Ask Addie: What is coffee flour and how do I use it?

Have you seen coffee flour in stores yet?

Coffee flour looks like a mix between a flour and a spice. Some bakers use larger quantities of it in recipes to amp up the nutritional value, while others use just a little in addition to cinnamon or other spices. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I first encountered it — in a barrel in the bulk section — at Sprouts, but you can also find jars of it at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere.

Earlier this week, the proprietors of CoffeeFlour, which owns the trademark on the name and the production process, were in Austin for a food innovation competition called FoodBytes. (The local cricket company Aspire won one of the prizes.)

CoffeeFlour didn’t win, but it’s a product already on my pantry shelf and a product with lots of blog posts dedicated to it, so they are kind of already winning.

Here’s the idea: In order to make coffee, you have to discard the outside of the coffee bean. It’s the flesh of a fruit that rots and puts off methane and has all the other problems associated with food waste.

But this company dries out the fruit, or cherry, of the coffee plant and then they turn it into a powder that’s a mix between a flour and a spice. This fruit has nearly as much antioxidants as blueberries, and it also has some fiber and other good-for-you-nutrients.

Trader Joe’s is one of the grocers that sells coffee flour now. It’s a good-for-you product that reduces the waste produced during coffee production. Contributed by Trader Joe’s.

The company suggests replacing 15 to 25 percent of your flour with the coffee flour, but Food52 experimented with this and found that, unless you want a significantly stronger flavored product, it’s not wise to use quite so much. The sugar cookies made with the coffee flour were much darker and they compared the taste to molasses or gingersnaps. They said there was a slight graininess, too.

On Epicurious, they tried 3/4 cup of it in a pound cake, which make the cake look like it had been baked with chocolate. That baker concluded that she’d use coffee flour for the health benefits, but the taste was slightly bitter without the addition of any additional sweeteners, such as actual chocolate.

Coffee flour has about as much caffeine as dark chocolate, so you might notice a perkiness after eating a whole cookie or a slice of cake, but I think I might fall into the camp of bakers who will use coffee flour as a spice to add complexity to breads, muffins, cakes and cookies.

Earlier this week, I used coffee flour in a maple oatmeal raisin skillet cookie, and it was one of my favorite treats I’ve ever baked. I wasn’t sure if it was the coffee flour or the dates that I also threw in at the end, but the cookie had a rich undertones that reminded me of figs and chocolate, and some of that had to have come from the coffee flour.

Because it’s still a new-ish product, you’ll find coffee flour in different forms and that will evolve as the product evolves. You’re most likely to find it in a grocery store with a natural or health focus, and maybe even a bulk section. Trader Joe’s sells theirs in the baking section.

This skillet cookie is made with oats, raisins, pecans, dates and coffee flour. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Maple Oatmeal Raisin Skillet Cookie

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon coffee flour (optional)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cups chopped dates
1/2 cup pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and stir frequently until the butter browns. Stir in the brown sugar and maple extract. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 8 minutes. (You want the pan to be warm but not hot.)

Crack an egg into the skillet and whisk into the mixture. Add the cinnamon, salt and baking soda and stir until combined. Add flour to the skillet and stir slowly until incorporated.

Add your mix-ins: oatmeal, raisins, dates and pecans. Combine and pat evenly into the skillet with a spatula or your hands.

Top with raw sugar if desired. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 14 to 18 minutes, until set. Serve warm with yogurt if desired.

— Adapted from a recipe by Baker Bettie, bakerbettie.com

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