Coffee grounds for plants

Using Coffee Grounds ‘Straight up’ in the Garden

Q. I recently discovered several unused tins of coffee—some open, some still sealed—that have been sitting in my (dry) cupboard for years. Can they be used on plants and shrubs? (Specifically: camellias, evergreens, hostas, day lilies, black-eyed Susanyes and garden pinks.) I know you typically advise adding such things to a compost pile; but would the coffee harm those plants if I just spread it around them? I don’t have a compost pile. In fact, I’m a very senior citizen with limited ability to garden (I pay others to cut my grass, pull weeds and such), but I still love your program—even if I can’t do many of the things you advise. Thanks,

    —Sylvia in Pennsville; Salem County, NJ

A. Well aren’t you nice! Thank you, Sylvia!

You are correct that I have, in the past, focused on incorporating coffee grounds into compost piles. That’s because coffee grounds can be very acidic, and I’m concerned that people will use them on inappropriate plants and make the soil more acid than those plants like. Coffee grounds are also very high in nitrogen; making them an iffy amendment for flowering plants, as too much nitrogen will make plants grow abnormally large, but inhibit the number of blooms. (As in the classic twenty-foot high tomato plant that produces two tomatoes.)

But coffee grounds have few potential negatives in a compost pile, where they are a great high-nitrogen component for mixing with shredded fall leaves. Five to ten pounds of spent grounds mixed into four cubic feet of shredded leaves will create very high quality compost in a very short period of time; it’s just an ideal combination. And I expect that your old, un-brewed coffee would act just like grounds in a compost environment.

But I understand that’s not an option in your case—heck, you are to be commended for still gardening! AND I’ve been experimenting with straight grounds myself lately. After my azaleas flowered this year, I thought that a couple of high-nitrogen feedings might perk up the never-fed plants, while also insuring that their soil has the high acidity they famously crave. And I figured they wouldn’t be setting next year’s buds until mid-summer or so, by which time the nitrogen—a plant nutrient that is famously short-lived and ephemeral in the environment—should no longer inhibit any flowering.

So far; so good. Their very deep green leaf color reveals that the plants really enjoyed their caffeine jolt. Of course, I won’t know about the flowering part until next year—but I remain cautiously expectant of a stellar show.

So I grant you an unconditional ‘yes’ on distributing some of that ancient coffee around your acid loving azaleas and camellias. Let’s say up to a pound or so of coffee per plant. You could also give some to your evergreens, but I generally don’t recommend feeding those kinds of plants. I have never fed my evergreens; and they thrive.

My biggest personal use of straight coffee grounds has been to apologize to five blueberry bushes whose life with me has been so rocky the Red Cross came by to ask if the plants needed blankets or lawyers.

When I first got them, I acidified their soil heavily with peat moss, which they liked; and covered that with compost, which they liked. But I also lazily planted them in an area with “limited sun” (translation: stygian darkness), which they did not like. So I moved them to a sunnier spot, mulched them heavily with peat moss and covered the peat moss with one of several bagged high-end composts from Maryland I was testing. The plants turned yellow, dropped all their leaves and the Red Cross returned to notify me of imminent UN sanctions.

A more careful reading of the bag revealed that the specialty compost I had used was designed for feeding a lawn, and contained added lime to neutralize the supposedly acid soil that Karnak the Compost Bagger had decided this theoretical lawn was growing in. Nice; I had provided alkalinity to plants that require the most acidic soil of anything we grow. I left the dead bushes in the ground as a reminder of my extreme cleverness.

But despite their seemingly complete demise, they put out a couple of pitiful new leaves this Spring. So I began a coffee ground bucket brigade. Coffee grounds add up fast when you typically grind up four ounces of beans for a three-cup pot (I like it strong, OK?) and I was soon able to mulch each of the plants with a quart of grounds. They responded by turning a much more reassuring shade of green.

Each poor beleaguered plant has now received about a half-gallon of straight grounds, and each is now bright green and lush and growing rapidly. Not a single flower, but that was to be expected—and I’m not complaining. This is, in baseball terms, ‘a rebuilding year’, and I’m just happy that the fans are no longer coming to the park in mourning shrouds.

