Spelt Coffee

Hildegard of Bingen loved spelt, consider her 8 Soundbites on Spelt Benefits.  Today, those carrying the torch of Hildegard nutrition consider spelt coffee a healthy alternative to coffee.

There are several different ways to roast spelt kernels for spelt coffee. And once your spelt is roasted, there are a few different ways to prepare a cup of spelt coffee.  First, we’ll look at different ways to roast spelt. After our spelt is roasted, we’ll look at some different ways to prepare a cup of spelt coffee.

Roasting Spelt Coffee at Home

Methods of roasting spelt berries include:

  1. Using an actual roasting device (a popcorn maker can work)
  2. Using a cast iron or frying pan on your stovetop
  3. Using a baking sheet to roast spelt kernels in the oven

We’ve tried techniques (ii) and (iii).  Both result in comparable outcomes. Option (i) seems fairly straightforward, but each machine is different so test with small batches. For this recipe we will focus on the stovetop and oven roasting methods.

Prior to roasting the spelt it is often helpful to rinse the spelt and set out to dry beforehand. This ensures that it is clean and free of debris.

i. Frying spelt kernels on your stovetop

Place dry (no added oil) cast iron pan on stovetop at medium heat and add spelt kernels to the pan, covering the entire base with a single layer. Roast spelt kernels until brown, stirring occasionally to check color and even-out the roasting.  This shouldn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the majority (80%) of spelt kernels, and set aside to cool. Continue roasting the remaining kernels until they’re noticeably darker. Then blend the two roasts together before preparing your coffee.

The roasting time and subsequent coloration will depend on your taste preference for a more robust, dark roast or a lighter, mild roasted flavor, similar to traditional coffees. Dark roasted normally has the richest flavor, but it can be challenging to find the right balance, as the potential for scorching is much greater with the dark roasts.

ii. Roasting spelt kernels in the oven

Cover a dry (no oil) baking sheet with a layer of spelt.  Place in a pre-heated oven set at 450 degrees. Bake for around an hour, though check regularly to prevent scorching.

In addition to the spelt, you can add a blend of other flavors including Bertram (internal link), rye, barley, and chicory. Chicory has been used with coffee for centuries.

For this recipe, we roasted the following amounts:

  • 1 ¼ cup of Spelt
  • ¼ cup of Rye
  • ¼ cup of Barley
  • ¼ cup of Chicory

The flavor profile was good, but the best approach the first few times is a simple approach. The most common blend includes the following.

  • 4 parts Spelt
  • 1 part Chicory or Bertram

Preparing Your Perfect Cup of Spelt Coffee 

There are also several different ways to prepare a cup of spelt coffee. The primary methods include:

  1. Grinding spelt kernels, as you would ordinary coffee beans, and allowing the spelt coffee grounds to steep in hot water, then using a sieve or French press before drinking.  Be careful using a Keurig machine. Ground spelt expands enough to prevent water from running through your K-cup.
  1. The traditional method for preparing spelt coffee calls for brewing whole roasted spelt beans in the same boiling water you plan to drink, then using a sieve to remove the whole roasted spelt kernels from your spelt coffee.  In this case, the spelt kernels may be used several times.

If you enjoy the process – as we do, of traditional coffee brewed in a French press, this approach will make a rich spelt coffee, with some sediment that is common with this method.

But we also recommend you try the traditional method, by using whole roasted spelt kernels steeped in hot water. This method usually makes a milder brew, but also allows you to reuse your spelt kernels. In fact, Hildegard would suggest simply adding a few fresh roasted spelt kernels to the old batch every day until they all begin to fall apart.  According to Hildegard, the spelt kernels ripen, so by the end of the week you have an ideal spelt coffee mixture.

No matter which approach you use to prepare your coffee, you only need a moderate amount of spelt kernels per cup.  We’ve found 1 to 3 Tablespoons is sufficient, whether ground or whole spelt kernels. We hope you enjoy this old-world take on coffee.

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