Acorn coffee

February 3, 2013  •  Category:

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. making acorn coffee-3 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.  IMG_3106 Um Elias showing me an onion bulb. I had no idea it was so complex to grow onions from seeds of other onions. 

making acorn coffee



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25 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    What an interesting drink! I’d love to taste it.



  2. nadege says:

    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.

  3. Velva says:

    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!


  4. 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.

  5. Philip says:

    There is an excellent coffee made with pine-nuts produced by the New Mexico Pinon Coffee Co., available at Trader Joe’s.

  6. Alicia (foodycat) says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  7. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Definitely not something that I would normally come across!

  8. usha says:

    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.

  9. lisaiscooking says:

    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.

  10. 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.

    • Joumana says:

      @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.

  11. Susan says:

    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!

    • Joumana says:

      @Susan: I vaguely rememember that chicory was a coffee used during WWII when real coffee was not available. ? I need to research this!

  12. domi says:

    De voir que c’est si facile ça nous mets les ” glandes “….

  13. 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:

  14. Noor says:

    WOW I need to try this. I am a huge fan of coffee.

  15. 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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  17. TULANI says:

    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.

  18. Hope says:

    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!

    • Joumana says:

      @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!

  19. Hadi says:

    Hi, I was looking from if I can find acorn coffee in Beirut – Lebanon, would you be able to guide me? Thank you 🙂

    • Joumana Accad says:

      @Hadi Hi, actually I did not find anyone in Lebanon who makes this type of coffee. I found a startup in Austin making it and selling it at the local Farmer’s market (for a while). But the cost of shipping it to Lebanon might be prohibitive. I can look them up if interested.

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