Remember back in the good old days when you simply drank your coffee with no regard to whether or not it came from a “no plastic coffee maker”? Technology for all of its perks has complicated our morning routine.
Today we’re going to find out how we can enjoy our coffee without an infusion of plastic. Since coffee is usually a daily habit, we want to ensure that we’re not inadvertently exposing ourselves to unwanted chemicals through plastic coffee makers.
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Why Are Plastic Free Coffee Makers Important?
Chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) can easily leach from plastic into coffee and heat can speed up this process.
Making a cup of coffee is the trifecta for chemical leaching due to the combination of heat, acidity, and frequency of use.
Unfortunately even low doses of BPA can be problematic, that’s why plastic-free coffee makers can be a serious asset to your health.
Related Content: Best Mold & Mycotoxin Free Coffee Brands
What Is BPA?
According to the National Institutes of Environmental Health Services,
“Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics. It is found in various products including shatterproof windows, eyewear, water bottles, and epoxy resins that coat some metal food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.”1
Health Concerns Related To BPA
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exposure to BPA is a concern because of the possible health effects on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It can also affect children’s behavior. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”2
Some of the ways BPA can affect our health include:3
- Reproductive disorders
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes and body weight
- Fetal and brain development
- Breast and prostate cancer
Is BPA Free Plastic A Good Option?
BPA free plastic can be a better option but it is by no means a perfect option. Be aware that the substitutes for BPA such as Bisphenol-S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF) can be just as harmful.
Sadly, the BPA free designation does not carry a whole lot of weight and there’s no standard testing for its chemical substitutes.
We are constantly being bombarded by chemicals, so it’s best to reduce our daily exposure even to BPA-free plastic, if and when possible.
Are The Alternative Plastics To BPA Proven Safe?
Two of the most common alternative plastics, BPS and BPF have been found to be just as disruptive to the endocrine system as BPA.4
According to a study published in Environmental Sciences Europe, Bisphenol-S (BPS), a replacement chemical for bisphenol-A (BPA), may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. population.5
Is BPA Exposure Worse When Mixed With Caffeine?
BPA mixed with caffeine is worse because of the combination of heat and acid. The daily contact can be especially problematic in increasing your exposure to BPA.
Interesting to note that a study done on mice in Reproductive Toxicology found that “combined exposure to caffeine and BPA induces embryonic anomalies and injuries of the yolk sac placentas through oxidative stress, apoptosis, hypoxia, and vasculogenic defects.”6
Related Content: How To Make The Best Iced Coffee At Home
What Should Be Used In Place of Plastic In A Coffee Maker?
Porcelain and ceramic are often used interchangeably to denote the same material but true porcelain is generally more durable and less porous than ceramic. Porcelain and ceramic can contain traces of heavy metals, however it’s usually limited to the colored varieties. To be safe, stick with white and look for the Prop 65 compliance.
Glass doesn’t contain chemicals that can seep into water or coffee even at high temperatures and It’s recyclable. To help prevent thermal shock and provide even greater resistance to chemical leaching, opt for borosilicate glass.
Stainless steel is durable, easy to clean, and heat resistant.
The only potential drawbacks were found in a study with tomato sauce. Levels of nickel and chromium increased after cooking tomato sauce in new stainless steel cookware and for an extended amount of time (beyond 2 hours). Not a scenario likely to affect your morning brew, but a note of caution if you are using a new stainless coffee maker and allowing your coffee to sit in it all day
In general, high quality food-grade or medical-grade stainless steel shouldn’t leach chemicals into your coffee.7
Are There Any Standard Drip Coffee Makers That Don’t Have Plastic?
With the advancement of technology, it’s hard to find a drip coffee maker that isn’t constructed of plastic in some way. You can however, find coffee makers that don’t have plastic components that come in direct contact with the hot water and the brewed coffee.
The Technivorm 59691 KB Coffee Brewer is plastic free except for the brew basket which is made of BPA/BPS/BPF and phthalate free plastics. Another point of interest is that each coffee maker is tested before it leaves the factory.
It’s also SCAA – Speciality Coffee Association of America certified, which means it can make a good cup of coffee!
Best Plastic Free Coffee Makers
This is the closest thing to a drip coffeemaker that is completely plastic free. It is made of steel and doesn’t have plastic coming into contact with the hot water and coffee at all. The filter basket is even made of stainless steel too.
It also keeps your coffee hot too as long as it’s plugged in which is such a nice feature. I really love that it keeps your coffee warm as other options don’t offer this. It works great for parties and gatherings. We’ve used it so much for family get togethers. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a traditional coffee maker but want something that isn’t made of plastic.
This is another option when it comes to a plastic free coffee maker. French press coffeemakers are typically made from glass and the plunger you use to push down the coffee is made from stainless steel. So there is not plastic involved in the process of making the coffee.
It’s not a traditional coffeemaker and is definitely a stronger flavor overall, compared to a drip coffee. It also doesn’t keep your coffee warm, which is a drawback for some. However, I find French press coffee to have such a smooth flavor and always feels like a treat when I take the time to make it.
Related Content: Best Coffee For Your French Press
Another option when it comes to plastic free coffee is a Chemex. This is completely free from plastic. The coffee is housed in glass and if you get a stainless steel filter, then you will have no contact with plastic at all.
My husband loves a pour over coffee. It’s a little stronger and takes more time but definitely something that makes your cup of coffee feel a little extra special. However, it also doesn’t have a way to continually heat the coffee, so you do have to drink it right away in order to enjoy it warm.
Related Content: A Chemex Brew Guide
Do you have a favorite no plastic coffee maker? Share it below!
If you liked this post, check out these coffee related posts:
1. Bisphenol A (BPA). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/index.cfm. Accessed Apr. 24, 2023.
2. What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331 Accessed Apr. 24, 2023.
3. How does bisphenol A affect health? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221205. Accessed Apr. 24, 2023.
4. Johanna R. Rochester and Ashley L. Bolden. Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes. Environmental Health Perspectives. 123:7 CID: https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1408989
5. Wang, R., Fei, Q., Liu, S. et al. The bisphenol F and bisphenol S and cardiovascular disease: results from NHANES 2013–2016. Environ Sci Eur 34, 4 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-021-00586-9
6. Gwon LW, Park SG, Lin C, Lee BJ, Nam SY. The effects of caffeine and bisphenol A singularly or in combination on cultured mouse embryos and yolk sac placenta. Reprod Toxicol. 2020 Jan;91:92-100. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2019.11.008
7. Kristin L. Kamerud, Kevin A. Hobbie, and Kim A. Anderson. Stainless Steel Leaches Nickel and Chromium into Foods during Cooking. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2013, 61, 39, 9495–9501