[Transcript] – A Quest To Find The Purest Coffee On The Planet (& The Shocking Truth About Popular “Organic” Coffee Beans)

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/what-is-the-purest-coffee-you-can-get/

[00:00] Introduction/ Zip Recruiter

[06:28] About Andrew Salisbury

[17:45] Misconceptions of Drinking Coffee

[23:55] Benefits of Drinking Coffee

[30:40] Andrew's Independent Lab Testing

[34:11] Joovv Light/Fisher Wallace Stimulator

[37:03] Contaminants in Coffee Beans

[42:22] Andrew's Three-Step Process

[53:51] Importance of High-quality Packaging & Delivery of Coffee

[1:01:15] End of the Podcast

Ben:  Hey, what's up?  It's Ben Greenfield.  As you'll learn and I elude to in today's podcast interview with Andrew Salisbury who's a coffee expert, I grew up in a pretty coffee-obsessed family.  My mom and dad were a little bit more coffee obsessed than the average couple.  They visited destination coffee shops and design new coffee recipes and subscribed to coffee magazines, and my dad had this vintage coffee roaster from Sandpoint, Idaho and his own coffee company, and me and my brothers would see these big trucks pull up in the driveway and deliver coffee from Guatemala and Costa Rica and Tanzania, and then we'd wait to the smell of my father roasting coffee out in the north hills of North Idaho.  So by the time I was thirteen, I was throwing back espresso shots, and at the ripe old age of twenty-one, while I was studying at the University of Idaho, I managed a coffee shop, and eventually went on to, as you know, be a complete nutrition nerd, and I've used coffee and facial serums and tinctures and supplements and enemas and I've tried just about every coffee on the face of the planet, including organic coffees and mold-free coffees and smart drug-infused coffees and superfood-infused coffee powders with mushrooms and just about any variation of coffee that you could shake a stick at.

So it probably makes pretty good sense that for about the next week, I'm going to be delivering to you a ton of killer coffee content 'cause I'm on a coffee kick lately.  As a matter of fact, it's been about the past three years that I've really focused on figuring out how I can take this daily staple that I, and I know many of my podcast listeners, enjoy every day and figure out every known strategy and tactic that you could use to make coffee healthier, from sustainable farming practices to better harvesting techniques to better production practices to better roasting protocols to better packaging strategies, and my goal over the past seven years has been to, not take into consideration things like cost and things like convenience but to rather focus purely on health and purely on taste and figure out what the best coffee, the most antioxidant rich, purest coffee on Earth actually is.

I've talked to a lot of natural product formulators, a lot of industry experts, a lot of people in the coffee world, and you're going to get to listen today to an interview that I conduct with Andrew Salisbury, one of the top guys that I interviewed who's just as coffee obsessed as I am who has a wife who had some pretty serious health issues related to her own coffee consumption.  He cracked the code on a lot of this stuff.  I've been talking to him a ton over the past few months about concentrating the antioxidants and the freshness and the purity of a good coffee bean into one mighty, mighty form of coffee.  So we're going to be digging into that today.  Not only that but on Saturday, a few days after this podcast comes out that you're listening to right now, I've got another podcast coming out on how to make your coffee taste really good and the best grind and the best brewing method, so prepare yourself to learn a lot about coffee.  I'm also working on a big article for bengreenfieldfitness.com on this, so all of the show notes for today's show, I will be announcing very soon as you're listening in to the podcast, you must listen in carefully because I do have some really good show notes that I've created for today's show that you are not going to want to miss.

Now today's show, before we jump in, is brought to you by Zip Recruiter, and if you've ever hired anyone, ever, you know that it can be a real pain in the butt, it can be really hard to find great talent.  It's not efficiency, you get all these resumes sent in through e-mail inbox or PMed to you on Facebook or tweeted at you, and the fact is that 80% of employers who post a job on this Zip Recruiter site don't have to go through any of that.  They get a quality candidate through the site in just one day because Zip Recruiter learns what you're looking for.  They identify the people with the right experience, they invite them to apply for your job, and the right candidates are out there.  Zip Recruiter is a very convenient dashboard that allows you to find them without all the headache that's normally involved with hiring.  So you, here's even better news, get to try Zip Recruiter for free, totally free.  You just go to ziprecruiter.com/green like my last name.  That's ziprecruiter.com/green, they call it the smartest way to hire.  Zip Recruiter, check it out, and now let's go geek out on coffee.

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“You have to pick, not only the coffee which is the highest in antioxidant, but the highest standards.  For example, our coffee is hand-picked and the reason for that is there's so much damage that is done to the coffee bean that can create mold and fermentation.” “The amount of chlorogenic acid to what we care about, there is some crops.  Crop, hard to hardest location, so the first step for us is selecting.  It's all we needed to do is we needed to find which particular farm have the highest antioxidants in season, so we lab test it for to organic coffee.”

Ben:  Hey, its Ben Greenfield here, and I don't think it's any secret that I am a little bit of a Java junkie.  I've been drinking coffee since I was thirteen years old.  My dad was a  gourmet coffee roaster as I grew up, so I would wake up in the morning as a young man to the smell of green coffee beans being roasted at our hometown in Lewiston, Idaho where we lived kind of out in the hills upon what's called the old spiral highway, and I would wander out to the backyard where dad had his big dedric gourmet coffee roaster and all manner of beans being dropped off by trucks and big palates from Costa Rica and Guatemala and Tanzania, and I would watch my dad repair old Italian espresso machines and be out there and working and roasting coffee, and I think I was out to about ten espresso shots a day by the time I was thirteen or fourteen years old.  And by the time I was fifteen, I was an accomplished barista working in the coffee shops and drive-thru coffee stands that my dad owned and by the age of eighteen, while at college, I was one of those dudes in the apron at the coffee shop, flipping espresso handles and making lattes and Frappuccinos and coming up with all sorts of new coffee recipes, and now I still start every day with what I call a big-ass cup of coffee from my wonderful Theodore Roosevelt, Man in the Arena, emblazoned coffee mug.  Even when I am not drinking caffeinated coffee, so to speak, I'll still start the day with a big old cup of decaf.  I'm just so enamored and in love with the taste of coffee, with what coffee does for the body, with the antioxidant potential of coffee, with all of the different cancers that coffee has been shown to have a positive benefit guarding you against to, of course, the cognitive aspects of coffee and those of you who listen to this podcast can typically tell when I've had a cup of coffee versus when I haven't on a show and so much more.

