Let me start by saying this is NOT a post on “Why you should cut out coffee”. This post is to bust one “soundbyte nutrition” myth and give you the facts
The dark side of coffee is that it is generally grown on steep hills at an altitude of 2000ft in tropical climates. (Read:: HUMIDITY!!) This climate for growing along with lower quality beans, and poor harvesting and storage methods mean that many of the
cheap commercial beans are laden with mycotoxins which are compounds created by molds that form on coffee beans (and cacao beans incidentally!). These compounds cause all kinds of health issues including certain types of kidney disease, hypertension, and even cancer. The mycotoxins can occur on any coffee beans and studies indicate that over 91% of coffee beans contain this mold. Another study concluded that this mold is present in up to 50% of brewed coffee so the roasting and grinding process really do very little to reduce these molds. This same study found up to 52% of all green coffee beans.
The worst offending mold is Ochratoxin A which is damaging not only to kidneys and carcinogenic but also causes a suppression or all out war on the immune system. For anyone who has ever lived or is currently living with toxic mold in your house you will understand the dangers as the mold on coffee is the same class as toxic mold in your home.
Have you ever had a cup of coffee that was so bitter you had to keep dumping sugar in to make it drinkable?? That’s actually the mold on the coffee coming through. Funny how your body instinctively knows what is “bad” for you, eh?
The detractors in the health media that say coffee is unhealthy or even downright dangerous for health aren’t really talking about the actual coffee rather the mold and mycotoxins on the coffee. These toxins are what cause the majority of the actual health issues associated with coffee.
Oh and this reason is one of the many reasons I have not jumped on the “green coffee as a superfood” bandwagon. There is no telling how most of these manufacturers process their beans.
Here’s the rub on “organic” beans. About 95% of the world’s coffee growers are actually small, family run plantations. That’s not to say Folger’s doesn’t have a massive plantation somewhere in Brazil because they probably have several and they obviously use cheap beans that are most assuredly full of these toxic compounds. I am talking about the rest of the population that label their beans ‘organic’ and even ‘fair trade’. In many of the countries that have coffee growers, these are small plantations using traditional methods of growing and hand harvesting. Many still use donkeys in the fields so they are utilizing natural fertilizers (courtesy of the donkeys) and although coffee on the larger plantations are most assuredly laced with pesticides, the coffee beans on the smaller plantations are less affected by chemicals.
I’m not saying that all those beans in pretty bags with exotic sounding names are all naturally organic whether they are certified or not but I am just saying that buying a $10 bag of ‘organic’ beans may not be much different than the $6 not labelled beans.
Oh and for those of you who drink decaffeinated coffee, you aren’t faring any better. In fact you are even more likely to be exposed to both ochratoxin and aflatoxin as the naturally occurring caffeine acts as an anti-microbial and anti-fungal mechanism in the beans tend to deter mold growth during storage. Since most beans undergo “decaffeination” before storage this means that natural deterrent is no longer there.
So what is a coffee lover that is not keen on giving up his morning cup to do?
The type of beans here does make a difference. Robusta beans (the beans most used in that insipid red can) are more likely to harbor mold than Arabica beans. Single source beans from single plantations are much more preferable to ‘exotic’ sounding blends which can come from not only multiple estates but from many different countries.
Think about it…. there are different diseases in different parts of the world. Why would there not be different molds and toxins coming from different parts of the world?? Blends are dangerous because most coffee has the potential to contain mycotoxins. Do you really need five different types in your coffee cup?
Finding an ethically sourced ‘fair trade’ single estate single bean (Arabica is best) and aim for a Central American grown bean where mold is less prevalent.
Finding a high quality coffee is half the battle. Because I am a lover of theas I too have had the “yak butter tea” in Tibet, I was first in line to try his I am not a huge fan of drip coffee but I am amazed at the taste of these coffee beans and they meet the exacting standards of choosing a coffee I have described above.
I’ll be honest. I have not drank the kool-aid of the entire “bulletproof” lifestyle because I have never liked the “Rah Rah”attitude of the health industry nor do I subscribe to the need for whey protein or isolating any food into a supposedly more “nutritious” form when there was nothing wrong with the original food in its whole form. I do love the coffee though and it really is worth the purchase if you have the means.
This coffee done up in my version of Bulletproof Coffee (This is the original recipe) which I call “1000 Megawatt Coffee” (my recipe) made with grass-fed ghee, virgin coconut oil and a little raw milk has cured my out of control Starbuck’s habit to the point where I can pass it up with no problem at all. I actually can’t wait for my morning coffee now.
Click on over and see my recipe for 1000 Megawatt Coffee that is better than any blended coffee drink in any neighborhood coffeehouse in the world!