Cup of Joe: Friend or Foe

After I had my son, coffee was my lifeblood until a very wonderful, Zen-like doctor told me if I needed more than one cup my body must be missing something. He encouraged me to sleep more, something I’ve struggled with since pregnancy. I worked my way down to a single cup, and that’s where I’ve been for the past couple years. That said, I really enjoy my one cup of coffee so completely changing how I drink it is one of the first lifestyle changes I made, in addition to diet and supplements.

Part of my treatment with the new medical practice involves attending classes about food and seeing a nutritionist. It was during the first class where I learned most coffee was grown in warm, wet climates which produce a lot of moldy beans. No amount of processing gets rid of the mold (I asked). My one delicious cup became a hot glass of mold water. I was disgusted so I came home and started reading about shade grown, organic coffee.

At the time, I was using a single-cup Keurig I bought myself as a housewarming gift several years ago. It was red, and that’s really all that mattered. During my reading I learned that its plastic parts produce chemicals when heated, the rubber is a mold trap and the K cups with their plastic pods and aluminum tops cause depression and anxiety. Holy shit, I have been drinking steamy death water for years. So out went the Keurig and in came the stainless, electric kettle and glass pour over system with a stainless-steel filter. The coffee itself became whole beans that I grind by hand. The beans are grown organically in shade, and any decaf I buy is Swiss water processed. It takes an extra 3 minutes every morning to make coffee using this method.

It isn’t just that a Keurig is made of plastic. I was unable to  find a single automatic drip coffee maker without plastic or aluminum parts. Zero. I found several with BPA-free plastic components. Unfortunately, while we know BPA is being removed from plastics, we have no idea what is being substituted in its place. There is no guarantee that the BPA-free plastic in your machine is any healthier than one with BPA. And coffee makers rarely come with any labels about these sorts of things. It wasn’t until I went down the coffee rabbit hole that I learned Alzheimer’s is another condition linked to heating plastic--my memories are just too precious to trade in for a damn coffee maker.

Let’s get to the coffee itself. I’ve read there are more chemicals in one cup of coffee than on the average pharmacy shelf. Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic and some benign. Still pretty gross. One of those is a class of chemicals called ochratoxin. These are made up of different fungi called mycotoxins which in their simplest terms are food mold. We eat them all the time in wheat (bread, cereal, pasta), corn (everything), alcohol (brewer’s yeast, red wine, grain, sorghum, rye), peanuts (hot and wet climate) and yes, coffee.

The problem with mycotoxin fungi is that they damage the immune system and eventually cause inflammatory problems like leaky gut, chronic pain, asthma, hormone issues, insulin problems, tooth disease, fibromyalgia, IBS, poor memory, headaches…. This list is very, very long.

I’m not telling you to live a mycotoxin-free life. I think honestly that would be impossible. They’re everywhere, in our carpet, the animals we eat. I am telling you to make that cup of coffee count. According to studies, here is what coffee can do: reduce cavities, boost athletic performance, improve moods, stop headaches reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, liver cancer, gall stones, cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's diseases. That’s what I want my coffee to do. And that’s what I want your coffee to do for you.