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How Healthy Is Coffee for You, Really? Experts Helped Me Figure Out the Best Bean to Buy, and How to

Turns out, good ole paper filters may be better than a fancy French press.


A couple years after I landed my first real job, I got my first coffee maker and started drinking my morning cup just as God intended it; that is, just as my mom, the only coffee drinker in my house growing up, drinks hers—roughly two parts coffee to one part Coffee mate. A drink the color of a Werther’s Original and redolent of cotton candy. It took longer than it should have for me to realize this wasn’t healthy. One summer my mom famously took her bottle of amaretto non-dairy creamer on a road trip, left it in the car day and night in the kinds of temperatures that suffocate small children, and it never spoiled. That was my wake-up call. I transitioned from Coffee mate to real cream and real sugar. Then, on a friend’s tip, to maple syrup. In time, I started drinking my coffee black.

Soon enough—confident that without the sugar and fat, my coffee habit was unquestionably healthy—I started drinking a lot of it. Until recently, during a stretch of working from home in which my mornings required whole pots of coffee (and sometimes another to-go cup in the afternoon), I started to wonder if maybe it wasn’t.


Because so many people drink coffee—63% of Americans drink it every day, with an average of 3.2 cups per coffee drinker, according to the National Coffee Association—there has been a lot of research to determine if it’s healthy. Drinking up to six cups per day has been found not to increase the risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease—or in general. (Keep in mind that in most studies we’re talking little 8-oz. cups, but still—that’s a lot. A venti at Starbucks is 20 oz., or 2.5 cups.) Even better, coffee

consumption has been shown to be associated with lower risk for several different kinds of cancer, as well as many liver conditions and even neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The most common downsides in the literature affect women, who seem to exhibit an increased (albeit very small) risk of bone fractures if they consume lots of coffee; and, when pregnant, it’s possible—due to an interlocking set of characteristics of how caffeine interacts with the body—that a baby can get an unwelcome super-dose of caffeine when mom drinks coffee. Expecting mothers should drink coffee in moderation.

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