Paper-Filtered Espresso and Cholesterol

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
Ken Fox

#1: Post by Ken Fox »

coffee.me wrote:We already have one coffee+Cholesterol thread here, and I REALLY wish this thread will ONLY cover the espresso part, not the health part.
We aren't "allowed" to comment on the "medical aspects" of this but there is no way to address this topic rationally without at least coming close to that part of the discussion.

Why on earth would anyone use a paper filter in a portafilter, if it were not with the intention of filtering out something that is supposedly undesirable, in the hopes of leaving those more desirable parts of the extraction?

The obvious answer is that the experimenter is trying to filter out the oils in coffee or some part of the oils, leaving the rest of the extraction in place. And what possibly can this accomplish, one might ask?

Human lipid chemistry is a very complex subject, and what we humans consume and how it affects our measured serum lipid levels is not one of those 2+2=4 types of topics. In general, the consumption of cholesterol does not raise serum cholesterol levels much in most people, even though the consumption of other fats, especially saturated fats, will do this in some people. My emphasis is on "some" in that sentence, because we are all genetically very different, one from another.

There are people who can eat a 1lb steak every night for dinner and have almost no impact on their measured serum lipids. There are others whose measured blood lipids do respond considerably to what they ingest, and then there are many people who are intermediate in that regard. Add in the fact that many people are already taking statins or other medications to "improve" their lipid chemistries, and the subject becomes even more complicated. This is not one size fits all.

Even assuming that one could filter out the "bad stuff" from espresso with a paper filter, the questions then become what percentage of people would have any benefit from this filtering, as measured in a blood test, and what does the filtering do to the resulting beverage? If the beverage (espresso) becomes plonk, then few would want to drink it even if some peoples' blood test improves. And then of course there is the question about how does the change in the measured blood chemistry results translate into benefits to the humans who experience it (e.g. do they live longer, do they have fewer heart attacks or strokes, etc.)

Here are my guesses on these answers; few people will benefit much even in their blood tests even if the filter "works," even fewer will see any actual health benefit, and the beverage will not be positively impacted by adding a paper filter to the extraction. If one is concerned about one's risk of cardiovascular disease, methinks there are other interventions much more likely to be of benefit, than this one.

ken


Moderator note: At original poster's request, split follow-on discussion from How to Make Decent Paper-Filtered Espresso to this thread.
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coffee.me

#2: Post by coffee.me »

RE: convenience

Used a new Melitta, the supermarket type, drip filter, folded it twice, then cut to correct size. That gave me 8 espresso filters in one pass. Cheaper and faster than the Aeropress ones.


RE: channeling

No more channeling. That 1st shot channeled, subsequent shots of yesterday and today didn't. As long as the filter is cut to size perfectly(covering all holes and is NOT larger than the basket base) and is flat so when I dose the coffee is all on top, everything runs perfect.


RE: taste

I continue to enjoy it even with a double paper filter.


RE: effectiveness/benefit

As I stated on my first post, I'm doing this just to experiment on how this filtering business could affect my daily espresso experience. So far, it isn't negatively affecting my daily espresso experience much, not on taste or convenience. And I like that, very much so.

Is this method filtering the correct components? I don't know. Even if it is, is it going to affect my LDL? My LDL(and everyone else's) is out of the scope of this thread, it's such an important and person-specific thing that no sane person would bet their arteries on some coffee forum posts! I'm taking other more serious steps to deal with my health concerns. Paper filtering espresso is not one of them. I do plan to eventually(after going thru other things) test whether paper filtering espresso is helping my LDL, but that will only happen after so many other things it's irrelevant at this time.

Is there a reason NOT to paper-filter espresso? I don't see one yet. We don't know yet what's being filtered, if anything is at all. But that isn't a reason not to try it! Having this out there, showing people it is doable, is easy, and won't affect their enjoyment of their coffee is a Good Thing.

Aeropress's inventor says his device(which brews coffee under some pressure) produces coffee that tested to have much reduced levels of Cafestol/Kahweol than in espresso. He posted his lab results along with these for drip on CoffeeGeek.

