Coffee flour offers a potentially healthier way of enjoying java

January 8, 2016 by Lawrence Goodman

Two decades ago, Brandeis biophysicist Dan Perlman '68 and nutritionist K.C. Hayes developed the "healthy fats" blend in the Smart Balance buttery spread. Perlman has now come up with a new invention – the parbaked coffee bean.

According to Perlman, this method of roasting green coffee beans enhances the health benefits of coffee. Perlman is developing the flour milled from parbaked beans both as a food ingredient and a nutritional supplement. "It's a world of difference" from the traditional coffee bean, Perlman says.

Research has shown that drinking coffee is good for you. A recent Harvard study found that people who drank three to five cups a day had a 15 percent lower chance of prematurely dying than non-drinkers.

Nobody knows for certain what causes coffee to be salutary, but one leading explanation involves a natural chemical compound called chlorogenic acid (CGA). An antioxidant, CGA is thought to be beneficial in modulating sugar metabolism, controlling blood pressure and possibly treating heart disease and cancer.

Unfortunately, when coffee is roasted the traditional way—typically above 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes—the CGA content drops dramatically. One study found the decrease ranged from 50 to nearly 100 percent.

Perlman wondered what would happen if the coffee bean was baked for less time and at a lower temperature. This took some trial and error until he got it right. In the end, he determined that parbaking the beans at 300 degrees at approximately ten minutes worked best. The concentration of CGA in the bean, around 10 percent of the bean's weight, barely dropped.

The parbaked coffee bean can't be used to make coffee. It isn't roasted long enough to develop flavor. Instead Perlman cryogenically mills the bean in an ultra-cold and chemically inert liquid nitrogen atmosphere to protect the bean's beneficial constituents from oxidation. At the end of the process, you get a wheat-colored flour. Its taste is nutty, pleasant and mild.

Perlman sees his coffee flour being blended with regular flours for baking, used in breakfast cereals and snack bars and added to soups, juices and nutritional drinks. To compensate for the CGA lost during traditional coffee roasting, it would be possible to blend par-baked with regularly roasted ones.

There are green coffee bean extract-based nutritional supplements already on the market. They have been touted as a way to lose weight and fight obesity, but there is scant research to support these claims.

The scientific evidence that illustrates CGA's benefits for other conditions is much stronger. Perlman also says parbaking is far less expensive than the extraction methods used to produce the green coffee bean extract supplements currently on the market.

Brandeis has patented Perlman's coffee bean par-baking and milling method.

Explore further: Green coffee benefits prove limited in mice research

More information: Ming Ding et al. Association of Coffee Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in 3 Large Prospective CohortsClinical Perspective, Circulation (2015). DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.017341

Igho Onakpoya et al. The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials, Gastroenterology Research and Practice (2011). DOI: 10.1155/2011/382852

Related Stories

Green coffee benefits prove limited in mice research

May 1, 2014

The efficacy of green coffee extract to impact on an independent risk factor for cardiovascular heart disease has been proven ineffective in mice models fed high fat diets (HFD) a recent study has shown.

Coffee bean acoustics

May 22, 2014

People around the world are drawn to coffee's powerful allure—for its beloved smell, and taste, and for the caffeine boost it provides. As you enjoy your coffee beverage, however, odds are good you're probably not thinking ...

Recommended for you

Hydrogen from sunlight—but as a dark reaction

December 9, 2016

The storage of photogenerated electric energy and its release on demand are still among the main obstacles in artificial photosynthesis. One of the most promising, recently identified photocatalytic new materials is inexpensive ...

Cloud formation—how feldspar acts as ice nucleus

December 9, 2016

In the atmosphere, feldspar particles act as ice nuclei that make ice crystals grow in clouds and enable precipitation. The discovery was made by researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and University College ...

Why cryptophyte algae are really good at harvesting light

December 8, 2016

In an algae-eat-algae world, it's the single-celled photosynthetic organisms at the top (layer of the ocean) that absorb the most sunlight. Underneath, in the sublayers, are cryptophyte algae that must compete for photons ...

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster

December 8, 2016

After decades of eluding researchers because of chemical instability, key metal-oxide clusters have been isolated in water, a significant advance for growing the clusters with the impeccable control over atoms that's required ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.