I love my Bodum French press coffee maker. However, I’ve been alerted that it may not be the best way to brew my coffee, even though it tastes delicious. Here’s what I asked and what I found out.
Why is French press coffee bad for you?
It could potentially raise your cholesterol.
How does French press coffee raise cholesterol?
There is a compound in coffee called cafestol (a type of terpene), and cafestol stimulates the production of LDL (the bad cholesterol) in your body. Fortunately, cafestol exists only in the oily part of the coffee bean, and is thus filtered out… when you use a paper filter. The cafestol (and the oil) get left in the paper and you get left with a clean & steaming hot mug of joe (when you use a paper filter). Now – when you prepare coffee without a paper filter, such as
- Making coffee with a French press (there is a filter but it is a metal mesh and does not collect the cafestol / oily part),
- By boiling the ground beans (Scandinavian tradition or Turkish coffee), or
- By making espresso (less cafestol than French press, but more than regular filtered coffee)
…You unfortunately retain the cafestol. Wuh wuh 🙁 And by retaining and ingesting the cafestol, you might be telling your body to increase production of LDL. Oops.
Here is a cafestol molecule! (I have forgotten everything I ever learned in honors chem over 10 years ago. My hubby took chem and orgo in college though, so maybe I should ask him what this means.)
Wait though – this cafestol/cholesterol stuff might not be so bad. If you already have high cholesterol, you should definitely avoid the risk of increasing it further, so drink paper filtered coffee (not French press, boiled, or espresso). If your cholesterol is normal, you are probably OK to drink French press coffee in moderation or on special occasions. Maybe save the French press for the weekends and enjoy drip (filtered) coffee during the week. (Instant is also fine; I don’t drink it but if you do, you don’t have to worry about cafestol.)
While I was doing all this coffee research, I discovered that French press coffee is actually kind of dirty! The mesh filter lets a lot of sediment through and into your cup (which I always end up drinking). This makes me think paper filtered coffee has potential to taste better. I think the reason paper filtered coffee gets a bad rap is because most of the time it’s made with stale beans. I bet if I start making regular paper filtered coffee with freshly ground beans (ground in this inexpensive but effective burr coffee grinder) it will taste even better than French press. Here are the coffee machines I’m debating between (I don’t have a coffee maker at the moment except for the French press).
- Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Hot Water System, Black/Stainless –> This one is $99, and it’s basically like #2 except you can make hot water with it too. I’m leaning towards this one. Has good reviews (4/5 stars out of 651 reviews – very good actually).
- Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Black/Brushed Metal –> This one is $75. It’s simple and basic and also has good reviews (4/5 stars out of 3.431 reviews).
- Bonavita BV1800TH 8-Cup Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe –> At $150, it’s the priciest one I’m considering, but it has over 4.5/5 stars (out of 346 reviews), has precision programming to perfect the temperature of water and the contact time between water and grounds. It’s also pretty.
What are your thoughts? Do you drink French press coffee or normal, paper filtered drip coffee? What’s your favorite brand of coffee and how many cups a day do you drink? How do you have your coffee?
- I usually drink French press when I’m at home; I drink whatever when I’m out (I like Americano = espresso + water; or regular drip is OK when made with good beans)
- My 2 favorite brands of coffee are Stumptown and Intelligentsia.
- I drink 1-2 cups a day – never more than 2 regular, though sometimes I will have a decaf at night or in the afternoon. So if you include decaf – 1-3. (Health benefits/risks of decaf coffee to come in another post.)
- I drink my coffee with milk (whole or half & half) + NuNaturals stevia.
*For more details about coffee + cholesterol, check out this article. I got a lot of my info there but I did not include everything.
**There are some affiliate links in this post (for Amazon). Just FYI! I try to be honest here, and if I am going to be honest I barely make anything off of the blog, even with affiliate links. 🙂