Healthy coffee??? Does such a thing exist?
We all know that we really shouldn't be drinking coffee… especially not if we can't function without it. Right?
Yet, for some of us, there might be a healthy coffee out there!
And on today's #AskWardee, I'm going to tell you what kind of coffee you should be buying and how to brew it so that you can drink it knowing that you're not doing yourself any harm.
(Please know that there are still people who shouldn't drink coffee at all… like those healing their guts. Yet, for the rest of us, there is a type of coffee and a way to brew it so that we can drink it in moderation without doing any harm.)
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The Question: How To Brew Healthy Coffee?
Amanda R. asked:
I was wondering if you have ever done an #AskWardee episode on coffee? I am trying to incorporate traditional cooking into my kitchen as much as possible, learning and trying new things. We love coffee in our home and I was wondering about how to brew “healthy” coffee, if you will. What types to purchase, roasting, and grinding your own beans, etc. Do you have any information on this topic? Thanks for all your help and guidance. God bless you!
Amanda, I haven't done an #AskWardee on this topic, so I'm glad you asked!
My daughter Haniya wrote this comprehensive post about coffee: “Is Coffee Good For You? + The Truth About Caffeine”. She covered whether it's good for you, how much is ok per day, the best coffee if you choose to drink it, and things like that. I'll summarize the main points here in this episode and you can always go here to the original article for the full scoop.
Is Coffee Even Healthy?
Haniya went into this more deeply in her original article. I'll give you the bullet points. 🙂
Coffee contains, among an estimated 2,000 compounds:
- caffeine — absorbed quickly and almost completely, as it goes from the digestive tract to the bloodstream to the brain, it is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug (sorry, it's the truth)
- chlorogenic acids — powerful antioxidants; while some sources say they rival the great antioxidants of Vitamins E and C, yet others say they lose this ability once metabolized by the body
- diterpenes such as cafestol and kahweol — fat-soluble compounds linked to higher cholesterol levels (I'll tell you how to brew coffee to remove these in a bit)
A purported benefit of coffee is its ability to stimulate production of hormone gastrin in the gut, which then encourages production of hydrochloric acid, helpful in digestion. (However, too much hydrochloric acid can irritate the gut.)
On the other hand, coffee may hinder absorption of some vitamins and minerals, including non-heme iron and calcium.
In the brain, caffeine prevents sleepiness and gives a body a burst of energy by blocking adenosine receptors (adenosine promotes sleepiness). Interestingly, adenosine also regulates widening of blood vessels as needed, yet when caffeine is present, this can't happen, often leading to individuals experiencing temporary higher blood pressure.
Also, caffeine may also contribute to chronic daily headaches.
Finally, as we know so well, caffeine is addicting. A person who abruptly stops caffeine intake may go through withdrawal and experience headaches, fatigue, and anxiety.
So… it's definitely a catch-22. While there are benefits, there are certainly some downsides.
Let's talk about caffeine in particular…
How Much Caffeine Is Okay?
The Mayo Clinic recommends up to 400 mg caffeine/day for adults, with anything over 500 mg defined as heavy usage (source).
There's an average of 204 mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce serving of coffee (though it varies dramatically). A 1-ounce shot of espresso contains 62 mg caffeine.
We, however, feel these amounts are too much. If we can't function without our daily cup of coffee… you have to wonder… what is going on behind the scenes that we need coffee to keep going?
We're too busy?
We're not getting enough sleep or enough quality sleep?
We aren't eating well enough that our bodies are starving for nutrition to supply energy?
We have underlying hormone issues?
Yes, I know there are lots of funny memes out there regarding how coffee keeps us going. I think they're more sad than funny, though.
Those Who Shouldn't Drink Coffee
There are certain people who shouldn't drink have coffee (or caffeine) at all.
If you have gut issues, coffee can irritate and prevent healing. Do without.
If you have HPA axis dysfuntion (also known as adrenal fatigue), then caffeine should be avoided because it increases levels of stress hormones, which are already out of whack enough.
If you have a thyroid condition, caffeine may blunt the thyroid gland's ability to function and produce thyroid hormones.
If you need coffee to function properly, it's our opinion that you should address the underlying reasons your body needs caffeine to cope.
What About Decaf?
Is decaf any better?
Sort of. Because let's clarify that “decaf” simply means that at least 97% of the caffeine in coffee has been removed, according to USDA standards. So, most likely, there's still some caffeine left.
And decaffeination is quite challenging because we want to remove the caffeine without weakening the coffee flavor and aroma compounds.
There are three ways to decaffeinate coffee beans: chemical solvents, the carbon dioxide method, and Swiss Water Process.
The first is out because it's chemical solvents… ick.
The second is out because although better than chemicals, it's an expensive process.
Thus, we prefer the third method, called Swiss Water Process, which uses activated charcoal in a chemical-free process that results in 99.9% caffeine-free coffee.
6 Tips For Healthy Coffee (How To Make The Best Decaf Coffee!)
Unless you're a person who should avoid it entirely, not just the caffeine, then yes, there is a healthiest coffee that most individuals can enjoy in moderation.
Here are the qualifications:
First, choose Arabica beans over Robusta — because they contain less caffeine.
Second, look for fair-trade organic coffee beans, so you can ensure they are the best quality for you to consume and the best working conditions for those producing it.
Third, choose Swiss Water Process for the decaffeinating process. It is our opinion that most people, save those who allergies or gut issues, can enjoy coffee without the caffeine on a regular basis.
Fourth, brew your coffee in a pot such as the glass Chemex that uses paper filters or an organic cotton filter. Why? Because if you filter through paper or cloth, you can get the diterpenes mostly out! Other methods don't remove the diterpenes.
Fifth, you'll get a better cup of coffee if you grind your beans fresh on the spot… and even better if you grind with stone burrs rather than a blade! Haniya and her husband have this Hario Skurton ceramic hand-crank grinder and this electric Cuisinart burr coffee grinder.
Finally, for best flavor, coffee beans should be consumed within a month or so of roasting. Store in a dark cupboard in a container with airflow, like a paper bag or a glass jar that's not capped tightly. The refrigerator or freezer affects flavor, so only do that if you can't consume them within a few weeks of roasting.
Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans
Our son-in-law, Haniya's husband, roasts his own coffee using this roaster (pictured above) and it's soooo good.
He does this so he can get a really good price on the freshest, best coffee beans from either of these two websites: Burman Coffee Traders and Dean's Beans. He buys Arabica Swiss Water Process and roasts them as needed. We often get a pound from him when he's doing a batch!
We really like Dandy Blend. It's made from roasted dandelion root and chicory root and dissolves instantly and flavorfully into hot water water.
Finally, you make your own DIY herbal coffee! This is really, really, really good!
Any Questions Or Comments?
If you have other questions or comments about your own experience, be sure to leave them in the comments!
- “Is Coffee Good For You? + The Truth About Caffeine”
- Dandy Blend — coffee alternative made from roasted dandelion root (not gluten-free)
- decaf bulletproof coffee
- bulletproof coffee-inspired tea
- glass Chemex coffee pot
- Chemex paper filters
- Chemex organic cotton filter
- Hario Skurton ceramic hand-crank grinder
- electric Cuisinart burr coffee grinder
- Behmor coffee roaster — often out of stock, so keep checking back!
- Burman Coffee Traders
- Dean's Beans
- 15 Natural Energy-Boosting Drinks — No Caffeine Allowed!
- DIY herbal coffee — really, really good stuff!
- FREE Traditional Cooking Video Series
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