So if you have acid-loving plants that could use a boost, straight coffee grounds appear to do the trick. For plants like azaleas and rhododendrons that only flower once a Spring, feed after flowering and stop feeding by the 4th of July. If, like me, you’re simply apologizing to plants you’ve killed, add up to a half-gallon of grounds slowly and evenly over the course of a season.

Oh, and take a lesson from my sad tale and never, ever use lawn fertilizer on blueberries. Unless you want to have your garden occupied by a beret-wearing peacekeeping force.

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FAIRFAX NZ The truth about coffee grounds in the garden.

Bags of spent coffee grounds are often available for free outside cafes, and plenty of gardeners claim they make a marvellous mulch around acid-loving rhododendrons, azaleas or camellias, or a great addition to the compost.

But I’m not convinced they are quite the miracle product so many people claim.

At NZ Gardener we ran tests a few years ago and found they in no way deterred slugs and snails, which is an oft-claimed benefit attributed to them.

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123RF You’ll often see spent coffee grounds outside cafes, free to take home.

And British scientist and ethnobotanist James Wong did his own experiment, using the grounds from his daily coffee as a mulch in one bed and not in another.

He found the crop yield and growth of almost everything in the coffee bed noticeably worse, with yellowing leaves, defoliation and even the death of some plants, and seed germination almost completely inhibited.

A little research by James revealed that caffeine, which coffee grounds obviously contain, is allelopathic – as in it inhibits germination and growth of other plants.

THAM KEE CHUAN Coffee grounds contain a substance that is allelopathic; and so can actually inhibit the germination of plants.

Plants that contain caffeine – which occurs naturally in at least 60 species – produce it in order to reduce competition from other plants growing nearby.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that James found other studies which showed that coffee grounds in the garden stalled the growth of young plants and had an antibacterial effect (so no good for promoting the beneficial soil bacteria you want!).

Plus the acidity of spent grounds varied from slightly acidic to neutral, through to alkaline, so they were by no means certain to acidify soil!

* Do you use coffee grounds in your garden? Let us know if they work for you or not in the comments.

NZ Gardener

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Some coffee-loving gardeners may not realize that the spent coffee grounds left behind in the pot could be used in the garden with incredible benefits.

These grounds hold some remarkable properties for use in the garden to help grow, and protect from many potential dangers and even spruce up the décor a little. Read on to learn more about coffee uses in the garden.

Adding To Compost Pile

Coffee makes for a wonderful addition to the compost bin or as a soil amendment. Sunset sent a sample of coffee grounds from Starbucks to a soil lab for analysis. The results showed coffee grinds provide generous amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. More…

Roses Love Coffee

Coffee grounds have been a “secret weapon” contributing to many beautiful roses bushes and blooms for the avid rosarian.

It serves as a good source of nitrogen, pH is neutral to acidic, lighten the soil around, attract worms that aerate and loosen the soil, and help deter some common garden pests and bacteria. More…

Coffee As Fertilizer

First and foremost, the most important property of coffee when it comes to helping the garden is the plentiful supply of nitrogen retained from coffee beans. However, it probably is not the best lawn food.

This is a must-have plant nutrient for leafy greens and vegetables. Coffee grounds can contain as much as 2% nitrogen by volume and sometimes have a carbon:nitrogen ratio of 11:1, which is ideal for any home-made fertilizer. More…

Acid Loving Plants

The high acid content of leftover coffee grounds makes them the ideal supplement for tomato plants as well as other acid-loving flowers like rhododendrons and azaleas.

No complex, secret formula here; leave the grounds to soak in a decent amount of water overnight, pour the solution into the soil or pot and that’s it! From there the nutrients and goodness of the coffee is free to do its work. Some gardeners also do this with tea but the acid content of coffee is much higher.

Change Color Of Hydrangea

This next tip may sound a bit odd compared to some of the other ideas listed (although we haven’t got on to the worms yet) but it seems that this high acidity could also be a helpful aid in changing the color of hydrangeas.

An alkaline soil tends to lead to pink blooms, which are not always as desirable as blues, so changing the soil content with some of this acidic fertilizer could potentially transform the color. More…


Coffee grounds can be used a fine organic mulch, as long as you don’t pile it on too thick, because this can encourage the wrong kind of mold.

