Natural Living

Hidden Toxins in Your Morning Espresso: Best Organic Coffee Beans

Hidden Toxins in Your Morning Espresso: Best Organic Coffee Beans

Pesticides wreak havoc on our health…but did you know these are not the only unhealthy toxins found on coffee beans? Ensuring your cup of coffee is certified organic is important, but in order to avoid these hidden toxins you need to find a coffee you love that is beyond organic. Make sure you aren’t drinking these little-known toxic compounds in your morning espresso.

coffea beans

My hunt for the best organic espresso beans

As I mentioned in this post, there are periods of time where I stop drinking coffee. Sometimes the jittery anxiety it gave me along with increased body odor was a big inconvenience. On top of that, I would get a strange brain fog sometimes when trying a new brand of organic coffee beans.

I’ll be honest though: a morning cup of coffee is one of those pleasures in life that I do cherish. I was usually willing to feel the side effects so I could have my morning espresso drink.

Then I learned something that blew my mind…

It turns out, coffee – yes, even organic coffee – is often contaminated with unhealthy toxins. 

How can organic coffee have toxins?

Coffee brands you find at the grocery store often contain traces of compounds called mycotoxins as well as a carcinogen called acrylamide. Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by fungi, and acrylamide develops during the roasting process.

Coffee beans are prone to be a host for particular types of mold since coffee is often grown in a warm, humid climate, and these mold types thrive with the acidity level of coffee beans. Once the bean is tainted with this mold, the mold produces the mycotoxins.

When coffee beans are roasted the mold can’t survive, right? Well – even if the mold is killed, the mycotoxins are not eliminated from roasting.

One particularly harmful mycotoxin found on roasted coffee beans is called Ochratoxin A.

Harmful Effects caused by Ochratoxin A:

“Ochratoxin A (OTA) is nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, reprotoxic, embryotoxic, teratogenic, neurotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic for laboratory and farm animals. Male and female reproductive health has deteriorated in many countries during the last few decades. A number of toxins in environment are suspected to affect reproductive system in male and female. OTA is one of them” (Malir et al, 2014, para.1).

  1. Can disturb the immune System: in a study on chickens, exposure to this toxin caused damage to organs that play an important role in the immune system (Khan et al 1).
  1. Can cause Oxidative stress: chemical reactions in the body by free radicals creates unhealthy oxidation. Oxidation by free radicals causes an imbalance with antioxidants, which leads to a variety of effects like inflammation, arterial and cardiovascular damage, neurological damage, blood sugar issues, and cancer.
  2. Can cause kidney damage: This toxin has a damaging impact on nephrons, which are the functional units of the kidneys.
  3. Can have effects on fetal development: Studies on a variety of animals when exposed to this toxin in-utero had craniofacial abnormalities and a low birth weight (Malir et al).
  4. Can cause DNA damage- a study showed that autism was triggered by Ochratoxin A epigenetically (Mezzelani et al, 2015, para. 1).

But in coffee there are only trace amounts, which is safe – right?

Although the studies on Ochratoxin A administered much higher levels than is found in a cup of coffee, we have to remember that we often are drinking coffee on a daily basis. Even if we are exposing ourselves to a very small amount, it is still a consistent and long term exposure. If we are going the extra mile by buying organic coffee to avoid agricultural toxins, we should be willing to avoid other potential toxins as well for optimal health.

Do all coffees at the grocery store contain mycotoxins?

Although different coffee brands will all have varying amounts of these toxins – with some being grown in a cooler, less humid climate for example – there is no way to be sure whether or not the coffee beans contain mycotoxins without being tested. That being said, it’s best to buy a brand of coffee that has their beans lab tested to be free of these toxins.

What about Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a carcinogenic toxin that is created during the roasting process of coffee beans. The amount of acrylamide actually peaks during the roasting process and then reduces, so less roasting doesn’t actually mean less acrylamide. 

There’s Good news!

