Are Coffee Berries Edible?

In this article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat coffee berries?” and discuss what is the composition of coffee berries and the possible benefits and drawbacks of eating coffee berries. 

Are Coffee Berries Edible?

Yes, coffee berries are edible. Coffee berries contain a high amount of volatile compounds and terpenoids, which are responsible for the coffee aroma. 

When berries are still green, the volatile compounds are in low concentration, whereas ripe berries have 28 different aromatic compounds in high concentrations that decrease during the drying of the berries. 

Coffee berries are climacteric fruits, that is, they are able to ripen after being harvested from the plant, changing in color and chemical composition (1,2).

What do coffee berries contain?

Coffee berries contain a high number and variety of chemical compounds that give the coffee its characteristic aroma. These compounds are divided into alcohols, ketones/ aldehydes, acetates, terpenes and sesquiterpenes, whose concentration varies during the different maturation stages of the coffee bean (1,2).

The pulp of coffee berries contain a high amount of proteins, 10.8 g for each 100 g and a high amount of fibers and minerals (3).

Coffee pulp in the berries contains a high concentration of caffeine, tannins and antioxidants. The amount of caffeine in fresh coffee berries is about 18.6 mg/ g. According to studies, although coffee berries are despised, they could serve as a source of antioxidants and caffeine.

What are the possible health benefits and drawbacks of eating coffee berries?

The possible health benefits of eating coffee berries are especially related to the high amount of antioxidants in the pulp. Caffeine, on the other hand, could bring health risks. Some of the important benefits and drawbacks of eating coffee berries are discussed below.

The benefits of eating coffee berries are:

Improves Antioxidant Levels:

Coffee berries are rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, including chlorogenic, caffeic, and ferulic acid. These antioxidants help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Thus reducing the risk of chronic diseases (5). 

Possesses antibacterial properties 

Coffee pulp contained in the coffee berries have antimicrobial activity against bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Bacillus subtilis (5).

Diabetes prevention

Due to the high amount in dietary fibers, including insoluble fibers, coffee pulp can act as a physical obstacle to the glucose absorption. Fibers can also delay the activity of alpha-amylase in the intestines, slowering the starch digestion. As a consequence, it can prevent diabetes (4).

Prevention of constipation

The high amount of fibers in the coffee berries can help reduce the risks of constipation. The consumption of fibers is also related to lower risks of developing heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and intestinal disorders (4).

The drawbacks of eating coffee berries are:

Iron malabsorption

Coffee cherries contain a high concentration of tannins, which are considered antinutrients and may reduce the absorption of minerals from the food. The consumption of iron-rich food can impair the absorption of iron and therefore is advised to be done in-between the meals (6).

Excess of caffeine

Caffeine is present in a high amount in the coffee berries. The excessive ingestion of caffeine can have negative effects, including nausea, vomiting and gastritis, irritability, insomnia, depression, and anxiety, sleep disorders and increased heart rate (7).

Other FAQs about Coffee that you may be interested in.

Are coffee beans edible?

How to dry oily coffee beans?

Can I drink coffee left out overnight?


In this article, we answered the question, “Can you eat coffee berries?” and discussed what is the composition of coffee berries and the possible benefits and drawbacks of eating coffee berries. 


  1. Mathieu, Frédéric, Christian Malosse, and Brigitte Frérot. Identification of the volatile components released by fresh coffee berries at different stages of ripeness. J Agric Food  Chem, 1998, 46, 1106-1110. 
  2. Hall, Robert D., Fabio Trevisan, and Ric CH de Vos. Coffee berry and green bean chemistry–Opportunities for improving cup quality and crop circularity. Food Res Int, 2022, 151, 110825.
  3. Ameca, Graciela Munguía, et al. Chemical composition and antioxidant capacity of coffee pulp. Ciên Agrotecnol, 2018, 42, 307-313. 
  4. Cañas, S.; Rebollo-Hernanz, M.; Cano-Muñoz, P.; Aguilera, Y.; Benítez, V.; Braojos, C.; Gila-Díaz, A.; Rodríguez-Rodríguez, P.; Cobeta, I.M.; Pablo, Á.L.L.d.; et al. Critical Evaluation of Coffee Pulp as an Innovative Antioxidant Dietary Fiber Ingredient: Nutritional Value, Functional Properties, and Acute and Sub-Chronic Toxicity. Proceedings, 2021, 70, 65. 
  5. Duangjai, Acharaporn, et al. Comparison of antioxidant, antimicrobial activities and chemical profiles of three coffee (Coffea arabica L.) pulp aqueous extracts. Integrated med res, 2016, 5, 324-331. 
  6. Petroski, W.; Minich, D.M. Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-Nutrients”? A Narrative Review of Perceived Problematic Plant Compounds. Nutrients, 2020, 12, 2929.
  7. Jin MJ, Yoon CH, Ko HJ, Kim HM, Kim AS, Moon HN, Jung SP. The Relationship of Caffeine Intake with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Sleep in Korean Adolescents. Korean J Fam Med, 2016, 37, 111-6.