Coffee Oils: Are They Good or Bad For You

Let’s talk about coffee oils, shall we? The good, the bad, the ugly, and what you should do about all of it. If you’ve ever noticed a difference between your brewing habits and the oil levels inside your coffee, it’s time to confront and understand this dynamic.

Especially if this is something that’s been lurking in the back of your mind, it’s an important part of drinking coffee that should be addressed.

Coffee oil amounts vary, depending on the method you use to brew, and this will later prove to be of significant value to you.

Later on in this article, you’ll learn the effect of coffee, its oils, caffeine, and more on your cholesterol specifically. You’ll get to decide for yourself whether you should continue drinking coffee, stop entirely, or simply switch up your preparation method.

You’ll also do well to recognize the precaution that many coffee-lovers take to avoid the acidic nature of coffee, and opt for high-quality, flavor-packed roasts that are inside K-cups that contain low acid levels.

You’re at Gamble Bay Coffee; if you’re familiar with us, you know what time it is…

Let’s get down to the grinds!

Natural Coffee Oil Levels As They Vary
Between Coffee-Preparation Methods

Are Coffee Oils Bad for YouNow, here’s what a usual process for weekly coffee drinking might look like…

You buy a good amount of fresh, high-quality beans once or twice per month, maybe using your own grinder. Your second option would be to buy pre-ground beans, but if you’re going to do that in large quantities, there is a potential for danger.

Primarily this danger exists in the form of mycotoxins and other harmful molds that creep in and damage the quality and endanger your health.

Looking at the preparation side, you might throw these grounds in a filter, put them in your espresso machine (if you’ve got one!) use a Moka pot, a Vietnamese drip cup, a regular coffee maker, or a simple paper filter setup.

Getting to your hot, freshly brewed cup of daily joe, you may notice the existence of higher levels of froth, crema, or oils that exist in your cup, depending on the different prep methods.

This is normal, and you’re likely to find more oils when using a french press, the Vietnamese drip, a large coffee urn, and other direct methods with little filter in between.

Related – What are the effects of the french press specifically, on your cholesterol levels? Find out here.

However, when making your much-needed caffeine dose with a paper filter or a coffee machine, you’re much more likely to notice a less-oily blend, that has more of a consistency like water.

Now, what’s the deal? Why does this happen? Why does it vary, and what does it really mean for your health, cholesterol, energy levels, and sustainability?

Read on to find out…

The Oils Inside Coffee Beans:
Are They Good or Bad For Your Health?

Alright, so what’s the deal? Are the oils contained within the coffee bean “good” or “bad” for our health?

Let’s start by saying that our poor friend coffee has been accused of a whole host of things:

Stunting growth.

Being addictive.

Raising cholesterol.

Causing heartburn. Dehydration. Depression. The list goes on…

Coffee can’t get a break. Worse yet, people can’t decide one way or another.

But can coffee really plead guilty to all of these harsh accusations? In most cases, no; several esteemed medical studies have been published debunking the harmful effects of moderate amounts of coffee.

Remember, this is not medical or physician’s advice, but generally there’s no need for you to continue feeling guilty while enjoying your brews. That is, unless you’re chugging back 5+ huge cups per day!

The research is clear; most normal and healthy adults can easily enjoy two to four regular sized (8-12 oz.) cups of coffee with no ill-effects.

Now, for the topic of oils in coffee specifically, there has been a significant amount of upset regarding coffee’s oils and fats raising cholesterol levels. If one were to over-consume coffee (5-6+ cups per day) there was increased risk of heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S.A.

At first, that sounds startling, but let’s fill you in with the entire picture.

Reviewing the basics, coffee is roasted so it can be brewed and drunk; green coffee beans would taste nasty and flavorless, yes?

Right. When the heat is applied for roasting, a chemical reaction occurs that turns the carbohydrate into fats and oils.

Coffee beans contain two natural oils: cafestol and kahweol.

These oils are responsible for coffee’s incredible array of flavors and aroma; they’re released during the roast.

The Oils Inside Coffee Beans:
Are They Good or Bad For Your Cholesterol?

In a study published in 2007 in the Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, researchers discovered that cafestol in coffee actually controls a vital bile acid receptor in your intestines. This receptor regulates cholesterol, and when cafestol enters the intestine, it triggers the bile acid receptor to produce more cholesterol.

Dr. David Moore (one of the study’s researchers) discovered that cafestol is the only known cholesterol-elevating agent present in plant-based dietary products. Furthermore, dietary cholesterol doesn’t have the impact on blood cholesterol that most people believe it does, but that story is for another day.

Even as early as 1994, a study published in the Journal of Lipid Research measured the effects of cafestol intake on our bodies. Again, the result clearly offered that cafestol raised cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

During a four-week observation period, coffee drinkers of boiled coffee indeed showed an increase in cholesterol.

Furthermore, most of the cholesterol spike affected LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein). This type of cholesterol in the body is known as the “bad” one, and related to a host of heart problems.

Yet another 2001 study which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, scientists found that drinking unfiltered coffee raised LDL cholesterol levels, triglycerides and even total levels!

