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Would You Eat Coffee Grounds?

eat coffee grounds

Many people truly love their coffee, and some scientists are wondering whether that love affair could go so far as getting people to eat coffee grounds. Don’t worry; chances are you won’t even taste them, yet they could provide some important nutrients and perhaps help with various health issues.


What’s special about coffee grounds?

One of the healthful traits of coffee is its antioxidant content, and so it’s no surprise that spent coffee grounds are a great source as well. They also provide a significant amount of dietary insoluble fiber, essential amino acids, and low glycemic sugars, which can be helpful for people with diabetes.

According to the study’s senior scientist and head of the Food Bioscience Group at the Autonoma University of Madrid, the spent coffee grounds “are bioavailable antioxidants as they are using the dietary fibre as transport to the gastrointestinal tract.” There is a cost advantage as well, because “it is a very abundant by-product.”

All of these characteristics make spent coffee grounds an ideal ingredient to be added to foods to boost their nutritional value. Increasing the nutritional punch of foods is extremely popular, and more and more research is being done on how to incorporate what is now viewed as waste into our food supply to help with nutritional deficiencies and conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

The other good news is that such coffee grounds are plentiful. In fact, approximately 6 million tons of spent coffee grounds are wasted around the world each year, a fact that prompted a team of Spanish researchers to uncover a way to utilize this by-product of instant coffee.

What can be done with coffee grounds?

Baked goods are often used when testing the addition of new by-products to foods, and this case was no exception. Researchers chose to add spent coffee grounds to six different biscuit recipes in which they added a varying percentage of coffee grounds ranging from 3.5 to 4.4 percent.

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If you are wondering what the biscuits looked like, the reviewers said the biscuits resembled those baked with chocolate chips. As for taste, the addition of Stevia and oligofructose (which is a prebiotic and enhances glucose tolerance) masked any taste from the coffee.

Therefore, the end result was a biscuit with enhanced nutrients and fiber but without any detectable taste difference. The investigators found they could include up to 4 percent spent coffee grounds without affecting the quality of the biscuits.

Using spent coffee grounds also adds a small amount of caffeine to the end product. In this case, there was about 8 mg of caffeine per 100 grams of dough, a level below that which would require special labeling for children and pregnant women in the European Union.

You may be familiar with other ways to use spent coffee grounds: adding them to your compost pile, scrubbing greasy pots and pans, hiding scratches in furniture, or eliminating garlic odor on your hands are just a few. But if food scientists have their way, spent coffee grounds may be appearing in some common foods on the grocery shelves.

Martinez-Saez N et al. Use of spent coffee grounds as food ingredient in bakery products. Food Chemistry 2017 Feb 1; 216: 114-22

Image courtesy Pixabay