Is Your Coffee Habit Inherited?

You think that you drink coffee because you like the taste and aroma or because it wakes you up in the morning and keeps you going all day. Is that true? Maybe, as an article in the Los Angeles Times suggests, your coffee habit may be written in your DNA.

Scientists have been studying the genetics behind coffee cravings since the 1960s. In 1962, they found that coffee-drinking habits appeared to be hereditary. More recently, large-scale studies have found an association between the amount of coffee people consume and a small handful of genes.

The authors report that among more than 1,200 people living in Italy, those with the genetic variant PDSS2 tend to drink one fewer cups of coffee per day than those without the variation.

Further analysis revealed that expression of the PDSS2 gene appears to inhibit the body’s ability to break down caffeine. If that’s the case, people with this variant would require less coffee to get a strong caffeine jolt because the caffeine would linger in their system for a longer time.

So it turns out that some folks need less coffee to keep going because they do not metabolize it as fast as the rest of us. If you are one of the folks who drink six cups a day it may just be that your system is breaking down and excreting your coffee faster that other folks. If that is your case blame your parents who passed on that trait.

How Does This Affect Coffee’s Health Benefits?

We know that coffee drinkers have a reduced likelihood of getting Type II diabetes as well as multiple sclerosis, melanoma and liver cancer. And in general the benefit increases the more coffee that you drink. What we do not know is if those folks who require less coffee because they break it down faster still get the benefits of coffee consumption, namely a reduced chance of dying in the next few years, less Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and the rest. A more recent report shows that drinking coffee after a heart attack is helpful.

British researchers at York University tracked over 3,700 heart-attack survivors and their coffee-drinking habits.

They found patients who regularly drank at least one cup of coffee a day had a 20 percent reduced risk of death from heart damage compared with those who never drank coffee. And heavy drinkers, those who consumed two or more cups a day were nearly half as likely to die prematurely.  Why these findings are important is because once you have a heart attack, you’re at high risk for another heart attack or for developing heart failure.

People who have had one heart attach have a higher risk of getting another than people who have not had their first attack. Researcher believe that the flavinoids in coffee help reduce the buildup of arteriosclerotic fatty deposits in artery walls, improve blood vessel function and reduce blood pressure. So, whether your coffee habit is inherited or not, coffee is good for you for many reasons.

Cuban Style Coffee

Now that relations are improving with the island of Cuba it may be time to revisit Cuban style coffee. It turns out that Cuban coffee does not necessarily refer to coffee from Cuba but to the method of preparation.

Cuban coffee is strong espresso with a foamy layer of sugar laced with espresso across the top. Make the espresso as you normally would. Then put a forth of a cup of brown sugar in a glass mixing bowl and add a tablespoonful of hot espresso. Mix using a whisk until the mixture is foamy. Pour this over each cup of steaming hot espresso and enjoy your Cuban coffee, aka Café Cubano.

Our preference is organic Colombian coffee but if you can get your hand on beans from Cuba by all means try them out. Two old Cuban brands are Pilon and Bustelo. Both are dark roasted which can be important if you want to mimic the experience of original Cuban coffee.

How did café Cubano come to be? The Huffington Post explains in their article about making real Cuban style coffee.

If you order Cuban coffee out, it will often be made with an espresso machine, but you can easily make a good cup of it at home with a moka pot. Actually, that’s how a lot of Cubans do it themselves. The use of sugar to make the crema is said to have developed as a way to mimic the “heady crema of a cafe-bought espresso” without having to pay the price asked for at the cafes.

The sugar-laden espresso culture could also be a result of the quality of coffee rationed out to Cubans over the years. With the production of Cuban coffee on the decline since the 1960s, less was available on the market. So the government began to ration out 4 ounces of coffee a month to its citizens. And that small amount that was handed out was cut with ground chicharo bean, known as cafe con chicharo. It makes an earthy, bitter brew, which wholly welcomes sugar.

Think of chicory coffee used when coffee was rationed during the war years.

If you have visited New Orleans there is a good chance that you have tasted chicory coffee. What is chicory coffee? Chicory coffee contains the root of the chicory plant. Chicory grows wild in Europe and has adapted to North America and Australia. Roasted and ground chicory has a flavor similar to coffee so when coffee has been scarce chicory has been used as a substitute either entirely or in part.

