I drink coffee. I love the stuff. But I have to say I’ve been wondering how mindful I’ve been about it lately. I decided to dig around a bit and get informed. I’ve adjusted my habit accordingly. Feel free to do so too because every little bit of care counts.

We have more than one kilo of undigested plastic in our systems from ingesting our foods via bourgeois accoutrements...
We have more than one kilo of undigested plastic in our systems from ingesting our foods via bourgeois accoutrements…

1. Piff the coffee pods

These things – despite George Clooney’s mug being attached to them – are ghastly suckers. Thanks to George’s thumb’s up (in part) billions of coffee pods are ending up in landfill each year. Last year, Choice reported Nespresso alone had sold 28 billion such pods worldwide – about 28 million kilograms of aluminium. Sure, they’re recycle. But in practice they rarely are, particularly the plastic ones, which are the more common, cheaper version. Plus this: hot water passing through the pod essentially “cooks” the plastic and the substances in the pod’s lining is leaked into your coffee. This may or may not bother you.

2. Give up your takeaway cup habit…the lids are poisoning you

Disposable cups are a travesty. When the hot liquid passes through the plastic lid as you drink your coffee, it has been shown BPA is drawn out of the plastic by the acidity levels and the heat. BPA is a known thyroid/endocrine disruptor, a tedious chemical which binds to hormone receptors and impairs all kinds of really important endocrine functions. The particular plastic used for these lids is a denser form of Styrofoam and has also been shown to increase cancer risk. The thing about BPAs you probably need to know is that even low exposure can wreak havoc (particularly for anyone with an autoimmune disease).

Apparently we have more than one kilo of undigested plastic in our systems from ingesting our foods via bourgeois acroutements like takeaway coffee cups. To find out how to tell which plastics are toxic, check out my post on hazards to avoid. Most coffee lids fall in the 6 or 7 category. That’s bad. This also means they can’t be recycled. Take-home: Skip the lid. Or, waaaaaay better: Embrace a Keep Cup. I have. I’ve encouraged the I Quit Sugar team to do the same.

3. Coffee and cigarettes: a toxic melange

According to journalist Murray Carpenter in his new book Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps Us, Hurts, and Hooks Us, smoking sees you metabolise coffee twice as fast…so you’re less sensitised and, as a result, reach for more. And more. How so?  Smoking increases enzymes in the liver that break down caffeine. A fag with your joe means the hit is weaker.

4. Organic only… and not just cos it’s bourgeois

Coffee is one of the most chemically treated crops in the world. According to the CS Monitor, up to 120 kgs of chemical fertilisers are sprayed per acre of non-organic coffee. When you sip your conventional coffee, you’re sipping on the pesticide residues, which contribute to many health problems including cancer and miscarriages in pregnant women.

5. Better still, buy Australian organic coffee

Always buy certified organic Australian-grown coffee. All imported organic coffee is sprayed by customs in quarantine on arrival into Australia…so you’re still hit with nasty chemicals. No pesticides or insecticides are used in Australian-grown coffee as we don’t have the pests prevalent in imported coffee.

6. OK, OK…and try it with butter

Granted, the header was deceptive, clickbait-y almost. Because a post on improving your coffee drinking habit probably should include this whole bulletproof coffee caper. I wrote about it over at I Quit Sugar.

But this gist is this: With the addition of butter in coffee, your regular caffeine rush is slowed down, providing sustained energy (and better on your adrenals too). You probably won’t need a second cup!

7. If you have adrenal issues, none is best

I’m constantly asked if I drink coffee given I have an AI. I do. At the moment. But truth be known, I know I’m probably drinking a touch too much (about 5 cups a week). To read more about the specifics of how coffee can affect anyone with hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysregulation (ie adrenal issues), check out Chris Kresser’s post.

Hope that helps. Hope you can add more. Hope you have a nice day….          

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Amy Shah

    Hi Sarah, Love your blog(s)- I too have a love hate relationship with coffee.
    I try to have decaf but the processing associated with decaf makes it not as attractive.
    I think having a caffeine/coffee washout period can be really helpful (like no coffee/caffeine for a week).
    Keep up the great work!