As a mulch, it can help control weeds, provide moisture protection and guard against heavy erosion. It is worth adding a helping hand and organic matter in your kitchen garden. More…

Boost Carrot Harvest

It seems that coffee’s reputation as a stimulant extends beyond humans! As well as giving a helping hand to certain established, acid-loving plants and fruits, coffee grounds can help carrots grow by giving them a boost of energy and stimulating plant growth.

Some gardeners mix dried coffee grounds with carrot seed for this purpose and the benefit of adding a protective pesticide for the young seedlings. More…

Pest Control

It seems that while the scent of coffee can get us humans out of bed in the morning and put a smile on our faces, it has the opposite effect on some of the creepy crawlies that we wish weren’t inhabiting our gardens.

Placing some leftover grounds around ant holes and plants that are troubled by slugs and snails can work pretty well. Slugs simply do not like crawling over the scratchy surface so a nice, well-maintained ring of grounds around vulnerable plants can be ideal. More…

Cat Repellent

Cats may not be a pest in the more common sense of the term but most gardeners would agree that neighborhood cats are not all that welcome because of the damage they can cause, the threat to local wildlife and the mess they leave behind.

Coffee grounds on the soil can deter them from digging and can also be used near potentially dangerous plants for the cat’s safety. More…

Prevent Fungal Disease

On the subject of protecting our plants, it seems that coffee can also be helpful in preventing fungal rots and wilts in some plants because the grounds create their own superior, helpful form of fungus.

The science gets a little complicated but the important thing to remember is these particular fungal growth are a gardeners friend and should be encouraged. More…

Coffee And Vermicomposting

To be honest, there is a bit of conflicting opinion on whether to sprinkle coffee to your worm bin is a good idea of not.

Some will say no, protesting that it is harmful to the creatures we want to protect; others will say yes, provided the dosage remains small enough to prevent having an acidic soil, adding that their worms show no ill effect at a little java in their soil and even seem to like it. More…

Coffee As A Wood Stain

Last, but not least, is a tip with a completely different aim that will still have a positive effect on the aesthetics of the garden.

A coffee-based wood stain on a fence or patio table won’t offer the strength and color of your standard store-bought product but it won’t have those nasty fumes and chemicals either. On a related note, it can also be used as a way to repair scratches and marks on wooden furniture. More…

These various ways to use coffee can really make a difference in your plants, compost and garden.

These simple actions and neat tricks can turn a mound of unwanted coffee waste into something incredibly useful and versatile to the point where you’ll wonder how your garden managed without it. Try asking nearby coffee shops and they will be happy to give you their spent coffee grinds.

From this one simple resource you can repel pests, fertilize plants of different kinds, treat your worms and maintain your wooden fences and furniture, proving that coffee really does have the power to rejuvenate our leafy friends as well as us.

RELATED: Three common garden fungal problems

Why get coffee grounds for your plants?

Research by the Oregon State University concludes that coffee grounds are at least 2 per cent nitrogen by volume! Nitrogen is crucial for providing energy to the bacteria in the soil – this bacteria transforms organic matter into compost that plants can then use for nutrition.

601 likes – View Post on Instagram I finally got around to asking my local cafe for their coffee grounds a few weeks ago. So far it’s all been going into my seven composting systems, but after this mornings pick up, I decided to add a little straight to my new artichoke bed. Coffee grounds are said to contain 2% by volume of nitrogen; and artichokes love nitrogen! I’ve only added a little and will dig this in well, as grounds need microorganisms to break down (hence why they’re ideal for composting) they will also increase the acidity in the soil, so even plants that love those conditions can have their growth stunted if you add too much. This is all still completely new to me, so I’d love to hear your experience using coffee grounds? Do you add it straight to the soil or reserve it purely for the compost and the worms? Many thanks to @twoboysonebeagle for allowing me to use your waste and turn it into a valuable resource 👌💚 . . . #artichoke #coffeegrounds #compost #nitrogen #zerowaste #soilmanagement #veggiegarden #vegetablegarden #mybackyard #organicgardening #sustainableliving #permaculture #urbanhomestead #urbangardenersrepublic #gardenersofinstagram #instagarden #suburbanfarming #australiangarden #melbournegardener #gardenbeds #homegrown #ediblegarden #growyourownfood #growfoodnotlawns #wintergarden #mygardenadventure #warralee

Coffee grounds can be used as a soil conditioner, compost, and fertiliser, but the best thing is that it’s easy to get! Plenty of cafes don’t really know what to do with their used coffee grounds, so they’ll happily give you a bag or two for free.

