How to Make Better Coffee With Non-Toxic Coffee Makers

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How important is a coffee maker in most homes? According to some sources, excluding water, people consume coffee more than any other beverage in the world, and it is the second most traded commodity. Though the health benefits of coffee can be debated, most people (myself included!) consume it in large amounts every day.

How much coffee exactly? Well, the world consumes over 2 BILLION cups of coffee a day. This means that the way we choose to drink coffee can have a big impact on our health and on the environment.

The Rich History of Coffee

According to one (very interesting!) legend, Ethiopian shepherds first discovered the stimulating properties of coffee after noticing that their goats had extra energy after eating coffee berries. A little research uncovers many other interesting facts about coffee’s history:

  • The French philosopher Voltaire consumed up to 50 cups of coffee a day. (Fun fact: The lethal dose is 100 cups/day!)
  • Teddy Roosevelt drank 16 cups per day.
  • The Italian government regulates espresso because it is considered an essential part of daily life (similar to how carbohydrates and proteins are listed and regulated on food packaging here). Baristas are also highly respected in Italy.
  • Bach wrote an opera about a woman who drank too much coffee.
  • The word “cappuccino” comes from the similarity of the drink in color to the robes worn by Capuchin monks.
  • The King banned coffee houses in England in the 1600s because he thought people were conspiring against him in coffee houses.
  • Before coffee gained popularity, beer was the breakfast drink of choice in the U.S.
  • The world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, costs $600 per pound and is literally coffee beans eaten and excreted by a Asian Palm Civet (a large cat).
  • Money may not grow on trees, but coffee does. The coffee “bean” is actually the roasted seed of a bright red berry (making it a fruit).

So we know the world universally loves coffee … but is it healthy?

The Effects of Coffee on Health

A way to supercharge coffee and make it healthy and great for your skinAlthough I’ve covered the health risks and benefits of coffee before, here’s a recap of some of the issues with consuming a large amount of coffee:

  • Caffeine dependence – Over-reliance on caffeine as a stimulant can affect the adrenals in a negative way.
  • Pesticide exposure – Coffee is a notoriously heavily sprayed crop.
  • Mold – Dave Asprey has several good articles on how much mold coffee from inferior sources can harbor.

The good news is, this doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee. Coffee contains antioxidants and other proven health benefits, and there are ways to limit its downsides:

  1. Something as simple as when you have your coffee can make a difference. Consume coffee between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. to protect natural cortisol patterns.
  2. Add a boost of healthy fats ups the benefits of a morning cup of joe.
  3. The way you make your coffee makes a difference to your health. Choosing a healthy coffee maker is an important way to maximize coffee benefits without adding harmful chemicals or burdening the environment.

The Problem with (Some) Coffee Makers

Even if you choose organic and fair trade coffee to avoid the pesticides, some unsavory substances may end up in your brew from other sources.

Ditch the Pods!

Unfortunately, some modern methods of consuming coffee carry their own set of risks. For instance, the popular coffee pods (or k-cups) have become an increasing burden for the environment. Over 10 billion of them ended up in landfills last year alone! Endocrine-disrupting plastic chemicals from the pods can end up in the finished coffee, and these plastics have been linked to various health problems.

Even regular coffee makers (and coffee pod machines) contain plastics that come in contact with hot liquid. These can leach plastic chemicals into the finished coffee.

Yep … Mold in Your Coffee, Again

It makes sense if you think about it. The perpetually dark, wet, and warm environment in the tubes of many coffee machines provides the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and even biofilms to grow.

In fact half of all coffee mugs tested contained mold spores, potentially from the tubing inside coffee makers, and unfortunately the hot water and acidity of coffee is not enough to kill this mold.

Safer Non-Toxic Coffee Makers (That Make Better Coffee Too!)

Though modern drip coffee makers are certainly a convenient way to make coffee, there are other much healthier options that (in my opinion) produce a much better cup of coffee. These are some of my favorite non-toxic coffee makers:

French Press

There are some great French Press options in the coffee maker world. A French Press allows you to have control over the temperature and intensity of your coffee. The water must be pre-heated using another method, but French Press coffee makers don’t require any electricity or heat. They don’t keep coffee warm like a drip coffee pot would but are a great option for making a couple of cups of high-quality coffee. As an added bonus, they can also be used to make tea.

Traditional French Press coffee makers (like this one) are typically glass with a stainless steel interior filter, but there is now also a completely stainless steel French Press machine that won’t crack or break like some of the glass options.


As the name suggests, this method of brewing involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds and letting gravity do the work. Unlike the French Press, there isn’t a way to push down the coffee to speed up the process, and the pour over method does take a little longer. I find that the extra time and effort are worth it for the quality of the coffee. In fact, This many high-end coffee shops use the pour-over method.

Popular pour-over brewing options include:

  • The Chemex – An all-glass system that has won awards for its design and is even on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It does require filters and I personally like either the unbleached disposable filters or a stainless steel reusable filter.
  • Cone Coffee Drippers – Slightly less expensive, simple cone filters (like this stainless one) or this ceramic Hario) also use the pour-over method and are typically used to make one cup at a time.
  • Ratio Coffee Maker – This is like a pour over coffee maker but is electric and automatic, so you don’t have to stand over it and manually pour the water. It has no plastic parts (hurray!) and makes some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted! Check it out here.

