5 Ways To Be The Best Coffee Drinker You Can Be

In addition to its happy-making kick of caffeine, coffee can actually be good for you and the planet. Here’s how to make the most of your next cup.

August 16, 2016
brewed coffee
Joe St. Pierre Photography/Stocksy

1. Support Shade-Grown

For most of coffee farming’s history, growers planted beneath the canopy of trees, which helped fertilize the soil and prevented erosion. In the 1970s, many switched to full-sun farming, which yields more beans per plant but is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers, depletes the soil, and contributes to rain forest loss—a major cause of global warming. Sip sustainably with shade-grown coffee labeled “Rainforest Alliance Certified” or “bird friendly.” 

(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale's The Backyard Homestead shows you how; get your copy today.)

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Related: The 5 Absolute Worst Additions To Coffee

2. Make Good Choices...

Some of the chemicals used in conventional coffee farming are acutely toxic. While they don’t end up in your cup, they contaminate waterways and poison farm workers and wildlife, so seek out organic beans. Fair-trade certifiers go a step further and help ensure that farmers get an equitable share of profits. Look for brands from Equal Exchange, which sources fair-trade, organic coffee.

3. ... But Embrace The Dark Side

If you’re looking for antioxidants, drink dark roast, which is more effective than lighter roasts at restoring red blood cells and boosting your body’s concentration of vitamin E and glutathione, a molecule that has anticancer and neural benefits. (Check out these 9 other incredible health benefits of coffee.)

4. Cool It

The World Health Organization found that drinking very hot beverages—over 149°F—can cause cancer of the esophagus. Because most coffee is brewed at temperatures between 180° and 190°F, be sure to let it cool off before drinking it.

 

Related: 5 Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Iced Coffee

5. Don’t Be a Pod Person

According to one calculation, the number of plastic K-Cups sold could circle the earth more than 10 times, and most end up in landfills. Seek out compostable versions like PurPod100, or use a zero-waste brewing system, such as Chemex, that uses a compostable filter.