Instructables

Make "Coffee" from Acorns (Roasting Ersatz Coffee)

video Make "Coffee" from Acorns (Roasting Ersatz Coffee)
How to make "coffee" from acorns (AKA ersatz coffee). No decaf process is necessary - it's naturally caffeine free. Roasting the "coffee" produces a wonderful aroma. The taste is delicious but difficult to define. Perhaps an approximation is to describe it as something between coffee and chocolate - maybe approximating a caramel flavor.
tvds111 months ago
Survival guides say that you have to soak acorns prior to ingesting them in order to reduce tannic acid to palatable levels.
throttlehog tvds120 hours ago

It's not soaking, per se, that would get rid of the tannins. The method is called leaching and needs to be done several times in order to wash the bitterness from the acorn meal; although, some acorns are more bitter than others, i.e. Valley Oak (yuck) versus Chestnut Oak (yummm). Also, growing conditions greatly affect their taste as well. Natives american tribes that used acorns as the staple of their diet had different preferences depending on their geographical location. As a docent who teaches elementary school children about the plants used by Northern California natives, I have experimented with making some of the "delicacies" our local natives survived on, and have made rock biscuits out of Coast Live Oak acorns, which wasn't half bad, albeit a bit bland. I employed the same methods used by natives: gather acorns after shaking from the tree, cull the acorns by removing the ones with holes and the obviously rotten, store the acorns outdoors in a granary lined with bay laurel leaves (keeps the bugs away) for 6 to 12 months to dry, shell the acorns and winnow the seed covering, grind the acorn meat into a coarse meal, place the meal into baskets and run water through them several times (save the water with tannins for dying baskets), add a little water to leached meal to make a "paste", then place a small amount of the paste onto a rock that has been heated in a fire, turn once after paste has set. It was an awful lot of work for a little bit of nourishment. I could have seasoned the mush paste with a variety of plants available, such as blackberries or currants, pickleweed, salt grass, or bay laurel.

Adeldor (author)  tvds111 months ago
Hi tvds1,
When making acorn flour or such - yes. However, soaking is not necessary when roasting as seen in this video. The tannins are converted/destroyed. The resulting "coffee" is not bitter at all.

I wonder why baking the flour does not destroy the tannins then?
Personally, I'd go for the wash out the tannins technique and then the flour could be used for any purpose. And I'd feel better knowing I was safe from the tannins.
When I was a kid and baked acorn bread, it wasn't washed out enough. :(

Adeldor (author)  DIY-Guy4 days ago

Perhaps it is due to the temperature of roasting being much higher than that of baking. Washing out the tannins also removes much starch. Subsequent roasting results in a very bad tasting "coffee".

There are tannins in regular coffee and tea too. What was the effect on you as a child?

blueye812 days ago

Acorn coffee tastes great! But I wonder if you did it right ?! You have to crack the shell and then peel the skin (like almonds). Hot water can help to get the skin off. You need to do it without losing too much time (hours) because the acorns become brown (but I dont know whether it affects the taste). Then pestle and roast them, after that you can use the acorn coffee like normal coffee (the roasting makes it nonperishable, too). The coffee looks like normal coffee when brewed and has a nice, nuttily taste. You can take green acorns, they dont have to be brown, just wait until they fall off from the trees :-P

BTW: You can buy acorn coffee, but it costs 28 Euro / 35 Dollar a kilo / 2,3 lb (?) .

Adeldor (author)  blueye812 days ago

Hi blueye81,

At 28 Euro/Kilo, $15/lb it certainly seems worthwhile to make instead of purchase! That's the price of higher end regular coffee here. :-)

As with most recipes, there are no doubt many variations to the process. The one shown in the video works well. It is quick, reliable and produces a fine tasting "coffee". We shell the acorns in batches and put the "meat" in the freezer, where it remains fresh for a long time.