Old-Fashioned Percolator

What’s old is certainly often new again! Old-fashioned percolator coffee makers are a great alternative to drip coffee pots. Many of us may remember these iconic machines even though they lost popularity (largely due to modern drip coffee pots and more recent coffee pod brewers). Percolators don’t require any additional equipment or filters though, are easily cleaned, and plug in much like a drip machine. They also keep coffee warm like a coffee pot, so they are a good option for anyone who likes having a pot of warm coffee ready for longer than a few minutes.

Just make sure to use a completely stainless steel model for both durability and to avoid plastic.

Stainless Espresso Makers

The traditional Bialetti espresso makers are often made of aluminum (my husband has used one since college and refuses to get rid of it, much to my chagrin!) instead of steel. Though harder to find, stainless steel stove-top espresso makers work just as well and don’t have the health risks of aluminum. These are a good option for those who prefer espresso to regular coffee.

Coffee Makers: Bottom Line

Don’t let a mold-infested plastic coffee maker ruin a good cup of coffee. Try one of these non-toxic coffee makers. Many have the added benefit of not needing disposable filters and create a better cup of coffee anyway!

Are you a coffee drinker? What is your coffee maker of choice?

Most coffee makers can harbor mold or mildew and may leach plastic chemicals into coffee. Try non-toxic methods like pour-over, French press and percolator.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


150 responses to “How to Make Better Coffee With Non-Toxic Coffee Makers”

  1. Peter E McApine Avatar
    Peter E McApine

    Are there non-aluminum heating elements in any electric coffee makers, OR NOT?

  2. Stephanie Avatar

    Hi Katie, thanks for the great article! I bought the Presto electric percolator but then discovered the interior basket, and I believe the bottom heating plate/washer parts, are made of aluminum, not stainless steel… bummer and misleading advertising on their part. Some parts have gotten discolored and are lighter in weight so it’s not surprising to learn they’re not stainless as they don’t feel or look like it. I switched to the Presto percolator because I didn’t like the thought of plastics leaching into our coffee, but now I’m concerned about the aluminum leaching and negative health impacts from that. Not sure which is worse for our health… I know I can use a French Press but it’s nice to use a smart switch to program my percolator to start before I wake. Do you still use your Presto percolator? Knowing the interior parts are aluminum will you keep using yours? Thanks for your time and advice!

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      I typically use a Chemex pour over or a French Press type coffee maker these days. I normally only use the percolator if I need to make a lot of coffee for a party or something…

  3. Dave Avatar

    I believe the Presto brand coffee perculator does contain aluminum inside. Be careful.

  4. Nancy Avatar

    I am concerned about french press coffee makers because of cafestol and other health risks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you!

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      There’s so much interesting emerging data on that! With sources claiming harm and benefit on both sides. Personally, I use a chemex and love it just because it is so smooth, but I know many people are moving away from the french press for those reasons.

  5. Jody Wallace Avatar
    Jody Wallace

    Wellness Mama, the links for the french press aren’t working. I really don’t know which one to buy and would LOVE if you gave the brand/model or fixed your link. Thank-you!

      1. Maria Avatar


        Just wanted to point out an unfortunate comment made by one consumer of the percolator :

        “This was my first coffee percolator (first bought in December 2012) And it worked great until it died in December of 2016. The reason I purchased this unit again was because of the original reviews about no aluminum inside the tub. Second one arrived with an aluminum nut at the bottom of the tub, did not like that but had no choice and I decided to run with it. Now it’s making loud noises while keeping the coffee hot so from past experience I decided to buy another unit (not this brand) as a back up just in case this one failed. After reading the reviews on this unit again I noticed more and more people are concerned with the aluminum as I was and still am. Just bought a Hamilton Beach 40616 percolator that is supposed to be 100% stainless steel on the inside from Amazon. If Presto fixes these units and makes them last maybe 5 years or so and gets rid of the aluminum inside the tub I will purchase them again but for now I’m out.“

  6. Bill Avatar

    Unfortunately virtually all electric percolators and drip coffee pots, yes even those proudly proclaiming “Stainless Steel,” use aluminum heating elements that are in contact with the water.

    Admittedly that is not quit as bad as an all aluminum or all plastic pot but keep in mind, that boiling occurs on or in that heating element. (“on” is for that aluminum “nut” that the percolator tube slides into and “in” is for the drip coffee makers where no part of the heating element is visible).

  7. Ryan richard Avatar
    Ryan richard

    Fyi I contacted ratio and they use tritan plastic from Eastman which is the subject of some debate.

  8. Mary Avatar

    after doing much, much ,much searching for a non plastic/non aluminum coffeemaker I bought the Bunn VP17-1. I also bought the optional Bunn stainless steel replacement funnel to replace the plastic one that comes with the unit. This is the smallest fully stainless steel unit available. it has only one warmer plate. google it for an image. bunn deserves kudos for their product. its not the prettiest unit but it is built like a tank and i expect to will it to my kids when i die. there are replacement parts sold everywhere for it.

    I am very pleased with the unit! makes great coffee and its very fast! We make anywhere from 1 large cup to 1/2 pot of coffee. Every coffee make is different. It took me a couple of brews to determine the amount of water and coffee for a 1 cup and and 1/2 pot coffee. cleanup is easy as the funnel has a steel wire liner inside that keeps the coffee filter from sticking to the funnel. next time you go to mcdonalds , tim hortons etc note they have a bunn. Not the low end crappy plastic consumer models that bunn has but the stainless commercial units. the vp17-1 is the only consumer/commercial unit that is not plumbed directly into the water supply. its a pour over.

    we had the presto percolator for years it was a messy cleanup, coffee was ok not great (likely due to the high temperature the coffee is subjected to). I later discovered that the tank was aluminum (alzheimers with your coffee anyone?) so it had to go.

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