Is coffee a vegetable or is coffee a fruit is a question that crops up in our vibrant and active coffee community.
…And that is a great question, one that I dive into and answer in this article!
Coffee is actually a fruit and is not a vegetable, heck, it’s not even a bean, I’ll explain why in this article, so keep reading!
Is Coffee A Vegetable?
If you were to google the term “Is coffee a vegetable” you will get a result returned that reads “yes, coffee is a vegetable, it is made from a bean, a bean is a vegetable”
Does that make coffee a vegetable?
The main flaw in that argument is that beans are not a vegetable; they are a legume. Evidently Google has got that answer wrong!
More so when we take into account the minor fact that coffee beans are not actually beans. The use of the word beans is one of convenience for us humans which describes their shape, how they look more than anything!
A “coffee bean” is actually the seed or pip of the small red fruits, often called coffee cherries (but are not really cherries!) that grow on the coffee tree.
With this in mind, coffee is not a vegetable. They are in fact a fruit from the coffee tree.
Read: Is coffee a fruit?
Is Coffee A Berry?
Coffee is a bit of a complexity when it comes to their classification as people also refer to coffee as a berry and as a cherry at the same time and use these words interchangeably.
We all know what a roasted coffee bean looks like but may not recognize the coffee plant.
By all means, the correct name is berry, for the part that we call a coffee cherry – even though the word cherry is more commonly used.
Left to nature, a coffee tree, which is covered in deep, dark green waxy leaves which grow in pairs opposite each other. The coffee cherries (actually berries) grow along the branches in an ongoing continuous cycle.
You will often see various stages of growth on the same plant, with green fruit, flowers, and ripe red fruit on the same tree.
The coffee tree (also often referred to as a coffee plant) can have a lifespan that lasts as long as 100 years with their peak production of coffee beans being from year 7 to 20. It can take as long as 5 to 7 years for the first year of production.
On average, a single coffee tree can produce 4.5 kg of coffee cherry or 0.9 kg of green beans.
Is The Coffee Fruit Edible?
Coffee cherries, the berries that grow along the branches of the coffee tree from where our beloved coffee beans come, are actually edible – even though they are hard to find in the fruit from.
The fruit is sweet and juicy and very lightly flavored. The skin is bitter. They taste more like hibiscus or a floral flavored watermelon. The pulp is quite yukie and slimy. Perhaps why it is more commonly sold as a dried fruit!
You’ll find cascara (coffee fruit) online as a dried fruit or preparation as a tea. It is difficult to use as they are often up cycled to be used as a compost material to be used back on the coffee plantation.
What Is Green Coffee?
Green coffee is how all coffee beans start their life out as, no matter what the roast level is. Roasted coffee beans have very little water, less than 2%. In comparison, green coffee beans have a lot more water, some 55%.
There is not much you can do with green coffee beans, not even brewing them as a cup of coffee is very grassy tasting. They are dried and kept at a constant temperature and then sold to roasters that then turn the green beans into various roasts.
The advantage of green coffee beans is they stay fresher for much longer, typically as long as 18 months when stored in a dry room in an airtight container and literally indefinitely if they are kept at freezing temperature.
Green coffee beans are in all essence unroasted coffee beans.
Frequently Asked Questions About Is Coffee A Vegetable?
What Food Category Is Coffee?
The coffee plant is one which produces a fruit, the cherries which have a seed on the inside. Which means coffee fits the perfect definition of a fruit.
Is Coffee A Fruit Or Nut?
A mistake that some people make is thinking or classifying coffee beans as nuts. This is incorrect as the coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant. The seeds, what we commonly call coffee beans, are harvested from the mother plants fruit, which are commonly called cherries (even though they are not actually cherries).
Is Coffee A Plant Or A Bean?
Coffee beans are harvested from the coffee plant which can grow to be 30 feet (9 meters) in height but are pruned and kept to a height of 5 to 9 feet (1.52 to 2.12 meters) to help make them more manageable.
The coffee plant grows cherries. Inside the cherries there are two coffee beans, which are the seeds of the coffee plant.
On rare occasions there is a natural genetic mutation where there is only one coffee bean inside the cherry. These are the Peaberry coffee, which is more full of flavor and nutrients due to not having the need to share with a “twin” bean.
Read: How is coffee grown?
What Kind Of Plant Is Coffee?
Coffee belongs to the Coffea classification, of which there are 120 individual species of coffee plants. They are evergreen shrubs that have a horizontal branching pattern and often grown below larger trees in the forest canopy.
What Is Coffee Made Up Of?
Coffee is made up of its main constituents, which are tannin, caffeine, carbohydrates, fixed oil and proteins. They are 2 to 3% caffeine, 3 to 5% tannins, 13% proteins and 10 to 15% fixed oils. The caffeine is present in the seeds as a salt of the potent antioxidant chlorogenic acid.
Why Is Coffee Called Beans?
Despite the fact that coffee is not actually beans, they are seeds or pips, they are called beans due to their resemblance to beans. These “beans” are actually seeds with each seed facing each other with the flat side of each being face to face.
Read: Where do coffee beans come from?
Final Thoughts – Is Coffee A Vegetable?
When the question is asked, is coffee a vegetable you know that the answer is that it is really a fruit, or if we are to get more precise and granular the seed of a fruit.
Despite all the names and classifications used, at the very least we all know one thing – are talking about the same thing, that “bean” that is brewed to make a great cup of coffee.
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