Is There Mold in Your Coffee? What You Need to Know About Mycotoxins and My Clean Coffee Picks

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I'm wendy!

I'm a environmental toxins lawyer turned clean living coach who is obsessed with morning sunshine, Ningxia Red and all things holistic living (but for real life).  Catch me over on Insta and come say hi.


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Today, we’re talking about my absolute favorite topic on the planet: drinking coffee. I am definitely team coffee drinker. I know there’s a huge movement in the wellness industry right now people are moving to mushroom coffee and trying to reduce the amount of caffeine they drink, and that’s so great for them. I love that for them.

I don’t love that for me. I won’t be doing that anytime soon.

I am part of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee daily. Coffee is my morning ritual. I drink two cups a day. That’s my limit. I’m all about moderation. If I have any more than that, I get the jitters and anxiety.

So anyway – enough about how much I love coffee (but honestly, DM me on Instagram anytime to talk about coffee). Let’s talk about the issue with coffee plantations, mycotoxins, and clean coffee brands.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • The health benefits of drinking coffee.

  • How pesticides end up in your coffee.

  • How mycotoxins contaminate coffee beans.

  • How to avoid mold in your coffee.

  • My favorite clean coffee brands.

Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Because I love my coffee, I always point to the research that says what I want it to say, which is that it’s good for you and your health. Here are a few quick benefits of drinking coffee:

  • It’s good for liver function.

  • It’s good for physical and cognitive function because of the blood flow to the brain.

  • You can live longer according to a Harvard research study.

  • Coffee is high and rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which can protect against chronic diseases.

That’s all well and dandy, but today I’m not going to talk about whether or not coffee is good for you or bad for you. We’re going to talk about the quality of the coffee. Something that I think is becoming more well-known is the idea that your coffee could have mold in it.

My Hesitation Digging Into Mold in Coffee

I’m going to be transparent with you guys. I have known that mold and coffee are an issue for years. I’ve never told you guys to throw away everything in your house and rebuild a whole new stash of products. That’s way too overwhelming and can be too much for people. Coffee is where I drew the line – I simply didn’t want to dig into it. I was already researching so many products and industries. I just didn’t want to mess with my coffee!

But that changed a few months ago. I bought a bunch of coffee from companies selling pesticide-free, mycotoxin-free coffee to see how bad it is. I went through every company, and I did the same process I do for all companies.

  • What’s your sourcing?

  • What’s your testing process?

  • Are you public with your testing?

  • What kind of policies do you have in place?

  • Do you care about regenerative agriculture?

You can tell a lot from a company just by looking on their website. For a handful of them, I made some calls, sent some emails, and bought the coffee so I could drink it and check if it was garbage or not. I’m picky when it comes to coffee. I love a nice dark roast. But I realized that people also want variety, so I taste-tested all of them. I now have a new coffee I love that is realistically priced.

That was a big problem when I started digging into this was these things are fucking expensive! I wouldn’t pay that kind of money for coffee. I found some amazing coffees, and the good news is you can find most of them on Amazon. I made an entire Amazon storefront list full of all the coffees I’m about to talk about. But first, let’s talk about why mold and coffee are a thing so you understand what the concern is and why maybe you should be looking for mold-free coffee.

Pesticides in Coffee

I have always purchased organic coffee. Coffee is one of the most chemically treated crops in the entire world. There is a massive amount of pesticides being put on coffee. I saw a report that up to 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are sprayed per acre of non-organic coffee. That is a lot of freaking pesticides – way more than anything else you’re ever going to consume, eat, or drink.

I also don’t love that amount of pesticide use. It’s destroying the soil. It’s running off into other ecosystems. It’s destroying everything. I also think about the workers – the people who are out working in these coffee crops that are being exposed. I think over 40 different pesticides are being used on these crops worldwide. These crops are also being grown in countries not playing by the rules. They’re not complying with standards, and there are banned illegal pesticides that are horrific for your health and are still being used in countries and being sold as cheap coffee in America.

For that reason, I have always purchased organic coffee. At a minimum, try to buy the organic version of your preferred brand.

