By Jessica Beacom
Coffee is coffee, right? Not so fast! While coffee offers a host of health benefits it can come with a few downsides, especially when you reach for low-quality beans to make your brew. That’s why we’re talking about our favorite beverage today and how to choose quality coffee.
This post was created in partnership with our friends at Purity Coffee.
The Pros and Cons of Coffee
While not an exhaustive list, these are just some of the most well-known plusses and minuses when it comes to that morning cup of coffee.
- High in antioxidants – Approximately 1,000 antioxidant compounds have been identified in green (unroasted) coffee beans, with several more compounds forming during the roasting process, making coffee an incredibly rich source of antioxidants that may reduce the risk of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Caffeine – This well-known, naturally-occurring stimulant temporarily boosts brain function, increases vigilance, and improves mood in most users. It has also been shown to improve athletic performance and provide a modest boost in metabolism.
- Source of B vitamins – Though each cup only contains a small amount of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and niacin, if you drink a few cups each day those amounts can start to add up and contribute positively to your overall health.
- Taste – If you’ve ever experienced a truly great cup of coffee – or even really good coffee in an extraordinary place – then you know what we mean. With flavor notes that can vary from fruity to chocolatey to earthy to spicy or even floral, the tastes and aromas of coffee are complex and magical for those that partake in it.
- Caffeine – While some find the effects of caffeine to be pleasant, there are some who are overly sensitive to caffeine and need to avoid it. Excessive caffeine consumption can cause jitteriness, anxiety, disrupted sleep patterns, heart palpitations, and even exacerbations of panic attacks. We recommend that if you do consume caffeine that you keep your intake moderate and avoid it’s consumption after 2:00 pm to avoid disrupting your sleep patterns.
- Mold and other Contaminants – Mold and mycotoxins are a serious health concern, with accepted levels for consumption differing from country to country. Mycotoxins form from some molds. If mycotoxins are present, only a small amount can be eliminated at high roast temperatures. Unfortunately, these high temperatures may increase the formation of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and eliminate healthy chlorogenic acids (polyphenols) in coffee. As a result, you want coffee that’s tested as it passes through each step of the supply chain, ensuring it is free from contamination.
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3 Things to Consider When Choosing Coffee
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how to choose quality coffee.
Because coffee is a truly healthful food (err, beverage) we want to make it easy to identify coffee that’s safe, healthy, and delicious so you can maximize the health benefits of your morning cup. As you likely already know, this blog and it’s creators run on coffee. But not just any coffee. Our coffee of choice is Purity Coffee because it meets the highest standards when it comes to health, sourcing, and exceptional taste.
Their signature 3-step process ensures that you are getting the healthiest coffee available in every cup. Every step of the process focuses on the optimization of the health benefits that coffee provides, while delivering the taste you love.
- Health Profile – This is where it all starts, with the selection of only the highest-grade arabica coffee beans from Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Indonesia. Each crop is lab-tested to determine if they meet or exceed the 5 Criteria of Purity’s Health Profile:
- Organically Grown – Organic coffees have been produced by following approved methods of agriculture and handling and Purity Coffee is always organic.
- Near-Zero Defects – The highest standard of coffee with the least number of defects is classified as “specialty grade” and that is the Purity starting point. Green coffee defects are substandard beans that can occur as a result of adverse climate or growing conditions, poor agricultural practices during their harvesting and processing, or problems that occur during storage or transportation. To get defect-free coffee, it must be carefully sorted so that only the highest quality beans remain to be considered ‘specialty grade’ and ensure the best tasting and healthiest coffee.
- Free of Mold – Mold and mycotoxins are a serious health concern, with accepted levels for consumption differing from country to country. Mycotoxins form from some molds. If mycotoxins are present, only a small amount can be eliminated at high roast temperatures. Unfortunately, these high temperatures may increase the formation of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and eliminate healthy chlorogenic acids (polyphenols) in coffee. Therefore, Purity tests their coffee as it passes through each step of the supply chain, ensuring it is free from contamination.
- Sustainably Sourced – When it comes to coffee the environment and the welfare of the people who produce it is often the elephant in the room. But as conscious coffee consumers, it’s something we can’t overlook. Purity Coffee works directly with three certified organic farms that also hold Rainforest Alliance, Demeter Biodynamic, and Smithsonian Bird Friendly certifications—which are the gold standard in demonstrating conscientious and integrated land usage. These farms actively practice regenerative farming techniques, which are based on creating the healthiest soils and biomes possible for cultivation. We believe these produce the healthiest coffees as well.
- Exceptional Taste – Your coffee needs to taste great! Purity Coffee’s industry-recognized cuppers taste a selection of coffees that fit the Purity Health Profile and select the best tasting ones. While health benefits are always the main focus, Purity also tastes great.
- Roasting Protocol – This is where a truly great cup of coffee is born. After choosing coffees that meet the Purity Health Profile, each lot is tested to determine which ones are highest in antioxidant compounds, lowest in asparagines (a precursor to acrylamide or PAH), and contain no mycotoxins. A specific roasting protocol is then developed for those particular beans to maximize health benefits while reducing health risks. The process of roasting naturally degrades the beneficial antioxidants while increasing the acrylamides. Therefore the goal is to dial in the roasting process so that the highest amount of antioxidants remain while acrylamides are minimized (since they cannot be avoided entirely) without under-roasting.
- Freshness – Like all food, coffee can go stale; leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth and a sour stomach thanks to rancid oils. Coffee also loses valuable antioxidants when it gets stale so you always want to choose the freshest coffee beans and wait to grind them until you’re ready to brew. For the best taste and optimal health benefits, coffee should be brewed within 15 minutes of the beans being ground. Purchasing coffee beans that are packed in nitrogen-flushed bags shortly after roasting helps ensure fresh coffee, but keep in mind that once the bag has been opened it’s best to use it within 20-30 days.
Now that you know, you can choose better
Knowing how to choose quality coffee is half the battle. Sourcing it can be a challenge with labels to read and layers of marketing terms to decipher, so that’s why Purity makes it easy with online ordering and delivery to your doorstep. We personally love the monthly subscription model that ensures we never run out of our favorite coffee beans.
Try Purity Coffee today and save 20% on your order of whole bean and coffee pods when you use code REALFOODRDS at checkout
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This post was made possible by our friends at Purity Coffee. Although we received compensation for this post, the opinions expressed here are – as always – 100% our own. Thank you for supporting the great companies we work with thereby allowing us to continue creating great recipes and content for you.
About Jessica Beacom
Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, teaching herself how to play the banjo and camping out under the stars.