• A broccoli latte brewed at Commonfolk Coffee Company. (Supplied )
Every two tablespoons of broccoli powder is equal to approximately one serve of the vegetable, made from broccoli that would gone to landfill.
By
Yasmin Noone

6 Jun 2018 - 9:09 AM  UPDATED 6 Jun 2018 - 2:59 PM

Just when you thought latte varieties couldn’t get any more creative, comes a new kind of brewed vegetable beverage: broccoli lattes. 

The idea for a green, nutrient-rich coffee wasn’t the brainchild of a passionate vegan home-brewer, although the drink has been road-tested at a Victorian café.

Broccoli lattes, made with powdered broccoli, are actually the latest food idea from CSIRO and Hort Innovation, designed to provide drinkers with a quick punch of nutrients and utilise discarded but perfectly good ‘ugly’ vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.

“The powdered broccoli gives the same health benefits as fresh broccoli.”

The powder is produced using whole broccoli. Every two tablespoons of powder is equal to approximately one serve of the vegetable.

Lead researcher on the project, CSIRO’s Mary Ann Augustin, explains that as broccoli is high in protein, fibre and health-promoting bioactive phytochemicals, it was an ideal candidate for powder development.

“The powdered broccoli gives the same health benefits as fresh broccoli,” says Augustin. “The only difference is that the broccoli powder has had the water taken out of it – it’s dry and stable – while fresh broccoli consists of 80-90 per cent water.”

Every two tablespoons of powder is equal to approximately one serve of the vegetable.

Brewers at Commonfolk Coffee Company on the Mornington Peninsula worked with the researchers to roadtest the powder and develop it into a palatable broccoli latte.

“We are an early adopter and got to road test the broccoli powder in its rawest form a few months ago,” says Sam Keck, co-owner of Commonfolk Coffee Company.

“We knew the powder had all the nutritional integrity of fresh broccoli but other than that, we weren’t sure what the powder would turn into once brewed. So we decided to brew it in every single form we could.”

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The brewers steamed it with almond, dairy and soy milks; brewed it on its own to replace coffee grounds; mixed it with coffee and milk; and tried using it as a garnish to sprinkle on top of a cappuccino instead of using powdered chocolate.

Yet adding the powder to the milk during steaming proved to be the method that worked best.

“It sounds obvious but the latte tastes like broccoli. If that’s a vegetable you’re into then you will really like it. To be honest, I’m a big fan of broccoli so I found it palatable.

“I think there’s a big scope to take broccoli lattes nationwide. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea – or coffee – but if it was commercialised, I’d expect to see a cult following. A lot of people down here have dietary issues and we have a strong vegan following. I’d be 100 per cent certain there’d be a market for broccoli lattes down here.”

“It sounds obvious but the latte tastes like broccoli. If that’s a vegetable you’re into then you will really like it."

Keck adds that the broccoli powder also has value to be used as a sprinkle on top of cappuccino froth. “It’s healthier than using chocolate. It wouldn’t be hard to get one teaspoon of the powder on top of the froth of a cappuccino, and that could be your daily veg routine.

Despite the potential of powdered broccoli to achieve national popularity in a latte form, the scientists’ believe the product has a far greater food application.

So far, the researchers have also used the broccoli powder to make extruded chip-like snacks. “We could also use the powders to make muffins, dips, noodles or even spaghetti,” says Dr Augustin.

Hort Innovation chief executive, John Lloyd, says the powder could also be used for smoothies, soups, baking and as a way of hiding broccoli from fussy kids in meals.

“With a rising trend in healthy eating across the board, Australian growers are always looking at ways to diversify their products and cut waste while meeting consumer demand,” says Lloyd.

He adds that despite the increasing popularity of ‘superfoods’ and health and wellness, Australian diets are still poor.

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“Research shows the average Australian is still not eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables a day, and options such as broccoli powder will help address this.”

CSIRO and Hort Innovation have also created a powdered carrot in the same way they used the broccoli, although there are no signs of a carrot latte – yet.

“The platform technology means that you can apply the same drying technology used here to other vegetables or fruits,” says Dr Augustin. “You might just need to do some tweaking as every fruit and vegetable is different and requires a different treatment.”

“Research shows the average Australian is still not eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables a day, and options such as broccoli powder will help address this.”

The next steps, Dr Augustin says, are to take the broccoli powder into further product development and consumer sensory evaluation trials.

The CSIRO team and Hort Innovation researchers are also in discussions with commercial operators and broccoli growers who are interested in brining the powder to market. 

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