Coffee is a huge part of our world today. From workers needing a cup to get going in the morning to college students brewing up a pot for an all-nighter, it's everywhere.
Every year, global coffee production contributes to more than 2 billion tons of by-products such as coffee spent grounds and coffee silverskin that are thrown away and aren't used for other purposes.
In a recent study published in the journal Food Science and Technology, researchers found that coffee by-products actually have the powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Researchers found that the by-products are rich in fiber, phenols, and that coffee grounds have antioxidant effects that are 500 times greater than those found in vitamin C.
As a result, we could soon be seeing more functional foods with significant health benefits made from coffee by-products, which the world's coffee producers was previously throwing away.
With his research, Professor Rufián Henares said that coffee by-products "contain high levels of melanoidins, which are produced during the roasting process and give coffee its brown color. The biological properties of these melanoidins could be harnessed for a range of practical applications, such as preventing harmful pathogens from growing in food products." However, he also adds: "If we are to harness the beneficial prebiotic effects of the coffee by-products, first of all we need to remove the melanoidins, since they interfere with such beneficial prebiotic properties."
Some companies, like KonaRed, have already been quick to jump on the "more than just coffee" movement. President and COO Kyle Redfield said, "This study supports what we have been saying all along: that the coffee byproducts including but not limited to the fruit are actually nutritional powerhouses both beneficial to the human body and delicious tasting." KonaRed's Coffee Fruit products are sold today in select Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons, Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods, and 7-Eleven stores.
As research studies and companies continue to find ways to turn these 2 billion tons of by-product into something that's good for us, the world's love for coffee shows no signs of slowing down.