When you hear the words “coffee bean,” what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably think of a small, dark seed that is used to make coffee. But are coffee beans nuts? Or are they beans? Turns out, the answer to this question is a bit complicated. Let’s take a closer look at coffee beans and explore their nutty and bean-like qualities.
Is a Coffee Bean a Nut or a Bean?
It turns out that coffee is, indeed, not a bean but the seed of a cherry-like fruit. They are actually called coffee cherries. Coffee beans are one of those items which are miscategorized based on appearance. They are not actually beans.
They may look like beans, but they are not. Many people also mistakenly try to classify coffee beans as nuts, but this is also untrue. In reality, Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee plant. They are taken from the mother plant’s red, round fruit, sometimes known as a “cherry,” which is harvested.
They aren’t classified as beans. They’re simply called beans because of their appearance. This is one of those things about English that confuses people because we have a tendency to call things by names that simply don’t make sense.
Coffee comes from the pit of a type of fruit called a “drupe”. Similar to peach, plum, cherry, mango, etc. However the pit of this particular fruit looks similar to a bean, so people started referring to it as a bean and, well, it stuck
Why are coffee beans called beans?
In fact, though beans are always seeds, seeds are not always beans. A bean is just one kind of seed. Specifically, it is a name for seeds of the family Fabaceae (also known as Leguminosae) of which the coffee plant is not a member; thus, coffee “beans” are not actually beans. They’re simply called beans because of their appearance.
It could be because once the seeds of the coffee plant are roasted, the dark brown bean-like appearance was noted — they do look more like beans than seeds—and it led to this naming convention. Then it was universally adopted, even though it’s not scientifically or organically accurate.
Language often works like that.
Coffee may be the only fruit-producing plant that growers cultivate exclusively for the seeds, and dismiss the fruit.
A coffee bean is not actually a bean, but a seed (they just have a bean look). Coffee beans that are specifically used to make coffee come from some species within the genus Coffea (flowering plants).
The 2 most recognizable species would be the arabica and the canephora, which respectively produce the seeds used to make Arabica and Robusta coffees. As expected, since coffee beans are seeds, they are found within the small fruits (known as coffee berries or coffee cherries) of coffee plants.
A classification that many people are unaware of. As a coffee lover, it is interesting to know the different parts of the plant and how they come together to make your morning cup (or afternoon mug) of Joe. Now you can amaze your friends at your next coffee shop gathering with this tidbit of information – and maybe even impress them with your encyclopedic knowledge about all things coffee.