Are Coffee Beans Legumes? [Drinking Benefits & Drawbacks]

Are Coffee Beans Legumes

Coffee is the world’s most popular drink (other than water).

As you probably know, coffee is brewed from ground roasted coffee beans.

Some of you may be wondering if coffee beans belong in the “legume” family, as other types of beans do.

 

Coffee beans are called “beans” because of their appearance, but they are not actually beans or legumes.

While a true bean is a seed of certain plants in the Fabaceae family, coffee beans are the pits inside of the fruit of a Coffea plant.

What is a coffee bean considered?

What is a coffee bean considered

Coffee beans are called “beans” because of their appearance, but they are not actually beans.

Coffee beans are the pits inside of the fruit of a Coffea plant.

Coffee trees are grown in various places worldwide, but Brazil produces 45% of the world’s coffee.

The United States is the world’s leading importer of coffee.

According to the National Coffee Association, 70% of Americans drank at least a cup of coffee per week, with 62% drinking coffee as a daily habit.

But if you’re hoping that coffee beans are “beans” in the same sense that the nutritious kidney bean is, you may be disappointed to find out that beans are not legumes.

They are actually the pits inside the fruits (also called cherries) that grow on Coffea trees.

Once these coffee cherries are ripe, the fruit is usually hand-picked from the trees.

There are then two different possible methods that may be used to process the fruit — either the “wet” or “washed” process, in which the flesh from the cherries is removed and the pits are soaked in water, or the “dry processing” method, in which the fruit is dried in the sunlight for 2-3 weeks.

What are legumes?

What are legumes

Legumes are a plant, or fruit and seed of a plant, in the Fabaceae family.

They are typically seeds that grow in pods.

Commonly eaten legumes are beans, soybeans, lentils, peanuts, peas, and chickpeas.

Since coffee “beans” grow on trees in the Coffea family and legumes belong in the Fabaceae family, it’s clear that coffee beans are not legumes and they should be thought of as entirely different foods.

Health-promoting effects of coffee drinking

Health-promoting effects of coffee drinking

Coffee contains several health-promoting compounds, such as caffeine and chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol that has been shown to have neuroprotective and cardiovascular protective properties.

In spite of the fact that coffee beans are not, in fact, legumes, they have quite a few health-promoting qualities when roasted, ground, and brewed as a beverage.

First, as almost everyone knows, coffee contains caffeine.

The amount of caffeine in coffee varies depending on the type of bean, method of grinding, and method of brewing.

Caffeine has multiple benefits for human health.

It is a stimulant and a nootropic with both physical and mental benefits, and is commonly consumed as a pre-workout beverage to enhance strength and energy during exercise. It also has the potential to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Another benefit of coffee is less well-known. Coffee contains a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid (CGA), which is one of the most-consumed polyphenolic compounds in the diet of Americans, due to their prolific coffee consumption habits.

CGA has multiple protective effects in the human body — it is potentially neuroprotective, cardiovascular protective, liver protective, and kidney protective.

CGA also has anti-cancer properties and aids in glucose regulation.

When discussing health-promoting properties of foods and beverages, it’s important to keep in mind that the whole is almost always greater than the sum of its parts.

If you extract caffeine or CGA from coffee beans and take it as a supplement, it most likely won’t have the same broadly beneficial effects as it would if you imbibed it as a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

For example, exercise performance is enhanced to a greater degree when consuming coffee as opposed to simply taking a caffeine supplement.

Drawbacks of consuming coffee

Drawbacks of consuming coffee

If you consume coffee regularly, you will develop a tolerance to caffeine that over time diminishes the effectiveness of the caffeine.

Coffee also has a stimulating effect on the adrenals, which leads to a short-term burst of energy but not necessarily a long-lasting effect.

The caffeine in coffee stimulates energy and alertness by acting on the adenosine receptors in the brain.

This effect is most pronounced in people who consume caffeine irregularly; once people start a habit of coffee consumption, the effects become less and less noticeable.

Moreover, consuming more coffee or caffeine will not overcome the tolerance — only taking a break and allowing the adenosine receptors to “reset” will cause a reduction in tolerance.

Once you take a break and your caffeine tolerance is reduced, you will experience the performance-enhancing effects of coffee once again when you resume consumption.

People primarily drink coffee for the energy boost that it provides, but relying on coffee to power you through your day may have some drawbacks.

Coffee acts on the adrenal system and provides a stimulatory effect, but the effects may be reduced over time.

Relying on coffee to get you through your day may cause you to ignore signs of stress and burnout — signs that you actually need to allow your body to rest and recover rather than drink yet another cup of coffee.

For some people, the caffeine in coffee may cause jitters, anxiety, or reduced quality of sleep.

Whether or not you experience these negative effects likely depends on your genetic predisposition.

If you do have negative side effects from consuming caffeine, but still want the other health-promoting benefits of coffee (like CGA), you can try decaffeinated coffee instead.

Can you drink coffee with a nut allergy?

Can you drink coffee with a nut allergy

Yes, you can drink coffee even if you have a nut allergy, as long as there were no nuts involved in the manufacturing process.

Of course, if you have a serious allergy you may want to purchase a brand that explicitly guarantees safety from cross-contamination during the manufacturing process, just to be completely safe.

Does nut-flavored coffee have nuts?

Does nut-flavored coffee have nuts

Depending on the product and the flavoring method used, some types of nut-flavored coffee may contain nuts, while others do not.

Depending on the brand, some types of coffee may be produced in nut-free facilities, while others may be at risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.

Always check your ingredients list and check for allergen warnings if you have a nut allergy.

Some types of nut-flavored coffees get their nutty flavor from a flavored syrup that does not actually contain nuts.

Other types of nut-flavored coffee use real nuts (i.e., almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts) during the roasting process.

If you have a nut allergy, a general recommendation is to contact the company that makes your favorite type of coffee to ensure two things: 1) that there are no actual nuts used as an ingredient in the ground coffee, and 2) that there are no nuts handled in the processing facilities where your coffee is produced.

Do manufacturers put nuts in coffee?

Do manufacturers put nuts in coffee

High-quality coffee will often have a nutty flavor, with hints of almond, cashew, walnut, macadamia, pecan, or chestnut.

Most of these coffees are infused with the flavors of the nuts during the roasting process, but others actually grind roasted nuts in with the coffee.

According to coffeenutty.com, there are seven different flavor profiles of nutty coffee that reflect the distinct flavors of different types of nuts:

  • Almond: toasted buttery flavor, sometimes mixed with vanilla
  • Chestnut: sometimes light, sometimes dark and smoky
  • Hazelnut: creamy, lightly sweet
  • Macadamia: creamy, lightly sweet, buttery, sometimes paired with coconut
  • Walnut: strong, robust, sometimes on the bitter side
  • Pecan: buttery, lightly sweet
  • Cashew: creamy, lightly sweet

One example of a company that uses real nuts in the production of its coffee is New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company.

This company pairs real piñon nuts — the fruit from a Pinus edulis pine which fed Pueblo Indians for centuries — with Arabica coffee beans.

The coffee beans and nuts are ground together, then brewed to make a rich, smooth coffee.

Other companies in New Mexico offer piñon coffee as well, but most use flavoring rather than the actual nuts.

Chris Watson

I'm the founder of EatForLonger.Com. I'm an enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuff and lifestyle based insights. Simple food based concepts for optimising your Healthspan, nutrition and all-round well-being. I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes and add some life to your years. Read more About Me here

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