Coffee cherry tea hits the spot, brewed from a need for sustainable farming

Coffee farmer and Harbourside Markets stallholder Tibor Pinci’s hate for waste led him to create a rare coffee cherry tea produced nowhere else in New South Wales.

Tibor Pinci’s boutique farm on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour has more than 3,000 arabica coffee trees which produce more than three tonnes of coffee cherries, often also called coffee berries, that are normally thrown away. But Mr Pinci was determined to avoid the fruit being wasted when he started the coffee farm about 15 years ago.

“I’m European and I hate wasting things,” Mr Pinci said. “When I had my first few buckets full of cherries … I said ‘oh, these cherries taste beautiful. What can I do with them?

“They [the cherries] taste beautiful when they are fresh. I started drying them, I made a tea out of them and kept experimenting to even make a brew with the extract.”

Coffee cherry tea is produced by a handful of producers in Australia. The Korora coffee farm is among only a handful of farms that produce coffee tea in the country. Most coffee tea is imported from overseas.

TV show inspires unique farm

Mr Pinci was working as a baker in Sydney more than a decade ago when he saw a coffee farm featured on a TV show and was inspired to start his own. Sydney proved too cold to grow his coffee trees, so Mr Pinci purchased a property in Korora where he planted about 1,000 seedlings, hoping they would thrive in Coffs Harbour’s sub-tropical climate.

“After three months I came back and the plants were about two foot tall so I said to my wife ‘I think we better move to Coffs’,” he said.

Now, Mr Pinci juggles his booming coffee farming hobby and his full-time job as a baker. Coffee berry tea has become one of his most popular products because of its taste and health benefits, which include aiding digestion.

“It’s amazing how the coffee berry is so beneficial for our bodies, for cleansing and things like that, that can help people,” he said. “That’s why I started, and I just love it.”

Coffee tree cherries a lesser-known superfood

Lecturer in nutrition and dietetics at Latrobe University, Susan McLeod, said the coffee tree cherry had a range of health benefits.

“The coffee berry is really, really high in antioxidants, in fact much higher than things that we would often associate as being high in antioxidants such as blueberries,” she said. “Antioxidants are amazing for helping clean up free radicals in our body and preventing damage.”

Like the coffee bean, the coffee cherry also contains caffeine.

“It is good to keep in mind that the coffee fruit does still contain a degree of caffeine, much lower than the coffee bean itself,” Ms McLeod said. “But most things are okay in moderation and this is no different.

“Like coffee, we would have it in moderation, so having a couple of cups a day [of coffee berry tea] would be okay.”

Ms McLeod says it is a win-win situation for growers, consumers, and the planet.

“From a sustainability point of view, if a farmer can take the coffee cherry and use it in another way, not only is that great for the environment but it’s also another way for them to make money or a profit out of something that is typically just treated as waste,” she said.

“That has another flow-on benefit of being great for the consumer because it is a fantastic food that offers health properties.”

Find Tibor’s stall Coffs Coast Coffee at Harbourside Markets or online at

Watch the video interview here