Is Coffee a Fruit, Vegetable, or Neither?

I’ll admit it… I’m an addict.

I can’t start my day without a warm, heart-jolting, brain-triggering cup of coffee. 

I have started just about every single day of my life for the past 14 years with a cup of Joe, and the first sip followed by an audible “ahhhhhh” never ceases to give my brain a big shot of dopamine. 

My mind has been extraordinarily inquisitive in a social distant daze, and I have been thinking about all sorts of things, from what makes steak red to my purpose in life. Yesterday morning, I sat starting at my hot brew in a stare off pondering, “how is this even possible?”

So I hit the web to find out.

What’s a Coffee Plant?

That lovely cup’s journey began on a coffee plant, which looks a bit different than you may expect. Coffee plants are shrubs with waxy green leaves that are splattered with little red berries that are called coffee cherries. Inside the fruit, there is pulp holding two little seeds, which are then roasted, ground, and brewed.

So if coffee is a seed inside a cherry, does that make it a fruit? Or a vegetable? Ponder that one over and let me know….

Arabica vs. Robusta

 Like wine, where, when, and how the shrub grows is what will determine the coffee’s flavor. While there are numerous types of coffee plants, arabica and robusta are the most common. Arabica is lighter, sweeter, and more acidic, and is mostly grown Latin American. Robustas are harsher and nuttier with double the amount of caffeine, and are strictly grown in the Eastern hemisphere. Robustas are easier to grow than arabica plants because not only do they grow faster, but they can be grown at lower altitudes meaning it’s easier to protect them from pests and bad weather. While arabica coffee is considered “superior”, I personally go for a harsher bean that makes my toes curl. 

Light vs Dark Roast

The type of plant is factor one in determining taste, factor two is how the beans are roasted. Light roasts have a shorter time under the heat, which means they retain more water. This makes the beans denser, which results in a floral/acidic profile and a contrastingly “thinner” brew. If you let those beans sit in a higher heat for a bit longer, they lose more moisture, which creates a stronger single-note flavor. 

Dark roast may have a bolder taste, but it actually has LESS caffeine than its light roast counterpart because the heat not only bakes out moisture, but it also breaks down the caffeine compounds. So, if a caffeine buzz is what you want, consider keeping it light. 

Final Thoughts….

Light, dark, arabica, or robusta…. coffee is amazing. The next time your taking that first glorious morning sip, take a second to think about where it came from.

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