    • happilyevergreen.com

      Hi Amy! Find a decaf that has ‘Swiss Water Process’ on the label. It is a process that doesn’t use nasty chemicals to removed the caffeine.

  • Elissa

    Just wondering – those Keep Cups are all well and good in terms of much less waste but they are so plasticy still. The taste is horrible. Given they’re plastic won’t they have the same issues as the lids you mentioned? Maybe not with BPA, but surely they add to the 1kg of plastic we have in our system? I’ve got a ceramic takeaway cup as well as a double walled stainless-steel one. They both have plastic lids – well the ceramic one is silicone. Again, won’t they be creating the same problem?

    • Agree …I use a glass one. was using the word in the generic sense…

    • Pandeimonium Access.

      I have a bamboo one! Feels like plastic, washes so easily and holds no smell!

    • I have a cheeki one. It’s insulated andhas bpa free lid. http://www.cheeki.net.au/products/coffee-cups/12oz-cofee-cup-slate/

    • Laura

      Check out Joco!! (www.jococups.com) Glass cups! With a silicon sleeve to protect your hand, and silicon top that is BPA free. Also great to support Australian businesses wherever possible! I’ve just upgraded to the large size for my green tea – currently Day 85 of 100 Days No Coffee.

  • Natalie

    Great advice. Even better certified organic Australian grown coffee. No pesticides or insecticides are used at all in Australian grown coffee as we do not have the pests here that are prevalent in imported coffee. Thank you Australian Quarantine

  • Kim

    Also should mention instant coffee can contain gluten.

  • Oh my gosh – my coffee is my saviour!
    Its one thing I cant seem to get rid of! I also worry about
    the amount of milk I’m consuming, I wish the use of non-dairy milk was an option at cafes, why aren’t they getting into it? I was in a small town on the QLD coast and they offered every kind of milk under the sun – Sydney café’s need to offer more choice and then I wouldn’t feel so bad having my cappuccino! I also enjoy a Greek coffee every now and
    then – its cooked on the stove top and the dark thick sludge settles to the bottom and isn’t consumed…its so good!

  • Sarah

    Thank-you for this post. I heard on the radio yesterday that buying Imported Organic coffee is a futile exercise as it is sprayed with insecticides and pesticides when it hits our shores (by Law). Buying local organic is the way to go.

    • Natalie

      Yes… my husband and I grow certified organic coffee in Byron Bay. I had my audit last week with my certifying body and they don’t know how it gets into Australia certified as it has to be treated because of Quarantine keeping the coffee pests and insects out…..ensuring Aussie grown coffee is a clean green coffee

      • sarah

        Natalie, I live in Coorabell !! What is the name of your Coffee Brand ? I would love to try it.

        • Natalie

          Hi Sarah. We are in Coorabell also. Byron Beans is our farm and company

          • +1 for organic! My wife and I will be heading up your way next month. Do you do pickup?

          • Simone

            Thanks for this info! I’ll have to try 🙂

          • Sarah

            Hi Natalie, I will be placing an order as soon as I return home. Im excited !!!!

      • Melissa

        I just purchased some of your coffee online! Keep growing organic – so exciting to see the industry get better and better 🙂

        • Natalie

          Wow thanks Melissa. Will be roasting and shipping tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it

      • Choppy

        Hello Natalie… I live in Byron and can’t find any organic local coffee anywhere..! Until now 🙂 Would you be able to email your contact details to me please?? I would be much obliged 🙂 I’ll sort out a small order if that’s okay, and can pick up… Thanks, Dave…
        [email protected]

        • Natalie

          Hi Dave. Thanks for you interest. Our website is byronbeans.com.au or you can purchase our coffee at the Byron markets ( today) or at Bangalow Markets on the 4th Sunday of the month.

    • Noego Coffee Co.