Well the fact is that in this marriage, in this love affair I've had with coffee for the past couple of decades, I've tried just about every coffee on the face of the planet, and I've come to a growing awareness, especially in the past few months that there are a lot of issues with coffee.  I think this recent FDA announcement, or it may have been the USDA.  I don't know, one of those alphabet soup, government agencies.  They began to relegate the state of California, and have them put labels on the coffee thereabout, the potential carcinogenicity and cancer-causing potential of coffee.  It peaked my attention because it really got me very interested in what is going on with coffee, what's the true story behind coffee and of late, over about the past nine months.  I have connected with one of the top minds in the coffee industry, a guy who I think knows more about how to source coffee and how to find good coffee and how to insure that your coffee is not slowly killing you more than anyone else who I've ever met in my life, and he's today's podcast guest not surprisingly.

His name is Andrew Salisbury.  He has set the world record for the world's longest bungee jump, which is very interesting and which I'd love to hear a little bit more about, and he has been studying coffee for much of his life.  He has a fascinating story, and so we're going to talk to Andrew today.  I'm going to fill you in on what is healthy when it comes to your coffee bean selection, what is unhealthy, how to make coffee taste amazing, how to enhance the antioxidant potential of coffee, how to ensure that coffee doesn't cause cancer but instead protects you from cancer and a whole lot more on today's show with Andrew.  So Andrew, welcome, man.

Andrew:  Thank you very much.

Ben:  Yeah, you hold the world record for the world's longest bungee jump?

Andrew:  Yes, sign of a misspent youth.

Ben:  Fill me in.

Andrew:  Well I started the second commercial bungee jumping company in the U.S. out of San Francisco years and years ago, in '88 I think it was, and after basically having that company for a number of years, I moved down to Mexico and had an opportunity to do a jump.  Basically sponsored by Reebok and the television company, so it was something I didn't want to pass up.  So it was very exciting, 3,157 feet from a helicopter.

Ben:  Holy cow, 3,157 feet? How long does that take, I mean the actual drop?

Andrew:  Yeah, I would probably say about twenty-five seconds full stretch because the bungee cord stretched four-hundred and twenty-one percent.  It needed to stretch a lot because if it didn't, it would be sort of like jumping on a rock climbing rope.  It could've been pretty painful, so I decelerated me over, in about fifteen, twenty seconds.

Ben:  Wow, do you still bungee jump or once you set the world record, you're just kind of good with that?

Andrew:  I think the timing was I set the world record just at the perfect time where you're starting to lose the sort of cache and company, there was not as many companies doing it.  I think it was a phase, I don't really do it anymore.

Ben:  Yeah, the new phase.  This is what I want to talk about actually.  I think it began, from what I understand, from the story that you've told me with your wife.  Your wife, Amber? Is that her name?

Andrew:  That's right.

Ben:  Fill me in on this.

Andrew:  Basically it was the fact that my wife was experiencing some health issues.  Low energy, and at the time, I wasn't a coffee drinker.  I was a tea drinker, as you could probably tell by my accent.

Ben:  Tea and crumpets and a biscuit, right?

Andrew:  That's right, and we had quite a few arguments about it because I felt she was drinking a lot of coffee.  I felt like she had one foot on the accelerator, one foot on the break, and back then there was a lot of mixed information about whether coffee was good for you or bad for you, and it really set me on a journey to uncover what the truth was about coffee.  And to be honest, I felt like I was more likely to be right than she was, and I've read a lot of negative information about coffee and health, but as I started to look into it, I got introduced to professors of the Institute of Coffee Studies, and what they told me was really surprising which is what science knows about the health benefits of coffee and what the general public knows was two very different things.  There was a big disconnect in that information where they haven't gotten down to the general public, and that coffee's incredibly good for you.

Ben:  Now your wife was drinking a lot of coffee at the time?

Andrew:  Yeah, that's right.

Ben:  Like what are we talking? Lattes, Frappucinos, black coffee, white coffee?

Andrew:  I think it's a sort of form of self-medication.  She was drinking K-Cups, and it really wasn't the best coffee.  It was just the big chains and the K-Cups and that sort of thing.

Ben:  Yeah, K-Cups are the instant coffee they give in hotel rooms, for example, right?

Andrew:  The little puffs that you get that you basically slip into the machine that creates one cup of coffee, but in a lot of cases, it's very low-quality coffee.

Ben:  Yeah, and fantastic for the environment, by the way.  All those little pots, we go through hundreds of thousands per year.  I don't even want to know what those K-Cups do to the environment.  It's something that I've thought about while making myself a K-Cup in a Marriott, of course.  Anyway, so your wife is doing a ton of these K-Cups, four to six K-Cups of coffee a day.  Morning latte, in addition to that, and you hooked up with these folks.  You said it was the Institute of Coffee?

Andrew:  Institute of Coffee Studies in Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Ben:  And what is that?

Andrew:  So it's a program inside the university to study various fields around coffee, and part of it was the health benefits of coffee.  The experts when it came, especially in the US, there's some great institution in different parts of the world, but they were really the experts in the US when it came to discussion on the health benefits of coffee.

Ben:  Okay, so you connected with this institute, and what they do primarily is coffee.  They just study coffee?

Andrew:  That's right, that's right, and part of this journey is they introduced me to Dr. Adriana Ferraz whom I would say in one of the top coffee scientists in the world in the University of Rio.  We started working for about eighteen months doing research on coffee and health.

Ben:  So what did you find when it comes to what they know in terms of what science knows about coffee but people listening in might not, in terms of what the folks at Vanderbilt were studying or what you and you said Dr. Adriana?

