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Coffee: Best Kind To Drink To Maximize Health Benefits & Reduce Toxins, Why More Than Organic Matters

Updated on April 1, 2015
Coffee is healthy, but there are specific kinds that are more healthy for you than others.
Coffee is healthy, but there are specific kinds that are more healthy for you than others. | Source

Coffee Is Healthy - So What's the Problem?

Most of us coffee drinkers have heard the good news that coffee, in moderation, can be beneficial to our health. Coffee is credited with lowering the risk for multiple diseases such as certain types of liver cancer, type II diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as making us happier. Although scientific studies can be controversial, officials at the Harvard School of Public Health agree that there is more good news in coffee consumption than bad. It's important to note that not all coffee is created equal. Depending on the type and quality, we may not be receiving the benefits we want. By minimizing possible pollutants and toxins in our coffee, we can maximize the potential benefits.

Copyright © 2015 Melis Ann


The Rainforest of Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia. We can help protect natural resources like tropical rainforests through the kind of coffee we drink.
The Rainforest of Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia. We can help protect natural resources like tropical rainforests through the kind of coffee we drink. | Source

The Healthiest Coffee – For Us and The Environment

It just so happens that what’s best for Mother Nature, is also best for you! There are a few different coffee certifications that each focus on something slightly different. Bottom line is that buying a brand with any one of these certifications is better for you (and the environment) than buying one without a certification.


Learning about the different coffee certifications will help you choose what kind of coffee you want to purchase.
Learning about the different coffee certifications will help you choose what kind of coffee you want to purchase. | Source

Breakdown of Coffee Certifications

Coffee labels may show one or more of the following seals of approval.

  • A certified USDA Organic brand of coffee is grown without the use of toxic pesticides, fertilizers or genetically modified seeds.
  • Fair Trade certified coffee means that small farmers in developing countries are paid fair wages for their product and labor, and protected against illegal exposures to agricultural chemicals. Even if the brand is not certified organic, the sustainable farming methods they use reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Bird-Friendly (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) certification guarantees that the coffee is both shade-grown and organic. It protects migratory birds that use the rainforest canopy by keeping the trees they need. Even though this certification does not address labor conditions, the workers benefit from the organic certification requirements.
  • Rainforest Alliance certification addresses economic aspects like fair treatment of workers as well as environmental and ecological issues ensuring sustainability of the rainforest. Shade cover is an optional piece of the certification, so not all Rainforest Alliance certified coffee is shade-grown, and criteria are not as strict as Bird-Friendly.
  • Starbucks developed it's own ethical sourcing criteria called C.A.F.E. which stands for Coffee and Farmer Equity and is part of their Shared Planet program. Their goal is to ensure positive social, environmental and economic impacts on coffee farming. Because their certification addresses multiple factors, it is more comprehensive than the more narrowly focused certifications such as Fair Trade. However, because the options in the certification are so broad for farms to satisfy, there is less certainty how much focus each farm has in the social, economic and environmental areas. A good program, but not as stringent as Bird-Friendly.
  • Although coffee labeling may state "shade-grown" with some sort of symbol, there is no official certification process to define or confirm this statement. Under that term there can be multiple factors to consider such as diversity of tree species, percent of foliage coverage, and canopy height, all of which are important in creating true sustainability.

Other certifications do exist and focus on similar components, but are not as widely used as the above. Bird-Friendly is the most stringent as a single certification since it touches on multiple aspects including organic farming, sustaining the rainforest canopy, protecting wildlife and maintaining healthy working conditions. If you want all around coverage and a guarantee that you are protecting the trees from being clear-cut, Bird-Friendly plus Fair Trade would be my pick. You'll see links to specific brands at the end of the hub.


