I make no secret of my love of filter coffee. Give me the thickest paper, lightest Nordic roast, tea-like cup you can make. It is, and I will hear no argument to the contrary, the best expression of a particular coffee. Sure, espresso is great but send me to a deserted island and only let me choose one way to make coffee, and it’s going to be filter every single time. But if the obviously superior flavor profile isn’t enough to convert you to the filter life, then perhaps science will. A new study finds that filter coffee is better for your heart than its unfiltered counterpart.
As reported by the New York Times, a new study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology compared data from over half a million individuals ages 20 through 79, following them for an average of 20 years. For the study, Norwegian researchers (because of course the Scandinavians would be the ones to scientifically prove filter’s superiority) had participants records the quantity and types of coffee they consumed: filter, French press, espresso, etc. After analyzing the response, they found that those who drink filtered coffee, especially those who drank one to four cups daily, were associated with a 15% decreased risk of dying prematurely from “cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, or stroke.” Those who drank unfiltered coffee saw a decreased risk but not quite to the levels of filter drinkers, 4% in men and 9% in women.
According to the article, the cause may have something to do with diterpenes, a phytochemical that have been shown to raise cholesterol levels. Diterpenes can be found in coffee oils, most of which are unable to pass through a paper filter but are able to make their way through metal “filters” like those of a French press or from a portafilter.
These findings jibe with previous research on the topic. We wrote about a similar study some four years ago from the Harvard Health Letter where unfiltered coffee was associated with higher levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), which diterpenes were also deemed to be the cause of.
The good news is that coffee, no matter what its preparation method, has been associated with some decreased risk of heart-related issues. The better news for snooty filter apologists like myself, is that science has yet again shown that I am correct. It's like I have always said: filter coffee is better (for your heart). If you didn't hear that last part, that's not my fault.