Thursday, November 2, 2017

Homemade Date Seed Coffee Substitute Recipe and Instructions

Sorry, I couldn't help myself! I had a hard time bringing myself to write coffee on here,
because it isn't... covfefe worked well as a replacement.... 

Growing up, I never liked or drank coffee. I didn't understand the appeal of the bitterness of the drink. I did always like the smell, though, just never drank it regularly until a few years ago. Then it became part of my morning routine, a big cup (that honestly had something like 3 cups worth in one) of coffee, sweetened with either honey or jaggery, sometimes black, and sometimes with almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk. I grew to really enjoy that coffee ritual, the concept of sitting down for a coffee with friends.
Coffee, I discovered, is not just a drink, but an event, and it doesn't just get easily replaced with something like lemonade. (You say "We're getting together for coffee," but don't really say "We're getting together for lemonade.")
Unfortunately, once I grew to really enjoy my coffee, I was told by my doctor that I need to stop drinking coffee, since the caffeine was worsening my anxiety. That sucked. I wanted coffee... (Fortunately, chocolate does not seem to have the same effect! At least that!)
As a forager, I knew that you could make a coffee substitute from chicory root and dandelion root that would complement the best mre flavors, but they aren't in season yet round these parts. I ended up buying a chicory root instant coffee substitute and I've been enjoying that, and plan on attempting making my own once it comes into season, but I wondered if there was a way I could make my own coffee substitute now instead of paying for the pricey packaged stuff.

One day, by chance, I saw that my friend Alison talked about saving date seeds to make date seed coffee substitute. That was the first time I ever heard of anyone doing anything with date seeds. For years I've been buying dates and then tossing the seeds into the trash- knowing that I could make a coffee substitute with them was intriguing.

It wasn't easy figuring out how exactly to make this coffee substitute- though the Bedouins in the Middle East were making date seed "coffee" for centuries, if not longer, information on how to make this drink seemed rather scarce on the internet. My friend Alison was my go-to person to figure out how to do this. I credit her for teaching me how- the instructions I've included are largely based on what she shared with me.

Are there any benefits to date seed coffee? Well, according to this website, there are, with many links to different studies showing that they help prevent diabetes complications of the liver and kidney, as well as preventing liver and kidney damage in general, because of the protective effects of the proanthocyanidins in them. They are also high in antioxidants and polyphenols (micronutrients with potential health benefits) and have antiviral properties.
Their nutritional content includes phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium.

The smell is intoxicating. I wish I could bottle up and sell it, or at least include a sample of this smell with this post, but since technology hasn't advanced enough to allow that, we'll just have to pretend, won't we?
So how does it taste?
Well, it smells and looks exactly like expensive freshly ground roasted coffee. It tasted similar enough to coffee that it does the trick. I made my husband a cup with sugar and milk and he said that if I hadn't told him otherwise, he'd have thought it was coffee- it definitely passes. If you're a coffee connoisseur I can't promise you'll enjoy this or find it as satisfying, but you're talking to someone who only ever started drinking coffee, and instant coffee at that, at the age of 25, so I'm really the wrong one to ask.
The "problems" with this date seed coffee substitute are only that it takes a lot of date seeds to make enough- I collected from friends and neighbors over a period of about 2 months, and it's not instant like my coffee was, so now I have to figure out the best method to make and strain these "coffee" grounds- I'm leaning towards using a moka pot/stove-top espresso maker or cold brewing it using a tea infuser...

And now, the recipe and instructions.

Homemade Date Seed Coffee Substitute Recipe and Instructions

Date seeds. Lots and lots of them, ideally. A few cups' worth, at the very least.

1. First collect your date seeds. Ask people you know who eat dates to collect the seeds for you. If you have a date tree near you that drops dates on the ground, you can collect those as well. (We have local date palms whose dates aren't really tasty enough to want to eat, but I'm sure the seeds would work just as well for coffee.)

2. Clean your date seeds. Soak them in water for an hour (if you soak them for longer, you'll end up having your date seeds soak up a lot of water and then balloon up and get into all sorts of weird, very inappropriate looking shapes. Don't ask how I know...) and then once wet, take off any of the extra stuff on the date seeds. You'll be able to see a thin film that will come off, along with everything else on it. If you skip this step, the sugars that are on the date seed will caramelize and then burnt, giving your "coffee" a burnt flavor instead of a roasted one. At least according to Alison. I didn't want to take the chance, so I took her advice. This part can be a little tedious. I watched a movie while I did it.

3. Dry your date seeds. I lay these on a baking tray and just let them sit out until fully dry.

4. Roast your date seeds for as long as you like, until you reach the flavor you like. I put my date seeds into a cold oven on a baking tray, then turned on the oven to 350 for 30 minutes. I tried a few seeds at the 30 minute mark, but they weren't roasted enough. I roasted them another 15 minutes approximately, and then that was perfect for me. Test it yourself to see what you like, but it seems that 45 minutes tends to be the sweet point, when starting from a non pre-heated oven.

5. Grind your date seeds in a coffee grinder in batches. These ground very easily- at first I was worried that maybe they'd be "too hard" for my grinder, then I remembered that it was a coffee grinder, meant for grinding similar type roasted seeds, so I should be safe. I use my coffee grinder for everything but coffee beans, so it's sometimes hard to remember what its intended use is.