What plants and soil work well with coffee grounds?

Keep in mind that not all plants will benefit from coffee grounds. Since coffee itself is acidic, it can interfere with the normal pH levels of your soil if applied improperly. This can lead to stunted plant growth, the appearance of invasive plant species, and overall decreased quality of your soil.


Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid this:

  • Rinse your coffee grounds before use. Fresh coffee grounds (like the ones you can get from a coarse grind) are acidic, but used coffee grounds are neutral. Rinsing your used coffee grounds can bring them to a safe pH level, which won’t affect the soil.
  • Work them into the ground around the soil and not onto the plant. If you’re not sure about the acidity levels of your garden, kneading them or adding them to the soil around the plants works better than just dumping them. This is most effective if you’re using them on indoor plants.
  • Use a lot of brown compost if you’re using coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are considered a green compost, so too much of it can cause your garden to take too long to break down organic material. Balancing it out with brown compost can help avoid this problem.
  • Check your garden’s acidity levels. Using coffee grounds on a vegetable garden is a good idea – a lot of vegetables are acidic, with the notable exception of tomatoes. Shrubs like roses and small lemon trees also thrive in acidic soil. If you’re not sure, order a testing kit from your nearest horticulturist.


A bit of research and some trial and error are the best ways to make sure you get the most out of your coffee grounds. A good rule of thumb to follow is to only use coffee grounds if your plants have been growing for a while, so that the additional nitrogen doesn’t overwhelm the bacteria.

Other uses for coffee grounds in your garden

Aside from fertiliser and compost, there are some other benefits to using coffee grinds on your garden. A lot of this hasn’t been scientifically tested, but plenty of gardeners swear by these tips, so feel free to give them a try!

  • Coffee grounds are good repellents against cats, which often enjoy using gardens as a litter box. This might be because of the caffeine, which cats instinctively stay away from.
  • You can also use leftover diluted coffee as fertiliser. You can just dump it in the yard after you’re done with it.
  • It can also keep pests like slugs and snails away. The raised acid levels in the soil does funny things to these pests.
  • They’re very good for worms. Plenty of vermicomposting enthusiasts (and official researchers) encourage adding coffee grounds to worm beds, as they work closely with the bacteria to break down and convert organic waste into nutrients.

You shouldn’t rely on coffee grounds as a magic ingredient to make your garden flourish. If something seems to be really wrong, try looking for other ways to treat it.

If you’ve never given coffee grounds a try, you can ask a coffee-loving friend or your nearest cafe if they can spare a few grounds. Your garden might just buzz with newfound vigour after you’re done experimenting.

RELATED: Prepare your indoor garden for spring

Looking for more gardening tips? Watch the video below!

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We know coffee as the miraculous, delicious, and essential beverage that has been a staple part of hundreds of millions of individuals’ diets all around the world. As much as we drink it, though, it comes as a bit of a surprise that many of us don’t actually know what coffee is. Sure, we know it comes from the coffee bean, but what precisely is that bean? Is it a vegetable? A legume?

As it turns outs, beans aren’t so much beans as they are seeds. In fact, coffee trees are practically unrecognizable to non-coffee experts, growing beautiful white flowers and producing tiny red fruits called coffee cherries. What does that mean for coffee beans, though? Because coffee beans grow inside these cherries, that means they’re classified as fruits too!

Surprised? You might be wondering how that little red cherry ends up in your mug as a dark, bitter drink. Keep on reading to learn exactly how your daily cup of coffee is actually a fruit. We’ve broken it all down for you, from planting to your first sip.

Everything You Need To Know About the Coffee Tree

As you probably already know, you purchase your coffee in the form of beans, whether you buy them whole or ground. These beans grow on Coffea trees from the Rubiacecae family. There are over a staggering 120 different species of Coffea, including the two you have probably heard of the most: Arabica and Canephora, or Robusta.