The difference, of course, is that Chicory coffee is a blend of two ingredients while Cuban style coffee uses sugar to pep up the taste and imitate the crema on top of a good cup of espresso. We doubt, however, that Cuban style coffee will make it as far as espresso in space.

Last month, the Dragon spacecraft, built and operated by SpaceX, delivered the first-ever space espresso machine, built by Italian coffee company Lavazza and Italian aerospace firm Argotec, to the space station, along with special, zero-gravity cups. Prior to the coffee machine’s long-awaited arrival, the only option aboard the orbiting laboratory was powdered instant coffee. The cups, co-designed by International Space Station researcher Mark Weislogel and astronaut Don Pettit, are peculiarly shaped so that a sharp corner makes the liquid inside stream toward a person’s mouth when they drink from it.

So, earth-bound coffee lovers, try making Cuban style coffee at home and enjoy the sugary crema.

How about Coffee Lemonade?

I still remember my first espresso years ago. It was at the Colombia restaurant on St. Armand’s Circle on Siesta Key (Sarasota, Florida). It arrived with a thin slice of lemon. Now, it turns out, baristas have taken the lemon with your coffee thing a big step farther. How about coffee lemonade? Eater reports that you need to try coffee lemonade.

If life hands you lemons – and iced coffee – well, then you’re primed to join the throngs obsessing right now over iced coffee lemonade. The acidic, sunshiney flavor combo rose from a few quiet sleeper cells to a flash food blog phenom, all when bowl-cuisine expert Lukas Volger Instagrammed an unusual beverage this past June. It was an Almond Palmer iced coffee lemonade served by Stand Coffee at Brooklyn, New York’s weekly Smorgasburg outdoor food market, and suddenly everyone wanted a sip.

The beverage, says Stand co-owner Bryan Hasho, is “nothing fancy.” Built of lemon and vanilla simple syrup, cold brew coffee, and a splash of almond milk over ice, the drink has been on offer beyond Smorgasburg, at Stand’s mobile coffee setup, and at their Manhattan coffee bar inside the Meatpacking District’s Samsung Experience building since Stand’s debut in March 2015.

As new and exciting as this sounds there is a longer history of coffee and lemons. Although both coffee and lemons were expensive and hard to get the old Soviet Union coffee with lemon, plus a little cognac or other liquor was common when the ingredients were available. Yahoo Answers provides a note from a native born Russian.

This is recipe from book “People’s commissariat of USSR to Housewife”, 1939

(word-by-word translation)

Black coffee with lemon, cognac or liquors

Boil black coffee in regular way, but increase quantity of grinded coffee up to 1,5 tea spoons per cup. Serve prepared coffee into cups. Separately serve cut lemon pieces, cognac or liquor.

So add a little lemon to your espresso and say, vashe zdorovie which means, to your health.

But Not Too Much Lemon

Eater quotes New York City barista, Sam Lewonthin.

“Coffee is chock-full of flavor compounds called Maillard saccharides, which are created when sugars and proteins are heated together,” as during roasting, Lewontin says. “As a category, Maillard saccharides are complex and nutty, and just about everybody loves them -and the best coffees have plenty of intrinsic fruitiness complementing their nuttier and more caramel-like qualities. These fruit flavors are often quite delicate, though; when we make drinks in which coffee is only one of several ingredients, they’re easily overwhelmed. In the right quantity, lemon juice can support those delicious fruit flavors, and balance out all of the sweet, nutty goodness of those Maillard saccharides, leading to a drink that’s refreshing and complex, and reflects the very best of what great coffee can be,” states the barista.

So add a little lemon to your coffee, make coffee lemonade and don’t block out the natural flavors of  your healthy organic coffee.

Rise of Death Wish Coffee

Winning a lottery can change your life. That is what Mike Brown, the owner of Death Wish Coffee, found out. Mike won a contest sponsored by Intuit Quick Books to get a free 30 second commercial run during the 2016 Super Bowl. Death Wish is considered to be the world’s strongest coffee. This is because Death Wish uses Robusta coffee beans to double its caffeine content from the usual 217 mg per cup to more than 400 mg. The rise of Death Wish coffee started with its ad during the Super Bowl but the product itself and many spinoffs are popular because of the caffeine content.

Robusta

Robusta coffee beans are the source of caffeine for many soft drinks and are added to give more or a jolt to Arabica coffee brews.

