Did you know that the world consumes over 2 BILLION cups of coffee each day? That’s a lot of coffee! So, the world loves drinking it… but is it good for your health?

Health effects of coffee

Many of us have suffered from the dreaded caffeine headache. This is a symptom of caffeine dependence that can stimulate the adrenals in a negative way. So, as with many things in life, moderation is the key!

On the plus side, coffee is a rich source of antioxidants with many potential health benefits including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, liver disease, liver cancer and heart disease.

Coffee contaminants

So, whilst it seems that the odd cup of coffee may well be good for us, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind to make sure we aren’t inadvertently contaminating our favourite brew with a variety of potential toxins.

Here are the primary culprits of coffee contamination:

1) Pesticides

Coffee are one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world so it pays to seek a certified organic brand.

2) Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are chemicals produced by moulds. There are two types that are of concern when it comes to coffee, Aflotoxin B1 and Ochratoxin A, and both are known carcinogens. The best way to avoid Mycotoxins is to purchase high quality coffee from trusted sources.

3) Moulds, Mildew and Biofilms

Unfortunately your coffee machine provides the ideal warm, dark, wet environment that moulds, mildew and even biofilms love. Hot water and coffee is not enough to keep the mould spores at bay and labs have shown that mould remains evens after flushing the lines with diluted vinegar for several cycles (and seriously, who is going to do that?). This means that if you make your coffee using a coffee machine you could be getting an unwanted dose of mould or mould byproducts (mycotoxins) with your coffee. Yuck!

4) Furan

Furan is one of a group of carcinogenic substances that can form when foods or drinks are heat treated, such as coffee. A study conducted in 2011 and published in the Journal Food Chemistry showed furan concentration levels were higher in coffee made with an espresso machine compared to drip coffee makers, with levels lower still in instant coffee.

The worst offenders by a long way was coffee made using coffee capsules. This is because the longer the coffee is exposed to the air, the more the furan evaporates and capsules actively prevent the furan from being released.

5) Water contaminants

The way I see it, there is no sense in going to all the effort to avoid toxins in coffee sources and the coffee making process if you are just going to use ordinary, unfiltered tap water in the process.

Your tap water could be harbouring a host of potential nasties including bacteria, fluoride, chlorine, rust, sediment, heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals.  If your water has a smell or odour, this is going to taint the taste of your coffee as well.

I love the range of Waters Co filters – they get all the nasties out and then remineralise the water making it so much more beneficial for your body.

More bad news for capsule coffee machines

So not only are you getting a higher dose of furan in your coffee when you choose to use a pod/capsule coffee machine, but you also have to contend with this list of nasties:

1) Plastics

Coffee pods can contain nasty plastic chemicals such as BPA, BPF, BPS and phthalates and using them in conjunction with hot water means there’s a good chance these chemicals are leeching into your coffee as you make it.

Well known as endocrine disruptors, this chemical cocktail may contribute to hormone imbalance weight gain and fertility problems.

2) Aluminium

The tops of capsules are often made of aluminium which has been linked to a host of brain related issues including Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, autism and autoimmune disease.

3) Waste to landfill

Whilst it is sometimes possible to recycle individual components of coffee capsules, the vast majority end up in landfill. With almost 10 billion individual coffee pods sold last year and the market still growing, this is a big environmental problem.

My tips for a pure brew

Despite all these sources of potential contamination, there’s no need to panic and certainly no need to stop enjoying your daily coffee fix! Here’s how I make sure my coffee is free from toxins:

  1. Buy quality, organic coffee from a trusted source.
  2. Ditch your pod machine. Yes they’re convenient, but the downside of using them is just too great.
  3. Use filtered water.  If you don’t have a water filter, here are my favourites.
  4. Opt for a French press or old-fashioned percolator as opposed to an espresso machine that is impossible to keep clean. I am absolutely in LOVE with my Aeropress Coffee Maker at the moment. It like a modern version French press that uses a rapid, total immersion brewing process to make a delicious full flavoured coffee without bitterness and with very low acidity.  Honestly, in one minute I can make a coffee that rivals my favourite coffee shop, and best of all, they’re extremely affordable and wash up is a breeze.

So you see, it’s pretty simple to clean up your coffee.  It’s just one little thing you can do to reduce the daily toxin load on your body and it all helps!