      Hi Sarah. Thank you for your great blog. Just adding to your comments…

      My partner has been in the coffee industry for almost 25 years; we own a Coffee Roastery and Espresso Bar, and only use biodynamic growers, organic growers, and coffees with fair trade and sustainable credentials. All are imported from responsible micro-lots that support their community. All organic certification is guaranteed free from pesticides etc, this includes Australian Quarantine and shipping fumigation. The beans are thoroughly checked, but should any little critters be found, a freezing technique is used. Our supplier tells me this is rarely required.

      For those interested in the Swiss-water decaffeination process, have a little look at this 3 minute video.


      I have to agree with your readers, there is nothing more frustrating to not only not be able to get chemical free decaf when out, but when you ask the person at the cafe if they have Swiss water filtered decaf, they just look at you blankly. There is a lot of variety of decaf out there if you go to the aware coffee places, or even ask your local shop to think about getting some in? We have single origin and a blend of swiss-water filtered decaf, so it is available.

      Re. milks… again, if you ask enough times, your local coffee shop may think about getting different milks in. We include rice, oat, soy, and cows milks in the coffee price… yes, no addition. We do, however, charge a little extra for Coconut or Almond milks as they are substantially more expensive for us to purchase and are the major component of the product.

      Enjoy your brews everybody. By the way, if you like to sweeten your coffee, coconut sugar is low G.I., has minerals, and adds a mellow, sweet, malty taste.

  • Sarah

    Hi Sarah, great article 🙂 wondering what your thoughts are on drinking coffee while pregnant. I usually have two black coffees a day (before 10 am or I won’t sleep). When I was pregnant with my first child I gave up caffeine as I thought it would not benefit my baby, but lo and behold he was premature and ended up getting caffeine to increase his lung function! Trying for baby number two and would love any insight you have on the topic 🙂

    • Hi Sarah, I’m a nutritionist who specialises in fertility and thought I might have something to contribute here. Caffeine taken in moderation is not known to adversely affect fertility. So, what does ‘moderation’ mean? I would suggest that you cut back to one cup of coffee per day but it’s not necessary to cut it out all together unless you have too much difficulty with moderating your intake (some of us are all or nothing types :)). Cheers, Kristy

      • Sarah

        Thanks for the info Kristy, do you have any information on caffeine consumption while pregnant (rather than trying to conceive)?

        • Dietitian Melanie McGrice wrote a great article for ABC Health & Wellbeing covering this very topic that pretty much says it all I think. http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2013/10/08/3864537.htm
          Good luck with it all!

          • Sarah

            Thanks Kristy, I can report that I have given up the coffee, I was having 2 doubles a day and that’s too much! I’m content with an earl grey in the morning now. Now I just need to get pregnant!

        • Hi Sarah, I’m a Naturopath/Nutritionist who also works a lot with Fertility and Female health. If conception has been difficult it is standard to avoid caffeine in the first trimester as it can contract the uterus and potentially cause miscarriage. In the final trimester it is also advised to avoid because of its stimulating properties on both mums uterus and bubs nervous system. All the best

          • Sarah

            Thank you Fiona, much appreciated info. Time to switch the coffee for herbal tea ☺️

  • christa

    what do you drink? Tea? I know black tea isnt good for you either…dont want green in the morning, any suggestions?

    • San

      I have the same question. I have switched from coffee to black tea with milk. When I drink green tea, I feel very lightheaded. Does it contain more caffeine than black tea?

    • Elle

      Why isn’t black tea good for you?? It’s full of antioxidants!! 🙂

  • Odd timing. I had my first coffee in 3 years this morning. It was a good one, by a professional. I am still buzzing. Feel a little naughty.

  • Sourcat

    Love my nespresso and I recycle 100% of the pods. Also these are not plastic – aluminium.

    • minx

      and where do you imagine your recycling ends up?

  • Alison

    We switched from nespresso (we won a machine) that started to leak to an aeropress and haven’t looked back. I was never comfortable with tossing out the pods, but recycling was a pain. Cheaper than any coffee or pod machine, easy to use, small enough to take on holidays (I’ve always been bad at using a plunger) and the year’s supply of filter papers looks untouched after 2years of use as we rinse and reuse them many times. Easy to throw the coffee on the garden or compost.