Robusta coffee is properly named Coffea robusta, or Coffea canephora. This variety of coffee is a more hardy plant than the Arabica variety. It is less prone to infestations of insects or plant disease so it is also cheaper to grow. Originating from plants in the western and central sub-Sahara Robusta yields more coffee beans than an Arabica plant and Robusta coffee beans contain about 2.7% caffeine as opposed to 1.5% for Arabica. The most recent export of Robusta coffee beans has been to Vietnam where coffee farmers produce the second largest volume of coffee in the world after Brazil. About a third of world coffee production is Robusta coffee beans of which the largest part come from the Highlands of Vietnam.

Prior to the rise of Death Wish Coffee the best known use of Robusta has been the addition of about 15% Robusta to Italian espressos for more strength.

Arabica vs Robusta

The Coffee Barrister helps us in understanding the difference between Arabica vs Robusta. One advantage of Robusta is that this strong coffee plant makes it easier to grow organic coffee.

Overall, Robusta coffee is not only attracting customers for economic reasons but also for ecological considerations. Due to its sturdy nature, Robusta can be produced in a more natural and organic manner – which gains favors amongst conservationists.

If that is the case, hurray for Death Wish Coffee for introducing us to more Robusta in our java.

The Rise of Death Wish

So, how is Death Wish doing? CNN Money looks back at the Viking ship on a stormy sea of coffee ad and how now today Death Wish is a household name.

Sure, the brand had a small cult following before, but the ad elevated it to a whole new level. Web traffic skyrocketed to 12,000 visitors a day, double what it had before. Not surprisingly, sales followed.

“We were in seven stores before the win and now we’re in 150,” said Brown. “Last year, we had $6 million in sales, and now we’re already at $10 million. We think we can cross $15 million by the end of the year.”

The company has partnered with producers of other products so that now there are Death Wish coffee-branded vodka, beer and soap. It has not hurt that Americans are drinking more coffee than ever before.

How Much Coffee Will Kill You?

We have written a lot about healthy organic coffee and the health benefits of coffee in general. There are a lot of good reasons to drink coffee and it turns out that many of those benefits increase as you drink more cups each day. However, caffeine is a stimulant that can give you the shakes if you consume too much. Like most substances there is a limit to how much is good and when it turns bad. So, how much coffee will kill you? Let’s start with what the Mayo Clinic says about how much coffee is too much.

Using caffeine to mask sleep deprivation can create an unwelcome cycle. For example, you may drink caffeinated beverages because you have trouble staying awake during the day. But the caffeine keeps you from falling asleep at night, shortening the length of time you sleep.

And some medications like the antibiotics ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin interact with caffeine and interfere with its breakdown in the body. The anti-asthma drug theophylline will build up in your system because caffeine interferes with its breakdown. And if you drink coffee and use the herbal supplement Echinacea your caffeine level will build up.

But, aside from when to drink coffee and use these substances how much coffee is enough and how much is too much. 400 milligrams of caffeine, about the amount in four cups of brewed coffee is OK for most adults but adolescents should consume only a fourth this amount. If you drink too much these things happen:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

But how much coffee will kill you? Popular Science reports on the death of a 14-year-old and discusses how much caffeine would it take to kill you.

Jack James, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Caffeine Research, says that overdose for adults requires roughly 10 grams of caffeine. (People typically ingest just 1 to 2 mg/kg of caffeine per beverage.) A 2005 Forensic Science International article on two fatal caffeine overdoses in New Mexico pegs the figure closer to about 5 grams–an amount that would still require drinking more than 6 gallons of McDonald’s coffee. Whereas a normal cup of coffee might bring the concentration of caffeine in your plasma to 2.5 to 7 mg/L, the two people who died in New Mexico–a woman who might’ve used caffeine to cut intravenous drugs, and a man whose family said he ingested a bottle of sleeping pills–both had concentrations 100 times higher. (A web application called “Death By Caffeine” uses a benchmark around 6 grams per hundred pounds of body weight to estimate death, but it’s “for entertainment purposes only.”)

So, you would need to drink gallons of McDonald’s coffee to do yourself in. What else is involved? The Popular Science article mentions that one girl who died of a caffeine overdose had a pre-existent cardiac condition and was prone to heart rhythm disturbances. The caffeine in that case likely provoked the underlying disease causing her death.

