f you’ve ever been to or lived in California, you might have noticed that there are cancer warnings on more products than anywhere else in the country. Now, when you reach for a bag of coffee beans, there is a warning that the coffee you’re about to buy may cause cancer. There are even warnings inside coffee shops on their signage. It’s enough to make you wonder if you should stop drinking coffee altogether.
California has the reputation of having cancer warnings on pretty much everything. This is due to Proposition 65, which is a California state law that requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide a warning if anything they produce has the potential to cause cancer.
The reason behind this particular cancer warning is: Acrylamide.
Acrylamide is a chemical compound that is created when food is cooked at very high temperatures. The truth is, you’ve probably been eating acrylamide unintentionally most of your life. Acrylamide develops in most coffee during the roasting process but there are ways to reduce your intake.
Before we dive into the coffee making process and better coffee options, I want to answer the obvious question:
Should you stopped drinking coffee?
The answer is no, you do not need to stop drinking coffee. In fact, let’s recap all the amazing benefits of coffee.
12 Science-backed Benefits of Coffee
The problem with all these warnings is that coffee does not cause cancer. Coffee is actually incredibly healthy for you and has a number of proven benefits including:
- Stimulates energy
- Helps you burn fat
- Improves performance
- Packed with essential nutrients
- Associated with a longer life
- Associated with lower risk of depression
- Reduces type II diabetes risk
- Protective against dementia
- Associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
- Associated with lower risk of liver cancer
- Associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer
- Associated with lower risk of stroke
Furthermore, coffee also contains over a 1000 bioactive components and is considered the best source of antioxidants and polyphenols in most American’s diet.
Without a doubt, coffee is good for you. That being said like so many other things in life, it appears a higher-quality might be better. Especially, if you struggle with any chronic conditions where it’s important for you to reduce the number of toxins or environmental burden on your health.
How can one coffee bean be better quality than another? The answer lies in the processing.
Your Coffee: From Seed to Cup
Every step of the way, they way your coffee is processed, matters. First your coffee begins as a fruit on a plant – it actually looks a lot like a little cherry or cranberry. Coffee grows best in warm climates and shade, and there is typically one harvest a year. Picking coffee is also a labor-intensive process, and workers pick an average of 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries each day. This will result in about 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans.
The combination of a labor-intensive process and the fact that the plants need shade are why fair trade coffee matters. Because machines can’t harvest these plants effectively, it’s important that we consider the workers as well. You’ve probably noticed fair trade labels on coffee, these are referring to certifications that imply they pay their workers a livable wage.
The beans are then dried and milled, which pulls the outer husk off. Next the beans are graded, sorted, and usually exported. This whole process involves many months where the beans are stored, and it’s at this point that mold can sometimes grow. The coffee is then passed off to a roaster, who then processes the coffee beans into what we purchase and enjoy. When coffee beans are burnt during the roasting process, acrylamide can be created.
Each step of this process has points where the coffee is sorted and handled in a way that impacts it’s quality. At each point, the bean is either passed up or down the gradient of quality until it ends up in your cup each morning.
Why High Quality Coffee Matters
When coffee isn’t quality, it can contain pesticides, mold, and acrylamide from burnt beans. This may contribute to the jittery feeling and upset stomach some people get when they drink coffee. While people in good health can probably process most of these toxins without really noticing it, people with chronic conditions can be more affected.
I’ve switched to Purity Organic Coffee because their bean selection and processing has been developed to maximize health benefits and reduce harmful effects They select for the highest quality beans, tests for toxins (including mold), and they roast at a temperature where antioxidants are maximized and acrylamide is minimized.
I recommend upgrading to a higher-quality bean for two reasons. The first being mold and the second being acrylamide. Purity Organic Coffee tests for and eliminates both. Not only do they eliminate the potential harmful elements of coffee, they developed their processing and roasting methods specifically to boost antioxidant levels.
I’m all about quality over quantity and if you enjoy coffee as much as I do, this is an area in your daily life you might want to consider an upgrade. Now, time for my cup of Joe!
I’ve written about mold in coffee as well, you can find that in my blog: Is There Mold in Your Coffee? When Mycotoxins Matter.