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What is Chickpea coffee?

Written by Phil

A coffee enthusiast and traveler, Phil primarily spends his days thinking and writing about coffee. He also writes for HittingEject.com where he explores ideas of culture, psychology, and travel, and occasionally dabbles in horror.

I know, I know, this is probably considered blasphemy from many people because this has so far been a coffee blog. Well, sometimes when reserves run down, and imports get more expensive, people will choose to opt for alternatives to coffee. After already covering chicory coffee, why not look at another easily acquired option. So, what is chickpea coffee?

It’s roasted, ground garbanzo beans that are used to produce a coffee-like substitute for lean times. It’s often cut into coffee to ration when supplies are short, much like chicory has been.

Read on if you want to know how to make this coffee substitute.

Why would anyone choose Chickpea Coffee?

The question could also be rephrased as “Why would anyone want to avoid caffeine?” for most ordinary circumstances. Perhaps they have something against decaf and want to branch out?

In general, it seems that countries or individuals who have hit hard times and can’t afford or find coffee will use it to cut their coffee, allowing it to stretch a little longer. If they’re out of coffee altogether, this is a coffee-like substance that can scratch the itch, but not quite satisfy.

According to the Miami Times (May 2011), one such example was in Cuba, where the state-produced coffee was cut with roasted garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) to make it last longer and meet demand. However, in 2005, they switched to pure chickpea coffee. 

Those unfortunate Cubans.

If you can’t afford or find coffee for whatever reason and still want caffeine, you could try mixing chickpea coffee with a bit of instant coffee. A real Frankenstein’s monster of caffeine beverages, but it’s… something.

How does it taste?

I have yet to try it myself, but a few sources cited “a german writer” from 1793 proclaiming that ground, roasted chickpeas were the best coffee substitute in all of Europe.

One Cuban, Froilan Valido, was reported as saying:

“It’s much more bitter than pure coffee, which is smoother.”

People seem to be mixing it with various kinds of milk, sugar, and other flavorings to make it more palatable. Then again, it’s possible that the state-roasted stuff might have been overdone and that doing it yourself could yield better results.

Some of the reviews on Amazon by self-proclaimed coffee drinkers say that the flavor isn’t quite the same as coffee, but it is enjoyable. It seems, like coffee, there is a level of finesse in both the roasting and the brewing.

Luckily, it’s an easy, cheap project for you to try. It also seemed to be one of the better options available for survivalists living in the woods.

How do you make Chickpea Coffee?

If you’re so inclined, you just need raw, dry chickpeas (not canned) and either an oven or a pan.

One method is to lay them in a single layer in a baking sheet, place them in a 300ºF oven until they reach a coffee-like brown color.

If you only have a frying pan, you can lay a single layer in the pan and fry it on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Again, you know it’s done when they resemble the color of coffee.

Let them cool, grind them until they’re a coarse-level, and use them as you would coffee. Some say that finer grinds will leave more residue in coffee machines that can be hard to get out, so try to keep it in larger chunks.

Tips for Brewing

  • Coarse grinds are better
  • Immersion or boiling methods are recommended
  • If you boil it, let it sit a minute so that the grinds settle. Optional: use a tea strainer
  • Some have said that percolating coffee makers don’t produce the best results
  • Mixing cinnamon in with the grinds can help make a more interesting flavor
  • Consider various syrups and sweeteners, as each has a unique flavor that will add or subtract from the flavor.

TL;DR

Chickpea coffee is roasted, ground garbanzo beans that are prepared in similar fashions to coffee. 

If you’re going to make it, consider adding milk and some form of sugar or flavorings like cinnamon. 

It’s easy and cheap to make at home if you have raw, dry chickpeas. 

Overall, it seems regarded as a cheap, easy, good-enough substitute for those who are lacking coffee.

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