Is Coffee Bad for You? Why Mold and Mycotoxins Might be to Blame

blue mold on the top of a plastic cup of iced coffee

Believe it or not, coffee can actually be bad for you. Due to improper storage and processing, mycotoxin producing molds can grow leading to health problems such as fatigue, brain fog, and in some cases, even cancer!

But before you give up your favorite beverage, we’ve got some good news! Choosing a high-quality, clean coffee can allow you to enjoy your morning cup of joe without compromising your health or peace of mind. Through responsible sourcing, careful processing and rigorous testing of the beans, these toxic substances can be eliminated, leaving you with an energizing cup of healthy and delicious coffee.

In this article you will learn:

Mold and Mycotoxins, the Reason Why Coffee is Bad for You

Mold is a fungus commonly found in a variety of food such as corn, rice, fruits, vegetables, and you guessed it, coffee. In small, infrequent amounts, there is not a large cause for concern, but consistent mold consumption can suppress the immune system and lead to some troubling health problems. Unlike some foods, when it comes to coffee, mold contamination can be extremely difficult to identify.

Where mold can be harmful to health, mycotoxins are the major toxic culprit. They are dangerous compounds produced from mold that essentially poison the body, resulting in neurotoxicity (brain and nervous system damage) which can, in some cases, be fatal. The sickness and specific negative side effects associated with mycotoxin exposure is called mycotoxicosis.

Although there are four main types of mycotoxins found in food and the air, Ochratoxin A (OTA), is the biggest cause for concern in coffee beans. Ochratoxin A causes oxidative stress in the body, which impairs mitochondrial function, and disrupts protein synthesis. This can lead to a number of troubling symptoms like memory problems, brain fog, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, night sweats, dizziness, and even hair loss.

Over time, Ochratoxin A can damage your DNA and significantly compromise your immune system, potentially leading to liver cancer, kidney cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In fact, the U.S. government even recognizes Ochratoxin A to be a possible carcinogen, so it is best to steer clear of this mycotoxin altogether!

Some of the first signs of mold exposure are fatigue, weakness, and sinus infections, so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, do yourself a favor and upgrade to a high-quality coffee ASAP!

natural force clean coffee

Shop Now!

Coffee Mold: Where Does It Come From?

To put it plainly, mold and moisture go together. Mold tends to grow in environments that are moist, which also happens to be the optimal growing conditions for coffee (which is why most coffee is grown in the tropics!). Coffee is also slightly acidic, with a PH ranging from 5.2 to 6.9 and mold thrives somewhere between 6-7, which is close to your average cup of joe.

Combine a moisture-rich and acidic environment for coffee beans and you risk the growth of mold if the coffee beans are not properly dried and processed. That is why it’s important to choose a manufacturer that uses high-quality equipment while holding the drying and processing process to a high standard.

Mycotoxins in Coffee

Mycotoxins are commonly found in coffees that have long storage processes before roasting, as the mold is exposed to moisture-rich conditions that can encourage growth.

The tough part? Once mycotoxins become present on coffee beans, they are extremely hard (if not impossible) to remove with roasting methods, making the harvesting, drying, and processing an imperative part of the coffee-making process.

If coffee is not processed correctly, the mold and mycotoxins on the coffee beans can contaminate the equipment used to process the coffee. This contamination of the equipment will inevitably pass onto the next batch of coffee beans, which will eventually make its way to human consumption, leading the coffee drinker feeling less than welcoming health conditions such as brain fog and fatigue.

This is why it is important to ensure that coffee growers practice good agricultural methods in order to reduce as much contamination in coffee as possible during the entire coffee production process.

Is There Any Type of Coffee That is Good for You?

While this information may seem a bit concerning, there are high-quality coffee beans on the market that are free of these toxins, you just have to know what to look out for!

Always ensure you are choosing a coffee with a high-quality bean, that is sourced sustainably, while processed and tested rigorously to show no trace of mold or mycotoxins like Ochratoxin A.

In fact, we are so passionate about high-quality coffee, we decided to take matters into our own hands by creating our very own toxin-free roast: Clean Coffee.

Knowing the serious health effects that mold and mycotoxins can have on overall health, we take careful steps to ensure that our coffee is free of these toxins. This process begins with sourcing the top 1% of superior grade beans handpicked from sustainable, direct-trade coffee plantations.

Once we harvest the highest quality beans (that are also ethically sourced!), we take the beans to the testing phase. Our testing process means business and we don’t take it lightly! We ensure it meets the SCAA Green Coffee Grading Standards, which is a standard of brewing that confirms the beans are free of fungus, insect damage, and other toxins without sacrificing flavor.

Additionally, we ensure that every batch of our coffee tests negative for yeast and mold. The tests are performed at Eurofins, a world-class analytical testing lab, and we transparently share the results of these tests so you don't have to take our word for it!

The result? One healthy and delicious cup of coffee you can feel good about!

We like to think of it as worry-free coffee. When you drink Clean Coffee, you know that you are getting the best quality coffee in the market; one that nourishes your body with antioxidants and puts your health (and taste buds) first.


UP NEXT: Are There Antioxidants in Coffee? Yes! And We Have the Test Results!

(Want articles like this via email? Here's the sign up!)