How to Make a Clean, Green Cup of Coffee

I, like so many of you, love a good cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It’s deeply ingrained into my daily routine; it’s how I wake up.

Numerous articles have touted the many health benefits derived from drinking coffee in moderation, but there is one important piece that most of them leave out–“the green factor.”

Aaah . .

It’s been a process, but over the years I have thoroughly learned how to enjoy a toxin-free, ethically responsible cup of joe. And I’m about to break it all down for you.

The coffee


Not all coffee is created equal. You see, conventional coffee is one of the most heavily chemically treated foods we consume. Along its journey from the fields to your cup, these beans are very generously treated with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

And beyond the effects of these chemicals on our own bodies, think about the experience of the surrounding lands, as well as the health of the people who work in these fields or even live nearby. Not to mention the amount of deforestation that takes place in order to support this method.


So what makes organic coffee so much better?

Well, instead of fertilizing their plants with synthetic substances, the organic coffee farmers reach for more natural methods like composting. These ethical practices produce plants that thrive in the lush forests that protect local ecosystems, and doesn’t lead to the deforestation that conventional methods promote.

On top of all that, the end result is a better coffee, full of flavor and antioxidants.

The water source

As much as we would like to believe our tap water is pure and innocent, it has been found to contain at least 12 harmful toxins, such as pesticides and heavy metals. These toxins accumulate in the body, potentially leading to serious health conditions, like reproductive disorders, learning disabilities and certain types of cancer.

pure water is important

Luckily, there are so many water filters out there now that will truly purify your water source. I love my Berkey for its affordability and ability to filter out a variety of toxins.

For a more in-depth look at the numerous types of water filters out on the market, take a look at this Wellness Mama post.

The filter

Once you’ve filled your pot with the purest version of your water, you don’t want your organic beans to be filtered through a bleached coffee filter. Since paper is bleached using chlorine, a regular coffee filter leaches a good amount of chemical residue from the bleaching process into your coffee as well.

So buy unbleached coffee filters, they can be found in most grocery stores. Even better yet, save some trees and invest in a reusable coffee filter. Just make sure it is made from organic materials that have not been treated with pesticides.

The pot

Now, I don’t think I’ve ever met a coffeepot that consisted of a carafe that was anything other than glass. And glass is not a material that is known to leach chemicals. That said, I also have not seen a pot that wasn’t topped off with a plastic lid.

Here’s where the issue lies. Hot coffee being pumped into vinyl tubes and down through a plastic opening is going to leach some bpa and phthalates into your beverage.

Again, there are some great options here for plastic-free coffeepots. I use a percolator that is stainless steel throughout. Another great option is a good old-fashioned french press. Or try an awesome new style of all-glass coffeemakers, the Chemex.

Avoid the Keurig

One to avoid is definitely the Keurig. I realize that this style is well-loved for its convenience, but as with most convenience items, the environment takes a hit with every use.

Not only are you left with tons of unrecycled plastic, but your precious morning beverage is definitely going to be seasoned with some not-so-healthy chemical residues.

Man drinking a cup of coffee and drowning in coffee pods. Photo Illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

The cup

And last, but not least, your delicately brewed organic treat is ready to get in your cup. But don’t pull out that mug so hastily–it may be coated in a heavy metal glaze. Yep, lead and cadmium are commonly found in glazed ceramics; and coffee is on the acidic side, so leaching risk is substantial.

Instead of your traditional cup, play it safe with either pure glass or stainless steel options.

Enjoy your fresh brew

Your coffee is now clean as a breath of fresh air. Feel free to indulge, guilt-free and responsibly!

What do you do to make a greener pot of coffee?

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  1. Great post. I love my morning coffee and don’t think I could do life without it. We do use organic coffee beans but I’m going to have to look at your recommendations on coffee makers, no Keurig here but a regular old Cuisinart so I’ve got work to do. Thanks for all the tips.

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