After water, coffee is the second most popular drink in this country and it is the second most traded commodity in the world. It serves a number of beneficial purposes, such as increasing alertness, physical endurance, mood, fat burning, insulin sensitivity, cognitive function and serves as a fantastic source of antioxidants. The list of benefits doesn’t stop there and will be highlighted even more in articles to come. However, not all coffee is healthy coffee.
Unfortunately, coffee drinkers are often skipping the research about where the beans came from or how they were produced. Consumers are hyper-aware when purchasing local, organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meat, but, somehow, are not transferring the source concerns to their morning cup of joe. Is your coffee healthy coLet’s step back and consider why we should be paying attention to the source when we’re buying coffee beans.
CAN COFFEE BE BAD FOR YOU?
Of course. As with everything else you eat or drink, source matters. Dave Asprey from Bulletproof Executive was one of the first people to bring a surprisingly unknown issue to our attention: there is a massive problem with MOLD in coffee beans. A recent study found that 91.7% of all beans are contaminated with molds, namely ochratoxin A. These mycotoxins can negatively affect humans.
Ochratoxin A has been shown to cause cancer in humans and can potentially lead to a suppressed immune system, problems with memory, and contribution to early onset Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Not good.
Molds and other nasty things in your body don’t get free rides. Flushing all of this junk out of your body requires some extra work by your kidneys and unnecessary stress and filtration. Ever have really bad coffee and need to pee immediately after? Hmm¦ Caffeine, typically thought to be a potent diuretic, has been shown only to be so at about 360 mg concentration. The normal amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee is roughly 80-90 mg. Doesn’t explain the abnormal urination, does it?
BLENDS VS SINGLE ORIGIN
For the same reasons we don’t recommend taking multivitamins, we don’t recommend drinking coffees that are blends. Roasters generally take a very small portion of an exotic source and mix it with the majority of beans from some cheap wholesale lot. This cheap wholesale lot of coffee is usually of awful quality and is of dominating proportions in the blend. This means you’re getting mostly moldy coffee.
So how do you get around this? Look for locally roasted coffee from single origins. This will clearly say on the bag (Costa Rica, Kenya, etc.) when you’re looking for what to purchase. When you go to the grocery store and pick up ground beef, would you rather have the meat come from one cow, or a hundred cows? Same rules apply here.
Beans that come from Central and South America are usually processed in a way that reduces the mold contamination on the beans. These are preferred over African or Indian (Sumatra) locations. You can usually distinguish healthy coffee from bad coffee easier when you know where it comes from.
ROASTING HEALTHY COFFEE
Does the coffee taste bitter and like cigarette butts? Then it is probably not healthy coffee, or tasty coffee. Why? Chances are the roaster intentionally over-roasted those beans to mask the terrible flavor, or to try to kill off growths caused by the process of drying green coffee beans. Steer clear. Cheap beans are cheap for a reason.
Fun Fact: Despite popular belief, lighter roasted coffee actually has more caffeine content than darker roast.
Purchasing properly sourced coffee helps, but don’t forget that coffee is like any real food – it can, and will, spoil. The best way to increase it’s life is to keep a small amount of beans in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool and dark location. This minimizes oxidizing the beans and prevents mold growth.
Buying in bulk? Keep the beans in the bag if the company used a one-way valve or use a vacuum sealed bag and store them in the freezer for up to six months to avoid any issues. When you take the beans out of the freezer, let them return to room temperature before opening the bag. This limits the amount of moisture that is collected on the beans.
Ultimately, rate coffee beans by paying attention to how you personally feel, look or perform after a certain roast. Are you urinating constantly? Feeling jittery or anxious? Contrary to common belief, these symptoms do not automatically follow caffeine consumption. Do the beans taste burnt? Like an ashtray? Do you feel like you need to add cream, sugar, or flavorings? The problem likely lies in the source of the beans. It would probably be a good idea to stop buying coffee beans that do cause these symptoms. Do some research and ask some questions, just like you should do with anything else you put in your body.
Does this article mean nearly all coffees you drink are going to be moldy? No. There were only a handful of studies, so results are still inconclusive. However, you should always judge everything on how you look, feel and perform after having ingested it. Your body is a high performance sports car, fuel it like one.
GO FOR SINGLE ORIGIN WHEN BUYING COFFEE BEANS
LOOK FOR CENTRAL OR S. AMERICAN BEANS
GO FOR FRESHLY ROASTED BEANS
STAY AWAY FROM COFFEE THAT MAKES YOU JITTERY OR URINATE EXCESSIVELY
GO FOR LIGHTER ROASTS
STORE IN AIR TIGHT, DARK, COOL LOCATION
STORE IN AIR TIGHT AND FREEZER IF BUYING IN BULK
Personal favorites of healthy coffee include Kahveology in Portland, Four Barrel in San Francisco and Portola Coffee Lab in Los Angeles. Kahveology roasts only when you order your beans and ships immediately and is the most reliable I’ve found for any order based coffee. I currently have Man Yoga and Rise and Grind subscriptions.
Any favorites roasters? Let us know in the comments below!