How Fast You Drink It

Sleep Education notes whatever amount of caffeine you have in your system, half of it is gone in three to five hours. When you drink coffee it absorbs and reaches a peak level in thirty minutes to an hour. To kill yourself with an overdose of coffee you would need to drink all of your ten gallons in a hour. It you spread it out over many hours you will already be getting rid of the first that you drank as you consume the last.

What Is the Difference Between Organic Coffee and Regular?

Coffee is good for you but organic coffee is better. What is the difference between organic coffee and regular? Both contain caffeine to give you that morning wake up. And both contain the antioxidants that provide so many health benefits of coffee. But it is what is missing that makes the difference between organic coffee and regular.

Organic Agriculture

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) explains organic agriculture.

Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.

Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

Products that are labeled organic, 100% organic or made with organic ingredients must be produced in accordance with precise standards.

The end result is that insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers are not found in organic products, including coffee. But who checks to make sure this is true?

Agencies that Certify Coffee as Organic

The only place in the USA where organic coffee is grown is Hawaii. So who certifies coffee outside of the USA? The USDA designates agencies around the world to certify coffee according to USDA standards. One of these is Bio Latina. This agency has branches throughout Latin America. The certify for the USDA, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, UTZ, Smithsonian Bird Friendly Coffee, UTZ and others.

Years ago we wrote about Bio Latina Organic Coffee Certification.

Bio Latina organic coffee certification and certification of other agricultural products is carried out on over 400 producers. However, many of these are agricultural cooperatives so that total number of producers, including small family operations, is around 22,000!

Their certification guarantees the processes and procedures by which that cup of coffee reach your table. Coffee is commonly grown in mountainous areas. The ideal locations for good organic coffee are often difficult to get to and difficult to get around in. These regions are commonly forested and ideal for shade grown organic coffee production under sustainable conditions. However, to demonstrate that the grower is, in fact, not using synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides it is necessary that someone from an organization like Bio Latina make a visit. This can involve flying to the country, driving to the closest point on the road and then walking miles to a small coffee plantation on a mountainside with a slope ranging from thirty to sixty degrees. As one can see Bio Latina organic coffee certification in the mountainous regions of Latin America can often be very difficult. However, the end result is that small growers abiding by sustainable practices are rewarded for their work and for their stewardship of the land with the higher prices that buyers pay for organic coffee beans than for regular coffee.

The difference between organic coffee and regular is the absence of lots of impurities that you don’t need and the end result of adherence to sustainable agricultural practices and certification.

Why Does Decaf Coffee Taste Bad?

Drinkers of regular coffee know that when they try a cup of decaf that more than just the caffeine is missing. The problem is removing caffeine while retaining the many chemicals that give coffee its aroma, flavor and health benefits. Different processes produce different results. Coffee Confidential explains what all decaf processes have in common in their article about four ways to decaffeinate coffee.

Coffee is always decaffeinated in its green (unroasted) state.

The greatest challenge is to try to separate only the caffeine from the coffee beans while leaving the other chemicals at their original concentrations. This is not easy since coffee contains somewhere around 1,000 chemicals that are important to the taste and aroma of this wonderfully complex elixir.

Since caffeine is a water-soluble substance, water is used in all forms of decaffeination.

However, water by itself is not the best solution for decaffeination. Water is not a “selective” solvent and therefore removes other soluble substances, like sugars and proteins, as well as caffeine. Therefore all decaffeination processes use a decaffeinating agent (such as methylene chloride, activated charcoal, CO2, or ethyl acetate). These agents help speed up the process and minimize the “washed-out” effects that water alone would have on the taste of decaf coffee.

It is because of the varying degrees of success in removing caffeine and not everything else that decaf coffee often tastes bad.

The four basic processes for decaffeination are these:

  • Indirect-Solvent Process
  • Direct-Solvent Process
  • Swiss Water Process
  • Carbon Dioxide Process

Currently the only solvents used in decaffeination are methylene chloride and ethyl acetate.

