It’s hard to argue that the Australia-based Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) isn’t on the bleeding edge of innovation. Just recently, for example, its researchers made a prototype filtration device that can make filthy water clean in one single go.
Their latest press release, however, strikes a somewhat different tone from usual. Entitled “Broccoli: Better Latte Than Never”, it may make some of your hearts break a little.
“Just when you thought coffee trends couldn’t get any crazier, enter the broccoli latte,” it begins. “You’ve heard of turmeric lattes and even a coffee served in an avocado, but is the broccoli latte the next product to hit the tables of your local hipster café? We’re here to tell you, it’s possible.”
You don’t need to be a peculiar type of coffee elitist to think that blue algae lattes – which are a real-life thing – are a little, well, strange. The fact that it tastes like sour milk and smells of seaweed has led many to suspect it’s best suited for Instagram purposes, not anything gastronomic.
So, along with beetroot, turmeric, and mushroom lattes, it appears broccoli is next in line. According to CSIRO, it’s made by turning the miniature tree-like vegetable into a powder, which is then dried, all the while ensuring the powder maintains its natural color, flavor, and nutritional value.
Adding it to other ingredients and heating it up to make it into another alternative coffee – already available to try in Melbourne – appears to be the tip of the iceberg. The powder is also touted as being possible to use in “smoothies, dips, soups and in baking” too. In this sense, then, it sounds a lot like matcha, which appears in or on everything these days.
Is broccoli set to try to take on the viridian throne, then? Perhaps, but to be fair, that’s not really the point here: The coffee pitch is designed to draw your attention to a far more noble pursuit.
It turns out that Australian diets are, in general, not particularly healthy. Broccoli, as it so happens, contains plenty of nutrients that are perfectly good for you, but it’s not getting into people’s diets enough.
So, by helping to promote this powder along with Hort Innovation, CSIRO explain that they’re “trying to make it easier to squeeze in a couple of extra veggies, especially if you have fussy kids who don’t fall for the ‘they’re cute little trees’ line.”
The blog post notes that the team have already used it to make the not-particularly-appetizing-sounding “extruded snacks”, and they (perhaps surprisingly) report that samples were well-received by parents “and even by kids”.
Fair play: If you can sneak more healthy eating habits into people’s otherwise deficient diets, then that’s indubitably a good thing. It's worth pointing out, though, that the coffee version has so far received “mixed” reviews.
CSIRO also explain that plenty of imperfect broccoli doesn’t escape the farms it’s grown on and is instead used as a replacement for fertilizer. In fact, that’s really what this escapade is all about; it’s part of an R&D project looking into reducing vegetable waste by creating food products from produce doomed to be destroyed, and few would say that’s not a quest worth pursuing.
So will broccoli lattes take off then? Who knows – perhaps the Instagram generation will singlehandedly bring it to market anyway.