Andrew:  Yeah, Dr. Adriana Ferraz.  The biggest thing is this, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet.  So people often think of coffee as a delivery system for caffeine, which it is, but it's also the number one source of antioxidants, and those antioxidants come from a compound called chlorogenic acids.  So that was the first thing and the second thing was it has a huge impact on various parts of the body, in particular the prevention of liver disease.  So for example, every cup of coffee you drink from the baseline, you have a 20% lower chance of ever developing fatty liver or liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer.  So if you drink two cups of coffee and you move to three cups of coffee, there's a 20% lower chance from that additional cup of coffee.  Another area we focus on is the prevention of type-2 diabetes.  The impact of coffee on the prevention of the type-2 diabetes is profound.  There's a very large study at 1,109,000 people, it's called the Nurse's Study where they were tracked over thirty years, and it shows that if you drink three to five cups of coffee a day, you have a better 45% lower chance of ever developing type-2 diabetes.

Ben:  But before we get into this wide range of effects that coffee has on a whole bunch of these chronic disease risk factors, 'cause I want to take a deeper dive into this 'cause I know there's some very fasting studies on longevity, on Alzheimer's, on prostate cancer, on Parkinson's, on liver disease.  Coffee does have a bad rap, and that bad rap, it goes back farther than what I thought.  I think it's all the way back to the fifties.  You showed me some headlines from the newspapers where coffee was given as a bad reputation as this unhealthy vice as early as the 1950s.  What exactly happened back then that would cause people, since then and even now, to associate coffee with cigarettes, smoking, high-risk cancer type of scenario?

Andrew:  In the early days in the fifties, they started looking at patents and trying to define where the coffee was good for your health, and one of the biggest problems is they didn't sought for cigarette smoking and lack of exercise, so there was often a correlation with people who were drinking coffee and also smoking a lot.  And so in the early stages is when they started looking at coffee consumption, they thought that coffee caused things like lung cancer, various health issues, and it was only in the last ten to fifteen years that they sought for those bad behaviors and remove those bad behaviors from the studies and literally defined things reversed.  And now we realized what a health benefit it is, but when it was plunked in with the bad behaviors, people were thinking it was the cause of all of these things.

Ben:  Yeah, I think that it was the USDA announcement in 2015, I think, where they finally came out and said that moderate coffee consumption isn't associated with the increased risk of major chronic diseases that for a long time, you know, since those 1950 studies, a lot of people had believe that it was associated with.

Andrew:  That's right, in 2015, 2016, it was a very good year for coffee. The USDA includes it as part of a healthy lifestyle, and maybe even more importantly, the World Health Organization completely reversed its position on coffee being a possible carcinogen, saying that it basically has an inverse effect on cancer.  So in other words, it reduces your risk of five different sorts of cancer.

Ben:  Although to address the elephant in the room, just recently in the past few months, California turns out to be a state that seems to hate coffee.  They think that coffee is going to kill us, or at least the legislators there do.  What happened with coffee in California?

Andrew:  You know I think it's a case of overreach here and a badly written law.  Without going into to many details, I mean Proposition 65 is a law that outlines all possible carcinogens, all possible compounds that could cause cancer.  Even ones that already haven't been proven to cause cancer like acrylamide, but in high enough doses, acrylamide causes cancer in mice.  You have to drink about a thousand cups of coffee a day to be able to produce the same negative effects, but unfortunately the way that the law is written, it is the responsibility of the coffee company to prove that your coffee doesn't cause cancer in one of one-hundred thousand cases.  So the way that the law is written, you got a very difficult job if you're a coffee company, trying to prove a negative.  It's like me saying to you prove to me there's not pixies living at the bottom of your garden.  It's a hard thing to prove a negative.

Ben:  Right, and the other thing I know about acrylamide is even if it is in relatively minuscule amounts of coffee or in coffee, it's the roasting process from what I understand that can either allow the acrylamide levels to be more concentrated or less concentrated.  Is that correct?

Andrew:  Absolutely, so acrylamide occurs in the early stage of roasting, and in our roasting protocol, we've been working to minimize the amount of acrylamide in coffee for the last three years.  So in our coffee, we have five parts per billion in a cup of coffee.  So it's incredible low, minuscule amount, but you can, as you said.

Ben:  Put that into perspective for me, five parts per billion compared to what would be considered high in say, other coffees?

Andrew:  Well in terms of let's say other things you could eat, in terms of French fries, you have to drink a hundred and twenty cups of our coffee to have the same impact as one large order of French fries from the largest chain.

Ben:  I'm game, I'll sign up for that test.  See if I can do it.  Maybe in a month, I think can go through a hundred and twenty cups of that coffee per month.  Plus my big [beep] coffee mug, I think, counts for about three cups.  The equivalent of three cups.  It's just like my big fishbowl-sized wine glasses.  I claim that wine is good for you, but at the same time, I know that the amount has gone up dramatically based on the size of my cup, or my glass.  But in the case of coffee, so it was back in the fifties, coming back to what I was asking you about these 1950 studies that failed to differentiate between the effects of coffee consumption and a lot of these confounding variables that people who are drinking a lot of coffee were doing like heavy smoking and excess alcohol consumption and lack of physical activity.  So the New England Journal of Medicine and a lot of these other studies back in the fifties didn't control for that original data.  Now and since 2015 and a lot of these more recent studies that it has been controlled for and even as late as now in 2018, some of the latest vilification activity of coffee has been based on levels of acrylamide that (a) can be controlled with the proper roasting process, and (b) are relatively minuscule anyways compared to the acrylamide levels we're going to find in many foods, and essentially it's just poor legislation.

Andrew:  It is poor legislation, and it leaves the door open for attorneys to make a good payday.  Truthfully that's part of the problem that it's easy to file a lawsuit as if you're protecting the consumer when really, you're not protecting the consumer because unfortunately, when you put cancer morning labels on it, everything, even if you've had a minuscule issue, it's hard for consumers to understand what to avoid and what is safe, and this is one of those cases.

