It’s 5 am, you wake up early each day to have a little bit of time to yourself and enjoy some peace and quiet before the chaos of a school day ensues.
From the delicious aroma of a pot brewing to the mug that heats your chilly hands and that little dash of cinnamon you sprinkled on top, what better way to relax than with a steaming cup of delicious coffee. I am doing just that right now.
This is your favorite time of day, so why am I trying to ruin it by pointing out the potentially toxic and unsafe components of your beloved coffee maker?
Well, I am honestly not trying to put a damper on your mornings, just a bit of awareness, that’s all.
My aim is to enlighten you a little bit, so when you are in the market for a new coffee maker, you keep this information in mind to help guide your choice for a safer, toxic-free coffee maker.
You may not have ever thought about your coffee maker as being potentially unsafe, but most commonly used drip style java makers have some harmful qualities worth knowing about.
Issues with coffee makers
One word. Pods.
Those little, convenient individual doses of coffee are not very kind to our environment. They generate massive amounts of plastic waste every year. Pod coffee makers are super popular, so those pesky pods create a ton of garbage.
Sure, there are some biodegradable and recyclable pod options cropping up, but not all components of the pod are recyclable, so the onus is on the consumer to wash and take apart the pod and dispose of it properly. Chances are if you own a pod coffee maker, you bought it for the convenience and ease of use. Diligently taking apart your pod every morning is probably not something you are likely to do. Popping it in the trash is so much easier, so eliminate that option and just stay away from pod coffee makers, the environment will thank you.
Most drip coffee makers contain plastic parts. I think we can all agree to that fact. If you’re not sure, just go take a peek at the inside of your coffee maker. I’ll wait.
‘So what?’ You may be thinking. You have used this coffee maker for years, without a problem.
Well, the thing is that the plastic parts of your coffee maker come into contact with piping hot water on a regular basis. The combination of plastic and heat can lead to harmful chemicals being present in the final product – your cherished cup of coffee.
Why is plastic ruining everything you love? Three letters:
The bain of our existence. It is added to plastics to make them stronger and more resilient.
However, upon sealing a product containing BPA, not all of it gets sealed, allowing it to leach out into our food or drinks.
Why should we avoid BPA like the plague?
Once inside our bodies, it acts as our hormone estrogen and can influence bodily functions such as growth, cell repair, reproduction, fetal development, and energy levels.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg, BPA can affect every aspect of your body. Check out this article to get a sense of what this nasty chemical can do.
Who wants that? Stay the F out of my body BPA!
Unfortunately, if a product is not marked BPA-free and contains hard plastic parts, it probably contains BPA. Boo!
Eeewww! Who wants to think about drinking mold on the daily?
Well, if you are using a coffee maker that is not cleaned regularly, chances are YOU are drinking mold in your cup of joe.
Just think about it, coffee brews in a dark, moist, warm environment – perfect growing conditions for our friend mold to flourish.
The hot water used to brew coffee is not hot enough to kill this invader.
Thinking about my own coffee maker maintenance habits, I clean it after my coffee doesn’t taste as good as it should, I am a little revolted, as this unfavorable taste may be due to increasing levels of mold inside the tubing of my coffee maker.
I shudder to think about that fact. Gross, it gives me the heebee-jeebees!
I must remedy this problem NOW. What can I do?
How to avoid these issues
Ditch the drip
I hate to be the bearer of even more bad news, but that salvation creating appliance on your countertop needs to go.
Unfortunately, most drip coffee makers contain plastic parts and tubing, which means they have most of the issues mentioned above.
I’m not saying run out now and replace it with an alternative listed below, I mean you have used for years, a little while longer is probably not going make a huge difference. Just keep this information in the back of your mind when it IS time to replace your coffee maker.
On the other hand, this information might have grossed you out enough to send you running to the store to replace your drip coffee maker. If this is the case, cool your jets for a couple of minutes and read about some great alternatives on how to brew your coffee toxin and mold free.
Try something new
The French press works by steeping coffee grounds and hot water (heated by a separate device like a kettle) together in a glass beaker.
Once the coffee is done steeping, a metal mesh filter is pressed to the bottom of the beaker which separates the coffee grounds from the liquid coffee destined for your mug.
The metal mesh filter allows the natural oils found in coffee and fine particles to pass through it giving the coffee a thick body.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than using a french press for brewing high-quality coffee. It tastes so much better coming out of the French press than a drip coffee maker. Anytime I get my hands on coffee that isn’t Folger’s or Maxwell House, I pull out the french press so I can fully enjoy my favorite time of day with great tasting, high-end coffee.
Why don’t I use it all the time? Well, I got out of the habit of using it after I had my now 2-year-old. I didn’t want to have to wait for a kettle to boil and then for the coffee to brew. I needed coffee as instantly and easily as possible so I dusted off my trusty ole drip coffee maker and have been using it ever since. Also, it only brews about 2 cups at a time, and I needed more than that to get me through the day.
Another reason is that I usually buy what coffee is on sale, generally one of the two brands mentioned above. I find if I use inferior coffee with the French press, it just tastes gross. I reserve the French press for high-quality coffee instead.
One thing to note about the French press is that the glass beaker used for brewing the coffee is fragile and if not cleaned with care, can break in a sink full of dishes. Trust me, I have lost more than one french press by being careless and dropping it in the sink or mistakenly piling dishes on top of it.
