Coffee: Best Kind To Drink To Maximize Health Benefits & Reduce Toxins, Why More Than Organic Matters
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 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.
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.
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
Various sizes available: 4-cup (perfect size for individuals), 8-cup and 12-cup.
Other Factors Affecting Health Benefits of Coffee
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
Buy Bird-Friendly Coffee
- Birds & Beans Coffee has the best combination of certifications
This coffee is certified Fair Trade, Bird-Friendly, and USDA Organic.
- Other Sources of Bird Friendly Coffee - Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Listing and contact information for websites that sell Bird-Friendly coffee online.
Shade-Grown, Rainforest Alliance Coffee Available on Amazon
Fair Trade and Organic Coffee Available On Amazon
K-cups: Fair Trade and Organic certified
This Equal Exchange coffee is Fair Trade and Organic.
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
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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.