How to make the most of coffee grounds

To start the day with energy, in Spain, more than 22 million people (63% of Spaniards over 15 years of age) drink at least one cup of coffee a day. Of them, 32% in a cafeteria and the remaining 68% at home. But what about the tons of grounds that are generated when preparing this delicious and healthy drink?

Surely the first thing that comes to mind is to use them to fertilize plants or unclog pipes. But you can go much further. To take advantage of coffee grounds in a big way, the best thing to do is eat them! But not in any way.

The following biscuit recipe made from coffee grounds is the result of research that aimed to evaluate its use as a food ingredient and its application in bakery and pastry products.

The results showed that they are a natural source of antioxidant insoluble fiber, essential amino acids and low glycemic index sugars. There is more, the cookies have high nutritional quality, they are very tasty, they have the potential to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes and help to fall asleep.

This is the recipe for coffee grounds cookies, a snack healthy and sustainable:

Cookies made with coffee grounds.

Ingredients:

• 60 g of wheat flour

• 20 g of water

• 8 g of sunflower oil

• 0.6 g yeast

• 0.4 g of salt

• 0.35 g soy lecithin

• 2g of stevia

• 3.5 g of fructooligosaccharides (FOS also known as Beneo or inulin)

• 4.5 g of coffee grounds*

preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 185ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until you get a dough.

  3. Spread the dough with a rolling pin, cut the cookies with a mold or a glass and place the cookies on the previously prepared tray.

  4. Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes (185 ºC), remove them from the oven and let them cool.

How to use coffee grounds

They can be used fresh, those obtained from a freshly prepared drink by any method (drip, French press, Italian coffee pot, etc.). Those of the capsules are also valid. If they are not used in the following hours after the preparation of the drink, they can be dried in the oven at more than 185ºC until all the water is removed and kept in a dry and cool place until use. The grounds of the industrial manufacturing process of instant or soluble coffee can also be used for this purpose.

Alternatively, the moist grounds can be kept frozen (-20ºC) until there is enough to make a number of healthy, high-fiber, low-sugar cookies.

Wheat flour, for celiacs, can be replaced by coffee husk flour. This flour is a very abundant by-product of obtaining green coffee beans with excellent nutritional value, gluten-free, and considered a traditional food in other countries. In addition, it can be marketed in the euro zone.

Stevia or inulin can be replaced by other low-calorie sweeteners to achieve a healthy product with a low glycemic index. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in 2015 to reduce the content of free sugars in our diet.

The fiber we need

Coffee grounds are mainly composed of dietary fiber (47%), fat (24%), polysaccharides (13%) and protein (11%). According to WHO recommendations, consuming 25 grams of fiber a day provides great health benefits, and helps reduce the risk of suffering from chronic non-communicable diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, which also aggravate other pathologies such as covid-19.

According to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), the average consumption of fiber in Europe is 12.5 grams per day, half of what is recommended for optimal health. Therefore, the consumption of coffee grounds as a food ingredient can contribute to the necessary increase in dietary fiber consumption.

The coffee fiber present in these cookies can be fermented in the intestine and release antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that contribute to good intestinal health. They are a natural source of molecules considered antioxidant fiber, such as melanoidins.

In a study carried out by our research group, we observed that more than half of the fat from coffee grounds is excreted in the faeces and 77% of the unsaturated fatty acids remain bioaccessible to the body.

They help you sleep better

The beneficial health effects of coffee grounds do not stay in the intestine. These cookies could also be suitable for regulating the biorhythm.

The diet and the amount of physical activity that is carried out during the day are factors that determine the quality of sleep. Little or poor sleep can negatively affect health. It is recommended to sleep 7-9 hours to ensure good health. Biscuits made using coffee grounds or the dietary fiber extracted from them as a food ingredient can have a positive effect on circadian rhythm and sleep quality.

Reduce feed waste

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has established a hierarchy for reducing food waste in the form of an inverted pyramid.

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Pyramid of the hierarchy to reduce food waste from FAO.

The use of coffee grounds and the dietary fiber that compose them as an ingredient for human consumption has been accepted by the EFSA in 2021, during the current covid-19 pandemic. Its application will contribute to nutritional security in accordance with the philosophy of zero waste, placing it at the top of the pyramid of the strategies proposed by the FAO. Kaffebueno, for example, markets the dietary fiber and oil from coffee grounds for use in food and beverages.

Shoe soles, cosmetics and energy

Beyond the popular home uses that are given to coffee grounds, they are also used as a raw material, contributing to a more sustainable use of natural resources, in different industries with a great economic impact.

Coffee grounds are used in the manufacture of shoe soles, coffee cups, furniture and tiles, jewelry, cosmetics that contain the oil isolated from them, and in the energy industry as biofuel and pellets.

While coffee grounds are one of the two most abundant by-products of roasted coffee beverage processing and brewing, other equally abundant by-products are produced on the journey from the plant to the cup, the disposal of which must be properly managed , to achieve a more sustainable food chain and contribute to global nutritional security. We have already mentioned, for example, the coffee husk. It remains for another publication how to take advantage of it in a big way.

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