I tried double filters today, and all is good: easy & tasty.
"Beans before machines" --coffee.me ;-)

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Bluecold

#3: Post by Bluecold »

coffee.me wrote: Used a new Melitta, the supermarket type, drip filter, folded it twice, then cut to correct size. That gave me 8 espresso filters in one pass. Cheaper and faster than the Aeropress ones.
And then you have to put it in your basket.

I already think espresso is a hassle.
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Ken Fox (original poster)

#4: Post by Ken Fox (original poster) »

coffee.me wrote:RE: convenience

(snipped)

RE: effectiveness/benefit

As I stated on my first post, I'm doing this just to experiment on how this filtering business could affect my daily espresso experience. So far, it isn't negatively affecting my daily espresso experience much, not on taste or convenience. And I like that, very much so.

Is this method filtering the correct components? I don't know. Even if it is, is it going to affect my LDL? My LDL(and everyone else's) is out of the scope of this thread, it's such an important and person-specific thing that no sane person would bet their arteries on some coffee forum posts!

(snippage)

Is there a reason NOT to paper-filter espresso? I don't see one yet. We don't know yet what's being filtered, if anything is at all. But that isn't a reason not to try it! Having this out there, showing people it is doable, is easy, and won't affect their enjoyment of their coffee is a Good Thing.

Aeropress's inventor says his device(which brews coffee under some pressure) produces coffee that tested to have much reduced levels of Cafestol/Kahweol than in espresso. He posted his lab results along with these for drip on CoffeeGeek.

I tried double filters today, and all is good: easy & tasty.
The results may taste "good" in your own opinion. It is a bit of a leap from there to suggest there "is no reason not to try it."

There is no evidence at all about what exactly is being filtered, nor whether this has any health or other benefit.

I would caution anyone reading this thread not to change anything they do based upon a limited number of blood lipid readings. Anyone who gets his blood lipids checked regularly will know that they tend to fluctuate quite a bit. I have personally been on more than one type of statin, and in addition, doses used have been changed back and forth. It has happened to me, at least TWICE, that a change made in either the medication used or the dosage has appeared to have had a beneficial effect. Only later when we retested it did we see that the change in measured blood lipids was no more than random variation, and not attributable to a change in medication or dose.

If the above is true about powerful statin medications, drawing any sort of conclusion based upon the (likely) measured changes one might get from removing some oils during coffee preparation, is going to be difficult at best. This is the sort of thing that would need to be tested in a large population of individuals before any conclusion could be reached. Given the nature of how human serum fat levels react to ingested fat, any likely outcome would be that the effect of such coffee filtering would be minuscule.

In my opinion only, if one's blood lipids are questionable, maneuvers such as this have almost no chance whatsoever of providing real benefit. Most people who have elevated blood lipid levels will benefit most from taking a statin, which have other benefits in addition to their effects on cardiovascular health.

ken
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drgary
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#5: Post by drgary »

Gee, Ken. Why not try, if one knows one has a potential problem? (Edit: And to respect the original poster's intent I'll keep health comments minimal. I really appreciate a first attempt to try a new method that may benefit some people.)

I'm one of those people, unfortunately. I love the taste of fine espresso and am still in the novice stage. Before investing in any espresso equipment, I went to Blue Bottle and took along a Melitta filter paper. Since the studies I read suggested drip coffee through a Melitta took out the potentially bad stuff, I tried their straight shot, then I filtered it and tried it. The first had more subtlety but the second tasted very good to me too.

I appreciate the concerns that brewing through paper in the basket may not sufficiently remove cafestol and kahweol. Perhaps someone with the skill and equipment will measure whether it's effective removing these substances.

My solution is easy, and it's a personal choice, just for me. If you have any questions, consult your medical doctor (I'm a shrink, not an M.D.) and read the studies yourself that have been noted in the other thread on coffee drinking and cholesterol.