These trees are often grown from seed, typically in Africa or Asia, and reach anywhere from 9ft – 11.5ft in height. They also grow highly aromatic flowers that can vary between startling white to a reddish-pink. After approximately 3 – 5 years, some coffea species, such as Arabica and Robusta, will begin to produce small red and purple fruits, which have been classified as either berries or drupes. More commonly, though, we call them coffee cherries.

The Coffee Cherry

The fruit of the coffee tree is pretty interesting. They are small and sweet, and it turns out that they contain quite a bit of caffeine as well. The flesh of the fruit, though is small, with the stone or “pit” taking up more room within the cherry to make the fruit worth eating on its own.

Coffee cherries grow more abundantly the older a coffee tree becomes–which can actually be as old as 100 years in certain species. Once the coffee cherries start appearing, they take about 9 months to become ripe enough to harvest.

Almost always harvested by hand, coffee cherries can either be carefully selected using a number of criteria to ensure they are only being picked when absolutely perfect, or they can be “strip-picked” from the limb all at once. After being picked, there are two different methods by which the cherries can be processed that allows manufacturers to separate the seed from the fruit.

The first method if the “wet” process that involves lots of specific equipment. During this process, the good and bad fruits are first separated, and then a machine will strip the skin of the fruit away from the seed. The husks are discarded, while the seeds are then soaked and fermented in order to remove any remaining pulp or fruit. This method is the more expensive, time-consuming and risky of the two, as seeds run the risk of over-fermenting and producing unpleasant smells and flavors.

The more traditional and less expensive method of processing is called the “dry” process. This process is much less complicated, as it involved spreading the coffee cherries out on brick or concrete under the sun. They are turned regularly and take about four weeks to dry, after which they are stored until they can be milled and hulled cleanly by a machine.

The Coffee Bean

Finally, we arrive at the good part. Once the coffee cherry has grown and been harvested and processed, there are typically two little seeds inside. Those familiar with the look of whole coffee beans know that they are typically round and oval-shaped with one flat side. Inside each cherry typically resides two of these beans, flat sides pressed together.

Every now and then (about 5% of the time), a coffee cherry will produce a single matured, completely round seed instead of two. This particular bean is called a “peaberry” and many believe that these special seeds have a stronger and more potent flavor. Peaberry coffee is highly coveted for this reason, and can be found most often in Tanzanian and Kona coffees.

The other 95% of the time, though, both seeds are fertilized and grow together, creating the iconic flattened look we are all used to. When first processed, coffee beans are considered “green”–meaning that they haven’t been roasted. Some manufacturers have utilized the green coffee bean as well, selling “green coffee extract” as a supplement that has been known to especially help with weight loss.

Most often, though, they are sent to be roasted. It is within this last step that we see the coffee bean evolve into its final form, and go from what could probably be distinguished as a fruit pit into the “bean” we see in the grocery store.

The final appearance of the bean is extremely deceptive. Fruits are often vibrant, juicy, and sweet. However, coffee defies all expectations by providing a completely unique taste and experience that no other fruit–pit, seed, bean, or otherwise–can provide.


Related Questions

1. If coffee is fruit, is it nutritious and healthy to consume?

The short answer is, yes! Trends in food and wellness tend to give us a skewed idea of facts when it comes to our favorite foods. Unfortunately, it has become a common believe that coffee isn’t great for you, resulting in many people cutting back or removing it from the diet altogether. Health concerns range from anxiety to blood pressure to _____.

However, coffee is actually excellent for most individuals if consumed in a moderate and healthy amount. Just like the rest of the world’s most popular superfood fruits, such as blackberries and blueberries, coffee is packed full of antioxidants that can fight cancer-causing free radicals. In fact, coffee is most Americans’ #1 source of antioxidants. It also provides various other significant nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, and niacin.

According to US Dietary Guidelines, moderate coffee consumption cannot be conclusively connected to any major diseases. Instead, it has been known to protect against Type 2 Diabetes, diminish the risk of heart disease, prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, help eye conditions, relieve stress, and even combat depression. In other words, don’t let any wellness trend make you feel guilty about drinking a cup of coffee a day–or even 2 or 3. After all, it’s as much a fruit as any nutrient-dense berry!

