Coffee from Kurrajong
I have been looking through an old (2004) Journal of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (Queensland Region). There is an interesting article on using the seeds of the Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus) as a coffee substitute. The early settlers in the region first used it as such, including the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt. The seeds need to be husked, and then roasted like coffee beans, before being ground and brewed.
The tree is grown quite widely in Australia, including many areas of Southern Australia. The foliage has often been used as fodder for farm animals. They are often planted as ornamental trees in public parks. In summer the trees have clusters of creamy grey flowers which have red splotches all over the cream interior of the bell shaped flowers. The seeds are found in green seed pods, which gradually turn brown and then split open with yellow seeds.
Now is a good time to be looking for the seed pods. It is best to pick the lot once about a third of the pods have become brown. The problem comes at this stage because the birds love the seeds. Cockatoos, rosellas and choughs are partial to the seeds. Store the green pods out of reach of the birds for a few days while they ripen.
From the information in the article, it would be worth growing the tree to use the seeds, if you can win the battle with the birds.
The seeds have fine hairs which irritate greatly, so take care. Use a knife to split the pods and use a pair of leather gloves to rub the hairs off the seeds. Blow the hairs from the seeds and dry the seeds for a few days before storing them. (Watch out for the birds.)
Use a frying pan with a lid to roast the seeds on high heat, or if using an ordinary stove top pan stir all the while. This is how coffee is treated. The roasting is done according to the strength of the flavour you prefer. According to the article the flavour of the brewed ‘coffee’ is something like Mocha or long black Espresso coffee. The roasting is carried out until the Kurrajong seeds are the colour that you like in coffee.
Once roasted, the seeds are stored in a glass jar until needed for grinding. The suggested amount to use is a heaped dessertspoon of ground Kurrajong seeds per cup. Put the ‘coffee’ in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and bring back to the boil. Let stand a few minutes before straining and serving.
I don’t like coffee at all. I would rather try different teas. However I would be very interested to find out how this truly tasted.