I brew espresso the regular way. I then sip it to indulge my taste buds. I then hand pour it into a Melitta or other similar filter and squeeze it out into a heated shot glass or use it as the basis of a milk drink. Any of these methods taste so much better than any other coffee I've had that I'm happy with the result. My espresso won't win me any barista championships, but I sleep better at night believing that if I filter it this traditional drip way that has been tried and studied, I'm very probably not increasing my risks of a third angioplasty at my young age.
Gary
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peacecup

#6: Post by peacecup »

Ken, could you please go back to being un-dogmatic on another thread, and leave those of us who care to believe in the alchemy of filter paper to our superstition. Thanks,

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peacecup

#7: Post by peacecup »

In my opinion only, if one's blood lipids are questionable, maneuvers such as this have almost no chance whatsoever of providing real benefit. Most people who have elevated blood lipid levels will benefit most from taking a statin, which have other benefits in addition to their effects on cardiovascular health.
Oh, and by the way, this statement is on the border between irrelevant quackery and potentially downright dangerous medical advice. Ken, if you care to use your own opinions for guidance as to your own health it is your prerogative. If you say unsubstantiated nonsense about potentially dangerous drugs (yes, of course I know statins may also be potentially positive) then you should do a lot more research and back up your opinion with scientific citations. There is plenty of documentation about potentially dangerous side-effects of statins.

PC
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Ken Fox (original poster)

#8: Post by Ken Fox (original poster) » replying to peacecup »

Oh please, this is just nonsense.

At high dosages statins can cause problems in a small subset of patients. There are even the occasional patients who cannot tolerate them, or some of them, at any dose. Often, those problems are related to the concurrent use of other substances along with statins.

I am a retired physician, can read the medical literature. Statins have saved and continue to save more lives than most other types of medications combined.

ken
What, me worry?

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peacecup

#9: Post by peacecup »

One issue, which Ken brought up, is that there are no simple relationships here. If you find oils in the filter, showing that you've removed them, it may not mean any realized health improvement.

I know that my cholesterol rose rapidly when I started consuming a lot of espresso. This can not be proven to be cause and effect, but it was strong circumstantial evidence that my body reacts this way to espresso. If is the oils in espresso, I suppose that they cause the body to increase its own production of cholesterol, and contribute relatively little directly. It took me three years to get around to starting to filter my espresso, and I've been doing so for a couple of months. I've been surprised that filtering does not drastically effect the taste, so I'll continue to do so. When I finally get my cholesterol checked again, I hope its lower, but its been three years since I got it tested, so I won't know if its the filtering anyway.

The only answer here is for each individual to make his own choice, and see if he can improve his readings in whatever way he, and his medical doctor, see fit to proceed.

PC
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Ken Fox (original poster)

#10: Post by Ken Fox (original poster) »

The only real and conclusive way to test the relevance of this would be to put yourself on a very regimented and unchanged diet for a period of time (? a few days; a week? I don't know). Then one could get themselves tested after maybe 3 days when they were consuming their normal amount of espresso, and also during a period after 3 days of abstinence. In order to be reasonably sure that the results are valid (for you) the test should probably be repeated at least once in each condition (with and without espresso).

If there was a reproducible difference in the lipid panel readings, then one could test the idea that the filter paper would make the testing results more similar to the "abstinence" condition than to the "regular" condition. This is the only thing one could do to have any level of near-certainty that this approach has merit for a given individual.

Alternatively, if one gets his lipid panels checked a couple of times a year, one could informally test this a few times when the regular testing date approaches. This would be (somewhat) valid so long as one maintained a relatively consistent diet, exercise regimen, body weight, and medications during the period just before testing.

I would be a very unsuitable subject for such a study in that I appear to have inherited some sort of obscure genetic makeup when it comes to serum cholesterol. One of my grandfathers had incredibly elevated serum cholesterols (often measured at well over 400), but also with high HDLs. One of his most favorite and most frequent meals was steak. He smoked cigarettes and cigars for decades. He lived to 97, and there was no cardiovascular history among his cohort of 11 siblings, either, almost all of whom lived to be very old. My own lipid readings are not as extreme, however they share the similarity of elevated total cholesterol AND elevated HDLs. I've been on statins for many years, but there is probably no convincing evidence one way or the other that I should be, given this history.

ken
What, me worry?

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