2. Why have I never seen coffee cherries in the grocery store?

Unfortunately, whole coffee cherries aren’t sold to consumers and are only sold and distributed to coffee-producing companies. There are a couple reasons why this is, and also a few alternatives if you really want to know what that coffee cherry is like.

To put it simply, coffee is one of the largest markets in the world, with hundreds of millions of people purchasing and drinking it every single day. There simply isn’t the interest or market for the entire cherry as there is for the bean inside it. After all, the cherries aren’t very large and the bean makes up the majority of the inside, leaving not much to consume.

However, some companies will save the cherry during dry processing. After sun-drying and removing the bean, you are left with what is sort of like a skin. These are called cherry dusks, or cascara. These dried husks are actually available in some supermarkets or can easily be found online, and they are most often used to make a special kind of caffeine-rich tea.

3. Can I grow my own coffee cherries?

It’s the age of DIY, and many of us have taken to growing our own essentials, whether that be vegetable produce or common herbs. However, growing fruit is a little more challenging. It isn’t impossible, but the chances of an individual growing a full-sized coffee tree in their backyard is extremely slim. Coffee trees require a lot of specific environmental circumstances in order to flourish and produce enough fruit for even one pot of coffee.

Firstly, coffee trees typically require very warm and humid environments, with some even needing tropical settings. In addition to that, coffee trees do best in areas with high elevation without cold temperatures, which very few areas can achieve.

That being said, many individuals have adopted coffee plants as houseplants, where they will typically grow to be about 6ft tall. They make beautiful evergreen additions to any indoor home decor. However, it is extremely rare that these plants will flower indoors, and they can only produce a small handful of fruits with careful and dutiful hand-pollination. So, while you may be able to grow the actual plant, it’s unlikely you’ll be providing your own coffee any time soon.


Coffee beans are well-known for their rich aroma and full-bodied flavor, not to mention the jolt of extra energy and the wealth of health benefits that they can provide thanks to coffee nutrition. The coffee fruit is often overlooked, however, and not only does this vibrant fruit house the super nutritious coffee bean, but it’s also jam-packed with antioxidants and health-promoting properties all its own, with studies showing that it can boost brain power, fight cancer growth and improve immune function.

So what is coffee fruit extract, is coffee a fruit and should you consider adding this ingredient into your daily diet? Let’s break it down and take a closer look at what you need to know about this incredible ingredient.

What Is Coffee Fruit?

Also sometimes referred to as the coffee cherry or coffee berry, the coffee fruit is a small, red or purple fruit that is produced by the coffee plant. Like peaches, plums and cherries, this superfruit is technically considered a stone fruit because it has a pit in the middle that contains raw coffee beans.

Coffee beans are actually classified as the seeds of coffee cherries and are well-known as the staple ingredient in coffee. In the production of coffee, the fruit of the coffee plant is typically discarded, and the beans are then roasted, ground and brewed into the familiar hot beverage that we all know and love.

In recent years, more and more research has confirmed the powerful health effects of the coffee fruit, and food manufacturers have begun taking notice, finding new ways to include it in drinks, supplements and even baked goods for a sustainable and antioxidant-rich treat.

Coffee Fruit vs. Coffee Beans

Coffee fruit is produced by the coffee plant and houses the coffee bean, which is typically extracted, roasted and used in the production of coffee. Most fruits contain two coffee beans, although a small amount contain just one and are believed to have a stronger, richer flavor than regular coffee beans.

So how do these two compare in terms of nutrition and flavor? For starters, the coffee fruit caffeine content is significantly lower than the bean, which makes it a good option for those who are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine and looking for an energizing alternative to coffee. And while both are loaded with antioxidants, they may contain differing amounts of certain antioxidant compounds. For instance, research shows that roasting coffee beans diminishes levels of chlorogenic acids, which are natural plant compounds that act as antioxidants. (1, 2)

Finally, there are some definite distinctions in the way that these ingredients are commonly processed and consumed. While coffee beans are typically roasted and sold as either whole bean coffee or ground coffee, coffee fruit extract is usually added to supplements and drinks for some extra flavor and nutrients.

