You may have seen reports touting the health benefits of coffee, and rejoiced. It’s awesome to discover scientific evidence that justifies your daily habit. However, all coffee is not created equal. Similar to the way that an aged, raw French cheese can’t be compared to spray cheese from a can, there are vast disparities between different types of coffee.
The question is, which one are you
drinking? Are you starting your day with the coffee equivalent of
spray-on cheese? Or are you enjoying the wonderful benefits of high-quality coffee? If
you are a health conscious person who would never dream of eating nasty
processed food like cheese from a can, wouldn’t it be disappointing to
find out that the coffee you choose daily is equivalent to junk food?Here
are a few simple guidelines to ensure that you are consuming a healthy
cup of coffee so that your daily habit is something you can feel good
Choose the best coffee beans
It should come as no surprise that
the raw materials of coffee — the beans you buy (or the type you order
at a café) — are vitally important. If the beans are not up to snuff,
you can forget the rest of the steps.
There are a few indicators of quality to look out for. We certainly recommend choosing an organically grown brand
to prevent chemical exposure. Coffee is one of the most highly sprayed
crops in the world. Conventional coffee is treated with pesticides,
fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides.
Choosing organic coffee protects you
from ingesting a range of toxins. It also shows you are committed to the
wider health of the planet and the people living in the communities
where coffee is grown. Along with this consideration, buying a brand
that is certified fair trade, shade grown and rainforest safe is also a
good idea. Shade-grown varieties have very little impact on the natural
environment. Conventional crops, on the other hand, are grown in cleared
areas, which can cause devastating erosion.
When purchasing coffee, as with many
other products, you get what you pay for. A higher price usually means a
grower or producer has paid the pickers higher wages to be more
selective in choosing only ripe, sweet cherries (the term for the raw
coffee beans). This will get you a better-tasting coffee with greater
health benefits — like those sought-after antioxidants and polyphenols.
In addition, if you choose to drink
decaf coffee, make it a brand that is produced in a health-conscious
way. The regular decaffeination process can leave toxic residues, so be
sure to shop for a “Swiss water processed” brand instead.
Master a healthy coffee brewing process
Now that we’ve got the beans right,
what’s next? It’s important to process the beans and brew the coffee so
that the beneficial properties are preserved.
To that end, we recommend buying
whole beans rather than pre-ground ones. Once the beans are ground,
their delicate volatile oils are released and become oxidized over time.
Therefore, it’s best to grind the beans just before brewing the coffee.
Next comes the water — and let’s make
that filtered water. Most tap water contains chlorine, fluoride and
lots of minerals that don’t result in the best-tasting coffee. Some
coffee makers include a built-in water filter, otherwise try using an
under-counter system for the kitchen sink.
Finally, the way the coffee is brewed
can make or break its health benefits. It should go without saying by
now that instant coffee is definitely not the way to get a healthy brew.
Instant coffee is processed with any number of chemicals to create
those strange water-soluble chunks.
Similarly, single-brew coffee machines with plastic cups or pods should be avoided. This brewing method is expensive, unsustainable and may expose you to toxic plastics and aluminum.
Using traditional methods like a
French press or an espresso machine are the best choices if you want to
enjoy the health benefits of coffee. When a drip coffee maker is used,
choose a filter made with unbleached paper to avoid chemical exposure.
Take a look at your cup
Are you paying a few bucks a day for
coffee served in a throwaway cup? Not only does that expenditure really
add up over time (do the math!), it’s damaging to the environment and to
your health. Foam, plastic and bleached paper cups can leach toxins
into your brew, especially since the acidic nature of coffee encourages
the extraction of chemicals.
We recommend sticking with porcelain, clay, glass or stainless steel to ensure your cup of joe is toxin free.
Consider fattening up your coffee
That’s right, we used that scary word
“fat.” But don’t worry, adding fat to your coffee won’t add pounds to
your thighs. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Research shows that drinking coffee
blended up into a frothy, creamy delight with coconut oil or grass-fed
butter has a gentler effect on the body. It also provides a long-lasting
source of energy and makes the beneficial compounds in coffee more
available. What’s not to love!
… but don’t add these nasty ingredients
While certain natural additives like
those discussed above are perfectly healthy, many other ingredients
should never make it into your cup. Stay away from artificial sweeteners
and dairy substitutes. These chemical-based products will only serve to
reverse any health benefits your coffee might deliver.
Check out the ingredients list on the
back of a typical coffee creamer, and you will see things like
hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup and artificial
flavors. Just say no!
Instead, we recommend adding pure
flavorings and whiteners to your coffee. Try some vanilla extract, cocoa
or cinnamon, and stick with clean creamer alternatives like coconut
milk or full-fat organic cream.
As far as sweeteners go, raw honey or maple syrup are the best options in our books.
Timing is everything
That espresso the waiter tempts you
with after a nice dinner is definitely not a health-conscious choice.
While coffee can deliver some health benefits, the effects of caffeine
must be taken into account.
Caffeine can really do a number on
the hormonal system. Its ability to increase adrenaline and cortisol
production may cause anxiety and overstimulation. That’s why it’s vital
to time the consumption of coffee so that it doesn’t interfere with
normal hormonal processes.
Wait at least one hour after rising
in the morning before drinking a cup of coffee. This will allow the
natural biological rhythm of waking up to run its course without the
interference of caffeine. In addition, no coffee should be consumed
within three to five hours of going to sleep at night. Some people even
find that drinking coffee after midday can have detrimental effects on
We recommend that you pay close
attention to your own body and its reactions to coffee and caffeine. In
fact, taking a break from coffee for a few days a week is the smart
choice for most people.
Now that you’re a healthy coffee
connoisseur, you’ll never want to settle for cheap brown sludge in a
Styrofoam cup again! Want to learn more? Check out this article about how healthy coffee is grown.