There is an organic coffee brand that has a great taste, low acrylamide, and has their coffee beans lab tested to be free of mycotoxins!

The best organic coffee beans

For many reasons, I think Purity Coffee is the best organic coffee brand on the market. They have a very high standard for their coffee beans, ensuring their beans are mold and mycotoxin free, high in antioxidants and low in acrylamide. They use a specific roast level for their arabica beans that is optimal for keeping the antioxidants high while still roasting past the point of high acrylamide, as this carcinogen is generally higher when less roasted. 

Their goal is to provide truly healthy coffee, so that the negative effects of coffee do not outweigh all of the benefits. 

A few Health Benefits of coffee

  1. Loaded with antioxidants
  2. Improves cognitive function
  3. Contains anti-inflammatory compounds
  4. Lowers risk of obesity and heart disease
  5. Can reduce risk of liver cancer
  6. Contains compounds that can aid gut health
  7. Lowers risk of diabetes

Finding all this out was starting to convince me to give Purity Coffee a try, but…

Knowing that they roasted their coffee in a way that maximizes the health benefits made me a little hesitant to try it. Being a coffee snob, I was thinking that coffee roasted for health benefits wouldn’t taste as good as my favorite brands.

Boy was I wrong. It’s actually the best coffee I have tasted, and I’ve tried many of the “fanciest”  coffee brands!

One reason this brand of coffee has such unique flavor profiles is because of the way they source their beans. 

Instead of purchasing single-origin beans, they buy from multiple farms that they keep close relationships with in Central America and South America. They do this so that they can receive fresh green coffee beans at different regions’ peak harvest times throughout the year. This creates such original flavor notes, and because it’s roasted so fresh it has an incredibly smooth taste and rich flavor. 

Not only do they have an organic certification, their beans are also Smithsonian Bird Friendly and Rainforest Alliance certified. Many of their blends are also biodynamic or regenerative certified. 

Recently, the company purchased a farm in Columbia in order to produce beans using more regenerative farming practices and even higher antioxidants. The high antioxidant content in coffee is due in part to the high levels of chlorogenic acids or CGA, and coffee grown in this region has very high CGA.

Whole Bean Options for different Personal Tastes

Lighter roasts work well for pour-over brews because of their more light, citrus taste profiles. 

Medium roasts are a good option for espresso shots and drip brewed coffee. It also works well for moka-pot brews. It has a nutty flavor with hints of apple and dark chocolate. 

Dark roasts are the perfect choice for french press brews, and also makes a great espresso with a bold flavor and notes of dark chocolate.

This list is in no way a strict guideline…their coffee beans are all so versatile! I highly encourage you to look at their website and decide which one to try first.

Each of these blends are roasted for different health preferences: for example, the dark roast is easier on digestion and some other blends are roasted to be as high as possible in antioxidants. 

Are you caffeine-free? 

They also have a delicious, versatile medium roast decaf blend! The beans are decaffeinated using a natural water process, which helps the beans keep their healthy components while removing the caffeine.

There is so much information on their website that was very eye opening to me.

Ever since I switched to this brand I no longer get the jitters, brain fog or B.O. I used to get with other organic coffee brands.

Now I can enjoy the most amazing tasting coffee, while knowing that what I’m drinking is great for my health!

Tips for buying this brand at a lower price

I held off on buying this brand of coffee for a while because it’s more expensive to buy an average size bag of coffee – having to pay for shipping on top of already higher prices than coffee at the grocery store.

Now that I know the coffee tastes amazing, I buy in bulk which enables me to get free shipping and a lower price per weight! Buying in bulk, the price is about the same as a high quality organic coffee from a grocery store. 

They also frequently have deals and sales. I get texts from them when they have a deal going on. That’s actually why I finally tried my first bag: they had a free shipping and discount special for Black Friday a while back.

When buying coffee in bulk, make sure to store your beans in an airtight container! Just leaving it in the bag exposed to air will make the quality go down much more quickly. I am not a fan of stale tasting coffee!