What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food

Why We Need Certifications for Coffee

Sustainable coffee plantations traditionally grow their coffee bean trees in the shady canopy of the rainforest. Increase in demand for coffee set in motion clear-cutting of the rainforest to make way for full-sun coffee plantations which are more productive per square foot than shade-grown operations. However, without the shade of the trees, huge quantities of fertilizers and pesticides are needed to meet production needs in full sun. The absence of one of the certifications means coffee probably comes from a deforested area and is laden with chemical residues. If you’re unhappy with the regulations in place for food safety in the U.S., then you will be appalled by the lax pesticide and fertilizer regulations in many places where coffee is grown.

Coffee Certifications Protect the Environment and Workers

In general, these certifications protect us against potentially harmful chemical residues in the product we drink, but they also protect farm workers from chemical exposure and persistent pollution in water, air and soil in their communities. In addition, since the rainforest is so important in controlling greenhouse gases for the globe, protecting these forests and the wildlife they support is crucial to our long-term sustainability.

Rainforests cover about 6% of the globe, but supply 40% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. If rainforests continue to be cleared, some predict they will disappear by the year 2020.

Supporting certified coffee helps protect plantation workers and the environment from toxic chemical pesticides.
Supporting certified coffee helps protect plantation workers and the environment from toxic chemical pesticides. | Source
Quality of coffee beans determine toxins. To decaffeinate coffee, many companies use toxic chemicals.
Quality of coffee beans determine toxins. To decaffeinate coffee, many companies use toxic chemicals. | Source

Decaffeinated Coffee – Toxic Residue

If you’re pregnant or have been told to reduce your caffeine intake, then you might have switched to decaf. There are different ways that raw coffee beans are processed to remove the caffeine before roasting.


Decaf Coffee Labels

Swiss Water Process is a multi-step process that involves soaking the beans in water which removes caffeine and flavor compounds. The caffeine is filtered out of the flavor-charged water and the beans are discarded. Then, a new batch of beans is soaked in this flavor-charged water, which allows only the caffeine to be extracted from that batch. This decaffeination process is free of chemicals. Labels will say Swiss Water Process or Water Processed. Caribou Coffee labels their version as All Natural Decaf and their website explains that water is used to decaffeinate the beans. Click here to find stores or online retailers that carry Swiss Water Process decaf coffee.

Decaf labels that say nothing about how they were processed are treated with chemicals such as trichloroethylene, dichloromethane, methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to remove caffeine. Even though further processing is supposed to remove these toxic chemicals from the bean, residue likely remains. In addition, think of the hazardous waste that is produced from processing the beans with batches of these types of chemicals! This type of decaf is the only option available at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts right now.

Get A Coffee Maker: Make Your Own Bird-Friendly Brew

Farberware FCP240 2-4-Cup Percolator, Stainless Steel
Farberware FCP240 2-4-Cup Percolator, Stainless Steel

Various sizes available: 4-cup (perfect size for individuals), 8-cup and 12-cup.

 

Other Factors Affecting Health Benefits of Coffee

  1. Unfiltered versus Filtered brew: Studies have pointed to unfiltered coffee for raising cholesterol levels up to 20% due to two components in coffee that are taken out when using a filter: cafestol and kahweol.
  2. Milk: A 2010 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that adding milk to coffee does not affect the level of beneficial phenolic acids (antioxidants) present in coffee. This was tested by measuring the bioavailability of the phenolic acids in the bloodstream after the test subject drank the coffee. Comparitively, the addition of non-dairy creamer and sugar both reduced antioxidant levels in the bloodstream. This link contains the study in full. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/140/2/259.full
  3. Other Additives: Total calorie intake of your daily cup is something to consider since an unaltered cup of black coffee contains a mere 2 calories, give or take. The health benefit of coffee is likely negated by the addition of sugar, syrups, creams and anything artificial.

Best Coffee Certification

Birds & Beans Coffee is Bird-Friendly certified which is one of the most stringent coffee certifications. And if you want decaf, the beans are decaffeinated with the water process. Prices are competitive with other specialty coffee. Order at the online coffee shop or find local stores.

Common yellow throat
Common yellow throat | Source

Shade-Grown, Rainforest Alliance Coffee Available on Amazon

Fair Trade and Organic Coffee Available On Amazon

Disclaimer
Note that this website portrays my opinion. I want to help others consider a new or different view. Any action taken based on these opinions is the responsibility of the reader.

Copyright © 2015 Melis Ann
Original work published only on HubPages at this website: http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/Coffee-What-Kind-To-Look-For-To-Maximize-Benefits-and-Reduce-Toxins

The best certified coffee is Bird-Friendly.
The best certified coffee is Bird-Friendly. | Source

The Healthiest Coffee

It's encouraging to hear good news about the health benefits of coffee, but regardless of that news we need to understand that the quality of coffee is important. Buying a brand with a certification will minimize exposure to unhealthy toxins. This change is easy to make in today's coffee market with so many certified coffee brands available. Of all the different certifications available, Bird-Friendly coffee is my pick. It represents the perfect mix of healthy components for the environment and us including organic, community support, rainforest friendly and therefore bird-friendly.


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    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Very informative and well researched Hub. I did not know that decaffeinated coffee can have a toxic residue. I will definitely be more discerning in my coffee drinking choices.

    • ACQHealth profile image

      ACQHealth 5 years ago

      Great Hub!!!! Considering if I want to drink coffee while pregnant (or later nursing) always makes me second guess my addiction to enjoying a cup here and there. This information is extremely helpful, thank you!

    • David Warren profile image

      David Warren 5 years ago from Nevada

      Interesting and well written. Enjoyed reading your hub. Amazing how little so many of us know about something we use daily!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      After reading your article, I am going on a hike to the blue mountains on the island where they grow coffee to check out the environmental impact.

    • healthwealthmusic profile image

      Ruth R. Martin 5 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      I am a 2 cup-a-day coffee drinker :) I drink it unsweetened with a bit of real whole milk. Nothing like it! Love to finally hear another article about the benefits of coffee. Mostly I hear about how you should quit drinking it. I do know of course that Organic is better...

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      YogaKat - When I found that out myself, I was also surprised and knew that I needed to get the word out!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks ACQHealth! You can feel good about enjoying it knowing you're drinking a quality product!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for your comment David. I think your comment reflects how most people feel. We can make the biggest difference by changing small things that we do daily.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Let me know how it goes rasta1!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      I like my coffee the same way healthwealthmusic! I enjoy it even more knowing I'm supporting the communities that take care of the rainforest!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Wow, you really researched your coffee! I was happy to see fair trade being high on the list. Although I don't see a lot of it over this way, they had great products in the UK.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Brett - I know South Korea is a huge coffee market, so supporting fair trade makes a big difference. I imagine 'fair trade' is more globally reaching than 'bird-friendly'. Any type of sustainable certification is better than none! Thanks for your input.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 5 years ago from India

      Very informative!

      The literature about the good and bad effects of coffe were always confusing to me. Today if I read one saying that it is good for health in some way, tomorrow another one may come out with the bad effects of coffee.

      Thnaks for compiling the information and make it palatable.

      Thanks for SHARING:)

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks thumbi7! I also found coffee labels confusing and wanted to know once and for all what really mattered when it came to claims on the labels. Now that I can focus on bird-friendly certification, I'm not wasting my time looking at anything else and know that this coffee is healthiest for my body.

    • SMD2012 profile image

      Sally Hayes 5 years ago

      Wow, I had no idea that decaf was processed that way. I only drink it in restaurants, after a meal when I want something desserty, without the dessert, and I don't want to be up all night. But since I can't tell which process is used to make it, I'll be skipping it from now on. Thanks for a great hub. Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

    • Melis Ann profile image
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      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      I also like decaf at night SMD2012! If you ask the restaurant for "water processed" decaf you might get lucky. If they don't know what it means they will look at you like you have two heads, but if they do then you'll still get your dessert! Thanks for commenting and sharing the hub!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      I agree cookingrecipes that this information on coffee is useful to so many people. I'm glad you found it useful!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This is such an informative hub! Since I am not a coffee drinker I enjoyed reading what to look for and appreciate what 'good' coffee is... :)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Here is the link http://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/A-HubNugg... Have fun!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Really great piece. I love that you pointed out the negative consequences of the decaffeinating process. So many people think decaf is somehow better for you, but it really isn't. Awesome and up!

