June 2018 Newsletter
Apart from coffee machine related queries, the next most common
questions I'm asked concern one or more health or allergy aspects of
coffee. The most recent one concerned the presence of Mycotoxins in
our coffees. Mycotoxins are produced by various fungi, and are more
or less ubiquitous in our food. Dried fruits, nuts and nut butters,
milk and cheese products, oatmeal and other cereals all contain
mycotoxins in trace amounts. Fermented drinks like wine, beer and
kombucha and foods like salami and dark chocolate also have
Some lower quality coffees can have mycotoxins too, which has led to
(yet another) coffee related diet scam which advocates mycotoxin-
free coffee, purchased from the scammers of course. The reality is
that the modern specialty coffee supply chain, from producer to
roaster, is set up specifically to avoid introducing any sort of
contamination, including fungi. As far as I've been able to
determine specialty grade arabica coffees are virtually all
Note that this doesn't apply to robusta coffees and robusta
containing blends. Low cost robustas are notorious for poor
processing and shipping conditions. Much of the world's robusta
production is shipped to Hamburg for decontamination by washing and
steaming. The cleaned coffee ends up in Italian high-crema blends,
USA canned coffees and as instant coffee. So if you're worried about
mycotoxin, stick to specialty and you'll be fine.
Another common query is from people concerned about nut allergies.
There appears to be somewhat of an urban myth that coffee and nuts
are roasted using the same equipment, allowing for cross-
contamination. I'm not going to state absolutely that it doesn't
happen somewhere in the world, but in my 33 years in the coffee
industry I have NEVER seen coffee and nuts being processed on the
same equipment. Again, a specialty coffee roaster specialises in
coffee, so you should never see "may contain traces of nuts" on the
The question that still surprises me is the gluten content (or not)
of coffee. I wrote about this in the August 2011 newsletter, but I
suppose I should repeat it again:
No part of the coffee plant, branch, leaf, fruit or seed, contains
gluten. Green coffee beans are therefore gluten-free, and roasting
them doesn't change this status. I have also never seen any sort of
starch or flour used to process coffee, whether roasting, grinding,
transporting or packing.
Obviously all of the above may not be true when it comes to pre-
packed coffee beverages or coffee flavoured drinks, so close
checking of the ingredients lists is a must.
This month's special is from an origin that ordinarily produces good
but not great coffees, Mexico. Every now and then a great one pops
up though, so I jumped on this one quickly.
Mexican San Cristobal
This coffee isn't fruity, nutty or acidy, it's just a superbly
balanced pure coffee flavour and body from front palate to back of
throat. What stands out most is the intensity of the flavour and the
long, rich finish.
Customers are reminded that Monday 11th June is a Victorian public
holiday, so no roasting and shipping until Tuesday.
Until next month