Are coffee beans actually beans? You might be surprised to learn that this is not true. We all know the look and smell of a coffee bean. However, do you know what the bean—if it is a bean at all—actually is?
What do you think: are coffee beans legumes or nuts? Let’s take a hard look and find where the little marvel that makes our favourite beverage comes from.
A coffee bean is a seed of the Coffea plant and the source of coffee. The pip inside the red or purple fruit is often referred to as a coffee cherry. Like ordinary cherries, the coffee fruit is a so-called stone fruit. Even though coffee beans are not technically beans, they are referred to as such because they resemble true beans.
The fruits, cherries, or berries most commonly contain two stones with flat sides. A small percentage of cherries contain a single seed instead of the usual two. This is called a “peaberry“.
The peaberry occurs only between 10% and 15% of the time, and it is a fairly common (yet scientifically unproven) belief that they have more flavour than standard coffee beans. Like Brazil nuts (a seed) and white rice, coffee beans consist mostly of the endosperm.
Coffee beans are actually seeds inside of red or purple fruit called coffee cherries. They are not technically beans despite their resemblance to them. Seeds are considered beans only if they are part of the legumes family; however, the coffee tree is not one of them.
Why do many people think it?
Many people believe it because their shape and size are similar to many beans. Also, “bean” is the popular term most people have heard and used for many years.
Besides the resemblance to actual beans, it’s unclear why the term has become so widely adopted. The truth is that coffee beans are actually seeds that can be used to grow more coffee plants.
Why do we call it if that is incorrect?
Most people do not study the botanical terms for different types of fruits and seeds, and when we see something that resembles our typical black bean, it makes sense to call it a bean as well.
Using the term “bean” is just a way that we all can recognize an object and relate it to things we already know. It’s just like how not all nuts and berries are actually nuts and berries.
Knowing the correct botanical terms can help us understand what we are eating and drinking, but most of the world will continue calling things by their incorrect name for the sake of popular understanding.