Top 5 Benefits of Coffee Fruit

1. High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are powerful compounds present in a variety of fruits, vegetables and superfoods that help fight free radicals to protect against oxidative stress and damage to cells. Some studies have even found that adding more antioxidants to your diet can help reduce the risk of many chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes. (3)

Coffee fruit packs in a good amount of antioxidants in each serving to help optimize your health and prevent disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the amount of coffee antioxidants found in coffee fruit depends largely on the extraction method. In fact, the study found that antioxidant activity in whole coffee fruit extracts was found to be up to 25-fold higher than in powders. (4)

2. Promotes Brain Health

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a type of protein that is crucial to neuronal health, helping encourage the growth of new neurons in the brain and support the survival of existing brain cells. (5) Not only that, but studies also show that BDNF may be especially important when it comes to long-term memory formation and storage. (6, 7)

Some research has found a significant relationship between coffee fruit extract and BDNF levels. For instance, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that treating subjects with whole coffee fruit concentrate powder increased levels of BDNF by a whopping 143 percent, which was significantly more than green coffee caffeine powder and grape seed extract powder. (8)

3. May Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a serious problem that is estimated to affect up to 34 percent of adults in the United States. (9) When you have high blood pressure, it puts extra strain on the heart, forcing it to work harder to pump blood throughout the body and slowly weakening the heart muscle over time.

Coffee fruit is rich in chlorogenic acid, a type of phenolic compound that’s been shown to help lower blood pressure and improve heart health. According to one small study out of Tokyo, consuming chlorogenic acids isolated from green coffee bean extract significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure and came with minimal side effects or adverse symptoms. (10)

4. Could Enhance Immunity

Some studies indicate that coffee fruit may have a powerful impact when it comes to your immune system, working to keep your body healthy and fend off disease and infection. Although research is currently mostly limited to animal models, one study did find that consuming coffee cherry extract was able to increase the activity of immune cells in mice. (11) This could have major implications in the prevention of health and disease, although additional studies are needed to evaluate how coffee fruit may impact immune function for the general population.

5. May Have Anti-Cancer Activities

One of the most impressive coffee fruit benefits is its potential ability to suppress the growth and spread of cancer cells. In fact, one promising animal model published in the journal Anticancer Research even found that coffee cherry extract was able to significantly reduce tumor growth in mice by nearly 54 percent after just 10 days. (12) Keep in mind, though, that more research is still needed to understand how coffee fruit may affect cancer cells in humans.

Where to Find and How to Use Coffee Fruit

Wondering where to buy coffee fruit and how you can start adding it to your daily routine? Coffee fruit extract is widely available in supplement and liquid extract form from health shops and pharmacies alike. Because of the mild yet slightly sweet coffee fruit taste, coffee extract is also sometimes used as an ingredient in antioxidant drinks or added to supplements for a quick boost of nutrition alongside other superfoods like the acai berry.

Coffee fruit is also a main ingredient in cascara tea, which is made by steeping the flesh of the coffee fruit in hot water to let the flavor infuse and then straining and discarding the pulp for a soothing and delicious beverage.

You can also try using coffee flour, a gluten-free flour substitute that’s made from the pulp of discarded coffee fruits used in the production of coffee. It can be combined with other types of flour and boasts a nutty flavor, plus a good amount of protein, fiber, iron, potassium and antioxidants. It can easily be added to many baked goods and desserts to bump up the nutrient profile.

Coffee Fruit Recipes

Whether you choose to brew it up into a tea or make some simple swaps in your favorite baked recipes to give them a gluten-free twist, there are plenty of ways to enjoy coffee fruit in its many forms. Here are a few tasty recipes to get you started:

  • Coffee Flour Beet Cake
  • Cascara Tea
  • Gluten-Free Coffee Flour Coconut Cookies


It’s believed that the coffee bean was originally discovered by an Ethiopian goatherder named Kaldi in the year 850 A.D. According to popular legend, he noticed his goats chewing on a bright red berry and becoming increasingly energetic, which prompted him to sample the berries himself. He later brought the coffee fruit to a nearby monastery, but the monks threw the berries into the fire, causing them to emit a delicious coffee aroma and leading to the brewing of the world’s first cup of coffee.

