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Friday, October 3, 2014

The Good And Bad Of Making Coffee

Earlier this week was National Coffee Day. So in honor of such a wonderful day, I decided to discuss my favorite drink in the world. Coffee!



In this day and age, convenience is king and quality is rare. For me, coffee is worth the extra time and money. Partly because I'm a coffee snob but also because I want to be healthy with my coffee choices. Here are some things to avoid with coffee making/drinking.

Using Pods: Probably the most used and convenient method of coffee making. Unfortunately, this is also the worst method for the environment and your health. Most are made with non-recyclable plastics, and the ones that are recyclable need the aluminum top removed and coffee beans cleaned out for it to be fit for recycling. Did you know that in 2013, Green Mountain produced enough K-cups to wrap around the equator 10.5 times?

Also, it's no secret that plastic heated at a high temperature is bad for you. Acidic coffee + high heat = plastic compounds leaching into your morning cup o' joe.

Flavored Beans: In a nut shell, this is a method to chemically flavor cheap, bad tasting coffee beans to make them more appealing to the public. I took a picture of my parents (sorry, Mama) Green Mountain Hazelnut k-pods, posted below. The ingredients are Arabica coffee, natural and artificial flavors. I think that speaks for itself. You don't want to ingest natural and artificial flavors, especially when you aren't 100% sure what those "flavors" are!

(sorry for the slight blur)

Conventional Coffee Creamers: In honor of fall, I looked up the ingredients for Coffee Mates Pumpkin Spice creamer. Here is what they list:  

INGREDIENTS: WATER, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, AND LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE)**, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, COLOR ADDED, CELLULOSE GEL, CELLULOSE GUM, CARRAGEENAN.

Mmm..nothing like a little wood pulp (cellulose) in my coffee in the morning. Gross. And color added?! Why?! Unfortunately, the more simple flavors are just as bad. Even their "natural" creamer lists natural flavors, which does not necessarily mean it's safe or anything close to nature. Thanks FDA. 


So, what now?

 - Take the time to brew your coffee the old way...or at least the slightly older way. I use the slow pour method. Chemex is by far my favorite coffee maker, but it is a fairly high maintenance method. Once you take the time to learn, it is so very worth it. Here is a site on pour over methods and tips. Or just stick to your regular drip coffee maker if that sounds like too much work.

 - Add a little flavor at home to your beans. A dash of cinnamon or other ground spices on top of your ground coffee beans will add a nice extra flavor to your coffee. I will do this if all I have is cheaper coffee on hand.

 - Buy high quality beans. It costs more, but the flavor of a high quality bean is unbeatable. I personally drink my coffee black. The flavors stand alone and any additives take away from it. I used to only drink my coffee with cream and sugar, but after trying some amazing brands, I learned that I needed the additives to cover up drinking bad coffee.. No harm in adding cream to it if you don't like it black, of course! I'm just trying to express how good high quality coffee is.

I like brands like Counter Culture and Stumptown. Check out your locally owned coffee shop and see what they have to offer. If you don't have anything around you, buy online. It's worth it!

 - Make your own creamer. Here is a great list of recipes you can use to make flavored creamer at home. It even has holiday flavors for you that live for those seasons flavors.


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