Deep fried coffee: Understanding the trend

Janice Kanniah
February 20, 2023
An image of coffee beans that have been deep fried in hot oil in an article on deep fried coffee and understanding coffee roasting trends

Like many industries, the world of specialty coffee encounters new trends.

Some are soon discarded, such as the Dalgona coffee trend of 2020. Others may stick and become industry staples, such as barista plant milk blends and flash-brewed coffee.

Many roasters may think that noting coffee trends may seem unnecessary, especially smaller operations with a limited budget.

However, developments in packaging technology could actually help roasters hop onto trends without having to make a major financial or time investment. Furthermore, it could help keep existing customers engaged, attract new ones, and build a brand.

A recent trend that has blown through the sector is deep fried coffee: where the green coffee is deep fried in hot oil instead of roasted.

Admittedly, specialty coffee authority James Hoffman tried this on his channel with mixed results – but here’s what this trend could mean to the typical roaster.

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What is deep-fried coffee?

Research into deep-fried coffee reveals that over the years, it is something both professional and amateur roasters have attempted.

Mostly, it is done out of curiosity and for fun. The process involves deep frying green coffee beans in hot oil, as opposed to roasting them using hot air.

World Barista Champion and author James Hoffman is the first person to do this trend so publicly. In a Youtube video, he deep-fried 100g of Ethiopian-washed coffee.

In the video, he notes the process had limitations as only small volumes of coffee can be fried at a time. This is to prevent the oil’s 170-degree temperature from lowering too much.

During frying, any moisture left in the beans rapidly turned to steam and some degassing occurred.

While the beans browned, their oily sheen made it challenging for James to judge the coffee’s roast colour accurately.

Furthermore, the beans also retained their shape instead of expanding as they would normally when reacting to dry heat — which means the first crack did not take place.

After about 10 minutes of frying, James removed any unevenly fried beans. He then dried the remaining ones with a paper towel and waited for them to cool before grinding them for filter and espresso consumption.

The filter coffee neglected to bloom or degas very much, and James noted it was a bit muddy and underdeveloped.

However, it also had a “lively texture with a soft and almost buttery and rich taste” with little to no acidity.

As for the espresso, it created a cloudy, emulsified shot with limited crema. James described it as acidic, metallic, harsh, and unpleasant, with little to no sweetness, no texture, while being greasy and buttery in the wrong kind of way.”

He concluded that those experimenting with deep frying coffee should limit it to filter brewing.

An image of a barista pouring chemex pour over coffee into a glass mug in an article on deep fried coffee and understanding coffee roasting trends

Should you adopt the deep fried coffee trend?

For the vast majority of specialty coffee roasters, switching from conventional roasting methods to deep frying coffee would be illogical. 

That being said, there might be instances when it is feasible. For example, those with an excess of stale or imperfect coffee could deep fry it to create a novelty coffee to offset the loss. 

The popularity of kopi luwak, also known as civet processed coffee, indicates some consumers will pay premium prices for novelty coffee offerings.

The deep-frying process can also make for compelling social media footage that can be used to increase awareness of a brand and help it engage with customers. 

According to social media marketing specialists Hootsuite, putting a viral hack to the test is a great way to create compelling content for a brand’s channel or page.

Finally, deep-fried coffee could appeal to customers in certain diet and health niches, such as ones who consume butter coffee.

While more testing would need to be done, deep frying coffee could create a product they can brew and consume without having to blend to emulsify the fat and water in the drink. 

However, this would likely require testing the coffee’s nutritional content to validate any claims the roaster makes.

An image of an LDPE coffee bag with a PLA lining filled with deep fried coffee beans in an article on deep fried coffee and understanding coffee roasting trends

Using roasting trends to benefit your coffee business

Depending on personal preferences, roasters may want to deep fry coffee or pretend they’ve never heard of the concept.

Regardless of the category you fall into, you will want to communicate the right things about your brand and send the right message to consumers.

Your coffee packaging is instrumental in this process. 

Deep-fried coffee, like any other specialty coffee, will require packaging that preserves its quality and extends its lifespan. 

That packaging will also need to communicate key facts about where the coffee comes from, who roasted it, and how it should be consumed.

Finally, the packaging itself should represent your brand and business accurately while appealing to your target market. This includes its colours, shape, imagery, and choice of font. 

This might seem obvious, but when you consider trends such as deep-fried coffee, it becomes more pertinent. 

Using your usual choice of kraft or rice paper packaging would be less suitable here as the packaging may become stained or possibly leak oil. 

Coffee bags made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polylactic acid (PLA) will be far more effective at containing the oil, while remaining recyclable.

Finally, the packaging would need to look distinctly different from that of your usual coffee offerings. 

It should be custom printed to contain information on the deep drying process and how the drink should be best prepared and consumed.  

To facilitate trends into your business in a cost-effective, time-sensitive and appealing way, you’ll need to have some flexibility and control over your packaging choices. 

Partnering with the right packaging supplier can make the process easier than you think.

For example, as a specialty coffee packaging expert, MTPak Coffee can offer you shorter print runs of your packaging, so you can experiment with uniquely packaged coffees without over-investing in a single packaging size, type or dimension.

Our variety of coffee boxes is made using 100% recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

We can also help you design the packaging, select the right packaging material, choose from a range of colours and finishes, and print them.

Additionally, we offer customised takeaway coffee cups and sleeves and other specialty coffee accessories you can use to grow your business.

We also offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

For more information on customising sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

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