So, you should be aware that the jury has made up its mind on that issue.

However… here’s why you have nothing to worry about (unless you’re a supreme coffee-addict!)

Dr. Michael J Klag, (the Vice Dean of clinical investigation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) and his colleagues reviewed over a dozen studies, looking at the relationship between coffee consumption and cholesterol levels.

They found drinking an average of six cups of coffee per day was associated with an increase of total cholesterol and LDL (the “bad boy” of the cholesterol world). And, unfiltered coffee was responsible for the elevated levels in every case.

Keep in mind that none of these studies concluded that coffee itself caused increases in cholesterol, but it was the cafestol specifically, and from high-oil coffee brewing methods that are unfiltered, at that.

Using filtered coffee methods can severely cut down on your cafestol intake, and therefore the effects it has on your LDL levels.

Here’s what Dr. Martijn B. Katan (a Professor of Food Sciences at Wageningen University) has to say about it:

Unfiltered coffee has much less effect on your heart disease risk than smoking, high blood pressure or being overweight. But if you want to optimize your cholesterol levels, you should avoid large daily amounts of unfiltered coffee.

If you’re concerned with these effects of your french press, espresso machine, or other non-filtered methods, try opting for another preparation method. Or, you can start using that french press for high-quality, single-origin or organic tea blends!

Let’s cover the difference between “good and bad” cholesterol levels, why they matter, and how to stay on the healthy, aware side of things on the matter…

The Dichotomy Between Good & Bad Cholesterols:
Why It Matters in Your Coffee

Let’s get one thing straight: cholesterol is absolutely essential for your bodily functions.

It helps to build new cells, insulate your nerves, produce hormones.

There are two main types: LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) & HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein.

Generally speaking, LDL is harmful, while HDL is helpful.

HDL’s job is to carry LDL back into your liver to be excreted out of your body. If you’ve got too much LDL circulating, it will stick to your artery walls, leading to clogging, heart disease, and eventually heart attacks.

Mayo Clinic tells us that HDL acts as a vacuum for cholesterol. When your HDL is at normal levels, it removes the extra cholesterol and plaque buildup, sending it back to your liver, which expels if from your body.

Ultimately this helps you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

AHA (American Heart Association) suggests we get our blood tested at least once before age 20. If you’re overweight or obese, consider getting a blood test much sooner, as it’s a good way to assess your overall bodily health levels.

Ideally, your HDL level should be ~60mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or higher. It’s considered low when or if it drops under 40 mg/dL, so aiming for 40-60 mg/dL is a safe bet.

Of course, your eating habits still have a clear effect on your blood’s level of cholesterol. Eating clean, healthy foods can lower your overall LDL.

And perhaps not surprisingly, eating harmful and fatty foods with dangerous fats like transfats and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) holds a bigger danger to your health than your morning cup of joe.

In other words, the cafestol in your average single-cup french press carries a lot less danger than something deep fried, or cooked in vegetable oils!

Let’s have a chat about your daily coffee habits, then.

We can anticipate the main question on your mind…

“But I Love Coffee… Do I Have to Give It Up Altogether?”

The short answer is difficult to answer for you, since it’s really up to you.

Does cafestol (one of the main oils in coffee) raise your LDL levels?

Yes, slightly.

But most of the studies involved people drinking obscene amounts of daily coffee; much more than you’re likely drinking now.

Also, unfiltered coffee brings more of a threat than filtered coffees like those from a coffee machine, or filter papers.

And finally, you’ve got more LDL-spiking risk from some of the dangerous foods on your plate, as opposed to the liquids in your cup.

You should have an even keener eye on those insidious fast food drive-throughs, the oils you cook with, and the cheat foods you love to enjoy, than of unfiltered coffee with little to no sugar or milk added.

So, to sum it all up, the answer is really up to you!

We’re not doctors, nor are we qualified to dispense medical advice, so this is our opinion… but we’re of the view that moderate amounts of filtered coffee daily won’t do you much harm, if any.

In fact, the studies abound of the beneficial effects of coffee for its antioxidants, detoxification effects, brain and focus properties and more.

Are we biased? Of course; this is a coffee site!

But we firmly believe in the benefits and value of tasting and experiencing different coffees, experimenting with different brewing methods, and diving headfirst into the worldwide coffee culture.

But that’s us, and our community.

As a final word, if you thoroughly love to have a cup of delicious french roast, espresso, or cappuccino at the hands of a professional or at home…

We’d say if you’re on the “riskier” side, then pick up a moka pot, a percolator, french press, or Vietnamese drip. These are our delicious favorites.

And if you’re worried about cholesterol effects, but you can’t stay away from the steaming hot cups of goodness, just get a good filtered coffee, like what you might find in a drip coffee maker, a pour-over, or an Aeropress!

We hoped you enjoyed our cholesterol-focused coffee article on the dangers and precautions of coffee oils in detail.

Keep these processes in mind when making healthy coffee that’s enjoyable and doesn’t pose a threat to your precious health status. Health is wealth; you shouldn’t sacrifice for it.

Enjoy, and remember to pour us a cup!

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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