Drinking Clean Coffee and Why it Matters

It turns out, not all coffee snobs are snooty about their coffee because it’s more fancy. Sometimes, they’re snobby because they just don’t want harmful traces of pesticides and molds in their morning cup of joe. Confession time, I may just be trying to make myself feel better because I, too, am a coffee snob. My father brought me over a bag of coffee to share and I felt ashamed that I couldn’t bring myself to drink it.  I still feel bad, but here are some reasons to validate my rudeness.

1.  Glyphosate, the main chemical in Round-Up, is taken up by the coffee plant and distributed all the way to the coffee bean…finally ending up (in trace amounts) in your cup.  There are no studies that have investigated the safety of daily consumption, it’s bioaccumulation, or it’s impact on our gut flora.  Many people don’t know this, but Glyphosate is an antimicrobial and, since our own cells are outnumbered by bacteria, the damage could be significant.  We do not have a set process, ability, or funding to investigate the intricate jobs our microbiota has and what chemicals can damage that process.  In the meantime, we need to be piecing the puzzle together with pieces of evidence.  Here are a couple.

Glyphosate uptake in coffee plants.
Glyphosate toxicity.

2.  Mycotoxins are the toxic metabolites of fungi and can be found in animal feed and food products that have exposure to moisture, such as coffee beans. Some people are severely sensitive to these metabolites, while others show little to no symptoms. I believe that it all depends on how your immune system reacts to these invaders.  Keep in mind that our immune systems have a tipping point.  If you are battling a virus, coupled with mold exposure and environmental stress, it is possible to reach that tipping point and develop an autoimmune reaction. Roasting significantly decreases mycotoxins.  However, a test of 100 different coffee brands in Spain still show trace amounts, with some brands having more than the allowable level of the only regulated metabolite, Ochratoxin-A. This leaves me to question what other mycotoxins are present in our coffee, at what levels, and what are the systemic effects?

Commercial coffees and high levels of mycotoxins.
What is autoimmunity?
How mold affects your performance.
Ochratoxin A and it’s risks.

3. Chemicals. Flavored coffees can contain potentially toxic preservatives, chemicals, and sweeteners. Many of these flavorings contain propylene glycol, a preservative found in anti-freeze, to evenly coat the coffee beans with flavoring. They can also use corn syrup or processed sugar as its sweetening agent and sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate as preservative agents.  Natural and artificial flavorings are mostly chemically derived with little literature on the safety of its long term ingestion or exposure. 
If your coffee is flavored, how can you tell the coffee beans are really good? Flavor can mask the bitter taste of Robusta coffee beans, aka cheaper coffee beans that come from large farms that generally have a weak and bitter flavor. Arabica beans are the only beans you should have in your coffee…if you value quality. Company’s like Maxwell House and Folger’s can keep a low bottom line by mixing Robusta and Arabica beans.

Propylene glycol and health concerns.
Sodium bonzoate and potassium sorbate implications.


If you wanted to skim over the last few paragraphs and get to the main point, coffee beans should be held to higher health standards to prevent mold and pesticide exposure.  Chemicals used should be backed by long term health studies and coffee companys should only source quality Arabica beans from ethical farms.  So ditch that coffee that has been sitting on the shelf for six months and buy coffee beans from a reputable company that will sell it to you within a few days of roasting.  How do you find that? There’s a good chance you have a local roaster in your city where you can learn their practices and set up shipments or pick up dates. Convenience is always nice too, and buying from a company that supports organic, local farms and will ship to your door is also a good bet.  That’s why we choose Camano Island Roasters.  They go beyond fair trade and will ship your coffee so that it gets to you around 2 days after roasting.  It tastes amazing and you get a discount for setting up a subscription.  Since my husband and I drink coffee every day, the discount is considerable!

If you want to check them out and claim your first bag free, click here.