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Roasted Grain Beverage

The Coffee Substitute

This is how the roasted grain beverage is commonly addressed across the globe. This hot beverage is prepared from one or more cereal grains, being roasted and commercially processed into crystal or powder form to be reconstituted later in hot water. Popular as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee and tea, some of the common ingredients of this beverage include almond, acorn, asparagus, malted barley, beechnut, beetroot, carrot, chicory root, corn, cottonseed, dandelion root, fig, boiled-down molasses, okra seed, pea, persimmon seed, potato peel, rye, sassafras pits, sweet potato, wheat bran. Imitating the taste of coffee with a "grainy" tinge, it can be used for medical, economic and religious reasons. Available in varied flavors, colors and and aromas, these beverages experiencing an all-natural special processing are high in vitamins and minerals.


In the World War II, acorns were used to make coffee despite tasting foul. The scarcity of coffee paved the way for the processing of roasted grains and prepare hot beverages. This drink provided the same stimulating properties which both tea and coffee possessed. These coffee substitutes were also used in preparing foods served to children or to people who preferred to avoid caffeine. Even for the religious reasons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were not supposed to consume coffee however enjoy a substitute. Spreading its aroma from Korea, the roasted grain beverage does not substitute for coffee, but fill its niche as an (optionally sweetened) hot drink.

Major Production Regions
Primarily, the roasted grain beverages are popular in East Asian cuisines, Japan, China, and Korea each having their own versions (usually roasted grains simply steeped in hot water). Since 1970, ground roasted chicory root has been commercially sold on a large scale as a mainstream product, both alone and mixed with real coffee. Postum is an instant type of coffee substitute. It reached its height of popularity in the United States during World War II when coffee was sharply rationed.

The Whole Process
Roasted Grain Beverage is prepared by extracting fermentable and non-fermentable sugars and flavor components from grain by steeping it in hot water, and then allowing it to rest at a specific temperature range. This is done in order to activate enzymes that will convert the starches to sugars through mashing. These sugars, having been run off from the mash ingredients, will later be converted to alcohol and other fermentation products by yeast in the brewing process.

Next comes the stage of selecting malts and other grains in a mash, which is called the grain bill. The grain bill of a beer may vary widely in the number of ingredients. Some of the other choices made in brewing are the amount of nitrogen content, diastatic power, color, modification, and conversion. Diastatic power for a grain is measured in degrees Lintner (°Lintner or °L, although the latter can conflict with the symbol °L for Lovibond color); or in Europe by Windisch-Kolbach units (°WK).

Varieties of Roasted Grain Beverages

  • Genmaicha is green tea blended with roasted brown rice.
  • Hyeonmi cha is brewed, roasted brown rice.
  • Mugicha (bori cha in Korean) is a tisane made from roasted barley, usually drunken as a cool summer beverage.
  • Oksusu cha is brewed roasted corn tisane; due to its sweetness it is sometimes served alongside or mixed with mugicha to soften the latter's bitterness.
  • Sungnyung is made from rice scorched while boiling.

Varieties of "Barley Brewed" Malts

The oldest and most predominant ingredient in brewing is barley, which has been used in beer-making for thousands of years. Even under the modern brewing, the malted barley is predominantly used because of its enzymatic power. Some of varieties of the processed malt include:

  • Pale malt
  • Mild malt
  • Stout malt
  • Amber malt
  • Brown malt
  • Chocolate malt
  • Black malt
  • Crystal malt
  • Distillers malt
  • Peated malt
  • Pilsener malt
  • Vienna malt
  • Munich malt
  • Rauchmalz
  • Acid malt
  • Honey malt
  • Melanoidin malt.
Issue of Concern

The latest research works have indicated the presence of acrylamide, a suspected cancer-causing chemical in the roasted grain beverages. It is found at high levels in dark-colored baked, roasted and fried grain used in these beverages. As per a survey report, acrylamide was found in Postum, a roasted grain drink, at a level of 22.3 micrograms per portion. Interestingly, the similar chemical was found in coffee at levels of 1.9 micrograms per portion.
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