The most valuable part of the coffee tree is the fruit. After harvesting and processing, the finished coffee beans are roasted, ground and processed to create delicious cups of coffee. So the rest of the coffee plant ( coffee leaf) what will they be?
Usually, the stems, branches, and leaves are discarded when pruned. However, the leaves are still kept, brewed, and used as a particular tea product in some places.
Consumption Of Tea From Coffee Leaf
For centuries, coffee leaves have been used to make tea in Sumatra, Ethiopia, Jamaica, India, Java, and Sudan.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, farmers in Ethiopia reserved coffee for trade or consumption in special ceremonies. As a daily drink, Harari people in Ethiopia enjoy “Kuti” instead of coffee.
Kuti is a drink made from boiling coffee leaves in hot water, sometimes with salt or sugar. Usually, tea is cooked within 30 minutes because they believe that the longer the brewing time, the stronger the sweetness in the cup.
Coffee leaves are similar to green tea leaves, but they are more earthy and sweeter. This leaf also has a lower caffeine content than green tea and has a much higher antioxidant content. It is believed that drinking tea made from coffee leaves can cure or reduce most cold symptoms.
In the 19th century, Dutch colonists transported coffee plants to designated farming areas in Indonesia. Workers in the coffee plantations were forbidden to consume coffee, so they drank a “kawa daun” drink.
Kawa daun is made from coffee leaves that are dried in the sun to reduce the bitterness in the tea. Strange is then smoked and roasted for several hours. Finally, they will be soaked in boiling water and served in coconut shells. Today, kawa daun is often combined with sugar, condensed milk and ginger; Occasionally, bamboo or eggs are added to make the difference.
Although there were many efforts to promote coffee leaf tea in Europe during the 19th century, there was almost no significant impact. In recent years, in the Western market, many people have known about this product thanks to the unexpected health benefits of this commercial product.
Tea Flash From Coffee Leaf
One of the most significant barriers that discourage people from using tea products made from coffee leaves is because they think it tastes almost like coffee. “Even though it’s the leaves from the coffee plant, the taste is completely different from the way the beans deliver,” said Lina Sazanauskaite, Marketing Manager of Impact Roasters, a coffee maker in Valby, Denmark.
“Before trying this drink, most customers thought it would have a bit of a bitter taste typical of coffee, but no, it doesn’t even have a hint of coffee in the cup of tea.” Like coffee, the flavour of tea leaves is highly dependent on growing conditions.
We talked to suppliers from the Marcala region in Honduras. They tried tea made from coffee leaves several times and advised organic coffee plants.
The drink is often compared to green tea, but it’s important to note that coffee leaf tea is not technically a tea at all.
All “true teas” are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. Since coffee leaves don’t come from this plant, a drink made from them is technical “tisane,” like rooibos or chamomile.
Mateusz Petlinski is responsible for the quality of coffee and tea at Rösterei VIER, a coffee roaster and tea leaf importer in Düsseldorf, Germany. “The problem is we don’t have a good word to describe it,” he said. ‘Infusion’ sounds like a medical term and won’t catch your ears. So, in the case of coffee leaf tea, the accessibility is now far superior.”
Mateusz currently supplies tea from Bente Luther-Medoch’s Machare Estate in Tanzania. He describes it as having “a smooth body, low astringency and high sweetness”.
“You can find notes of vanilla, honey, pipe tobacco and rich earthy notes,” explains Mateusz. “The teacup has the colour of peach, bright and vibrant. It has more sweetness and balance than most black teas but lacks richness. And obviously, it doesn’t taste like coffee.”
While coffee shops and roasters like Mateusz import and sell coffee-leaf tea in small quantities, the West’s largest and most popular coffee-leaf tea is sold by Canadian beverage brand Wize. Wize offers beverages on a grand scale, and their teas are available in over 30 countries.
Their latest product, ready-to-drink coffee leaf iced tea, won the Best New Product award at the 2015 World Tea Expo. Currently, the drink is available in mango flavours, either original or grapefruit and is made with leaves native to Nicaragua.
What Are Benefits For Manufacturers?
It is clear that while international demand for coffee is high, producers still have several issues facing the supply chain, including price volatility and Covid-19.
Coffee is only harvested for a few months each year, depending on the harvest season of each country. This can leave some producers and workers without work (and income) for long periods of the year.
However, some producers have decided to diversify the crop. Because coffee leaves are continuously produced, producers can harvest off-season if needed.
Impact Roasters founder, Daniel Hallala, grew up in Ethiopia. He often drinks tea from coffee leaves. “In Ethiopia, tea [from coffee leaves] is widely used by people in the agricultural industry for its stimulant and refreshing effects,” explains Lina. “However, after the pruning process, tea [from coffee leaves] can also be used to generate income for coffee farmers.”
If demand for tea from coffee leaves grows and becomes substantial, it could be another source of income for producers. Crop diversification is an excellent opportunity for producers to become more sustainable and stable during the off-season.
Have Tea From The Coffee Flood Been More Popular?
According to World Tea News, around 5 million people drink tea from coffee leaves worldwide. At the beginning of 2020, the European Food Safety Authority approved this product for sale throughout Europe, which means this market could become even more significant shortly.
“Even though the leaves of the coffee plant have been consumed in several countries for hundreds of years, it has only now been approved as a food ingredient… we believe it has some health benefits,” says Lina. could open up more ways for tea from coffee leaves to go deeper into the European market.”
Getting consumers to understand that coffee leaf tea is not coffee or tea – and doesn’t taste the same – is challenging for suppliers. In Mateusz’s experience, “people expect it to taste like coffee or have a higher caffeine content than regular tea.”
“Getting a sweeter and more balanced version of what they expected makes communication quite difficult,” he told me. “I think most mainstream consumers still think of themselves in one of two distinct groups: coffee or tea.”
However, Mateusz adds that coffee leaf tea could help bridge the gap: “There’s a good chance it could be the ‘gateway drink’ between speciality coffee and speciality tea.”
Lina feels that it could also be popular with consumers who want to be responsible for their consumption habits. “It could appeal to those interested in sustainability, as the coffee leaves can be harvested year-round.”
Finally, Mateusz thinks there is some opportunity for coffee shops to leverage tea from coffee leaves. “Offering a coffee and tea made from coffee leaves from the same producer would be a great thing. Let’s wait and see,” he said.
He adds that the tea’s natural sweetness makes it suitable for cold and carbonated drinks. “Try coffee leaf tea as a Japanese iced tea that is made hot with ice cubes and a dash of lemon – you’ll love it!”
Mateusz thinks coffee-leaf tea will be popular on the menus of cafes in the future. “Especially in Europe, where cascara is still banned… speciality coffee businesses are looking for something that combines coffee and tea and makes sense in a coffee-focused business.”
The recent approval of coffee leaf tea for sale in Europe and the growth of brands like Wize suggest a large consumer market for the drink. For producers, it provides a way to diversify income from agriculture. For coffee shops, it could be a way to “bridge the gap” between the coffee and tea worlds, as Mateusz says. How popular will it become? That remains to be seen.