Making coffee is a complex thing. Long before the stuff makes it to your cup/glass/comically large thermos, it must be converted—from fruit to bean. Doing that requires that the fruit (the "cherries") be harvested from "spindly, bush-like" coffee plants. The cherries must then be processed, their beans extracted from their pulp. The beans must then be dried, roasted, and otherwise converted into the thing most of us know as "coffee."
This process is not only labor-intensive; it is is also wasteful. It results in, among other things, much of the coffee cherry being discarded.
Out in (yep) Seattle, there's a startup, CF Global, that is trying to reclaim the coffee cherry. Its big idea is this: to take the remnants of the process that turns the coffee bean into a beverage ... and turn them into food.
The result of this? Coffee Flour, a food ingredient that's made from discarded coffee cherries. You take the pulp that gets separated from the coffee been in that initial extraction process and then dry it and mill it—the results being a flour that can, CF Global says, mimic traditional flour. Coffee Flour, the company claims, can be used in pasta and baked goods. It can work as a dry rub for meats. It can bring coffee flavor to sauces. It can even be used in energy drinks.
CF Global is a spinoff of Intellectual Ventures—the firm, led by Nathan Myhrvold, that is most (in)famous for its patent trollery, but that also offers would-be investors assistance through its Invention Development Fund. Myhrvold, it's worth noting, is also the author of the foodie bible Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. And Coffee Flour could be another step in the march toward modernist cooking: a way to convert the beloved beverage into something edible. And a way to extract value from something that has traditionally been treated as trash.