  • Rosie

    hi Sarah what’s your opinion on decaf ?

  • Okay, you’ve really thrown me a challenge today.. I love my coffee with no plans to give it up, but you have given me much to think about. Wondering if cream would work as well as butter? I shall read on.. thanks.

  • Emma

    I enquired about recycling in the Nespresso store, as I was reluctant to buy one due to this issue. They advised me to freeze my pods (to stop them smelling) and then return them to the shop in bulk for recycling, they also said they are putting recycling depot’s into local suburbs at Florists and Garden Centers.. I think they could definitely educate customers a lot more when selling their coffee.

    • good point. I have an issue with recycling as well…it still takes energy and resources…far better to simply not use them

      • Sally

        Sarah, you should look at EcoCaffe, soon to launch in Aus – their coffee pods are made of plant fibre, and they biodegrade rather than sit in landfill for 500 years. Same cost and quality as Nespresso! THE BEST!

    • Sally

      Keep your eyes peeled for EcoCaffe, soon to launch in Aus – their coffee pods are made of plant fibre, and they biodegrade rather than sit in landfill for 500 years. Same cost and quality as Nespresso! THE BEST!

  • Hi Sarah,
    Thanks so much for this article. It was quite an eye opener, especially #2 about the lids, I had no idea! I’ll certainly be more vigilant with my Keep Cup from now on.
    As a nutritionist specialising in fertility I can also add that while there aren’t many studies that speak to the detrimental effect of coffee on fertility, anything that’s so addictive can become a problem for would-be-mums.
    As you alluded to in the intro, mindful consumption is key.

    • please feel free to answer the lady above!

    • Simone

      Hi Kristy,
      As a new Mum I can agree!!! My advice to coffee loving ‘all or nothing’ types is definitely go low or no coffee when your waking during the night. It screws with your cortisol levels (= stress, fatigue and fat storage), sky rockets anxiety and upsets Bub’s sleep patterns. NOT worth it. IF you must, perhaps an Organic, swiss water process decaf?

  • Kelly Francis

    I’m with anastastia c! Coffee is so hard to give up and I’ve only been drinking it for a year! Recently did 3 day dettox and missed only 1 thing…..a nice cup of coffee!
    Love your blogs, Sarah xx

  • Jenna

    I’ve started drinking long blacks and subsequently find it nicer to drink straight from the paper cup! Quite convenient in light of this information!

  • ange

    Great post. Just curious how you take your coffee, Sarah? (milk? if yes what type?)

  • Laz

    Love a good coffee with butter and coconut oil! Or coconut cream for an indulgent creamy version.

  • Jane Hayes

    Damn you Sarah Wilson! Can I pretend I didn’t read this? I knew it would eventually come to this! ??

  • Simone

    Hi Sarah!
    I can relate. I’ve researched a lot on this…

    Organic Aussie Coffee- Yes!
    Best to drink fresh with the ‘crema’ still existing.
    ORGANIC Swiss Water process is the only way to go for Decaf. Just ‘Swiss Water Process’ still contains nasties.
    Freshly ground beans are best for getting the anti-oxidants and full flavour & nutritional value of the beans.
    Beans are best stored in an air tight, dark jar in a cool room.
    Drink it sitting down, relaxed style. Drinking coffee ‘on the run’ only contributes to revving up your adrenals.

    Also I assume coconut cream (and perhaps coconut oil?) has the same effect as butter?

  • Amy

    Apart from making me want to look up a non plastic cup for takeaway coffee, it’s also made me want to switch the kids plastic bottles for water at school to something else! (although they are BPA free…) I’m trying to look out a reference for the 1kg in our systems – could you link me up please?

  • Jiminy

    Just curious: shouldn’t metabolizing something twice as fast mean that the results come by quicker? Rather than having a decreased response.

