School me on fresh coffee cherries.
June 19, 2006 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone tasted a coffee cherry? How about a guarana berry? Most of the caffeine we ingest is derived from these apparently-edible little red fruits, but I have never seen a fresh one in the U.S. Is it possible to mail order some? What do they taste like?
posted by clango to Food & Drink (24 answers total)
Guarana juice is very popular throughout Latin America, especially Brazil. It can be found in many latin resturaunts and markets, and is delicious.

I've never heard of or seen a use of guarana other than in extraced form in beverages. In the US, it is a very common additive in energy drinks.
posted by ChasFile at 8:07 AM on June 19, 2006

Yeah, Bawls is made using guarana. Tastes like flat Sprite, very sweet. That's probably just the sugar, though.
posted by empyrean at 8:48 AM on June 19, 2006

I believe he's asking about the actual berry, not the drink.
posted by languagehat at 8:49 AM on June 19, 2006

I don't know of anywhere to get fresh coffee berries; however, you might find success from contacting a small coffee roaster in your area. They may let you come in and taste/buy some, or could say "we don't get them that fresh," or "ew, they're gross."
posted by penchant at 9:21 AM on June 19, 2006

Coffee berries are surprisingly sweet. And red. That's just the flesh that's removed from the seed that's eventually roasted, though.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:38 AM on June 19, 2006

I've tasted coffee cherries, and agree with gottabefunky. Sweet, less so than a regular cherry, though, and not much flavor. The flesh is considered a waste product for coffee farms, and is usually dumped into nearby waterways, though the farm I went to composts it for use as a fertilizer.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:50 AM on June 19, 2006

Oh, and local roasters won't have the cherries, as only the dried green beans are shipped from the farms.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:53 AM on June 19, 2006

I've tasted fresh coffee berries, and they are indeed sweet but bland. The fruit doesn't taste anything like coffee, the flavor is quite nondescript, and there isn't much fruit flesh around the seed. In my opinion, it really isn't worth the effort of trying to find a supplier.

Now maybe you could justify a vacation in Kona or some other coffee-producing area?
posted by Quietgal at 10:21 AM on June 19, 2006

You can get coffee seeds (ie, beans what have not been roasted) and plant them in pots. They'll apparently make quite nice house plants and then produce flowers and beans in a few years.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:35 AM on June 19, 2006

Come to think of it, ROU, I've known someone who did just that, and did, indeed, get three or four cherries a year on her house plant. I have several unroasted beans that might be viable, and would be happy to send a few to clango (or anyone else who'd like to experiment).
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:42 AM on June 19, 2006

Response by poster: I would love to try growing them! You folks have already given me more info on the subject than I could glom in a lifetime of searching.
posted by clango at 10:54 AM on June 19, 2006

I chewed on a guaraná berry once. It was hard and bitter, and I had to spit it out. I have never seen any outside of South America. Interestingly, there is another Amazon berry called acaí (pronounced ah-sai-EE), the pulp for which you can frequently pick up at upscale natural food marts like Whole Foods. It comes frozen - you stick it in the blender with some water, honey and maybe some bananas, and you have yourself quite the energy-boosting drink even more potent (some would say) than guaraná. Plus, it'll make you poop, which can sometimes be a beneficial side effect.
posted by msali at 11:10 AM on June 19, 2006

My email is in my profile, clango--send me your address, and I'll mail some beans. Of course, it may be easier to get some from a local roaster. I'm not sure if green beans will grow at all; I can't remember if the beans' growing potential is harmed by the drying process. Only one way to find out, I guess!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:14 AM on June 19, 2006

Sweet Maria's was selling coffee plant seedlings for awhile. i recollect that they were in limited supply but you might try emailing them to see if they know of other sources....
posted by casconed at 11:22 AM on June 19, 2006

I've raised two coffee trees from seed. It isn't easy. They are picky. Out of the 8 beans I started with (whole beans, so, potentially, 16 plants), I got two plants.

Generally, many green beans available in the US are too old to sprout. They need to still have the parchment on them, and it is a good sign if the cherry is still on them.
posted by QIbHom at 11:57 AM on June 19, 2006

Mine do have parchment, but are 6 years old, so maybe, maybe not.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:14 PM on June 19, 2006

I've raised two coffee trees from seed. It isn't easy. They are picky.

Picky to start from seed, or picky to raise from young-potted-plant, or both?

If I could find one in a nursery, I'd be interested in trying it out, but not if it's at all difficult to keep alive.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:50 PM on June 19, 2006

ROU_Xenophobe, they are picky to start from seed. I had fresh beans, with the cherry on them, picked within the past month, and still had a 1 in 8 germination rate (and, yes, I was following instructions).

There are places you can buy the young plants. They are not frost tolerant at all.
posted by QIbHom at 3:15 PM on June 19, 2006

They can grow outdoors in, e.g., Florida. (I once drank a very small cup of coffee I made from the fruits of a coffee plant in my grandfather's backyard -- it was a lot of work.)
posted by hattifattener at 3:36 PM on June 19, 2006

I've been growing a coffee plant (from a mail-ordered germinated seed) for over 4 years. It's now huge, leafy and wonderful, but no berries... yet. It lives in the Pacific Northwest. YMMV.
posted by QueSeraSera at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2006

Guaraná is sold as a soft drink, like cold tea, and very popular here in Brazil, but the average person hardly ever saw a plant or a berry.

Students use a powdered form of the fruit as a booster, easier than 10 hot black coffees. It looks (and tastes) like sawdust. There's a pill version (nothing more than a capsule with the pressed stuff) that tastes like nothing.

Another fruit that doesn not ressemble it's final product is cocoa. Even if it looks like powdered chocolate, it tastes like... something you don't want to try again.
posted by cardoso at 1:48 AM on June 20, 2006

Mod note: a few comments removed, take sarcasm to email or metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2006

Beans are on their way, clango! Anyone else want some?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2006

I've had fresh guarana when I was in the Amazons - and the açaí too. i'm actually trying to kick the coffee habit and will replace some/all coffee with guarana. As to açaí - that stuff knocks me out cold. Is it just me - apparently it makes some people wake up... well, who can say.
posted by mateuslee at 2:55 AM on May 25, 2007

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