusta is preferred in espressos. So you already know what to feast on. Don't start now though, let's get a little more educated.
Green or roasted?
Green coffee beans are highly acidic and have a woody flavor with a bitter taste. But, hey you can still try them out. On the other side, roasted coffee beans are brown, have a more pleasant flavor and taste.
Both are still hard to chew through. Although some caffeine is lost in the cherry, it's not significant as most of the caffeine is stored in the bean. This brings us to our next question.
Caffeine levels in coffee beans
Based on its higher caffeine concentration, the Arabica is dominant over the Robusta species. One Robusta coffee bean, on average contains 22 milligrams of coffee while a similar-sized Arabica bean would contain about 12 milligrams. Provided it's fresh. Upon roasting, things change. A roasted Arabica bean contains 6 milligrams of caffeine in contrast to Robusta's 10 milligrams.
Daily recommended caffeine limit
Millions of people around the world rely on caffeine every day to stay alert. People have varying levels of sensitivities to caffeine. Some people only need a small amount to heighten their concentration while others require larger amounts.
However, it's common that people who are used to consuming high amounts of coffee and other caffeinated drinks are less sensitive to caffeine. Cutting across all age sets and body mass, 400 milligrams a day is the recommended maximum daily caffeine intake.
This translates to about 4 average cups of coffee or 10 cans of Coca-Cola. Note that people with special health conditions like high blood pressure and pregnancy are advised against regular and heavy use of caffeine. They are required to limit their daily intake to 200 milligrams if at all.
Caffeine in powder or liquid form may be more toxic at high levels. This is because they have a higher absorption index and causes spikes in the blood. This may lead the body into shock as it tries to restore equilibrium. That may manifest in the form of a headache, chronic insomnia, irritability, muscle tremors, elevated heart rate, and frequent urination. So how many coffee beans can you safely consume?
As previously discussed, the two coffee strains will equal different amounts of caffeine. Maintaining our healthy range between 200-400mg/day.
Eating coffee beans vs drinking brewed coffee
Eating coffee beans has an amplified effect of drinking coffee. This is because eating coffee beans may lead to the more rapid absorption of caffeine through the thin lining in your mouth. As such, you are bound to experience both the advantages and disadvantages of caffeine in an amplified form.
Upsides of chewing coffee beans
Coffee beans are high in fiber with approximately 3 grams in 30 pieces. This amounts to 10 percent of your daily recommended intake. Fiber is instrumental in preventing constipation. It also brings forth a feeling of fullness which significantly reduces your overall caloric intake. This translates to better weight management. On the other side, a cup of brewed coffee has zero fiber.
By getting absorbed through the mucus membrane, eating coffee beans will give you that caffeine fix harder and faster.
Coffee beans have a high concentration of chlorogenic acids such as phenolic acid. These compounds prevent inflammations on your blood vessels. There is about 150 mg of this stuff in a gram of coffee beans compared to only 45-75mg in the same amount of roasted, brewed coffee.
Downsides of chewing coffee beans
Heartburn Coffee beans are acidic. Eating coffee beans can lead to painful heartburns. This is because coffee beans have a higher concentration of catechol, a substance known to increase the rate of stomach acid production.
Cholesterol The level of cafestol and kahweol, two compounds thought to spike the production of bad cholesterol, is high. In essence, there is about 10-40 times more of the two substances in beans than in brewed coffee. This is because heating breaks them down.
Coffee is the largest traded commodity in the world. As you take your share of the over 2.25 billion cups of coffee consumed every day in the world, remember to regulate your intake.
This also goes for eating coffee beans. This way, you will avoid getting resistant to the drug as well as other complications that may arise from overconsuming the drink!