Espresso beans have taken the world of coffee and snacks by storm. Discerning at-home baristas love crafting their brews with freshly ground espresso beans, while those who are particularly caffeine fiends even snack on the chocolate-covered varieties.
However, their popularity has also led to several questions. Some people claim that espresso beans are healthy, while others say that they have too much caffeine to safely consume.
If you’ve been thinking of reaching for this trendy new snack, here is what you need to know about consuming espresso beans.
What Are Espresso Beans?
Espresso beans are a variety of coffee beans. Think of it this way: all espresso beans are coffee beans, but not all coffee beans are espresso beans because they can come in other varieties, such as light roast or medium blend.
Like all coffee beans, espresso beans are dried and roasted seeds from the coffee plant, which are then brewed to make coffee.
Espresso beans are part of the dark roast category, which means that they will be darker in color than other roasts. Dark roasts have the most natural oils compared to other varieties, which shows in their shiny surface.
Espresso beans also stand out for their flavor. They are the richest and least acidic of all coffee beans. That is why most coffee bean snacks are made with espresso beans compared to other beans because they are the least acidic.
Once you roast them, espresso beans create a rich crema, or foam on top of a shot of espresso. They are different from other coffee beans because they can withstand high-pressure brewing methods.
Espresso Beans for Snacking
By now, you understand that espresso beans are prized in the coffee-making world for their rich flavor and high percentage of natural oils. However, some caffeine lovers also eat them as snacks.
Many stores sell chocolate-covered espresso beans. Coffee lovers with a sweet tooth love these snacks because they combine the bitterness of the espresso bean with the sweetness of the chocolate covering. They also provide a burst of energy.
Chocolate-covered espresso beans have been a popular confectionery for some time. Some sources even trace the history of the treat to medieval Yemen. Others say that people ate coffee beans as snacks before they even began brewing coffee.
You can make your own chocolate-covered coffee beans by buying roasted beans from the store and covering them in melted chocolate. If you prefer snacking on just the beans without a chocolate coating, you can also do that.
Are They Safe to Eat?
Some people are worried about eating chocolate-covered espresso beans because of their high caffeine content. However, the beans are perfectly safe to eat.
Espresso beans are safe, but they should be enjoyed in moderation, particularly by people who know that they have a sensitivity to caffeine. Coffee beans have a far more concentrated dosage of caffeine compared to coffee, which gets diluted during the brewing process.
Caffeine from coffee beans also absorbs faster because as you chew, the caffeine is absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing—caffeine has many health benefits, and coffee beans just happen to have a more concentrated dosage of those benefits than coffee drinks. However, this means that the negative side effects of caffeine, such as jitteriness, are amplified with espresso beans.
That being said, the problems with overindulging in espresso beans are extremely minor. You may start feeling nauseous or anxious, just as you would if you drank a few too many cups of coffee.
There have been some articles on the Internet claiming that eating espresso beans can cause serious health problems. However, those are just based on misinformation and should not be taken seriously.
What Are the Health Benefits of Espresso Beans?
Espresso beans have several of the health benefits all caffeine products do.
Espresso beans pack a punch in terms of their antioxidant content. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that reduce inflammation, fight diabetes, and can even prevent cancer. Espresso beans are some of the largest natural sources of antioxidants.
Espresso beans have a more concentrated dosage of caffeine than coffee or tea, so this means that the jolt to the nervous system that caffeine provides works much faster with beans. Consumers quickly feel alert, energized, and refreshed. Eating coffee beans can improve your performance and reaction speeds.
Scientific trials are still in progress to test a lot of the benefits of coffee beans and all caffeine. However, initial observations support the idea that coffee beans reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, brain disorders, and other serious health issues.
Are There Any Risks?
Espresso beans on their own are not dangerous substances. However, like anything consumed in excess, from chocolate to wine, they can cause unpleasant consequences. These consequences are stronger for people who are already sensitive to caffeine.
Espresso beans may exacerbate stomach problems in people who already experience them from taking caffeine. Heartburn, upset stomachs, and even diarrhea can occur in people with caffeine sensitivities.
You should also be careful when you snack on espresso beans. Take them too late and you might have trouble sleeping—and the effect of espresso beans lasts for almost 10 hours.
Some people even experience increased anxiety and stress when they eat too many espresso beans. If you know that coffee makes you feel nervous, be careful with your espresso bean consumption.
Besides caffeine, most espresso beans sold as snacks are covered in fatty chocolate. Too much chocolate can cause stomach problems, weight gain, and even acne. That is yet another reason why you should eat espresso beans in moderation.
Try to follow FDA guidelines, which recommend limiting caffeine consumption to 400 mg a day. Most espresso beans contain an average of 12 mg of caffeine each, so how many you can eat will depend on how many cups of coffee you drink, your size, and your caffeine tolerance.
For Pregnant Women
Most doctors discourage pregnant women from consuming caffeine. Coffee has been linked to miscarriages, birthing problems such as early labor, and even health problems for the baby such as low weight.
Espresso beans are a particularly potent source of caffeine. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, it is best to avoid them.
Espresso beans are a popular snack, particularly when they are covered in delicious chocolate.
Espresso beans have many of the health benefits of caffeine, including high antioxidants, help with attention and alertness, and other benefits including reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and more.
However, they also have many of the drawbacks caffeine users experience including upset stomachs, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Most doctors do not recommend that pregnant women snack on espresso beans because it could harm them and the baby.
If you do decide to try snacking on espresso beans, start slowly at first. Espresso beans have a high concentration of caffeine and you may wind up a jittery mess if you eat too many, particularly if you know that you are sensitive to caffeine.
Overall, espresso beans make a great energy-boosting snack and are perfectly safe to eat. They even have some amazing health benefits.