When you think of flour, what comes to mind?
Probably things like bread, rolls, and other baked goods. High carb foods which certainly stop you from going hungry, but they aren’t providing you much in the way of micronutrients or other health advantages.
In fact, they may even be hurting you; weight gain and blood sugar spikes when eaten in excess.
Well, this type is far different than corn or durum wheat flour.
What is coffee flour?
Coffee beans grow inside of a fruit, called cherries. Normally a discarded byproduct, they can be dried and ground to create an edible flour for use in baking. It’s low in sugar and carbs.
Coffee flour does not taste like coffee whatsoever. It’s more like lightly roasted fruit. There are undertones of citrus and floral, with a hint of bitterness. It’s a less neutral tasting than wheat, corn, or brown rice flours.
Because it has a stronger flavor and darker cinnamon color, coffee cherry flour is intended to be diluted in recipes; typically no more than a 15-30% concentration is recommended. It can be substituted for teff, buckwheat, and the other robust types.
CF Global Holdings, Inc. is the main brand selling it in the US and Canada. They simply brand it as “Coffee Flour” and they have a registered trademark symbol next to the name.
Don’t be confused, because the trademark is on the styling and not the actual words. Those two words are generic and can be used by anyone.
Health benefits of coffee flour
1. Low carb for a flour
It only has 1g of net carbs per 1 tablespoon (10g) serving. This is because most of that weight is in the form of fiber.
2. Very high in fiber
Each tablespoon contains 5.2g of dietary fiber, which is equivalent to 21% of the adult daily value. Of that, 1.8g is in the form of soluble and 3.4g is insoluble.
3. Almost no sugar
Even though it’s made with a fruit pulp, there’s only 0.3g of sugar per tablespoon. It’s practically sugar-free.
4. Fat free
Not that fats are bad but they are calorically dense. Not always ideal for weight loss. This flour has less than 1/15th of a gram per tablespoon. That rounds down to 0% fat on the nutrition facts label. A very low fat food.
5. One of the highest antioxidant foods
Starbucks Cascara is what they call the syrup made from this fruit pulp. That’s loaded with added sugar and who knows how much of the dried powder is inside, or how processed it is.
When you talk about pure raw coffee flour – which really is called cascara in Central and South America – it’s a flour that’s extremely high in antioxidants.
The ORAC value for it is a staggering 343,900.
To paint perspective, the same weight of raw acai powder is 102,700.
That’s right, coffee cherry flour has over 3x the antioxidants of acai powder.
Note that the heat of baking it will inevitably destroy some of the antioxidant content. You can eat raw coffee flour too. Try stirring spoonful into your shakes or smoothies.
6. Energy from caffeine
This can be a benefit or side effect, depending on your goals.
Coffee flour does contain caffeine and the amount is comparable to that of dark cocoa powder. It won’t give you a buzz like your morning cup of joe, or a shot of espresso, though it is will have a mild neurostimulating effect.
This is noteworthy, because there are only a few foods that have contain caffeine naturally.
7. Gluten free
The GI index of it hasn’t been officially measured but you can bet it’s healthier than most other alternative flours.
Unlike white and brown rice flour, or potato starch, which all have high glycemic indexes, coffee flour is a gluten free grain alternative which will be more friendly on blood sugar, since it’s low in carbs and high in fiber.
The 310 mg per tablespoon is greater than bananas.
13% of the daily value per tablespoon.
10. Environmentally friendly
Cascara is normally discarded during the coffee making process. It’s wasting perfectly edible and healthy food, which you can eat!
With 34 calories per tablespoon, coffee flour is identical to that of whole wheat flour. Both have 408 calories per cup (120g). The coffee is slightly higher in protein with 18g per cup vs. 16g for wheat. The biggest difference is the fiber, with 62.4g vs. 12.8g, respectively. Coffee cherry flour has nearly 500% more fiber.
Try combining some with coconut butter to make keto coffee flour brownies or muffins. It can be easily incorporated in vegan and paleo friendly recipes.
Where to buy coffee flour
If you want the pure flour, it’s almost guaranteed that you will have to buy it online.
Trader Joe’s coffee flour made a debut in 2017. An 8 oz. bag was $3.99. It hasn’t been seen for sale at TJ’s in quite a while.
One would think health-oriented grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts would sell it, though we are unaware of any locations which do.
Sprouts locations in Los Angeles and Southern California sell a bread containing the flour, though it’s far down on the ingredients label and appears to be added as more of a gimmick.
What’s holding back the availability and popularity of it has mostly to do with supply (only one major importer) and the fact that most people have never heard of it before. They certainly aren’t aware of the many health benefits it offers.
As this superfood gains awareness, expect it to go mainstream in the coming years.