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Uh...Is French Press Coffee Bad For You? Here's What Research Shows

French press coffee
Image by Yaroslav Shuraev / Pexels
October 30, 2022
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Let's be honest—most of us aren't drinking coffee for its array of health benefits (though the beverage is packed with antioxidants, in case you were wondering). If you're a daily coffee consumer, you're more likely after the much-needed energy boost or the delicious flavor.

However, if you're committed to maximizing the health benefits of your cup of joe, listen up: On a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, metabolic health expert Alexis Cowan, Ph.D., shared one tip you probably haven't heard of before—and neither had we. Her advice? You should probably stick to a filtered brew.

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Unfiltered vs. filtered coffee. 

Filtered coffee typically requires a paper filter. This can be your run-of-the-mill drip coffee pot machine or a Chemex, for example. Unfiltered coffee is just the opposite—examples being French press, percolators, or espresso.

So which one is healthier, you might wonder? Cowan mentions this 2020 investigational study1 that set out to determine if coffee brewing methods had anything to do with longevity and overall health. To sum it up: Filtered coffee came out on top.

"The individuals who drank unfiltered coffee had higher mortality rates and higher incidences of cardiovascular illness compared to people who didn't drink coffee or drank filtered coffee," Cowan says. This is because the paper filter catches various potentially problematic molecules that, if consumed, can lead to oxidative stress and inflammation. Researchers theorize these can drive up mortality risk and cardiovascular illness over time.

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So is French press coffee bad for you?

French press is one of the more popular forms of unfiltered coffee and thus falls into the less healthy category in terms of cardiovascular illness and mortality rates.

That being said, switching your coffee preparation likely isn't going to make or break your heart health. It falls below the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 list of the most important factors for heart health (stop smoking, eat nutritious food, get active, maintain a healthy weight, manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar). Even sleep duration has recently been added to the list.

So, yes, French press coffee is technically less healthy than filtered coffee, but it's certainly not the main indicator of a healthy heart. If you'd like to enjoy the healthiest cup of joe, then you might want to opt for a filtered option. But if you adore a piping mug of French press? Please, carry on.

How to make your coffee even healthier. 

That being said, if you're ready to level up your brew even further, you can make your daily cup of joe work for your health. Here are a few ideas to maximize your mug:

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The takeaway. 

There are many health benefits of coffee to note. However, if you want to get the most from your daily cup, you may consider opting for filtered coffee over unfiltered given the cardiovascular benefits of filtering your grounds. And if you're ready to switch it up altogether, matcha may be your unsuspecting new favorite beverage—here's how it compares.

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Hannah Frye
Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.