Excluding water, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world according to some sources, and it is the second-most traded commodity. Though the health benefits of coffee can be debated, it is undeniable that people around the world are consuming it in large amounts every day (myself included!).
According to legend, the stimulating properties of coffee were first discovered by Ethiopian shepherds who noticed that their goats had extra energy after eating coffee berries. Coffee has a history as rich as many of the sugared coffee drinks popular today and is used in various ways around the world:
- The French philosopher Voltaire was said to have consumed up to 50 cups of coffee a day (the lethal dose is 100 cups/day)!
- Teddy Roosevelt was rumored to have drank 16 cups per day.
- The Italian government regulates espresso because it is considered an essential part of daily life (similar to how carbohydrates and proteins are listed and regulated on food packaging here). Baristas are also highly respected in Italy.
- Bach wrote an opera about a woman who drank too much coffee.
- The word “cappuccino” comes from the similarity of the drink in color to the robes worn by Capuchin monks.
- The King banned coffee houses in England in the 1600s because he thought people were conspiring against him in coffee houses.
- Before coffee gained popularity, beer was the breakfast drink of choice in the US.
- The world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, costs $600 per pound and is literally coffee beans eaten and excreted by a Asian Palm Civet (a large cat).
- Money may not grow on trees, but coffee does. The coffee “bean” is actually the roasted seed of a bright red berry (making it a fruit).
The world consumes over 2 BILLION cups of coffee a day. This means that the way we choose to drink coffee can have a big impact on our health and on the environment. Timing can make a difference for health and the optimal time to consume coffee for cortisol patterns is between 9:30 and 11:30 am. Choosing a healthy coffee maker can also have a dramatic impact.
The Problem with (Some) Coffee Makers
Even if you choose organic and fair trade coffee to avoid the pesticides, some unsavory substances may end up in your brew from other sources.
Unfortunately, some modern methods of consuming coffee carry their own set of risks. The increasingly popular coffee pods (or k-cups) for instance, have become an increasing burden for the environment as over 10 billion of them ended up in landfills last year alone. Endocrine disrupting plastic chemicals from the pods can end up in the finished coffee, and these plastics have been linked to various health problems.
Even regular coffee makers (and coffee pod machines) contain plastics that come in contact with hot liquid and can leach plastic chemicals into the finished coffee. Additionally, the perpetually dark and warm environment in the tubes of these machines can’t be completely dried and are the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and even biofilms to grow.
Half of all coffee mugs tested contained mold spores, potentially from the tubing inside coffee makers, and the hot water and acidity of coffee is not enough to kill this mold.
Safer & Non-Toxic Coffee Makers
Though modern drip coffee makers are certainly a convenient way to make coffee, there are other options that are much healthier and that (in my opinion) produce a much better cup of coffee. These are some of my favorite non-toxic coffee makers:
There are some great French Press options and these allow you to have control over the temperature and intensity of your coffee. The water must be pre-heated using another method, but French Press coffee makers don’t require any electricity or heat. They don’t keep coffee warm like a drip coffee pot would but are a great option for making a couple of cups of high-quality coffee. As an added bonus, it can also be used to make tea.
Traditional French Press coffee makers (like this one) are typically glass with a stainless steel interior filter, but there is now also a completely stainless steel French Press machine that won’t crack or break like some of the glass options.
As the name suggests, this method of brewing involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds and letting gravity do the work. Unlike the French Press, there isn’t a way to push down the coffee to speed up the process and the pour over method does take a little longer. This method is used in some high-end coffee shops and I find that the extra time and effort are worth it for the quality of the coffee.
Popular pour-over brewing options include:
- The Chemex– an all-glass system that has won awards for its design and is even on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It does require filters and I personally like either the unbleached disposable filters or a stainless steel reusable filter.
- Cone Coffee Drippers- Slightly less expensive, simple cone filters (like this stainless Brewologist or this ceramic Hario) also use the pour-over method and are typically used to make one cup at a time.
What’s old is certainly new again, and old-fashioned percolator coffee makers are a great alternative to drip coffee pots. Many of us may remember these iconic machines but they have lost popularity (largely due to modern drip coffee pots and more recent coffee pod brewers). The benefit of these is that they are electric, don’t require any additional equipment or filters and can be plugged in much like a drip machine. They also keep coffee warm like a coffee pot, so they are a good option for anyone who likes having a pot of warm coffee ready for longer than a few minutes.
Just make sure to use a model that is completely stainless steel for both durability and to avoid plastic.
Stainless Espresso Makers
The traditional Bialetti espresso makers are often made of aluminum (my husband has used one since college and refuses to get rid of it, much to my chagrin!) instead of steel. Though harder to find, there are now stainless steel stove-top espresso makers that work just as well and don’t use aluminum. These are a good option for those who prefer espresso to regular coffee.
The Coffee Maker Bottom Line
Don’t let a mold-infested plastic coffee maker ruin a good cup of coffee. Try one of these non-toxic coffee makers. Many have the added benefit of not needing disposable filters and create a better cup of coffee.
Are you a coffee drinker? What is your coffee maker of choice?
Continue Reading…Best Non-Toxic Coffee Makers