And yes, your coffee grinder will get dirty. I considered omitting this less than picturesque photo, because of the dirtiness, but I figured I'd be real- that "dirtiness" is simply ground date seeds from a previous batch, and it's very hard to do this without making a bit of a mess. Oh well. C'est la vie.

6. Store your date seed coffee substitute (I need a better name for this, date seed coffee substitute is simply too long! At least our chicory root coffee substitute has a cool name like Chiko, and wheat based coffee substitute is called Postum. What shall I call this? Ideas?) in a jar until you want to use it.

In search of a better name. Unless this is what Covfefe really is...
7. Use as you would any roasted coffee grounds. French press, espresso maker, coffee machine (like these), drip coffee maker, cold infusion, you name it....


A rather milky "coffee". It gets as dark as regular coffee,
before you dilute it with all this milk...
Are you a fan of coffee? How do you drink it, and how often do you end up having coffee? Do you find coffee to be "just" a drink, or an "event"? 
Have you ever had any coffee substitute? Which kind? What was it made from? What were your thoughts on it?
Have you ever heard of date seeds being used to make a coffee substitute? Ever had it? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?


  1. I would love to try this (wish I could smell it through the webpage!) I had to give up coffee too, it was making my hot flashes worse. I can't even drink decaf coffee....sad. I do drink a dandelion root coffee substitute, which is pretty good, although not the same.

    I love your blog.


    1. Hi Tina - Are you still having hot flashes? shoot me an email, maybe I can help.

  2. I'll try this once I've saved up date seeds. Once a year or so I make a coffee sub with wheat bran, cornmeal, molasses and I forget what all. (since it's only once a year I have to look the recipe up every time.) It makes a ton, which I freeze, and makes a nice warm drink in the winter. (You have to steep it like loose tea.)

    Quite possibly one could cook up the ingredients in water, like whole grain oatmeal, and eat it too. Haven't tried, though.

  3. LOVE black coffee! I used to drink a pot per day but sadly have had to cut back due to insomnia. Something about turning thirty I just can't handle it like I used to. I am intrigued by the chicory & dandelion substitute idea since they are so common here. Please do a post on it when they are in season!

  4. What an excellent idea have been saving my date seeds to plant them but I now think this might be better

  5. I love coffee with creamer. I drink two cups in the morning and 1 cup in the afternoon. It is an event. I have never had a substitute. I am not sure I would try this. No, I have never heard of date seeds as a substitute. Why don't you drink decaffeinated coffee?

    1. Decaf coffee still has caffeine, and the process it goes through to make it decaffeinated is actually quite unhealthy and leaves it carcinogenic if I'm not mistaken. My very uncrunchy dad actually advises against decaf.

    2. "My very uncrunchy dad" Hahaha! I have one of those too. Oatmeal and toast for breakfast everyday for life. Sandwich for lunch and bananas and apples and oranges for snacks. No salads. No red meat. No salt.

      I would die. Lol. I eat. Very little grains and more meat and veg...tons of eggs.

      Anyways...I love your idea for coffee substitute and would very much like to read about the dandilion root and chicory coffee subs too... If you can talk about foraging sometime I too would appreciate!

  6. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    Iwill bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite sure I'll learn lots of new stuff
    right here! Best of luck for thhe next!

  7. can the date seeds be ground in a food processor or might it wreck the machine?..i don't have a grinder:(

    1. Dear Sally,

      The recipe here is pretty simple and tasty.
      I have been enjoying drinking date seed coffee for years. So much so that eventually this hobby turned into a business :-)

      As for your question, I doubt very much it will work with your food processor as it will not grind it thin enough for you to be able to extract any taste (or at least end up as a very uneven ground)- sorry :-(

      Personally I roast it completely different (even the cleaning and preparation of the seeds are different and pretty complex).

      As for a taste of "date seed coffee", if you "play" with the date seeds long enough you will NOT want to get "a coffee substitute" taste - but enjoy it for what it is - a unique ancient beverage which resembles very much mild red wine.

      Ohhhh and it is not so frugal :-))) (you need about 10 date seeds per portion)

      If you wish to read more about this product you can read more on my websites:

  8. Why do you spell it covfefe, did you get that from Trump's spelling mistake in one of his tweets?

    1. Ha, yes, there were all sorts of jokes going around about what "covfefe is" after, so I decided to have a little fun.

  9. I have an idea for the name. How about Datesee Coffee?

  10. I actually started taking the Date Seed Coffee a month ago and has turned it into a business. The taste with milk, sweetened with the date syrup is yummy. My children love it!
    Aside the delicious taste, it also has several nutritional health benefits which was what drew me to it initially. Now I enjoy the health benefits and also make money from selling the coffee.😊

    1. Hi there....where can I find the seeds to buy? Or the already ground seeds. I'm interested in doing what you're doing as well. Thanks in advance.

  11. Here in The Netherlands I just read about a start-up selling date coffee branded 'Daffee'. I'll try and make it myself, since I already roast my own coffee for quite a while.

  12. I read about this a year ago and have faithfully stored every date pit I came across. Today was the day the box was full(!) and I decided to follow this method, it worked splendidly! And I must say, I find it to be quite sweet - which I love!

  13. I make a similar drink out of okra seeds, roast and grind it. I really like it, much less bitter/acidic than dandelion root!


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