Ben:  Okay, now I want to dive into some of the fascinating ways that coffee can actually be surprisingly good for you, and I interviewed Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Deepak Chopra's brother, last year, and in that interview, which I'll link to in the show notes.  Just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast.  That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast and I'll put a link to that interview in the show notes.  He talks about how the philosopher Voltaire would drink 60 cups of coffee a day, and the profound effects that coffee can have on a host of different chronic diseases, but you've taken I think an even deeper dive than Sanjeev when it comes to really looking into a lot of health and wellness properties of coffee that kind of defy a lot of what we've been taught since the 50s.  You mentioned how coffee is the richest source of antioxidants, richer than blueberries, than dark chocolate, than cranberries.  I think about ten times or more that of kale.  It's pretty crazy, but what about some of the other effects of coffee that go beyond the antioxidant benefits?

Andrew:  The biggest ones, I would say the top three, the most well researched, and remember we're looking at about, there's been about 19,000 studies done on coffee and health, spanning over forty or fifty years, so there's a tremendous amount of data.  The biggest, probably the most profound differences are the impact on type-2 diabetes, the lowering risk of type-2 diabetes, anything to do with liver disease, coffee's incredibly good for the liver.  So if you like the occasional glass of wine like I do, it's definitely a good thing to be drinking the next day, and heart disease as well.  Mainly through the antioxidant benefits, and as you mentioned, longevity.  It's sort of surprising, but there's been a number of studies, and I hate to even mention these because the numbers are so big.  One of the largest studies show that you have a 20% lower risk of premature death in men and a 26% lower risk of premature death in women for people who drink three to five cups of coffee a day.

Ben:  Yeah, I know there was one study.  It was in the Journal of Epidemiology, and in that one, they looked at the relationship between drinking coffee and ten leading causes of death in the US, and they showed that frequent, moderate regular coffee-drinkers had a reduction in heart disease, lower respiratory disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia.  There was one study that showed a 65% reduction in risk of Alzheimer's which is more than…  You know, we hear about all these sauna studies over in Finland for longevity and for Alzheimer's, and when you look at the longevity studies in coffee, up to a 20% lower risk of death in men and 26% for women and this 65% reduced risk of Alzheimer's.  Of late, a lot of people have been talking about the health benefits of a sauna, and coffee nearly doubles what sauna does, in terms of longevity and reduced risk of Alzheimer's, so it's pretty nuts when paired with the reduced risk of cancer.

Andrew:  Exactly, and what was important to look at for us was to understand where those benefits were coming from because it wasn't coming from caffeine.  It's coming from the high level of this particular sort of antioxidant in coffee, chlorogenic acid, and so that's where we spend most of our time.  Trying to understand how we can increase the amount or maintain the amount of antioxidants in coffee, so you get most of that benefits.

Ben:  Okay, talk to me about chlorogenic acid and the relationship between that and antioxidants because I haven't really talked that much about that in articles or podcasts here before.

Andrew:  Yeah, chlorogenic acid is the main antioxidant or polyphenol in coffee, and there are nine variations of it, but basically that's the thing that scientists understand to be the cause of most of the health benefits from coffee.  There's other things going on, there's a couple of other compounds called diterpene or diterpenes, depending on where you're from, but called cafestol and kahweol, but the strongest form of antioxidants in coffee is chlorogenic acid.

Ben:  With cafestol and kahweol being the ones that would get, well if you were to use a paper filter, I know those get filtered out.  However, if you don't use a paper filter and you use a metal filter, or I use a French press, for example, because I really enjoy the taste of that, and then even more so if you blend, and this is what a lot of people are doing, right? Blending the fat or blending the coffee with the fat like a butter or an MCT oil or a coconut oil.  That allows those cafestol and kahweol compounds to cross the blood brain barrier and to enhance the cognitive performance enhancing effect of coffee, and so they're not only really good as an antioxidant, but also if you can get them across the blood brain barrier really, really good for cognitive performance as well.

Andrew:  Yeah, that's right, very right.

Ben:  Now when it comes to the antioxidants concentration, the chlorogenic acid concentration, what's the best way to actually increase the availability of chlorogenic acid?

Andrew:  Well there's so many different things, but I'll start with the main one.  The amount of chlorogenic acid is always highest in the green bead, and it diminishes as more things happen to that bead through roasting and through its freshness, but also the amount of CGAs in coffee, very dramatically from harvest to harvest, crop to crop, country to country, and you can't predict which coffee is going to have the highest level of antioxidants, which is one of the reasons why we lab test 40 organic coffees and pick the highest, and we'll know that next season, there's going to be another coffee that becomes the highest in chlorogenic acid because it's just not really predictable.  So the first step is that you need to find the one that is highest in antioxidants that naturally occurs in nature, and then the second thing is the roasting protocol.  So you can minimize the amount of antioxidants, the drop off, as you roast the coffee because one thing most people are not aware of is the darker you roast the coffee, the more you lose the antioxidants in the coffee.

Ben:  When it comes to the antioxidant levels, you refer to testing that you did 'cause you have this company.  You're researching coffee beans, you're testing coffee beans, and you’re finding the coffee beans that have the highest antioxidant levels.  Well also from what I understand, testing relatively free of other contaminants and low on acrylamide content.  Talk to me about the lab testing that you've done.  I know you've done a lot of independent laboratory tests on different coffees for antioxidants and for contaminants.  I find it fascinating, and I want to delve into that because there's a lot of coffees in our industry, and especially in our health and fitness industry that make claims about the antioxidant content, about the contaminant content.  Tell me what you found and also the test that you ran on coffees and coffee beans.

Andrew:  Yeah, so our situation is we have the luxury to look at this, and decide that we wanted to make every decision based on health.  And so the testing that you mentioned was we wanted to find out at the end of every step of this process, had we actually achieved what we set out to do, and so we tested in three independent labs.  One in Rio for chlorogenic acid, we also tested in the University of Lisbon in Portugal where were testing for acrylamide.  There's another negative compound that's created in the latest stage of roasting called PAHS, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  So we tested for that, we tested for trigonelline, for caffeine content.  Basically we tested to make sure that none of the negative things that we wanted to avoid were in our coffee, and we had most of the positive things.  And finally, testing for mold, microtoxins, yeast and making sure that our coffee didn't have any, what's called primary defects which is the coffee that we choose has to be the highest quality, especially grade coffee, that really only one org, especially grade organic and only one percent of the coffee worldwide meets that criteria.

Ben:  So you tested against all these different coffees, I've seen the list.  It's pretty comprehensive.  You've got everything from Starbucks to Blue Bottle Coffee to Life Extension Coffee, Trader Joe's Coffee, Bulletproof Coffee, Cafe Senora Coffee, Great Value Coffee, Folger's Coffee, of course, Maxwell House, Stumptown Roasters.  A lot of these coffees that I see all over the place.  You know, Dunkin' Donuts, of course, favorite coffee to dip a doughnut in.  What did you find when comparing this coffee that you're using now against these other coffees, as far as the comparison goes?

Andrew:  The first thing that we found is just what a wide range there was between different coffee and inside of different brands, because people weren't consciously trying to sort for health, making decisions based on health.  It was a huge range in terms of the health benefits of their product, but we also found that we were the number one source of antioxidants in any coffee.  So we will rate it out of 49 of the top brands to be tested and as you mentioned, we tested specialty coffee to sort of supermarket or Folger's or just very standard coffees, we were the number one source of antioxidants, the highest level of antioxidants of any of the coffee tested, which was great to find out after all of that work.  And then the second thing is that the average was two times up to ten times higher in antioxidants.

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[Music Plays]

Ben:  And what about contaminants?

Andrew:  Well depending on which ones there are.  So we tested for the things that we cared about, at this, we wanted to make sure that our coffee had incredibly low levels of acrylamide, which we achieved.  No PAHs which we also achieved, no mold, no yeast, no microtoxins, and we also achieved that.  So cross the board, our coffee, hence the name, our coffee is incredibly pure and clean, but again, there's a huge range.  Unfortunately, a lot of coffee companies are trying to cut corners because the reason why people buy coffee is either taste or they're looking for convenience or they're looking for cost, and decisions are made to meet any one of those three criterias, and typically health falls by the weight side because that's not the primary driver.

Ben:  Yeah, it looks like in looking at the results, and I'm going to put a link to these studies that Andrew conducted, independent studies on all these different coffees over in the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast, but this coffee bean contained double the antioxidant levels of all the coffees tested, in some cases more than ten times, four times the antioxidant levels of all the organic coffee's tested, a hundred percent mold and microtoxin-free.  You didn't find any old and microtoxin at all in the coffee?

Andrew:  No, that's our standard.  We won't accept any coffee that has any molds or microtoxins or yeast which represent poor handling in the coffee.

Ben:  Does that require you to shift the source of the coffee beans, based on changes in growing, changes in environmental conditions, changes in moisture exposure and things like that based on the coffee beans that you're getting and roasting?

Andrew:  It does, and that's where the initial conversation was that you can't really project where the coffee with the highest antioxidants in the green beans is going to come from, but then even if you picked a coffee that's very high in antioxidants, the green bean, depending on how it's handled through the process, you can create other problems.  So you have to pick not only the coffee which is the highest in antioxidants but the highest standards.  For example, our coffee is hand-picked, hand-selected, and the reason for that is there's so much damage that is done to the coffee bean that can create mold and fermentation when they use these big industrial standards to sort of rake the coffee trees to put all the coffee of the trees at the same time.

Ben:  So you can't just get your coffee regularly from, let's say, the same Costa Rican farm or the same Guatemalan plantation and expect it to be the same year to year?

Andrew:  No, and we wanted to choose the very best year, year to year, the highest standard, and so it's very likely that the coffee that we have next season is going to be from a different region or from a different farm, with a very high standard, but we'll be different.

Ben:  So you're tossing a little bit of the cost considerations out of the window and instead focusing primarily on the quality, and I want to get into the taste too, but you're also taking, I would assume taste into consideration.

Andrew:  The funny thing is we made the decision in the early stages that we weren't going to make any decision that wasn't based on health.  So we decided we didn't care about the taste, we didn't care about the cost, and truthfully, we didn't know whether we would have a pound of coffee that costs 200 dollars and it would taste like ditch water.  It didn't, we found out there was a great correlation between super high-quality organic products and fantastic tastes, but that wasn't our driver.  We wanted to do something we think nobody's ever done before which is make every decision based on health.

Ben:  Yes, and granted, there are many healthy foods that do taste like cardboard, and admittedly I still eat them anyways, but I was actually pleasantly surprised that you could find the sweet spot and still maximize health benefits, and as a matter of fact, this particular coffee that we're talking about.  I'm going to put links to all these different coffee sources and these lab tests over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast, it's described as coco, English walnuts and citric fruits, I believe.  You guys had some of the top tasting, what do you call the coffee tasters?  Is that what you just call them, coffee tasters?

Andrew:  Q-graders, almost like the [41:40] ______ of coffee, and we have specially grade coffee which is the very highest rating when it comes to taste and freshness.  It was a happy coincidence for us, and it really was a coincidence 'cause it wasn't what we set out to do, but the happy coincidence was by choosing health as a primary driver, we ended up with an incredibly high-quality product that tasted great.

Ben:  It's basically like a three-step process that you have done to achieve these high levels of antioxidants and this ranking that beats out all the other coffees in the world, including the organic coffees, based on these independent lab studies that you've done.  Can you walk me through these three steps that you guys use?

