Coffee flour may be gluten-free answer to reduce environmental impact of green coffee production

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Coffee cherries make up a gluten-free flour that can be used in baked products. Pic: ©iStock/narapornm
Coffee cherries make up a gluten-free flour that can be used in baked products. Pic: ©iStock/narapornm

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A new concept from a US company provides additional benefits that go beyond the drive to improve gluten-free products.

Coffee cherries, when ground down to flour, are exceptionally high in fiber, thus providing the gluten content needed to give baked goods the lift. And what’s more, producing the ingredients is helping to clean up the environment.

Appeasing our thirst creates complications

Formulated by Dan Belliveau in 2012, coffee flour is produced from the byproduct of the more than 17 billion pounds of coffee beans that are harvested, fermented and dried to quench the world’s predilection for the strong brew.

Once the green coffee bean is separated from the cherry, the remaining pulp is dumped into a field where it quickly decays. However, the world’s growing demand for coffee is causing a backlog as farmers, pickers and millers focus more on harvesting than the growing piles of rotten backup.

Patent pending multistep milling process

A former executive of Starbucks and one-time owner of a coffee and wine supply chain firm, Belliveau noted the rising problem and developed a solution. His patent-pending process collects the cherries and converts them into a nutrient-dense, gluten-free flour.

CF Global Holdings​, which was founded to commercialize the product, contracted Ecom Ago Industrial Inc and Mercon Coffee Group to employ staff to collect and process the cherries from farmers and millers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Vietnam, El Salvador, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico.

The latest yield was approximately 2m pounds of dried coffee cherry pulp from the 2015/2016 crop, up 100% over the 2014/2015 yield.

A multistep milling process is then put into action to grind the cherries into a flour, and can even be taken further to produce an icing sugar consistency.

“We’ve been working with mills around the world since 2013, when we produced 150,000 pounds of dried pulp to mill into coffee flour to establish production supply that meets our quality standards, with different mills scaling up at different rates,” ​said Carole Widmayer, VP of marketing.

“We anticipate a continuation of significant volume increases year over year or the next several years.”

Flour replacement for gluten-free goods

Containing five times more fiber than wholewheat flour, three times the amount of protein than fresh kale and twice the amount of potassium than bananas, the company maintains the coffee flour has been successfully used as a replacement of standard flour in baked products. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste like coffee, but has a slightly burnt sugar flavor due to its high sugar content, and is also low in caffeine.

According to Widmayer, the company targets its product at baked goods and snacks manufacturers, including chocolate and beverage producers.

“Coffee flour can be found in muffins, cookies and brownies at Sprout’s (a natural grocery chain in the US), brownies and cookies in cafes operated by Compass in the US and London (Google and HSBC), as well as in Seattle Chocolate chocolate bars and Earnest Eats energize cereals,” ​she said.

“We are working with over 100 multinational food and beverage companies and others in the R&D process as well, in anticipation of bringing new products to market soon.”

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1 comment

Where can I buy coffee flour?

Posted by Holly Ellerton,

I love the idea of using coffee flour. I will not use rice fours in my GF baking and this would be a great new one to try. Please let me know where I can buy it?
Thank you,

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