Indirect Solvent Process

  • Soak green beans in water for several hours to extract caffeine, oils and flavor elements
  • Remove water to another tank and wash beans for ten hours with solvent
  • Heat to evaporate solvent bonded to caffeine
  • Put beans back in the water to reabsorb oils and flavor elements

Direct Solvent Process

  • Steam green beans for 30 minutes
  • Rinse with solvent for ten hours
  • Drain solvent and steam beans to further remove solvent

Swiss Water Process

  • Soak green beans in very hot water
  • Draw off water and pass through an activated charcoal filter with porosity set to catch caffeine and not smaller oil and flavor molecules
  • Discard beans that have no caffeine and no flavor
  • Use water rich in oil and flavor to watch next batch of green beans

Carbon Dioxide Process

Green coffee beans are soaked and placed in a stainless steel extraction tank

  • The tank is sealed and liquid CO2 is forced into the tank at 1000 pounds per square inch pressure
  • CO2 absorbs caffeine
  • CO2 is removed and pressure is released allowing C02 to escape free of caffeine.
  • CO2 can then be reused for subsequent batches of coffee.

Difficult to Roast

So, why does decaf coffee taste bad? First of all it is difficult to remove caffeine and not the flavor and aroma from green coffee beans. Second it is harder to roast decaffeinated beans and get a good result. The beans roast faster because of lower bound moisture content. Also decaf beans are almost brown and respond variably to roasting.

In the end if you want a really good cup of coffee stick with organic coffee from Colombia or another top level coffee. And if you want less caffeine, drink a little less coffee!

Awful Airplane Coffee

If you are having a cup of coffee on your flight from New York to Chicago how does it taste? There can be good airplane coffee and there can be awful airplane coffee. And it does not necessarily have to do with the quality of the coffee beans. The New York Times wrote that for want of a coffee pot flights get delayed. In this article they mention that sometimes the water for the coffee comes from a bottle of filtered water and sometimes it comes from a tank of water on the plane.

Marcos Jimenez, an engineer at Zodiac Aerospace who has developed patented coffee-maker technology, said there were two main types of machines: those that use water from an airplane’s water reservoir, and those that require a flight attendant to pour filtered, bottled water into the machine.

Most commercial airlines use machines hooked up to a water tank. “Because it’s in a tank, they have to take particular care to make sure the water is not growing bacteria and whatnot. So they treat it with chemicals, kind of like a pool,” he said.

These chemicals, along with minerals in the water, can cause residue to build up in the machinery. Clogs can cause the machine to break down, particularly if maintenance crews don’t clean them often enough, Mr. Jimenez said. “I don’t drink the coffee unless I know the water’s coming from a bottle.”

Think of going out to the swimming pool to get water for your otherwise healthy organic coffee made from organic Arabica coffee beans. What is the point, you might think. The reason for awful airplane coffee is probably not that they buy bad coffee but that they just cleaned out the reservoir tank with disinfectants and chlorine!

Or Is the Coffee Merely Old?

In our article How Do You Know When Coffee Is Old we wrote about coffee stored for 9 years.

Did that last cup of coffee from the vending machine taste more than a little stale? Maybe that is because the beans the coffee came from were 9 years old! For that matter how do you know when coffee is old? The Wall Street Journal reported that coffee that is nine years old is coming out of storage and being sold.

Before you take that next sip of coffee, consider this: Some of the beans in your cup of Joe might have been picked during the Bush administration.

If you are making coffee at home a good way to make sure that your coffee is fresh is the bloom that occurs when you pour hot water over freshly ground coffee.

The coffee bloom is the release of carbon dioxide gas when hot water is poured over ground coffee beans. Carbon dioxide gas is trapped inside coffee beans when they are roasted. Darker roasts contain more carbon dioxide and lighter roasts contain less. Roasted whole beans retain the carbon dioxide longer than roasted and ground coffee and storing in a cool environment keeps the carbon dioxide longer.

Because you don’t get to watch them make the coffee you will have to rely on taste to know if the coffee on your flight is fresh and not made with swimming pool water.

Cheap Pound Expensive Coffee

Who would have thought that one of the immediate effects of Britain voting to leave the European Union would be a pricier cup of coffee? Bloomberg reports that a plummeting British Pound has made a cup of Java more expensive in Great Britain.

U.K. coffee drinkers should brace to pay more for their morning fix as domestic roasters start to pass on increased import costs after Britain’s Brexit vote.

London’s small-scale producers, who help supply the capital’s taste for a quality roast, are facing a steep rise in the price of coffee beans after the pound slumped to the lowest in 30 years against the dollar. As with most imported commodities, U.K. roasters pay for the raw product in U.S. currency, and the foreign-exchange reaction to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has jolted the market.