So if you have a bag of high-end coffee in your cupboard right now, go out and find yourself a French press and easily brew a couple of cups of delicious toxin-free coffee. You won’t regret it!
This throwback to the ’60’s is making a comeback in the coffee brewing game. I have never used or seen one in real life, as I was born a little later than that and my parents are not coffee drinkers. Having done a little research, I learned how it works.
The coffee percolator works by continually cycling boiling water (from the stove) through the grounds using gravity until the desired strength is reached.
One main drawback of the percolator is that if left boiling for too long, the brewed coffee may continue to cycle over the coffee grounds, resulting in a bitter-tasting coffee.
If you are a coffee aficionado and have the time to spend experimenting with achieving your desired strength of coffee, I say give this a try. When done correctly, it brews delicious coffee.
However, if you want your coffee yesterday, or just was a simple way to brew it, I would pass on this method and go with the French press instead.
To me, the Moka pot seems to be a cross between the French press and the percolator.
This is how it works:
- Fill the bottom of your pot with freshly boiled water (from a kettle)
- Fill the filter basket with coffee grounds which is fitted into the middle section of the pot (above the boiling water)
- Screw on the top spout portion of the pot
- Set the whole pot on the stove on medium heat
- As water in the bottom chamber starts to boil, the pressure pushes a stream of coffee slowly through the upper chamber
- It’s done brewing when you hear a hissing, bubbling sound
The Moka pot does not make a huge pot of coffee, but remember, it is espresso, so this smaller amount should provide quite a jolt of caffeine.
If you like espresso, give this method a try. It seems pretty straight forward to use and fun to prepare.
manual drip (pour over)
Again, I had not heard of this method before researching safer coffee brewing methods. Honestly, I had no idea I was such a coffee newb!
Pour over brewing involves pouring hot water (from a kettle) over and through the grounds to extract the coffee flavors into your cup or pot. It involves a cone and filter that fits on to your vessel of choice.
This method takes a little longer to brew given its sole dependence on gravity, but from what I hear on the internet, it is well worth it.
Manual drip seems pretty basic, but there are a lot of nuances that go into brewing that perfect cup of joe. You control all of the factors in the pour over method such as the temperature of water and coarseness of coffee, so take some time and mess around with this when you have some extra time on a weekend and figure out how you like to brew your coffee according to your own tastes.
I’m not going to lie, this method looks cool. As a former lab geek, it is immediately intriguing to me. So what is it?
It is a coffee maker (also referred to as a siphon) that uses vapor pressure and vacuum to produce coffee.
The vacuum method functions similarly to the Moka pot, with water in the lower chamber that is heated enough to expand up through the neck, to the upper chamber where the coffee grounds are located.
Once the coffee has finished brewing, the heat is removed, the pressure drops, and gravity pushes the coffee back down to the lower chamber through a filter so the grounds are kept away from the finished product. You pour your coffee out of the lower level chamber.
This method is definitely for coffee lovers who have a flair for style and great tasting coffee. Vacuum brewing may not be for everyone, but I think we can all appreciate the science behind it and how awesome it would look on your countertop!
Don’t forget about the filter
Filters! The afterthought of coffee brewing.
Let’s not forget about the importance of filters and why you should choose an eco-friendly, non-toxic option.
First of all, filters keep the grounds out of your delightful pot of coffee. It’s kind of the worst when there is a sneaky pile of grounds in your last two gulps of coffee in the morning. It’s enough to make your day start off on a bad note, and who wants that?
Picking a filter that is consistent and reliable is almost or just as important as picking a favorite brewing method.
There are basically 2 types of filters: disposable and reusable.
Stay away from the standard white bleached coffee filter lining the shelves at your local stores. These contain chlorine residues which can leach into your morning bliss. DO NOT USE!!
If at all possible, go for an unbleached, biodegradable filter to eliminate the chlorine residue and easily dispose of in the compost bin, which I am sure you are already using!
I personally stay away from disposable filters and use a reusable filter instead.
There are a couple types of reusable coffee filters available, so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding one that is right for you.
- Stainless Steel Mesh: This is the type of filter I use on the daily, it actually came with my coffee maker. It’s super simple to use, just fill up the basket with coffee and set it in your coffee maker of choice. Once finished, empty it into your countertop compost pile and rinse out the remaining grounds into the sink. Easy peasy. Just make sure to empty it into your compost pile or if you don’t have one (gasp!) into your garbage bin before rinsing it in your sink as coffee grounds will eventually clog your pipes.
- Washable: These are generally made from organic hemp or cotton. They fit into your coffee maker just like a paper filter. When finished, simply rinse them out (dump the grounds into a proper receptacle first) and hang to dry until the next use. I have never used a washable filter so I can’t personally vouch for them, but they sound like a pretty easy and eco-friendly way to filter your coffee.
I sincerely hope I did not ruin your enjoyment for your morning cuppa with this article. My goal is that in time, when you are looking to replace your coffee maker or look more into eco-friendly options, you will keep this article in mind and make some toxic free choices for your brew.
As for me, after this research, I think I will be saying bye-bye to my trusty drip coffee maker sooner than later. Moldy coffee is just not appetizing and is a little repulsive, in my opinion.
How do you brew your coffee? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers!