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A Tough Coffee Decision

French PressLooks like my love for french press coffee will be short lived. Since I spent time extolling the french press coffee on the weblog, I felt an obligation to tell you why I've decided to severely limit my intake of french press coffee, for health reasons.

Last week, I visited my doctor about my under-the-weather status after returning from PalmSource DevCon. Turns out that my heart is good and strong, but my cholesterol and weight must be reduced. I have already been working out, and that's good — but I need to really focus on my eating, which is a whole another issue.

So, this weekend I began plans for modifying my long term, lifelong diet with the goal of reducing weight and cholesterol. This included changes to what I eat, why I eat and how much I eat. I've been inspired by Mashby, who's lost about 10 pounds last month on the South Beach diet, and and my friend's father, who lost 50 pounds over 2 years, by eating less and exercising. I'll just be eating less and better... no fad diets for me.

I know... that's a long explanation about limiting my french press coffee intake! You may be thinking to yourself "What's the deal, Mike?"

Well, back when I first got my press, I vaguely recall coming across an obscure tidbit in my research that mentioned increased cholesterol with press coffee. At the time I this seemed a minor concern, but now, after facing up to a high cholesterol number, that nagging tidbit bugged me into digging deeper.

So, Sunday night I did a Google search. Well, it appears there was a study done in the Netherlands (second link), comparing drip and press coffee drinkers over several weeks. When the study ended, the press coffee drinkers all had significantly elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol. The oils in french pressed coffee which taste so good, also contain high levels of cafestol and kahweol. These two compounds, heightened cholesterol levels in the french-press drinking study participants, but not in those drinking paper-filtered drip coffee.

Espresso also provides these same coffee oils with cafestol and kahweol compounds in them, but in much smaller quantities. I'll still have espresso and cappuccinos during the week, in place of drip coffee (maybe 2 or 3 days per week). Unlike french press and espresso makers, drip coffee makers and paper filters apparently keep a large majority of these nasty compounds out of the brew.

So, I've made a hard decision about my french press and the tasty coffee it produces. I feel I can't have the daily carafe of coffee I've enjoyed each morning, knowing my cholesterol has to drop. This morning I brewed my cuppa in the Braun drip maker with a paper filter and it was pretty good, but I will still miss my french press.

By the way, there is also an alternate source questioning this study, but I think I'm still going to limit my french press intake for now to be on the safe side.

Of course I'll still use french press, but its use must now become a Saturday morning ritual rather than a daily one. I still love the manual nature of brewing good coffee in the press, and the good coffee too... so I don't want to abandon it completely.

But hey, life is all about tradeoffs. I can still have my coffee, I'll just need to adapt. In the end the change in my overall diet and outlook is to enjoy foods for their taste, texture, and flavor rather than their quantity... the same holds true for coffee, especially if my health and life may be in the balance.

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