If you have ever looked up exotic or unique coffees, then you have probably come across the term “green coffee.” It seems so strange, mainly because the only color we associate with coffee is brown — both with the drink and the beans.
So this usually confuses, which is a shame because knowing about green coffee should be an essential thing. After all, it’s pretty great.
So, What is Green Coffee?
First of all, let’s clarify something: the beans are not bright green. Neither is the beverage that is made out of them. This is a prevalent misconception, and for some reason, many people are disappointed because they don’t receive something very vibrant in color. Well, of course, this feeling arises, as we expect a drink that is much different from the coffees we have had before. But trust us, there are many exciting things about green coffee, so don’t get stuck on the color.
Another misconception is that the beans are harvested while they are still unripe. Once again, completely false, as this would result in foul-tasting drinks. If you made your coffee out of unripe beans then it would be insanely bitter and it simply wouldn’t have much caffeine in it. Generally speaking: you should only use fruits and seeds once they are ripe; otherwise, you will end up with a low-quality result.
The simple truth is that the beans remain unroasted. This is why they have a pale green color (which doesn’t carry into the final drink). The color happens to be this way because the beans don’t go through any process that could alter it, as the only things that happen to them are the drying and milling. Both of which have zero effect on the color.
Check out another kind of coffee as well that is the “Sweet Coffee: Can Coffee be Naturally Sweet?“. Check it out!
What Happens During Roasting?
This question is essential as the roasting process is skipped when making green coffee, which is quite strange for those who haven’t heard about it. Rightfully so, as we associate coffee with the beans being roasted and the whole concept can seem weird to us. But when we get to the end of this little part, you will understand what difference the roasting makes. And why it’s okay to skip it.
The physical parts
In our case, color is the most noticeable thing. Initially, coffee beans are pale green with a subtle blue hue. During the roasting process, melanoidins are made. These are the product of sugar and amino acids combining during the excessive heat. Also, they turn the beans to a brownish or straight-up black color.
Another essential part is the moisture in the beans. Initially, they have around 10-12% water in them, but during roasting that is reduced to about 2,5%. This change is drastic. It also affects the shelf life of your coffee. (The more the beans are dehydrated, the longer they can be stored.)
But if you want some good coffee then the oils will be what you look out for most. When you pick the cherries, these oils will only be in the center of the bean, but during roasting, they will rise to the surface and create a safety net. A safety net meant to keep in volatile compounds that give the coffee its’ flavor and aroma. Without the oils these compounds would be gone within a couple of hours, leaving the beans worthless.
The chemistry of roasting
The Maillard reaction is the core of the roasting process. It begins at 302°F (or 150°C) when the beans absorb heat endothermically. During this part, melanoidins are made which influence the color, nutritional value, and flavor of the final product. But these molecules aren’t the most important part.
What is truly crucial is the amount of time the coffee spends in this phase. It has been observed that the longer the beans stay in the Maillard reaction, the more viscosity they will have. If they spend a shorter time in the reaction then they will have a much sweeter taste, but they will also be very acidic. So it’s hard to find the fine line where you end up with the perfect roast.
But another thing that coffee lovers can appreciate (and understand the chemistry of) is caramelization. This happens at about 338°F (or 170°C), at which point the carbohydrates break down into smaller sugars. The result is a sweeter product.
The caramelization is responsible for the sweet notes in coffee, such as almond. But several aromas can be connected to the melted sugars within the coffee beans.
And of course, volatile and non-volatile compounds. We won’t talk much about them because to explain their nature would require some very complex chemistry. Something we don’t want to get into, instead we will talk about the aromas these compounds can add to the coffee.
- Furans: caramel
- Guaiacol: smoke, spiciness
- Aldehydes: fruity, green flavors
- Pyrazines: ground coffee bean scent
- Sulfur-containing compounds: signature “roasted coffee” smell
Wanting to roast your own coffee? Be sure to also check out “Ultimate Guide to Roasting Your Own Coffee” for a full guide.
Why roasting isn’t necessary
It has probably become apparent to everyone that none of these effects are essential for an ordinary coffee. Yes, roasting adds another layer of flavor and enhances the aromas. But besides those, there is no significant benefit.
There are no health risks that come with unroasted beans either, so you don’t need to worry — quite the opposite.
Learn more about the health benefits of coffee in “Definitive Guide to Coffee Antioxidants“.
The Health Benefits of Green Coffee
The main thing you will be able to notice if you start drinking green coffee regularly is your skin changing. This is very drastic, as this kind of coffee is high in antioxidants and can change up your skin in just a week.
It prevents your skin cells from getting damaged. Thus you will have fewer bruises, or at the very least they will clear up much faster. If you don’t have a problem with that then there’s still the benefit of having smooth skin which always glows.
Also, it can slow the aging process (okay, not really, but certain things would make you think so). If you drink green coffee regularly, then you will have fewer wrinkles (the already existing ones won’t go away, though).
Yeah, if you are on a diet, then you need to try green coffee. It inhibits the excessive release of glucose into your bloodstream, which makes the liver’s job much harder. This is because this organ needs glucose to function. Thus the body will be much more prone to burning stored fat to keep the glucose levels at a certain level.
Beware: it can bring your glucose levels way down if you don’t pay attention. It can be dangerous after some time so take breaks from drinking green coffee or consult your doctor.
Since we were talking about the liver… It is the central part of our body that detoxifies everything else. Therefore once your glucose levels start impacting it, your liver will begin to detox its’ very self. Every once in a while, this is good to do, as it can prevent liver stones.
Green coffee detoxes your body of bad cholesterol as well. This means that your heart will be in a much better shape if you keep up the regular drinking.
How Does One Make Green Coffee?
Well, if you want to know how to grow, harvest, and process the coffee beans, then it’s pretty simple. Same as before, you need to leave out the roasting part and let the beans dry for a little longer. The latter is required because you should minimize the amount of water in the beans.
But if you already have your green beans at home and you need to make your coffee then let us explain.
This is the more straightforward method, as unroasted beans are insanely hard to grind and it is much better if you leave that up to the manufacturer.
- Put the powder in a cup
- Pour hot water over it slowly (it should be about 212°F or 100°C)
- Let sit for 10 minutes
- Add sweeteners as needed
Using whole beans
Now, this takes a lot of time. We suggest that you use powder instead of whole beans, but of course, that is not always an option. But just in case you would rather go with powder then get your beans and grind them down with quality and robust grinder. Pay close attention to it as unroasted beans can easily mess up these small machines.
- Soak the beans overnight in water
- The next day pour it all into a pot
- Heat until it starts boiling
- Keep it on the flame for another 15 minutes at least
- Add sweeteners as needed
Be careful with this method. The result has a much more potent taste. If it’s too strong for you, then you can dilute it with water.
Learn how to roast your own coffee beans in “How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home“.
Green coffee is good for your health and your taste buds. It will give you a unique experience that you might want to enjoy for the rest of your life. And that’s great after all this drink is fantastic! So you should at least give it a try while you are at it.
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We’ll brew ya later! ☕️