Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We are big coffee drinkers and love trying all the varieties from coffee plantations around the Island of Hawaii. Coffee beans are the seeds of the bright red coffee fruit, called coffee cherries. Each fruit normally contains two seeds (beans) and some fruit pulp. An exception is the peaberry, which only has one bean to a cherry. We were surprised to learn that many locals eat the cherries, which are thrown away by coffee harvesters because they are too perishable to process. People in coffee growing regions of the world having been eating coffee cherries for thousands of years.

It turns out that coffee fruit is loaded with high concentrations of beneficial antioxidants and essential sugars. Roasting the coffee bean destroys these nutrients, so we aren’t getting them in our morning cup of Joe. Studies on the health benefits of coffee compounds claim the fruit contains polyphenols, in particular flavonoids, which have antioxidant characteristics that may reduce the risk of disease and cognitive decline .

The coffee fruit has many of the glyconutrients, also known as the 8 essential sugars, which are needed for optimal health and functioning in humans. We have never heard of these essential sugars, known as saccharides, but apparently they have special properties needed for cell to cell communication and proper cell functioning. Coffee cherries contain five of the eight saccharides (mannose, galactose, fucose, xylose, and glucose) which are believed to be essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.

Not having easy access to wild coffee, we bought a tree at a Hilo school plant sale. We read that it could take up to four years for it to produce coffee fruit, but after less than a year our coffee bush is covered with bright red coffee fruit. The coffee cherries have a thin red skin and fruit pulp with a texture similar to a grape. Our cherries are small, perhaps because the tree is young, but we were eager to taste our ripened coffee cherries. The red skin was tough and bitter, but the tiny bit of fruit pulp that covered the beans was sweet and tasty.

It is wonderful to live in Hilo where so many tropical plants thrive. We are delighted to find yet another fruit in Hawaii that is delicious and good for our health.


Keahi Pelayo said...

I am an addict. I need some of the fruit every morning.

Victoria Hokulani said...

Wow,you guys, that was highly informative. I had no idea those cherries were edible. I am surprised I have never tasted these at the Farmers Market or anywhere for that matter. Now, I must try them! Going to Kona Friday, so maybe I will stop in South Kona and see if anyone has the raw fruits.

Lisha said...

My son's father is Guatemalan and my son has spent many vacations down in Guatemala with his grandmother who lives in a small village surrounded by coffee plantations. He says that the people who grow the coffee say that you can't eat the cherries because they will make you sick and you can die. I was suspicious immediately because they said that eating the cherries would give you diptheria. Diptheria is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing, not from coffee cherries, so that set me looking up the facts.

Now I'm wondering why the people in Guatemala are so convinced that the berry is dangerous. I'm wondering if that false story was spread by wealthy plantation owners and/or traders in order to keep the people from eating down their profits.

Joaqin said...

It's not that the coffee fruit is inedible or dangerous to eat - its just not that tasty and rather 'boring'. The 'danger' you describe is probably a warning to the pickers. Our coffee pickers sometimes munch on the berries, and I have to warn them of leptospirosis. Rats run on those trees and geckos. Their urine often contains the virus and that's what goes into your system when you don't wash them thoroughly. Otherwise I heard of a Kauai company who markets the pulp itself wholesale to the nutritional industry as an additive to power bars and cereals. Good move!

Anonymous said...

I am the person Joaquin mentions about wholesaling the Coffee Fruit to the nutrition industry (and others). Coffee Fruit is indeed amazing and contains a heathly dose of superior antioxidants that do wonderful things for certain ailments relating to infammation, weight management and fighting colds. To learn more about KonaRed Coffee Fruit, visit www.konared.com or drop me a comment at shaun@konared.com. Heres to your health and Hawaii's Amazing Coffee Fruit.

Patrick 'Spike' said...

I'd like to let you all know that Shaun's company has teamed up with XOWii out of California and has released the only retail consumable with KonaRed coffee cherry in an energy drink. I'll be in Keaau on Nov 20th having samples and talking about the business opportunity if you'd like to try or give me call and I can drop some by that day. 808-728-7275 patrick@xowiihi.com

Papadave said...

How could I go about getting some seeds to grow a plant?? I would be happy to pay any costs incurred. I live in Phoenix, AZ., and am excited about having a coffee tree or 5.

isarcat said...

I have two coffee plants at home and they fruit every year. I just now finished eating a juicy, sweet and delicious cherry. Oh, yeah and I live in Ottawa. Ontario. Canada. I kid you not :D