The Ultimate Toxic-free Coffee and Tea Maker Shopping Guide

Flame Retardants with Your Coffee?  One Lump or Two?

Who’d have guessed that so many coffeemakers come pre-loaded with hazardous chemicals before you ever even make it to the pesticides in the coffee itself?

The flame retardant chemicals most commonly used in coffee and tea makers (PBDE) have been implicated in developmental, reproductive, neurotoxicity and thyroid effects in rats, mice and fish, and may also be carcinogenic.

The problem – as usual – is that manufacturers aren’t required to label their products with the materials/chemicals used during production.  We’ve been searching for a coffee maker confirmed free of toxic flame retardants for the last two years since we first learned about the problem from EWG.   We still haven’t found a single manufacturer who can give us a clear answer after spending countless hours calling to find out if any use safer, non-halogenated flame retardants.

You’ll almost always run into flame retardants in the electrical cords of nearly all appliances, but at least they’re not coming into contact with your drink.

Toxic-free Coffee and Tea Makers

Switching your coffee and tea makers out for a less toxic option may require making changes to your morning ritual, it’ll be worth it to stick with products made from mostly glass and stainless steel with small amounts of BPA, PVC, phthalate-free plastic or silicone (see why we recommend silicone here).
 
Bialetti Venus Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator
Bialetti Venus Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator
Bodum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel French Press Coffee and Tea Mug
Bodum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel French Press Coffee and Tea Mug
Bodum Santos Stovetop Glass Vacuum 34-Ounce Coffee Maker
Bodum Santos Stovetop Glass Vacuum 34-Ounce Coffee Maker
Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Chef’s Star Automatic Milk Frother, Heater and Cappuccino Maker
Chef’s Star Automatic Milk Frother, Heater and Cappuccino Maker
Chemex Glass Coffee Maker
Chemex Glass Coffee Maker
Copco 4-8 Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator
Copco 4-8 Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator
FORLIFE Cafe Style Coffee and Tea Press
FORLIFE Cafe Style Coffee and Tea Press
FORLIFE Mist Iced Tea Jug Infuser
FORLIFE Mist Iced Tea Jug Infuser
FORLIFE Tea for One with Infuser
FORLIFE Tea for One with Infuser
Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Coffee Urn
Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Coffee Urn
Hario Drip Coffee Pot
Hario Drip Coffee Pot
Ilsa Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker
Ilsa Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker
Le Creuset Stoneware French Press
Le Creuset Stoneware French Press
Nee Porcelain Coffee Dripper
Nee Porcelain Coffee Dripper
Planetary Design Double Shot French Press
Planetary Design Double Shot French Press
Presto Stainless Steel Coffee Maker
Presto Stainless Steel Coffee Maker
Staub Enamel Cast Iron Teapot Kettle, 1 Quart
Staub Enamel Cast Iron Teapot Kettle, 1 Quart
SterlingPro 8 CupCoffee & Espresso Maker
SterlingPro 8 CupCoffee & Espresso Maker
Thermos Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Gourmet Coffee Press
Thermos Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Gourmet Coffee Press
West Bend Classic Stainless Steel Percolator
West Bend Classic Stainless Steel Percolator
 

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Alicia Voorhies is a Registered Nurse who decided to take a break to relax and enjoy her young kids after 13 years of working with disabled adults. She began to explore the world of alternative health ideas and was immediately attracted to the mysteries of endocrine disruptors and their effect on children. In 2007 she founded The Soft Landing along with her mom and sisters to help parents provide a safe, natural home for their children without drowning in an overwhelming sea of information.

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  • Denise Beall

    Any regular sized coffee pots and not percolators? Percolators are supposedly bad or high cholesterol. Or am I just destined to die? :-P

    • Laura

      Hi Denise, We listed one regular-type maker from Hamilton Beach, and it’s possible they make a full-sized version as well. They may even have the information readily available, so you could give them a call for the details. ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  • ann

    Thank you. You guys are amazing!
    We already use a Chemex (for design reasons.)
    I love EWG, but never came across this. Thank you for your research !

    • Laura

      You’re very welcome, Ann! ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  • http://mindfulmixture.wordpress.com Maurie

    Thanks for this post. I found it surprising that I hadn’t considered the coffee maker as a potential toxicity issue… I mean it IS plastic! So thanks for the little nudge. The old one is now down in the pile of stuff to get rid of and I’m ordering the stainless steel perk pot you showed in the post. I went and looked at it at a local store and discovered that the clear piece at the top is plastic, but online, you can order a glass replacement… so that’s what I’m doing. I didn’t know if you knew that detail about the plastic top so thought I’d share. We were planning on replacing our little aluminum perk pot that we’ve been using as a tea kettle too since the tea kettle died. This means we’ll just be simplifying in the process – one item where their used to be two!

