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Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Brewing Good Coffee One Cup at A Time

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist -
Feb 11, 2013 - 7:01:20 AM

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( - I like coffee to get me going in the morning, to finish off a good meal, or to just relax and enjoy at some point during the day. I traditionally make electric drip coffee and enjoy exploring new varieties of beans. I've steered clear of the one-cup, pod brew machines because I know the formula for good coffee relies on time and temperature - temperature of the water and the time the water and coffee grinds linger together to extract the best brew. I couldn't wrap my head around how that little pod and just enough water for 1 cup could produce good coffee in 1 minute. But, my opinion has changed.

Keurig ( - derived from a Dutch word for excellence - the foremost producer of single-cup, pod brewing home machines was kind enough to recently give me a coffee tasting/engineering lesson on 1-cup brewing. Keurig celebrates 15 years in business in 2013 but their technology over the last decade and a half has galloped along in a way that rivals the iPad. They are all about change and improvement.

The first Keurig coffee machine was designed for commercial use and sold to a company in New York City. I chuckled when I heard this as NY has never been known as a standard test market. One of Keurig's latest products, Rivo, which makes espresso-based coffee beverages, is being exclusively sold through Bloomingdale's to start its marketing roll out. Quite an unconventional approach, but turning the home coffee brewing experience on its head in just 15 years is also unconventional.

I'll spare you all the engineering details I learned but the short story is that the inside of a Keurig brewer rivals the guts of a cell phone, it is so complex. There are microprocessors, piston pumps and closed-circuit tubing made of high grade silicone to insure the water never comes in contact with anything that could contaminate the system. As a dietitian, knowing the system was so sanitary and well-designed was reassuring. I hate home appliances with all those impossible to clean crevasses.

The K-cups or pods that hold the coffee are also a tiny engineering feat. The cup is #5 recyclable plastic, with a paper filter inside attached to a foil lid. After brewing, the lid can be peeled off with the filter full of used grounds attached and discarded or composted.

The paper filter also intrigued me because research has shown that brewing coffee with a paper filter removes coffee oils which contain cafestol which raises cholesterol. A good reason why French press or boiled coffees aren't the best choices because the grounds and water are in full contact until the pot is emptied.

It is estimated that more than12 million homes currently have a Keurig one-cup coffee machine and if the company has their way that number will keep increasing. Making a good cup of coffee, easily, anytime may not be a bad thing. Coffee is quietly joining the ranks of a health beverage. As more and more problems pop up surrounding energy drinks, many health professionals are suggesting we get our caffeine fix from good old- fashioned coffee.

Did you know:

Athletes frequently use coffee as a pre-exercise energy enhancer.

Coffee drinkers have a lowered risk for type 2 diabetes. Drinking 4 or more cups of coffee daily lowers diabetes risk by 50%. A substance found in coffee blocks a polypeptide (H1APP) responsible for increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Research shows that 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day lowers the risk for heart and inflammatory disease (such as arthritis) in post-menopausal women. If these results hold up in other studies, it will be a powerful health message since coffee is the second most consumed drink in the world.

The coffee berry is rich in antioxidants. Americans eat too few fruits and vegetables but they do love coffee which is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in our diet. Researchers in Spain found that used coffee grounds that were brewed through a paper filter are still rich in antioxidants and could be recycled as a potential source of nutrients.

Researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found in a study monitoring thinking processes and memory in people over the age of 65 that coffee drinkers were at lower risk for Alzheimer's disease during the follow-up years of the research.

In a large scale study of adults aged 50 to 71 coffee drinkers had a lower risk for all causes of death.

Enjoy your coffee whether you brew it in a single-cup machine, make a full pot of drip coffee with a paper filter, or buy it at the corner coffee shop. Coffee drinking is a good health habit.

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, and CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.

Look for:

The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013

The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013

The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012

The Diabetes Counter, 4th Ed., 2011

The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011

The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010

The Fat Counter, 7th ed., 2009

The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008

The Cholesterol Counter, 7th Ed., 2008

You're Complete Food Counter App:


For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


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