    • Melis Ann profile image
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      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks ripplemaker-I am pleased to be nominated!

    • Melis Ann profile image
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      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Natashalh - thanks for voting this up! I want people to know more about coffee health facts so I appreciate you helping get this out there!

    • MsTarrah profile image

      MsTarrah 5 years ago

      I love coffee. This gave me so much useful information. Your level of research is impressive. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

      So important hub in our coffee obsessed society 'Birds and Beans' is now ON for me:)

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks MsTarrah for your comment. I'm glad you found the information useful!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Birds & Beans is delicious Beata ~ you will love it. Glad you liked the hub.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      This hub has such good, useful information that I shared it with my followers and on Twitter and Facebook.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      I appreciate the share B. Leekley! Thank you so much. Ulimately, the more people that know about bird-friendly coffee and possible toxins present in coffee, the more earth and people friendly coffee will be available and visible to the masses. Cheers!

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 5 years ago from United States

      Very well written and informative. I had no idea there were this many different factors to consider when buying coffee. I definitely want something that is going to be healthier for me and the rainforest at the same time. Thanks!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for the read M.T. ~ This is why I wrote this hub. It's amazing once you dive into the choices for coffee what you find.

    • profile image

      lilMissScrittore 5 years ago

      This was so informative and interesting! It is definitely going to inform my decisions about choosing coffee! Thanks!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      You're welcome lilMiss Scrittore!

    • MobyWho profile image

      MobyWho 5 years ago from Burlington VT

      Thanks for adding to the lore of coffee, and you didn't even have to mention the aroma to make me want some! Great hub; informative and welcome.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Not difficult to love coffee ModyWho, I agree! Extra enjoyable when your choice in coffee is beneficial to yourself and the rainforest.

    • myawn profile image

      myawn 5 years ago from Florida

      I didn't know about the bird friendly coffee i drink decafe with a little milk for sweetner and calcium. Nice hubs lots of info.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I have been drinking coffee for many years. Recently, I have developed an interest to venture into coffee plantation. Useful and informative. Voted up!

      PS: Thanks for leaving a comment on my hub, otherwise I would not have found your brilliant work.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      If you like decaf then you must try the Birds and Bees decaf because it is bird-friendly AND made using water processing. See the hub for a link. It really is delicious. Thanks for the read!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Wow Vinaya - a coffee plantation would be a great venture! I wish you the best and glad you enjoyed the hub on health benefits of coffee.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Many of you responded in my coffee hub that you are tea drinkers... thought you should see my latest hub on toxic fluoride levels present in tea. http://hubpages.com/t/2e8b71

    • Nare Anthony profile image

      Nare Gevorgyan 5 years ago

      Wow, this is absolutely amazing! Thank for showing the good sides of coffee!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      You're welcome Nare! Glad you enjoyed the read on healthy coffee.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      Wow....what an eye opener. And an awesome composition as well.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thank you Irc7815! Glad you found this info on coffee informative.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Wow, you certainly know your coffee. Unfortunately over here, even if there were certifications, I wouldn't be able to read them ... maybe one day though.

      Sharing, up and useful.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for sharing this information on coffee certifications Brett. Cheers!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Melis,

      Great hub. Wonderful topic: Coffee, my addiction and love. I am honest. I love black coffee. Voted UP and away on this work. I loved the way you laid-out this story. I wish I had your PC skills. Can you tell that I am envious?

      Check your fan mail and have a great day. Oh, please check one or two of my hubs if you need a laughter fix.

      Then be one of my followers. I would love it.

      Sincerely,

      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama.

      Coffee break.

    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 2 years ago

      I didn't realize that coffee can get rid of toxins. Good information.

      http://pinstor.us/2014/07/04/keurig-coffee-maker-b...

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