Everything about nuts
When I think about acorn coffee, I think of its earthy, nutty flavor and its wonderful aroma when being brewed. It’s perfect for a lazy Sunday morning spent gazing out at your yard while sipping the nectar of the oaks.
And making coffee from acorns is more common than you might think. In fact, it can be an excellent coffee substitute for people who are sensitive to caffeine. Even coffee lovers can still enjoy the novelty of acorn coffee.
That’s precisely why we’re sharing a simple acorn coffee recipe to try at home. But there’s more; I will also give you a method to do it in case your acorns are bitter.
Ingredients and Tools You Will Need
Acorns: The amount isn’t very important since you can make as much or as little coffee as you like. It’s better to make a small amount for the first batch because there’s quite some work involved, and more nuts mean more effort.
Pot and water: To boil the acorns.
Knife: This is needed to shell and clean the acorns. Using a serrated knife is better because acorns can be slippery.
Strainer: After boiling, it will help you separate the liquid from the nuts.
Coffee grinder or blender: You will need it to grind the acorns into a coarse powder.
Oven: An oven is needed to roast the acorns.
Preparation Before Making the Acorn Coffee
The preparation of acorn coffee is relatively simple, but you should be aware of some things.
Time: In the first place, the recipe below will take some time, especially when it’s time to dry the acorns after boiling them. That will take a whole day, so be aware that you will only finish the coffee the following day.
Quality: This should go without saying, but bad acorns won’t make good coffee. Inspect the acorns before doing anything with them, and discard any damaged nuts. Mold, fungus, and holes are some of the main signs to look for.
Ripeness: If your acorns are a little on the green side, you can get excellent results by allowing them to ripen in a paper bag. It could take one to two weeks to get acorns suitable for coffee roasting.
Acorn Coffee (Method 1)
This first method is the fastest and most suitable for acorns that are not very bitter.
Give your acorns a good 30 minutes to boil. This will partially leach the tannins from acorns and make the shells easy to remove. However, this process will only remove some of the tannins.
Before starting, wait a few minutes until your freshly boiled acorns have cooled down. This is the most time-consuming step of making acorn coffee. You’ll need to shell and peel the skin of your batch. They should come off quickly. At least it will be much easier to come off than before boiling. If some of the outer skin doesn’t want to come out, it’s not a big deal. They don’t have to be extremely clean. The remaining skin will come out if you boil them later (in step 5).
Cut each acorn in half and shell them. If the base is wide enough, place it on a hard, flat surface and hold the nut with your fingers. The acorn is softer after boiling, and the knife should go through it easily. Here’s an image of how I did it:
But be very careful. Do not try this technique with raw acorns, as they are very slippery, and you may hurt yourself.
While you’re at it, look at the inside of the nut and get rid of the ones that look very dark or rotten. The color of the good ones will still be a bit darker than a raw acorn due to the boiling.
While you are cutting them, you will notice a beautiful nutty smell. However, it does not remind the scent of other particular nuts; it’s a unique earthy autumn smell that spreads all over the house. It’s one of my favorite parts of making homemade acorn coffee.
You can use a knife to chop the acorns, but don’t overdo it. Most of them actually broke when I was shelling them. I only had to cut a few of the halves into smaller pieces.
If you prefer a food processor, use the setting you might use if you were chopping up pecans for baking.
It’s important to note that you are not yet making “grounds” at this point.
Boiling for a second time (optional)
You can try a tiny bit of one of the nuts. You can boil your chopped-up pieces for a second round if you notice a strong bitter taste. The goal is to remove more of the tannins and, as a result, eliminate some more bitterness. This is purely a judgment call on your part.
Since this process removed a part of the tannin content, that water will be bitter. So it’s essential to wash the acorn meat with a strainer.
Let the nuts dry
It’s time for drying. Spread your chopped pieces on a flat surface, leaving space between them to let air circulate. Ideally, you will want to wait 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
Keep the nuts in a dry place, away from insects.
When you get to the roasting stage, you’ll want to preheat your oven for around 20 minutes. You should be good with 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celcius).
Now, it’s time to spread your chopped acorns across a baking pan lined with baking paper. After that, place the chopped acorns in the oven for between 25 and 35 minutes at the same temperature. I like to put them on the lowest rack and turn on the heat from above only, to avoid burning them.
Be sure to keep an eye on them and stir a few times during the roasting process. It won’t take long for them to go from lightly toasted to completely burnt. The result you can see below is a bit darker than I usually get because I left them for 35 minutes, but still good. However, the piece shouldn’t get darker than this. Some of the smaller ones got burnt, and I got rid of them.
It’s finally time to turn those roasted acorns into beautiful grounds! Use a coarse grinding setting using either a hand-powered or electric coffee grinder.
Roasting the grounds (optional)
You can take things a step further and roast your ground to have an extra toasty flavor. I usually do this step when they still have a light color. However, I did not need to do it this time, as my ground acorns came out of the oven with a dark brown color.
You must be careful during this step because it will burn much faster than before. When I do it, I leave it for a few minutes at 400°F until it darkens a little bit.
The moment has finally arrived to taste the fruits of your hard work! You’re generally just brewing your acorn coffee the same way you would brew regular coffee. The big difference is that acorn coffee needs slightly less water than regular coffee because the flavor is far less potent.
