The coffee plant Coffea spp. offers much more than the well-known drink made from the roasted coffee bean. During its cultivation and production, a wide variety of by-products are accrued, most of which are currently unused, thermally recycled, or used as animal feed. The modern, ecologically oriented society attaches great importance to waste reduction, so it makes sense not to dispose of the by-products of coffee production and to bring them into the value chain.
The aim of this review is to provide an updated overview of novel coffee products in the food sector and their current legal classification in the European Union (EU). Coffee flowers, leaves, pulp, mucilage, husk, coffee cherry spirit, parchment, green coffee, silver skin, and spent coffee grounds are among the materials considered in this presentation. Some of these products have a history of consumption in Europe (green coffee), while others have already been used as traditional food in non-EU-member countries (coffee leaves, cascara, coffee cherry spirit). From these, coffee leave tea has already been approved by the European Commission, while the approval for cascara and flour from spent coffee grounds is currently pending. For the other products, toxicity and/or safety data need to be gathered to advance further novel food applications.
An added value of the coffee plant could increase social and economic prosperity in poorer coffee-growing regions and work against the decreasing coffee price, which is especially worthwhile in the current times of a global economic crisis. It is estimated that at least 70% of the world’s coffee farmers are no longer able to live sustainably from coffee cultivation because the stock market prices of green coffee are at an all-time low, despite massive crop failures and steadily rising consumption figures.