February 3, 2013 • Category: Beverages
It has been my privilege to befriend Philippe and Saidé, people I consider Salt of the Earth: Seasoned farmers (for generations) in the Lebanese mountains. They raised six beautiful children, all grown and gone to live an urban life in Beirut or in North America. Here they are, left with an intimate knowledge of nature and agriculture and no one to pass it on to. I sat down with Saidé, or as I call her Um Elias (mother of Elias, her firstborn), to learn a bit about her life in these parts during extremely difficult circumstances when the country was in the grips of civil war. She told me about her trek to Deir el-Qamar (escaping a massacre in her home village); she walked for nine hours with her children in tow; she cupped her newborn in the folds of her dress and held him by the grip of her teeth. She told me of finding a benevolent soul who gave them a place to live and the weekly donation of staples when the Red Cross truck would stop in town. However, there was no delivery of coffee or tobacco. Um Elias chuckled as she describes a town resident and his buddies meet-up for farting sessions after drinking coffee made out of chickpeas. She told me: “I was not going to do this, I found a better way!”; she roasted acorns instead, grinding them and making acorn coffee. She would point to her belly and say “this would not inflate! much better than hummus!” (hummus is also the word for chickpeas in Arabic).
Lebanese mountains are covered with oak trees and acorns this time of year are everywhere on the ground. I picked a bunch, pulled them out of their husks and decided to try this coffee. Apparently, the Native Americans used to eat acorns and even now in Korea acorn flour is used to make a type of pasta. Here’s how to do it: Pick some acorn and pull them out of their husks (they come out easily). Make a small slit on each in two places with the tip of a knife. Place them on a baking sheet and roast them in a 350F oven for 30 minutes; you will smell a wonderful nutty fragrance wafting out of the oven. The nuts need to be dark brown near black. Remove from the oven, cool a bit and peel them. Cool them completely and grind them in a coffee grinder till powdery. Keep in the freezer till needed, in a tight plastic bag or container. To make coffee, use the same directions as your regular drip or French press or Turkish coffee. the coffee will be bitter so a sweetener is needed here. Um Elias showing me an onion bulb. I had no idea it was so complex to grow onions from seeds of other onions.
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23 Comments • Comments Feed
What an interesting drink! I’d love to taste it.
On February 3, 2013 at 7:26 am
It is sad that Philippe and Um Elias’s knowledge will be lost. It makes perfect sense to make coffee from roots, seeds or nuts in time of needs. Life has been hard and challenging for them but also very rewarding.
On February 3, 2013 at 7:35 am
This is impressive. Never for a moment would I have thought acorn coffee. The acorn coffee reflects a deeper symbolic meaning…. the strong survival of making it work. I love it!
On February 3, 2013 at 10:24 am
Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes says:
What a beautiful narrative! I’ve, of course, not heard of acorn coffee, but I admire how the sustainable purpose of using what nature freely provides for our use.
On February 3, 2013 at 11:26 am
There is an excellent coffee made with pine-nuts produced by the New Mexico Pinon Coffee Co., available at Trader Joe’s.
On February 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm
@Philip: Thanks for the info, would love to check it out, love Trader’s Joe’s (too bad it does not exist in Dallas)
On February 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm
Alicia (foodycat) says:
Thank you so much for sharing this!
On February 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm
Belinda @zomppa says:
Definitely not something that I would normally come across!
On February 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm
Thank you Joumana for this beautiful narrative. Real life stories of struggle and triumph serve to rmind us not to take life and comforts for granted.
I vaguely remember reading about acorn coffee long ago but cannot for the life of me recollect where or when. I think this was a mention in a story revolving around WW2.
On February 4, 2013 at 7:56 am
The acorns must smell great as they roast. I’d love to taste this coffee! And, how lovely of you to pass on Saide’s story.
On February 4, 2013 at 8:28 am
Paula Mello says:
These stories always makes me be grateful for my country, for never be in such need… I don’t think their knowledge will be lost, here we are talking about it… These are achievements of the soul and belongs to humanity. I’m very touched by this story and pray for better days and peace to all our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
On February 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm
You have been awarded the Liebster Award by the Taste-Buds. Check it out here: http://thetastebudz.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2252&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2
On February 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm
@Viviane: Thanks so much for the honor; unfortunately, I am over extended these days (more info on that later) and am unable to pass it on or devote the time to research the future recipients.
@Paula: Thank you are as my grandmother would say, we need to count our blessings.
On February 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm
It makes me feel thankful for my morning coffee. I’ve never had any other kind of coffee, other than chickory coffee in New Orleans. You have to commend people for their creativity in times of need!
On February 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm
@Susan: I vaguely rememember that chicory was a coffee used during WWII when real coffee was not available. ? I need to research this!
On February 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm
De voir que c’est si facile ça nous mets les ” glandes “….
On February 5, 2013 at 11:51 am
Tom | Tall Clover says:
Joumana, I wonder what variety of oak this nut is from. It’s lovely. You know me, always looking for new exotic plants to plant. You have to be a little careful with natural tannins in the acorn when preparing or says this site: http://honest-food.net/2010/01/14/acorn-pasta-and-the-mechanics-of-eating-acorns/
On February 6, 2013 at 10:07 am
WOW I need to try this. I am a huge fan of coffee.
On February 27, 2013 at 6:25 am
Rick Brdley says:
I believe I will try this when the next batch of acorns is ready in town.! Thanks for the information. You can also soak the acorns in water for several hours to remove much of the tannic acid and grind them down into a useable flour.
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On August 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm
I do not know why, but I always thought that acorn coffee was more complicated than it really is…
I have made acorn flour several times before & if I had a choice, I’d rather use the acorn flour over the wheat flour. I guess I’m just weird that way. LOL
Thank you for posting this Ma’am.
بارك الله فيكم وتبقى لكم على مقربة منه لجميع من أيامك.
On August 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm
Amazing! I have a patient who is from Germany and she told me about how she used to collect acorns for her family to make coffee!
On November 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm
@Hope: and last weekend, I invited a Kurdish friend who boils them or roasts them to eat like chestnuts! She foraged pounds and pounds of them!
On November 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm