Barley is a very ancient, energizing and digestible cereal. The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated it to prepare soups and bread and, according to Pliny the Elder, barley was also the main food of gladiators. But barley is not just a food, in fact, it can be the basis for very interesting, fragrant, healthy and non-irritating drinks that, nowadays, often take the place of coffee as they are caffeine-free and therefore suitable to all. Barley coffee is prepared from roasted barley and can be obtained as a normal coffee using a coffee maker or, and this is the most common variant, by infusing a teaspoon of powdered barley in a cup of hot water. And what are the properties of this drink?
Barley coffee, properties
Traditional coffee has a greater amount of antioxidants, but, by comparing possible surrogates such as carob, chicory, chickpeas, peas, dried figs and, of course, barley coffee, this is in second place for what concerns its antioxidant power and phenolic compound content (Gorianovic et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2017). It also seems that barley coffee has a particular property. In fact, this drink would be able to inhibit adhesion to the teeth of Streptococcus mutans, one of the main causes of caries (Papetti et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2007). Therefore, barley coffee may contribute to the health of the oral cavity.
Barley coffee, contraindications
In general, barley coffee is a well-tolerated and healthy beverage. However, it is better not to exceed the doses because, just like traditional coffee, even if in a lesser extent, barley coffee contains acrylamide (Bertuzzi et al, Food Addit Contam Part B Surveill., 2017). Acrylamide is a substance that is formed when foods rich in carbohydrates are subjected to high temperatures, as in case of roasting barley or coffee beans. Acrylamide is currently classified by IARC as a potentially carcinogenic substance for humans (Kumar et al, Front Nutr, 2018). With this consideration we do not intend to say that barley coffee should be avoided, as we do not avoid other sources of acrylamide such as cookies, bread or other baked goods. It is simply to be considered as information on a drink that is often part of the diet, introduced for example in the morning for breakfast. So, like all baked foods, also for barley coffee the advice is just not to exceed with the quantities.