Not only is the British pound worth twenty cents less than it was a year ago but coffee has gone up 20% during the same time frame. And as we noted in our article Americans Are Drinking More Coffee, coffee may go a lot higher.

Over the decades the price of coffee has risen above $3 a pound and fallen as low as 50 cents a pound. Speculators such as readers of Seeking Alpha are anticipating as high as $3 a pound as stock piles fall and Americans as well as everyone else drink more coffee.

Coffee may go up in price for everyone but the cheap pound due to the Brexit vote will mean more expensive coffee in Britain than in the USA.

Tea Anyone?

You may be thinking that the Brits drink tea so what is the big deal about coffee. However, there are seven Starbucks in downtown London alone. And for that matter the Brits used to drink coffee when Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was a coffee producer. That was in the days before coffee leaf rust. In our article, Is Coffee Leaf Rust Due to Climate Change we mentioned the start of this fungal disease.

Coffee leaf rust is a fungal disease. It wiped out coffee plantations in Asia in the middle of the 19 th century. The country of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was a coffee producer before the leaf rust drove planters to grow tea! The disease spread from the East Indies to South Asia and Africa and eventually arrived in the new world, almost a century later around 1970. Today coffee leaf rust threatens the livelihoods of coffee growers and workers throughout Central America.

When their colonies switched from growing coffee to producing tea the British public drank what showed up on the boat from Asia. Today Britain drinks a fair amount of coffee. The cheap pound expensive coffee dilemma will not necessarily drive more Brits back to tea because tea is also imported so its price in pounds went up also!

How about Organic Coffee?

If the Brits are hurting over the higher price of regular coffee they will feel deeper pain as the prices of shade grown and organic coffee rise even higher. One can only hope that the British pound regains ground and that coffee does prices do not reach the stratosphere.

There Are Now Compostable Coffee Pods

The single serve coffee craze has changed the way we brew and consume coffee. As recently as last year a fourth of all American coffee drinkers were using single serve coffee makers according to Statista.

The classic American coffee break has gotten a makeover. Recent figures show that single-serving coffee brewing machines such as Keurig were the second most popular brewing system after standard drip coffee makers, with 25 percent of American coffee drinkers using them in 2015. The growing popularity of single-serving coffee brewing is a curious phenomenon considering the cost of such a habit. Price comparison shows a unit of K-cups, the small capsules containing a single serving of coffee grounds in small filter, command nearly 20 U.S. dollars more than a unit of traditional roast-and-ground coffee. But for many consumers, the efficiency, quality, and array of choices offered by this machine supplies a convenient alternative to the local coffee shop.

But a big downside to single serve coffee has been the mountain of plastic containers that this system produces. Last year we asked if organic coffee in a K-cup made sense because whatever benefit was being derived from organic coffee production was being offset by the waste of the single serve system.

Billions of K cups go into landfills each year. If part of the reason you drink organic coffee is that you want to protect the environment then even organic coffee in a Keurig K cup is a problem.

The situation has gotten so bad that some cities have simply banned this product. But help is on the way.

Compostable Coffee Pods

There are now fully compostable coffee pods according to an article in Grub Street.

A Toronto-based company claims it’s created the first-ever entirely compostable single-serve coffee pod. Instead of plastic, the pod (PurPod100) uses a material made from dried coffee-bean hulls (sometimes called the cascara or chaff) that, with a few notable exceptions, companies generally throw out. There’s also a fully compostable filter at the base. The whole design purportedly breaks down in about 84 days on average, and it’s already been certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute, a nonprofit that bills itself as North America’s “leading authority on compostable products.”

If this product works and makes its way into the supply chain for single serve coffee it could reduce the damage caused by mountains of plastic cups. The problem for getting this product to help is getting people to separate their trash so that the PurPod100 goes to a composting facility. As or right now Toronto, where this product is produced, is not impressed. The main fear is that people will throw all single serve cups including K-cups with a thousand year or more life expectancy in the same bin and the compostable coffee pods that are said to break down in 84 days.

Do It Yourself

This is not to say that you cannot buy the compostable coffee pods and compost them yourself or save them up for six months and take them to a composting facility. There are now compostable coffee pods. It is up to coffee drinkers to make correct use of them.