Andrew:  Yeah, the first thing is sourcing, so you got to start with the right raw materials.  So as I mentioned earlier, the amount of chlorogenic acid which is what we care about, vary from crop to crop, harvest to harvest, location to location.  So the first step for us is selecting.  So what we needed to do is we needed to find which particular farm had the highest antioxidants for that season, so we lab tested forty organic coffees.  It has to be organic, that's the next thing that I would say to any of your listeners.  Coffee is the most heavily treated crop on the planet, next to tobacco and cotton, but you're not really going to be ingesting those in the same way, and unfortunately…

Ben:  Speak for yourself, I personally like a good cigarette with a cup of coffee in the morning.

Andrew:  That's right, [laughs] but the problem is that they're often treated in countries that don't have the same level of oversight, and when you're in developing countries where coffee is grown, these sort of sustenance farming, meaning that if your crop doesn't come in, your family doesn’t eat.  So there's not the same level of oversight in terms of the quality herbicide, pesticides and standards, and there's no sort of rules and regulations as that coffee comes into the country what products have been used on it.  So I mean if there's one thing I would stress, it's the coffee needs to be organic, and it needs to be especially grade coffee which means the very highest standard of coffee, and the reason for that is every, what's called a defect, what takes the coffee from being the very best to any one of the levels below that.  Typically things that can affect the health benefit of the coffee, so the things like insect damage or mold or yeast on the coffee or over-fermentation or cracked or broken beans.  And so we insist on this sourcing profile that has to be the highest-grade organic coffee, and then obviously, we lab test for most in every step of the process.  So that's probably the first step, it's sourcing, making sure we're starting with the very best products.

Ben:  And you're using independent lab tests to test for, I believe over 60 different types of mold, right?

Andrew:  That's right, 65 different sorts of molds.

Ben:  The one thing that you also do that surprised me, it reminds me of how when my kids are cooking, I tell them to uniformly chop and cut, for example, the carrots, the cucumbers, even the pieces of meat so we get really even coating of the marinade and the spices and really even cook time on the surface area of all the different components of the food that we're cooking.  You told me that even the coffee beans, you test the coffee beans to make sure, or you review them to make sure they're not chipped enough to risk an uneven roast.

Andrew:  That's right, that's actually very smart advice that you gave.  The reason for that, and as I said, we only do things if they have a health reason behind them.  The reason why chipped or broken beans, you don't want to include them or we don't allow them to be included in our standard coffee, and there's a test for that.  Once they reach especially grade coffee, it means that they don't have chipped or broken beans in the coffee, and the reason why it's important is that when you roast coffee, if your bean is chipped or broken, a chipped bean is likely to char 'cause it's smaller and it's going to char quicker.  So that's going to create this PAH that's in your coffee which is something we don't allow at any level.  So the chipped or broken beans actually create an uneven roast in the coffee and creates charring, basically.

Ben:  Okay, so you've basically got your sourcing where you're using the healthiest green coffee beans that you can find, and always organic even though less than three percent of the coffee on the planet is organics but you're hunting that down, grabbing coffee beans that have near zero defects and independent laboratory testing them for mold and also ensuring they're grown sustainably and hand-picked and hand-selected, so we're not destroying the ocean with cake-ups.  Tell me about the roasting process and how you're doing things like decreasing acrylamide, and I'm also interested, by the way, for you to fill me in on the caffeine content of the coffee itself 'cause a lot of people are concerned about high-caffeine, low-caffeine, the potential for adrenal exhaustion if you're drinking a lot of coffee, so fill me on the roasting process and also about the caffeine content.

Andrew:  Yeah, so a lot of these decisions up to these point were relatively obvious decisions.  If you're making a decision with health as the only driver, organic is a natural one, especially grade is relatively obvious.  You don't want any mold in your coffee, that's obvious.  The roasting protocol, however, took really some brilliant mind, particularly with professor in Rio, Adriana Ferraz, who developed a roasting protocol for coffee.  Basically, the idea is this.  As you roast coffee, so coffee starts in this highest form.  The highest man of antioxidants when it's green, and as you roast the coffee, you're going to start to see the antioxidants drop off.  But in the very early stages of the roasting, you create acrylamide, and that's what Proposition 65 is all about.  So the lightest roasted coffee also has the highest level of acrylamide, and so what we needed to do is we needed to find the sweet spot where as the roasting, you carry on roasting.  Basically the anti-oxidant would drop off in the coffee, and you also have the thing called PAHs that we talked about.  What we tried to do is to find what the purity ratio was, which is the least amount of acrylamide and the most amount of antioxidants in the coffee.  So part of our process is when a new harvest comes in, we have to test the roast curve of the coffee and make sure we pull out, basically the samples every fifteen seconds, and we lab test those samples to make sure that we've hit the exact right spot for the most amount of antioxidants and the least acrylamide.

Ben:  And this medium roast, it's kind of about a medium roast that I know your coffee winds up at.  Surprisingly, you get that increase in antioxidants, and you get the decrease in the CGA and the acrylamide, but it doesn't give you a jittery effect.  Like I mentioned, I, for a very long time, much of my life I've switched to decaf quite regularly to kind of get myself off of the caffeine tolerance that builds up from some of these high caffeine, very dark roasted, kind of muddy coffees, and your coffee is actually somewhat low in caffeine content, so I can actually drink that without getting quite as much of a build-up of caffeine tolerance.

Andrew:  Yeah, and I think part of it as well.  I mean this is all anecdotes and what our customers are saying, and it's very difficult to define, but people find with our coffee that they can drink, whereas before, they couldn't drink other coffees, and a lot of this is I think due to the fact that people are intolerant of the bad stuff in coffee which is, the first thing is the pesticides, the mold that exists in coffee, and the other thing which is the really big driver for feeling bad on coffee is the fact that most people are drinking stale coffee.  Most of the coffee that you drink, especially in the large chains, was roasted five or six months ago as part of their supply chain, and you're drinking stale coffee, so the oils on the beans have turned rancid, and that's part of the problem.

Ben:  How fresh is this coffee that I'm using now from you?

Andrew:  It will be roasted within three days.

