Did you know that coffee is a berry that grows on bushes? What we know as the coffee bean is actually the pit of this fruit. Originally, these berries were eaten and used to make wine. It seems that the uses for coffee are never ending!
The pulp of the coffee fruit, which is often referred to as a coffee cherry, is sweet and caffeinated. This only leads some to wonder why more wine isn’t made from it today. Though it originally was used to produce a beverage quite different than modern day coffee, it is the hot brew that has enabled coffee to take over the world.
Centuries ago, coffee cherries were eaten, on their own or as an ingredient in a wide variety of foods. The pulp was also used to ferment into wine. Once the seeds (what we call beans) were discovered to produce our miraculous morning elixir, other uses largely fell to the wayside.
Since most uses for the coffee fruit are time consuming and not cost effective, it goes unused much of the time. Sadly, it is rarely turned into wine. The coffee cherry is sometimes used in animal feed and fertilizer because it is packed with nutrients.
As conservation and sustainability efforts surrounding the coffee industry increase, maybe we will see this portion of the coffee plant utilized to a greater extent. I know if I walk into a restaurant and see coffee cherry wine on the menu, I’m ordering up a glass.