Tips for healthy coffee drinking

Once you have mycotoxin and low acrylamide coffee, there are more things you can do to make your coffee healthier for you.

  1. Wait an hour or two after waking: drinking caffeine first thing in the morning can affect your natural hormone cycles. In the morning cortisol is naturally high, and adding caffeine which could increase cortisol levels even more may not be the best thing for your health.  It’s important that we strive to be in tune with our body’s natural clock- our circadian rhythm. Instead of depending on caffeine to wake up, try watching the sunrise (not through a window, but outside) whenever you can. There are many benefits to watching the sunrise, and one of them is that it is beneficial to our natural circadian rhythm. 
  2. Eat first: drinking coffee can have a negative effect on blood sugar if having it on an empty stomach. Make sure to eat breakfast or a snack before (or at least with) your coffee to negate these blood sugar effects.
  3. Add an adaptogen: adaptogens are herbs or mushrooms that help our body maintain homeostasis by keeping things like stress hormones in a balance. They also help cognitive function along with tons of other benefits. This makes adaptogen coffee the best coffee for studying or focusing on something! Check out this post for more info about adaptogen coffee.
  4. Don’t consume too much: As a bean, we don’t want it to take up a large portion of our daily intake. I limit my consumption of beans/seeds to a very small amount. I personally wouldn’t have more than one cup per day.
  5. Listen to your body: if you are still sensitive to caffeine but love a morning cup of coffee, just settle for mycotoxin free decaf! It tastes amazing without having the affects of caffeine.

Healthy Milk Options for coffee

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you may know I’m a big fan of raw milk – there are so many proven health benefits (see this post to learn more about why I love raw milk). If you don’t tolerate dairy well, you could see if raw goat milk works for you – start with a very small amount and work your way up, it might take time for your body to adapt! If you still have a hard time digesting dairy, the best option might be a thickener and additive free coconut milk. When I used to avoid dairy I just drank coffee black, I think milk alternatives can ruin the taste of coffee…almond milk, soy milk- yuck! My favorite coffee to drink without milk is a delicious, fruity pour-over!

So, if you’ve been looking for a new organic coffee to try and you’re a health-nut-plus-coffee-snob like me, I think Purity Coffee beans would be a great option to try out!

Have you tried other delicious organic coffee brands that test for mycotoxins and use regenerative/biodynamic farming practices?  Let me know in the comments!

Shop this post

My favorite Purity coffee roast

Decaf Purity coffee beans!

*This is not medical advice

* None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA

*As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

Sources:

“An Easy Lifestyle Change with Remarkable Health Benefits-Purity Coffee” Purity Coffee, 3 Feb. 2023, https://puritycoffee.com/blogs/blog/one-easy-lifestyle-change-with-huge-benefits.

Khan SA, Venancio EJ, Ono MA, Fernandes EV, Hirooka EY, Shimizu CF, Oba A, Flaiban KKMC, Itano EN. Effects of Subcutaneous Ochratoxin-A Exposure on Immune System of Broiler Chicks. Toxins (Basel). 2019 May 11;11(5):264. doi: 10.3390/toxins11050264. PMID: 31083513; PMCID: PMC6563231.

Malir F, Ostry V, Pfohl-Leszkowicz A, Novotna E. Ochratoxin A: developmental and reproductive toxicity-an overview. Birth Defects Res B Dev Reprod Toxicol. 2013 Dec;98(6):493-502. doi: 10.1002/bdrb.21091. Epub 2014 Jan 6. PMID: 24395216.

Mezzelani A, Raggi ME, Marabotti A, Milanesi L. Ochratoxin A as possible factor trigging autism and its male prevalence via epigenetic mechanism. Nutr Neurosci. 2016;19(1):43-6. doi: 10.1179/1476830515Z.000000000186. Epub 2015 Jan 17. PMID: 25597866.

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