Ben:  Okay, wow.  One of two things, so we knew that the issue in freshness was super important for us, that we needed to make sure that the coffee was this fresh as possible, so we did two things.  We deliver fresh-roasted coffee, so it's delivered within three days of roasting.  But even if you weren't to open the bag for two weeks or a month, each bag is nitrogen flushed, and what that does is that means that the coffee is fresh until you open the bag.  It doesn't start to stale until you open the bag.

Ben:  Now when it comes to the freshness of the coffee, I want to throw in a few tips here for people because I've learned a lot about coffee from Andrew, my dad.  My interview with Sanjiv Chopra and a lot of people in the industry.

For example, I mentioned I use a French press, my wife actually uses a paper filter, but she uses a really good organic paper.  She uses a Wilfa coffeemaker which makes a really smooth filter, but I would tell people first of all, use a chemical-free paper filter.  So here's the deal, a lot of people are concerned with some of the cafestols and the kahweols and the cholesterols in coffee.  I think only people with familial hypercholesteremia have to worry about that much, but ultimately, the paper filtration process can filter out some of the cholesterols in the coffee, and in my opinion, remove some of the flavor, but either way if you're a paper filter person, use a chemical-free paper filter and travel with one if you're at hotels or Air BnBs that have the regular paper filters.  Travel with this coffee, and travel with a good paper filter.

The next thing that I mentioned is that I used to keep coffee in the refrigerator or in the freezer, and that actually introduces a lot of moisture into the coffee, through condensation can basically affect the taste, and so you keep the coffee.  The same way as you would keep a fish oil or a vitamin away from moisture and heat and direct sunlight and oxygen and other odors.  You want an opaque, air tight container for your coffee or a really good bag, like a vacuum-sealed bag.  And then the last thing I should mention is that you never grind it in advance, as convenient as that is.  Ideally you grind it right before you brew it, and I found that to do a really, really good job of maximizing the flavor of these coffee beans, Andrew.

Andrew:  Yeah, that's right.  It's something that most people are not aware of which is the staling of coffee because it doesn't have the same sort of obvious signs of staling that other food has, but it does stale and the antioxidants drop off pretty rapidly, after about fifteen to twenty days after the coffee is ground.  So I mean of all the effort and work that we've gone through to maintain and make sure that your coffee is high in antioxidants, the staling part, the very last part of the chain could really affect the benefit of the coffee.

Ben:  Yeah, and whether you're using a home-brewer, like a paper filter home-brewer or a French press or an arrow press, which I know is really popular, or some of these other fancier coffeemakers, what I'm going to do for you guys listening in, I'll put some brewing guide notes and some links to a helpful brewing guide that I'll create over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast if you want to know more about some of those brew tips that I just talked about.

Okay, so Andrew, once you ran all the studies on the coffee, you found the right way to source it organically to reduce mold.  You found the right way to roast it, were there any other steps in this process to ensure that you really do have the healthiest and freshest possible coffee, in terms of packaging or anything along those lines?

Andrew:  I think high-quality packaging, that's very important.  The oxygen barrier because even though we're flushing the bag with nitrogen, you know if it doesn't have a good oxygen barrier, then you're going to lose the freshness that way, but I think that's the final step.  The final step is we needed a delivery system, built with me, and that the coffee system got into your hands just after it was roasted.  So that's why our sales are all online, and just to guarantee that level of freshness.

Ben:  Okay, so you've got all of these different protocols that you put the coffee through to get to the final bean.  Now I've been talking to you, like I mentioned, it's been over a year now that we've been discussing this coffee and we recently decided to partner up and figure out a way for me to actually take this same coffee I've been drinking.  Take this high-end, kind of like small batch coffee that you figured out how to roast and how to produce with a high antioxidant content, with low acrylamide content and the fresh flavor of English walnuts and coco and citrus fruits, as the coffee smellers say.  What do you call them again?  The similes?

Andrew:  Q-graders.

Ben:  Q-graders, yes, and we decided to make this available to everybody listening in.  As a matter of fact, what I am now doing with my company, Kion, is partnering with Andrew to actually produce this coffee and make it available to you.  And so you can go read up on this coffee and all the studies that Andrew did on it over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast, but perhaps even more importantly, if you want to start to drink it.  This is the only coffee that I am drinking now, aside from the massive amount of cake-up that I go through at the Marriot, I'm just kidding.  I travel with this coffee now.  It goes in my bag, I do grind it before I travel, so that's the one rule that I break just 'cause it's hard to sometimes grind it when I travel and I don't travel with one of those hand-cranked grinders.  But aside from that, it' the coffee I travel with, it's the coffee I drink now, it's the coffee my wife drinks.  It's the only coffee that you find in our house, and it's called, no surprises here, Kion Coffee, KION, Kion Coffee.

What I'm doing is making this available to everybody listening in, and I've never really made this announcement before.  This is a first, but I've always wanted to produce my own coffee, and I want a coffee to have independent lab tests behind it.  I wanted a coffee that did not have mold and microtoxins which is a shocking amount of the organic coffees in the market do, but even more importantly, coffee that isn't burnt, coffee that's roasted for moderate caffeine levels, but more importantly, really high antioxidant levels and really great taste and I wanted to partner with a coffee expert who actually knows this stuff 'cause I don't have time to fly to Guatemala and Costa Rica myself and look into everything from the sustainable processing to the packaging to the actual content of the coffee itself.

So Kion Coffee is what this is called, KION, Kion Coffee.  It's very, very simple to get.  You can either go to the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast, or you can go to getkion.com/coffee.  That's getKION.com/coffee.  I've got a coupon code set up for you, and again, I'll put this in the show notes as well.  You get 10% off any order, any time, rest of your life if you want it.  The coupon code is “BEN10.”  That gets you 10% off; you can also get 10% off if you want to subscribe for monthly delivery which is a slamming deal.  Same code works, “BEN10.”  That gets you 10% off of any order of the coffee.  It gets you 10% off of a monthly subscription to the brand new, antioxidant-rich, completely mold-free, incredibly flavorful Kion Coffee that I've partnered with Andrew to bring to you.  So Andrew, any other things to share with folks about this coffee or anything else you want to throw in there?

