Most beans have an external layer that typically sheds before it can be consumed. The external layer comes off easily by just rubbing it off. Of course, this layer applies to coffee beans as well!
In terms of coffee beans, the outer layer that is removed before being made into instant or brewed coffee, is called chaff. This chaff is peeled, or shed, prior to grinding the beans, usually during the roasting phase of the coffee processing.
WHAT IS COFFEE CHAFF?
Coffee chaff is the green dried skin that exists on the coffee bean when it is first picked off the coffee tree. Also known as the husk of the coffee bean, the layer comes off when the beans are sent to be roasted. The hot temperature of the roasting allows the chaff to peel off easily, without the need of additional extraction.
Once the beans are finished roasting, the outer skins of the beans, the chaff, will shed right off. It is best to have a colander ready when roasting, so that the layered ‘waste’ of the chaff can be easily removed and discarded, or better yet, recycled to be used for something else! We’re already drinking the coffee, we might as well save the planet in the process!
HOW IS COFFEE CHAFF USED?
Coffee chaff can be used in multiple ways, it not only restricted to being waste that is eventually thrown out causing pollution. The scrap pieces of husk can be recycled to be used for other things; it is decomposed and used to help other goods grow.
It is often used as a fertilizer for soil to help crops grow. Since the chaffs are organic, they carry nutrients that help plants and vegetables bloom more products.
In a process known as mulching, the chaffs are used to preserve the moisture of the soil, which contributes to the overall aesthetic and a healthy environment throughout. Although, using too much chaff can cause problems in the soil as it prevents the water from entering over time.
In some cases, a bedding is made out of the chaffs for domestic pets and chickens. Farmers often prefer using chaff as bedding over other substances because it can be broken down easily, as it is organic.
The most recent trend of using coffee chaff is by turning the husk into Cascara syrup to add to your coffee. Cascara brings the natural taste back to the cup for those who are looking for an alternative sweetener to sugar. For more information about Cascara and recipes with it, visit our previous post here.