Mycotoxins in Coffee

But what about mold and mycotoxins? Aside from all the pesticides being used, there’s another piece of coffee cultivation everyone should be aware of: mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain molds and fungi. They’re mostly found in coffee, but you can also find them in dried fruits, chocolate, and some other common foods, coffee is the worst of them all.

These aren’t things that are purposely added to the process. It’s contamination that can happen at any point in the process. It could happen:

  • When the coffee is being grown

  • When it’s being stored

  • When it’s being transported

More of it is found in lower-quality coffee brands. One study showed that 91.7% of green coffee beans are contaminated with mold. This is a widespread issue. Two toxins are most prevalent as far as mycotoxins go in coffee.

The first one is an aflatoxin B-1. It’s a known carcinogen, and it’s considered to be one of the most toxic variants of aflatoxins in general. They grow in soil grains and coffee beans.

The other one is ochratoxin A, which has been less studied, but it’s believed to be a weak carcinogen. It’s really bad for your kidneys. It’s a natural foodborne toxin that comes from fungus. There have been some studies on that one in particular. The National Library of Medicine found that 33% of green coffee imported from Brazil tested positive for this toxin. It also shows that the highest levels of aflatoxins found in coffee is in decaffeinated coffee.

How to Avoid Mold in Your Coffee

So, what are you supposed to do about it? At a minimum, get organically grown whole beans. Yes, get the whole bean. Not the one that already comes ground. The grounding process increases the risk that you’re going to have these mycotoxins. Just by buying certified organic as well as the whole bean and then grinding it right before you brew it is hugely protective and will lower your risk.

Storing your beans in an airtight container also makes a big difference. I go through about a bag a week, so I don’t do this because I go through my coffee so fast. But if you’re somebody who buys in bulk or buys a lot of coffee at once, transfer it into an airtight container.

While we’re talking about making coffee, don’t forget to use filtered water so you don’t have toxins and other contaminants in your coffee coming from your tap water.

Decaf drinkers – listen up. Decaffeinated coffee is made using a toxic solvent called Methylene Chloride to strip the caffeine out of the beans. It is HIGHLY toxic, so avoiding decaffeinated coffee beans made that way is a really good idea. Next, invest in a Swiss Water Process. It’s a water-based process for pulling the caffeine out.

Finally, purchase coffee from a company sourcing clean, safe, mycotoxin, mold-free, pesticide-free coffee. And make sure they’re testing after the fact. That is the best way to know you’re getting a product free of mold.

Clean Coffee Companies

I love the company Four Sigmatic. It’s not crazy expensive. If you’re getting mold-free coffee, you’re going to pay a little bit more because they’re sourcing better beans. Their manufacturing process is much more in line with being safe, clean, and protective of your health. You can also get adaptogens. They add things like Lion’s Mane, Ashwagandha, and other ingredients that are good for your health. They add them into your coffee for a boost, but they’re also a great mycotoxin mold-free pesticide-free certified organic option that is easy to grab in your grocery store

The coffee I loved the most is from a company called Top Shelf Grind. It’s well worth the premium cost.

The third brand you can find in some stores is Bulletproof Coffee. They sell clean coffee. They test for all mycotoxins and mold. They’re also Rainforest Certified, which I appreciate. It’s great coffee, and it is priced just right.

Overall, with these three brands, I was happy with their testing protocols and the way that they operate. They’re certified organic and have everything I look for.

There are times and things in my life when I pay extra for higher-quality products. But personally, when it comes to the coffee I’m drinking every day, I think those 3 top companies I told you about are just as protective. They may not be doing all of the things other companies are doing, but they’re safe. We all have to decide where we spend our money. I was really happy to find some reasonably priced brands where I know I’ll get safe, organic, toxin-free, mold-free coffee.

Related Episodes

Episode 4: Are Toxins in Your Tap Water? Here’s How to Find Out.

Episode 8: Toxin Free(ish): How to Prioritize What Matters Most

Episode 9: Finding Joy with Food

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