Andrew:  I would just say this one thing.  You know I'm very passionate about the conversation of coffee and health, and the reason I'm passionate about it is that it's one of the smallest adjustments that you could probably make in your diet with the biggest impact.  I mean as you know, Ben, when you look at this sort of list of the health benefits of coffee and you can see with just some real care and focus on how to maximize the health benefits and minimize any of the negative things, you really could have a very small adjustment in your diet that have a profound impact.  With 165 million people drinking coffee every day, this is something that could do a lot of good, and so I feel like the more people know about this, the better all our health will be.

Ben:  And how's your wife doing now, by the way? I didn't even ask you that, or do people know about that?

Andrew:  Yeah, no very well, very well, and I suppose that really does bring me full circle to this.  I mean we don't really know what, in the end, caused it.  We did a lot of different things in terms of supplements and all the sort of tests you can think of, old remediation, but the one thing that we both say now is this was the easiest adjustment 'cause she made a diet.  So it's all the things we were suggested to do and changing our supplements and just exercising more and drinking less and all the different things.  The easiest shift in her diet was focus on quality coffee.

Ben:  Amazing, amazing.  Well I, as a self-professed coffee junkie, a guy who spent a lot of time in this industry, this is probably one of the highlights of my year to be able to launch my own coffee, based on everything that you and I just discussed, Andrew.  And if you're listening in right now, again just go to getkion.com/coffee to get Kion Coffee.  That's KION, getkion.com/coffee, code “BEN10” gets you 10% off any order, 10% discount if you want to subscribe for monthly delivery, and it is the exact coffee bean that I'm drinking now and that Andrew has helped me to discover.  So Andrew, thanks for coming on the show, man, and keeping us all safe while still able to consume this amazing, mind-altering and health-promoting compound.

Andrew:  Absolutely, well thanks for having me on the show.

Ben:  Alright folks, well I'm Ben Greenfield along with Andrew Salisbury signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast.  Have an amazing coffee-fueled week.



My guest on today's podcast is one fascinating dude. His name is Andrew Salisbury, and originally (after setting the world record for the world's longest bungee jump), he founded Corsidian, which grew to be the largest provider of call center software in Latin America. After Corsidian installations in 13 countries and offices in 5, Andrew sold the company in 2011. 


He then turned to coffee. It was clear to Andrew that coffee had tremendous health benefits so he decided to work with the best to define what makes coffee so good for you, and to figure out how to get rid of the notorious bad stuff in coffee such as pesticides, yeast, mold and a series of flavor imperfections.

Andrew worked with a Professor named Adriana Farah for over 18 months lab testing coffees to figure out how to source the right beans (with no consideration for cost and convenience), with the correct roast curve, organic source and freshness. He then validated his coffee against 49 of the most popular brands in the market. His goal was to decide on every step of the production chain to determine how to avoid damage and maintain antioxidants in the coffee. That is not the driver for most decisions about coffee because the concern normally is taste and cost.

Andrew asked a different question and the answers led him to decisions not normally made by coffee companies. The result was a coffee called “Purity”, that is not the result of what Andrew did in the lab, but the result of over 30 choices in the production chain prioritizing health above everything without exception. Andrew personally made every one of those decisions and explains why on today's podcast. He'll also explain how he asked different coffee questions to the best experts in the industry, not just coffee scientists, but also the farmers and everyone else involved in every step of production.

He is truly knowledgeable about the difference in the process from bean to cup as it relates to the compounds that hurt or harm health, and during our discussion, you'll discover:

-The mysterious debilitating illness that Amber's wife experienced while drinking 4-6 cups of coffee a day…[12:15]

-Why Andrew began to study coffee at the Vanderbilt University’s Institute of Coffee Studies…[14:30]

-What science knows about coffee that most consumers don't and why coffee has gotten a bad rap as early as the 1950's…[15:35]

-Why coffee has gotten such a bad rap of late in California due to acrylamide levels…[17:35]

-The host of chronic diseases that coffee can control or eliminate risk for…[19:40]

-How to concentrate levels of chlorogenic acid in coffee to maximize antioxidant levels…[27:30]

-The shocking results of the laboratory results that Andrew conducted on 49 different coffees…[30:40]

-The unique three-step process used to select coffees that allow for extreme flavors combined with a crystal clean health profile…[42:15]

-How you can lower the caffeine content of coffee while maximizing antioxidants and taste…[49:15]

-Why the highest-standard packaging method is called nitrogen flushing to gain the height of freshness…[54:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Kion Coffee (use code BEN10 to get 10% off any order)

-My Man In The Arena coffee mug

-My interview with Sanjiv Chopra

Show Sponsors: 

-Joovv – Visit BenGreenfieldFitness.com/joovv and use the code BEN25 to get a nice little discount off your purchase.

-Fisher Wallace – Visit FisherWallace.com/Ben to try the Fisher Wallace Stimulator® for 30 days and save $150 on your purchase.

-ZipRecruiter – Post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE by visiting ZipRecruiter.com/Green.

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Andrew or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!



Ask Ben a Podcast Question

2 thoughts on “[Transcript] – A Quest To Find The Purest Coffee On The Planet (& The Shocking Truth About Popular “Organic” Coffee Beans)

  1. Russell Volz says:

    Anytime someone says “Organic”, I’m skeptical. “Organic” by who’s standards? This is especially true in the coffee world. Every country has its own standards for “organic”. Even when you’re talking “USDA 100% Organic”, remember that this certification is issued by independent contractors of the USDA.

    One of the most stringent “All Natural” or “Organic” standards in the world come from Costa Rica. A large portion of the country’s economy is based on “Eco Tourism”, thus the high standards for coffee.

  2. Karen Leach says:

    I am eager to purchase this coffee. I am definitely not a coffee connoisseur, I just want to improve my health. My question is about the best method for brewing. I heard French Press in the show, but will a regular percolator be okay too?

    Also what a Keurig machine if I grind the coffee and put in the reusable K-cups?

    I would like to know how you prepare it personally; either of you.

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