If the general rule you follow for regular coffee is two tablespoons for every cup of water, switch it to four tablespoons when using roasted acorn coffee. In other words, try using the double amount you would typically use. If the flavor is too intense, use three spoons next time to compare.
If you’d like a beverage slightly more like black tea than a cup of coffee, add more water when brewing. Feel free to use either a French press or a drip coffee maker!
Acorn Coffee (Method 2)
If your acorns are very bitter, the regular method I taught you above might not be your best option. A fast boil (step 1) and another optional boil at the end (step 4) may not be enough to remove all the tannins, which are the main reason for the bitterness.
If this is your situation, you should adequately leach your acorns and only then proceed to the recipe. It’s more time-consuming, but it’s completely worth it.
Make sure you read our tutorial about leaching acorns to ensure you do a good job. After the leaching process, let the acorns cool down, clean them, and follow the recipe above, but start from step 6 (drying time).
Comparing the Results of Methods 1 and 2
I used acorns from the same batch when preparing both methods. I even did it on the same day. And it’s important to mention that when raw, my acorns were not highly bitter, but they were also not sweet. When it comes to bitterness, I would rate them a 6 (from 1 to 10).
These two methods may seem similar, but the result is quite different. The first method will retain a bit of bitterness, and the second will remove it completely.
Choosing my favorite method:
Let’s go over the two types of acorn coffee I have prepared:
Method 1 (simple boil): The flavor of acorns was there, including a bit of bitterness. This one was my second favorite. That’s not to say it wasn’t good. I just don’t enjoy the bitter flavor as much, even when it’s only a bit. Some sugar improved it, but I would need more than I usually use.
Method 2 (leached acorns): The acorn flavor was more evident, and the bitterness was entirely gone. This one is my favorite! The taste reminded me of the fantastic aroma I felt when cutting the acorns in half.
No added sugar is necessary for this version. However, if you wish to add a little bit, brown sugar would be a good choice.
Final notes on both methods
There you have it; the second method is a better option if you are like me and don’t like bitter coffee. I only use the first method when I am sure I have a variety of acorns low in tannins. If I’m not sure, I try a bit and see if there is enough bitterness to make leaching necessary.
Finally, you can safely assume that, when using method 1, the bitter your acorns are, the bitter your coffee will be.
How Can the Taste of Acorn Coffee Be Described?
Nutty and earthy are the best adjectives I can think of when describing the taste of acorn coffee. However, it is challenging to explain this flavor accurately. Experiencing it is the only way to understand what it tastes like.
To avoid misunderstandings, I also have to mention that acorn coffee doesn’t taste like regular coffee. They are such different beverages with distinct tastes that comparing them is almost impossible.
Experiment with Different Tastes
When you make acorn coffee for the first time, I suggest following one of the methods mentioned above. In other words, have the real deal first, and then, later on, if you don’t love it, you can experiment with additional flavors.
Some people like to add fresh cinnamon sprinkles or a very small amount of vanilla extract directly into the grounds. Others prefer the traditional milk sugar after the brewing stage. But you can be creative and experiment with your favorite flavors to give your acorn coffee a unique flavor profile.
Even though I love the authentic acorn coffee flavor, I plan to add a bit of cocoa powder the next time I do it. I never tried it, but it feels like they would go well together! I will let you know how it goes!
Is Acorn Coffee Healthy?
It is known that acorns are very healthy, but processing them into coffee beans will deplete some of their health benefits.
However, when talking about health, the strongest point of acorn coffee is its lack of caffeine. It can be an excellent option for those sensitive to caffeine with symptoms like anxiety, headaches, and jitters.
Finally, because the taste is weaker, skipping sweeteners is easier, which is always a plus.
Is acorn coffee safe to drink?
When prepared correctly, acorn coffee is safe to consume. However, you shouldn’t drink it if it is very bitter. That means that the acorns you are using contain high levels of tannins and can be toxic.
To be sure you are not consuming too many tannins, you should leach your acorns according to the second method mentioned earlier. Once you do that, you can enjoy your acorn coffee without worries.
Can Acorn Coffee Replace Regular Coffee?
Acorn coffee can be a great addition to your routine but can’t completely replace regular coffee. Since it does not come from coffee beans and does not contain caffeine, it is not considered real coffee.
Acorn coffee was a substitute for regular coffee during wartime, when it was impossible to get real coffee. But calling it a substitute for coffee nowadays would be misleading.
How Should You Store Your Acorn Coffee?
Storing your acorn coffee grounds is easy; simply put them in an airtight container at room temperature. A jar or a resealable bag will do. You should also store them away from any sources of heat or light. That’s it!
Even though this coffee can last long in the right conditions, I suggest using it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more flavor your coffee will lose over time.
Enjoy Your New Favorite Coffee
Making your own acorn coffee is a great way to add variety and something new to your daily cup of joe. On top of that, it won’t leave you jittery as regular coffee will.
But it’s essential to remember that you shouldn’t look at acorn coffee as a complete substitute for regular coffee. It cannot fulfill that role, and you would probably be disappointed. But it’s an entirely different beverage with unique characteristics and flavors, perfect for any time of the day.
I hope you like it, and who knows? Maybe you’ll love it enough to become a regular part of your coffee routine. Give it a try, and let’s see how it goes! Happy brewing!