As a coffee lover, you know how delicious coffee is. It is a very essential drink for coffee enthusiasts. It is like a miraculous beverage, thanks to its rich caffeine content that offers numerous benefits to the body. Coffee is a staple for many individuals around the world.
Although coffee is loved by many people, some do not know whether coffee is a vegetable, legume, or fruit. Well, most people know that coffee comes from coffee beans. But what exactly is a coffee bean? Are coffee beans a fruit? Read on through this article to find out.
Understanding the Coffee Tree
To help you understand whether coffee beans are a fruit, it will help to discuss the coffee tree. Generally, for those of you who love brewing coffee at home, you either buy whole beans or pre-ground coffee. Either way, coffee beans are obtained from coffee plants.
These plants are known as Coffea trees. They belong to a family of plants known as the Rubiaceae family. There are about 120 different Coffea tree species. The most common species are Arabica and Robusta (Canephora) coffee plants.
Coffee plants are a type of flowering shrubs. These plants are grown from seeds. They grow to a height of between 9 to 15 feet. Coffee plants grow aromatic flowers with varying colors such as reddish-pink and white. When mature, they produce green berries. The berries change color to red or yellow when ripe. The berries are also known as drupes but are commonly referred to as coffee cherries.
Coffee trees bear very interesting fruits. They are small but sweet, with rich caffeine content. The fruit has small flesh, with the pit taking up the most room in the cherry. Older coffee trees yield more abundant cherries than younger ones. Once the cherries appear, it takes about 9 months for them to ripen and get harvested.
Coffee cherries are harvested by hand on most coffee farms. In some cases, they are selected using special criteria to make sure only the perfect cherries are picked. In other cases, all the cherries are picked at once and selected later. Once picked, the cherries are processed using either the dry processing or wet processing method. Processing allows for separating coffee seeds from cherries.
Understanding the Coffee Bean
You also need to learn more about the coffee bean to understand whether it is a fruit or vegetable or legume. Essentially, coffee seeds are exposed after processing the harvested coffee cherries. If you have seen whole coffee beans, you know they are generally oval-shaped and rounded, with one side being flat. Each cherry usually contains two seeds, with the flat sides of the seeds pressed together.
These seeds are commonly referred to as coffee beans. They are typically green when processed, just before roasting. The green beans are what you grind when b green coffee. However, in most cases, they are roasted and turn brown for brewing regular coffee.
It is during the last stage of processing that a coffee cherry becomes a fruit pit. The fruit pit is the coffee bean you buy from your local grocery store. It is what you grind with a blade grinder or burr grinder to form ground coffee in readiness for making your favorite morning cup of Joe.
The final look of coffee beans is often deceptive. While fruits look juicy, vibrant, and taste sweet, coffee beans are different. They have a unique taste that no other fruits, pits, seeds, or legumes can provide. Their uniqueness makes them very special.
How Do Fruits Differ With Vegetables?
Although you may assume that the difference between vegetables and fruits is like kindergarten material, it is quite complicated. If you take your memory back to school days, you are likely to remember how certain foods are categorized. For instance, peppers, tomatoes, and zucchinis are categorized as fruits. So is your favorite morning cup of Joe a fruit?
Generally, vegetables are the edible parts of a plant such as onions, parsnips, and carrots. On the other hand, fruits can be described as a product of a plant resulting from reproduction, and not a part of the plant. As such, the reproductive products of plants have seeds inside, such as bananas, oranges, apples, and avocadoes. That is why squashes and tomatoes are categorized as fruits rather than vegetables.
So Are Coffee Beans a Fruit?
In reality, coffee cherries are categorized as fruits. The reason behind them being fruits is that cherries are products of coffee plants and contain seeds within them. Also, coffee cherries are not part of a coffee plant like the leaves or roots, but they result from reproduction. Thus, coffee plants produce fruits known as cherries. Coffee beans are the seeds within the fruit.
With the above information in mind, we can conclude that coffee beans are the seeds contained in a coffee fruit. Coffee cherries are fruits while coffee beans are seeds. Each coffee fruit contains two seeds, which are typically known as coffee beans upon processing. When coffee fruits are harvested, they are processed, dried, and milled. For instance, in the case of an avocado, you eat the fleshy part and throw away the pit. However, in the case of coffee, you throw away the thin fleshy part and grind the pit to brew coffee.
Also read: Are Coffee Beans Nuts?