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To eat or not to eat coffee beans? If opening a fresh bag of aromatic Arabic coffee never spurred a desire in you to grab a bean and chew it, you are not a true coffee lover!

There are some benefits and downfalls to eating coffee. It is not necessarily a healthy habit that can be picked up by just anyone. So, if you are collecting stamps, maybe you should stay with that. In any case, read on to find out what the benefits and dangers of consuming raw coffee are.

Coffee Beans: The Basics

A coffee bean is actually not a bean.

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But, aren’t all beans basically seeds, and seeds beans? Well, scientifically speaking, no. What we know as a coffee bean is in fact just the seed of the plant that is found in the coffee fruit (usually red or purple in color).

The fruit part is removed during the processing stage and the seed is then dried to obtain raw green coffee beans. In the next stage, the green beans are roasted accordingly (from light to dark) obtaining the coffee beans we know and love. Eventually, the roasted coffee beans will be ground and brewed into a cup of the most consumed beverage on planet Earth, coffee.

What about eating roasted coffee beans?

Well, if you love coffee so much, you can try chewing coffee beans to see how it tastes and if you like it. But, this should definitely not be a meal or snack replacement. When you’re drinking brewed coffee, the water helps dilute the ground beans. In contrast, when you are eating coffee beans directly, you will get a full concentrated dose of coffee, which can have good and bad effects.

Eating coffee – best practices

You should know that on average, one Arabica coffee bean can have up to 6mg of caffeine. Other roasts, such as the Robusta, can go as high as 12mg of caffeine per bean.

An average single shot of espresso has up to 40 mg of caffeine, while an average cup of regular filtered coffee contains around 90 mg. But, why am I giving you all of these boring statistics? After all, you just want to chew on some good old coffee beans.

Well, the numbers mentioned above are meant to give you some context. If you decide to skip brewing espresso, and instead you want to eat your Arabica beans, don’t eat more than six. Alternatively, try not to munch on more than three Robusta espresso beans.

Is eating coffee beans healthy?

There are mixed views and opinions on the subject. At the moment, it seems that eating coffee beans may have multiple health benefits which definitely outweigh the negative effects.

One of the primary ways coffee is good for us is because of its high antioxidant levels. Coffee is part of a group of antioxidants known as dietary phenolic compounds, which can protect us from various forms of inflammation, cardiovascular diseases and a series of other unpleasant and undesired health conditions.

Antioxidants can be found in many plant-based foods and drinks, but coffee is one of the best sources of this wonderful compound. As a matter of fact, coffee is American’s number one source of antioxidants by a mile. More importantly, raw coffee beans are richer on antioxidants in comparison to brewed coffee. This is so because the process of roasting destroys some naturally occurring elements in coffee beans.

So, if consumed in limited quantities, roasted coffee beans can have positive health benefits. Even so, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor first. If you have any health problems or need to take certain medication, your doctor could recommend you not to eat roasted coffee beans.

What are the benefits and downfalls of eating coffee beans?

Pros

  • Coffee is a very potent source of oxidants.
  • Coffee beans are high in fiber and help clean and maintain the health of the digestive tract.
  • The caffeine is absorbed much faster and efficiently.
  • Caffeine improves the memory and mental functions.
  • Increases the focus and you become more alert.
  • It helps burn fat faster.
  • Reduces the risk of cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Type II diabetes, and many others.
  • Fights depression and can lower the risk of suicide.
  • It boosts your physical performances.
  • Decreased drowsiness.

Cons

  • Eating coffee beans might lead to painful heartburn.
  • It may lead to an increase in the LDL cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol).
  • Coffee has laxative properties and eating too much may amplify this problem.
  • For some, the taste of roasted coffee bean may seem too bitter.
  • Not recommended for pregnant women.
  • Hard to chew.

How do you know if you have eaten too many coffee beans?

Eating one too many coffee beans can have similar effects to drinking one too many cups of coffee. You can begin to experience jitters, headaches and exaggerated mood swings. There are other symptoms which can suggest you’ve had too much caffeine, including heart palpitations, insomnia, and tremors.

In addition to this, if you consume more than 500 mg each day regularly, you could have liver problems and high blood pressure. Be careful, coffee is very addictive, and it can lead to a period of withdrawal if you don’t get your “fix” in time.

Light or dark roast coffee beans?

It all depends on the taste. It does not matter which one you choose (from a health point of view). Generally, people prefer eating medium or dark roast coffee beans as they are more enjoyable from a flavor point of view. It is good to know that according to the National Coffee Association, lighter roasted coffee beans have a slightly higher caffeine concentration.

Eating coffee grounds?

Consuming coffee grounds is also ok, but with moderation. There is not a big difference between consuming coffee beans or coffee grounds, except that the grounds are easier to chew. However, I would not recommend a peanut butter and coffee grounds toast!

On another note, you can also use the ground coffee as a body scrub to exfoliate the dead skin. Research has not found any negative effects to that use of coffee.

To eat or not to eat?

It all depends if you like the taste and if you don’t have any high cholesterol or acid reflux problems.  Coffee beans are a great addition to your diet. If you already tried them and didn’t like the taste, you can always dip them in chocolate. You can also try snacking on green coffee beans that are unroasted.

You will feel much more energetic and alert after eating coffee beans, but you should be responsible and not consume too much. Eating too much can put your body under a lot of strain and can lead to unpleasant conditions or diseases.

It is up to you to try and see if you like eating coffee beans. I know I love it.

READ MODE: How to make cowboy coffee!

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Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.