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5 tips to choose your coffee

Basma Saleh

5 tips to choose your coffee





Coffee is the world's second most consumed beverage after tea (excluding water). It is estimated that 1.4 billion cups of coffee are being poured everyday worldwide. To be honest, I've always loved the smell of coffee rather than the taste of it. Besides, coffee has always given me a short-lived surge of energy followed by a discomforting crash. 

But with all the studies highlighting the cracking health benefits of coffee, from increasing good bacteria in our gut to strengthening the DNA and lowering the risk of mortality from all causes, I thought I'd give it another try.


Health benefits of coffee

Roasted coffee is a complex mixture of over 1,000 bioactive compounds and is considered the best source of antioxidants in most people's diets. Coffee has also been associated with a decreased risk for:

- Alzheimer's Disease

- Type 2 diabetes

- Depression

- Cognitive disorders

- Heart disease

- Cancer

- Liver disease 


How to choose coffee

I wish choosing the right coffee was as easy as drinking it, but it's not. If you're a coffee lover, these are things you should be looking for when choosing your coffee:


. Certified organic

Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world and you don't want to burden your body with all these toxins. It is estimated that up to 113 kgs of pesticides are sprayed per acre of conventionally grown coffee.


. Single source and grown in high elevation places

Crops that have long storage processes such as coffee usually contain mycotoxins, which are by-product of mold. The two most common mycotoxins in coffee are Aflatoxin B1, which is a powerful carcinogen and Ochratoxin A (OTA). Studies have found varying amounts of mycotoxins in coffee with one study finding mycotoxins in 45 percent of coffee samples (2), while another found OTA in 33 percent of the samples (3).

Coffee that has been grown in high elevation places, at least 4,000 feet above the sea, such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica, are much less prone to contain mycotoxins. And, single source coffee tends to have less mycotoxins than coffee blends, which come from multiple sources. 

It is noted that instant coffee was shown to have the highest amounts of mycotoxins.


. Arabica beans for a naturally lower caffeine content

Coffee beans that are used to make de-caffeinated coffee undergo a process to remove around 97 percent of their caffeine content. One of the most used methods of de-caffeination is Direct Process, which uses a chemical called methyl chloride. The National Cancer Institute lists methyl chloride as a possible carcinogen. And, unfortunately, most of the popular brands sell coffee that has been de-caffeinated using this chemical.

If you're looking for naturally low caffeine coffee though, go for the Arabica bean, which has almost 50% less caffeine than the Robusta bean. Another option is to look for coffee that has been de-caffeinated using the Swiss Water Process or carbon dioxide. Producers of certified organic coffee are only allowed to used the Swiss Water Process or carbon dioxide to decaffeinate their coffee.


. Darker roasts

Darker roasts, such as the French and Italian roasts, contain more anti-oxidants than lighter ones.


. Fair-trade and shade grown

Buying fair-trade coffee guarantees the farmers were working in humane conditions and were fairly compensated. Finally, shade grown coffee not only has a superior and rich taste, it also eliminates the need to cut trees, thus preventing de-forestation.


Who should avoid coffee

Pregnant women.

People suffering from adrenal dysfunction.

People who have electrolyte imbalances.

People who have a variation in their CYP 1A2 gene.


Final thoughts

When buying coffee look for:

. Certified organic

. Single source coffee

. Grown in high elevation places

. Arabica beans if you're looking for low caffeine content

. Darker roasts 

. Fair-trade

. Shade grown


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