    • Results come quicker but the hit is weaker… (smoking increases enzymes in the liver that break down the caffeine… hence the weaker hit)

  • Sally

    But happily, there is an alternative to Nespresso et al’s environment killing pods!! There is a company about to launch in Australia that sells eco-friendly, bio-degradable coffee pods for the machines!!!!! So you don’t have to spend on takeaway, or contribute to landfill for 500 years + every time you have a coffee! The Ethical Coffee Company is kicking off in Australia in November, keep your eyes peeled!

  • Blanche

    Biopak takeaway coffee cups have are plant based so none of the nasties and they are biodegradable. They are a little more expensive for cafes to buy (about 4c extra per cup) but well worth requesting at your favourite cafe.

  • Natalie

    Heya… Gotta love a good coffee and I have been adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to my morning coffee for ages now it’s the best… I wonder if that would work similar to the butter idea…

  • Lindsay

    No. 3 explains everything for me, hence that’s why I became a barista!!

  • Jessica

    Just have to chime in with a plug for fair trade coffee. It’s unfair to buy a luxury food (and what a gorgeous luxury it is!) at the expense of someone else. Fair trade means producers are being paid adequately and guarantees there has been no slavery (child or adult) involved in getting your morning brew.

  • Mona

    Thank. You. I have been saying this about Nespresso for years. It’s like banging my head against a brick wall. They also don’t seem to have that much interest in using fair trade coffee. A few years ago, George was cornered at a press conference for one of his films by a journalist who asked him how he reconciled his campaigning on behalf of widows and orphans in Darfur while being the face of a coffee brand that is not fair trade…his (irate) response was to tell the journalist that he couldn’t be criticised for “earning a living”. People are always so taken aback when I say that I avoid Nespresso coffee. And by the way, I love my Keep Cups too. All three of them, in different sizes.

    • Daniela

      This is really interesting! I’ve often daydreamed about bumping into George Clooney, but not for the obvious reason! I’d love to ask him about promoting a company that contributes to environmental damage … his activist image would suggest he
      cares about the environment. What a disappointing response to the journalist’s question. Surely he can “earn a living” from his movies?

  • Sarah G

    Ditch the pods and use the coffee grounds from your filter or other machine in your veggie garden. It keeps the slugs and snails off your precious lettuces and I’m told the worms quite like it (in moderation) if you have a worm farm.

  • Shybiker

    Smart advice. I’ve been saying for decades that plastics are harming our health and the cumulative effects are even worse.

  • Connie

    Check out Village Coffee. It’s organically grown in PNG and is supporting the local growing communities. Stirrup Cafe inside Marrickville Markets serves it.


  • Stephanie Mcdonald

    Sarah, You must try the drink i am addicted to from O’organic produce in Hunter street, Sydney City.
    It’s called a crazy monkey and it requires:
    shot of expresso
    rice/almond/soy or dairy milk

    whiz it in the blender with a bit of ice.

    Amaaaazing!! and making me very poor indeed that i am going to try making them at home with you suggestions of australian organice cofffee

  • Kelly

    Can anyone please recommend an organic Australian made instant coffee? Thanks!

  • dove

    I never ever buy take away coffee. The whole joy of having coffee is to sit down and and “smell the roses” and take time out. If you’re too busy to sit down and drink coffee from a ceramic cup, ( paper cups and sippy lids ruin the taste) you’re too busy for coffee. And don’t get me started about the environmental issues of takeaway coffee cups.

  • MR

    So link bait-y. Next time be mindful of your readers.

  • Love this list. I enjoy organic plunger coffee & love my glass keep cup. There are more & more cafes here ( New Zealand) offering organic coffee too x

  • Daniela

    Thanks for the great post. I have seen biodegradable lids and have often wondered – can they go in regular recycling or do they have to be put in composting? I am a caffeine addict and while I have a keep cup, it’s not practical to carry it everywhere with me.

  • Anna Winter

    When choosing a coffee, what would you recommend (i.e. Soy Flat White, Latte etc etc?) x

  • Laura Timberlake

    Hi, can I ask where you got your facts about “We have more than one kilo of undigested plastic in our systems from ingesting our foods via bourgeois accoutrements…”?