When one says coffee substitute,  one of the first that comes to mind is chicory.  It has tended to be used more during times of shortage, usually caused by war.

Option 1:

In researching soybeans and their multiple uses,  we discovered that roasted soybeans can be ground:

If soybeans are roasted then coarsely ground, they can be used to make a beverage that tastes quite similar to coffee. Soy coffee has been one of the most popular ways of using roasted soy flour or grits in the West for more than a century. Caffeine free, highly nourishing, inexpensive, and easy to make (even as part of a food self sufficiency program, from homegrown soybeans), this hearty brew with its roasted, nutlike aroma, will surprise and delight many a staunch coffee lover or addict. After all, coffee is also made from a bean.

When we make the next batch of soynuts, we’ll leave them in a bit longer and grind them as you would coffee beans.


When we were putting in our Richters order, I decided to poke around a bit to see if there was anything of interest.  There usually is and this time was no exception – SeedZoo Rare Food Plants. Scrolling down the page, nothing caught my attention until I got to Altrei Coffee.

The story of Altrei coffee is an amazing one. For centuries the villagers of Altrei in Northern Italy raised this lupine for making a hot beverage remarkably similar to coffee. In the 1980s the tradition had dwindled to only a couple families, and had it not been for the resurgence of interest in local traditions, Altrei coffee may have passed into oblivion. Thanks to the efforts of a couple of German scientists interested in the biodiversity of European food plants there is a renewed interest in this old tradition. And now slowly but surely the villagers of Altrei are once again proudly raising this ancient crop. We have our seeds thanks to the great generosity of Mr. Otto Werth who believes that the best way to preserve traditions is to share them with others. The “beans” are roasted, rough ground, and then percolated like regular coffee. Excellent and caffeine free! Thrives in rich non-alkaline soils.

and, as usual, Richters does that little bit extra for its customers, this time by providing growing instructions:

Requires full sun, and rich, well-drained soild. Some lupins do not thrive in alkaline soils so it best to avoid soils with pH higher than 7. Sow in rows spacing seeds about 15cm/6″ apart. HARVEST: Pods must be harvested shortly before fully ripe otherwise the pods open and the seeds fall to the ground. Store pods in open baskets to fully ripen and to dry. Seeds are roasted, traditionally on wood-fired stoves, and then ground with a handmill. The powder is too bitter to consume straight; it is mixed with rye, barley or wheat, with a little sugar beet or figs added. In summers a traditional cold beverage is made by mixing cold Altrei coffee with wine.

So I started to see what I could find out about Altrei coffee. I came across a research document – ‘Altreier Kaffee’: Lupinus pilosus L. cultivated as coffee substitute in Northern ItalyLupinus pilosus is an Old World lupine which occurs  from southern Greece through western Turkey to Israel.  As with all blue lupins, the flower is spectacular.

Lupines are legumes and thus fix nitrogen and, it seems, a big business in some parts of the world.

A nitrogen fixer with an amazing blue flower that gives us a coffee substitute.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Even if the coffee doesn’t cut it, we still have a spectacular nitrogen fixer that the bees in the orchard will love.

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4 Responses to “Coffee”

  1. Wow! This is amazing! Let us know how the coffee thing goes and how it compares to the coffee we dringk now. If I could grow my own, I’d be thrilled!

  2. Diana says:

    I was attracted with the info about that coffe is bean. Of course, we can have coffee from other legume as well then! I never knew that we can actually make coffee from soy bean. We usually just make our own soy bean milk.Blue Lupin flower is so lovely.

  3. I keep planning on finding and using a coffee substitute as I’m thinking I don’t need the caffeine.

  4. Anthropogen says:

    I’ve been growing this plant for years now. Started with a few seeds and now, a few years later I just harvested two 5 gallon buckets of seed. Its a fantastic, beautiful maintenance free plant. Blooms a deep blue and on hot days the flowers have that unmistakable smell of fake grape soda.

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