However, the first true documented discovery of the coffee plant wasn’t until around the 1500s in Yemen, and the plant was soon exported throughout many other parts of the world within just a few years. So where is coffee grown today? In 1730, coffee was first cultivated in South America, which now accounts for about 45 percent of global coffee exports, with Brazil taking the lead as the top producer of the coffee bean.

Currently, it’s estimated that about 54 percent of adults in the United States drink coffee every day, with most consuming an average of about three cups daily and with new variations and brews, such as nitro coffee and decaf coffee, constantly emerging. (13) Unfortunately, the methods used in coffee production generally involve removing the coffee bean from the surrounding fruit and discarding massive amounts of antioxidant-rich coffee fruit, often dumping it into rivers or simply leaving it to rot.

Luckily, the food industry has recently started to find innovative, new ways to take advantage of the unique benefits that the coffee fruit has to offer while also using all parts of the coffee plant to help promote sustainability.


Coffee fruit is considered very safe and associated with very few coffee fruit extract side effects. In fact, because the coffee fruit is significantly lower in caffeine than the coffee bean, it’s much less likely to cause caffeine overdose issues like jitters, anxiety or insomnia.

However, it is important to keep in mind that many drinks containing coffee fruit may also contain ingredients like erythritol. What is erythritol? Erythritol is a sugar alcohol commonly used as an alternative to sugar to help reduce the caloric content of processed foods. Although it’s generally considered safe and nontoxic, it’s often combined with artificial sweeteners and can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea for some people when paired with fructose. (14) If you’re sensitive to its effects or notice any adverse symptoms after consumption, it’s best to keep intake in moderation to prevent digestive distress.

Final Thoughts

  • Coffee fruit is produced by the coffee plant and is a red or purple berry that typically contains a pit with two coffee beans in the center.
  • Studies show that coffee fruit is high in antioxidants and can help boost brain health, enhance immunity and reduce blood pressure, plus potentially even fight the growth and spread of cancer cells, according to some animal studies.
  • Unfortunately, the coffee fruit is often discarded in favor of the coffee beans nestled inside, which are typically extracted, roasted and ground up during the coffee-making process.
  • Wondering where to buy coffee fruit extract? It’s commonly added to supplements, teas and antioxidant drinks that can be found at health food shops and pharmacies alike. It’s also available in flour form, which can be combined with other flours and swapped into a variety of recipes to give a nutritious boost to your favorite foods.

Read Next: Coffee Flour: The Trendy New Gluten-Free Flour

If coffee comes from a bean does that make it a vegetable? What food group are beans part of? Where would coffee fit on a food guide?
Well, there are lots of questions when it comes to these particular matters. Hopefully this can clear up some of your questions. Coffee does come from a bean, but are all beans a vegetable? Well, it is true that some beans are in the vegetable group such as the green bean, lima bean, and shell beans. Others are part of the protein group such as edamame. When it comes to the coffee bean though it does not have the nutritional value of either one of those groups. It is an other or oil.
Let’s put it in these terms. When you pick an olive you can easily take it apart and see that it has reproductive seeds on the inside. These seeds make it a fruit although they usually are used in a manner that is consistent with vegetables. Then, someone might take it and compress it in order to make it into extra virgin olive oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a very good antioxidant (in some cases it can replace Miralax). Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is very good for the digestive system. It really does wonders when considering immunity. Extra Virgin olive oil is an other or oil.
Well, when you take the vision of an olive and translate it into a coffee bean it is much the same. Although, a coffee bean might not have the nutritional value of either a vegetable, fruit, or protein it might have more nutritional value than that of coffee. The coffee bean is made into coffee which puts it into the same group as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is the other or oil group. Coffee is the leading antioxidant in many Americans today.
This case is very similar to that of tea. The new USDA guidelines note “While tea, coffee and other beverages aren’t specifically mentioned in the new diagram, the updated guidelines allow for 260 “extra” calories per day, for solid fats, added sugars and alcohol, and tea may or may not be included in this category. The USDA’s interactive MyFood-a-pedia allows the user to look up the calorie content of a specific food, including ones that aren’t easily placed in one of the food categories depicted in the new diagram (USDA, 2012).” Therefore, you put these types of things in a separate cup marked “Other” beside the dairy cup and only fill it up occasionally during the day.

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