    • Laura

      Thanks, Maurie! We didn’t realize there was a glass replacement for the plastic top. Even better :) ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  • Alison V

    we use a stainless teapot and make instant coffee.  are there any chemical hazards in instant as opposed to actual ground up beans?  that is, in addition to any pesticides.

  • Emily

    So.. what about the elephant in the room; the Keurig. Almost everyone I know has one. I’m assuming the pods themselves aren’t very environmentally friendly or toxic free. If we use the disposable pods, it’s normally organic coffee and the pods are recycled. But we mainly use the steel reusable pod and add our own coffee. Can you tell me specifically the toxic agents at work in this convenient-style coffeemaker? Greatly Appreciated!!

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      Hi Emily,

      You asked for it, so here it goes ;-)

      We spoke with Keurig a while back and they would only confirm that the cold water reservoir and K-cup holder assembly was BPA-free and would not share what plastic was used (see more at http://bit.ly/18OCgST).

      That leaves us with two main concerns:

      1) Is the plastic used actually free of endocrine disruptors?

      2) Are there brominated/halogenated flame retardants built into the plastic housing to prevent fires (this is rather common).

      I guess it’s time for us to revisit this topic again since there are SO many people using Keurig coffeemakers, huh?

      In the meantime, I’d recommend sticking with a stainless steel reusable pod like you mentioned (here’s my favorite: http://amzn.to/18OBbur).

      Alicia

  • RML

    What about vintage stainless steel Farberware coffee makers? I’ve just recently heard about stainless steel leaching metals into the food. Also that if it is “real” stainless steel then a magnet should stick to it. So I’m wondering if my Farberware coffee maker which is not magnetic at all is leaching nickel into my coffee! I bought it because there was no plastic and no filters.

  • SybilC

    I really love my hand drip coffee that I make by the cup. It is nice to see several great options listed. I encourage people to give it a try as it is easy and delicious! Nothing complicated to clean up either. You only get one cup at a time but for regular home use it is great. It is a space saver too! Now if I could only feel so good about my espresso machine….

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      I truly enjoy my little stainless steel Bialetti stovetop percolator too Sybil! It’s so quick and simple to use and doesn’t require a coffee filter, so that saves money and waste. ~Alicia

  • Aspiring Dana

    I really want a single serve option! Where can I find a way to add my own coffee to an environmentally safe pod that is also safe for me? Are there any companies that are making stainless Drip or Single Serve machines?

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      I hear you Dana! We’ve searched the world over and haven’t found a 100% stainless single serve or automatic coffee maker anywhere. If you already have a Keurig, you could at least switch to a reusable stainless steel pod like this one. We’ll keep searching though! ~Alicia

  • Mary

    On my search today for a healthy alternative to my plastic drip coffee maker, I’ve discovered that The Presto has aluminum in it….

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      Hi Mary, when we contacted Presto, they told us that the interior, the basket and the percolator tube were made of stainless steel, rather than aluminum. Can you give us more info about the aluminum you may have found? Thanks! ~Alicia

      • Stephanie K

        Here is the information that I found related to the aluminum. I just bought the presto, thinking it was 100% aluminum. I love it, but I’ll probably be returning it over this. http://thedailycoffeebean.com/presto-02811-coffee-percolator-review/

        • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

          Thanks for sharing that Stephanie! Have you spoken with the manufacturer directly? We’d love to know what they say about that aluminum part coming in contact with the water. I’ve seen inaccurate reviews out there on the internet before that add a lot of confusion to the issue, so it’s usually best to go directly to the company and ask. ~Alicia

          • Stephanie K

            Hi Alicia,
            Yes, I have. Here’s the text from my email from them… I’m not an expert on this, joy a newbie. So admittedly, this response leaves me at a loss as to the best choice. I thought I’d share though…

            From me:
            Good morning,
            I have a question regarding the above percolator. I just purchased it and I love it. We are looking to eliminate toxins and beyond that it makes a great cup of coffee. I’ve heard, though, that the perk well in this percolator is aluminum, however, which I believe would come in contact with the water. Can you verify whether there are any aluminum parts in this coffee pot? Do they come in contact with the water directly? Thank you.

            Their response:
            Dear Stephanie,
            You have heard correctly. The only place where there is aluminum is in the perk well. Your water will have contact with the well when it is perking.

            Linda
            National Presto Ind Inc
            Customer Service Representative

            Shipments made to U.S. or Canada only

          • Stephanie K

            This is the model numbered I referenced in my communications. Presto 0281105 Coffee Percolator — Series 4314 5 X I apologize–that didn’t paste in.

          • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

            Thanks for the info Stephanie! At least now we know that if we go with the Presto percolator, there will be some aluminum involved. ~Alicia

  • K Smith

    The west bend percolator has plastic.

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      Hi K – the West Bend knob on top is plastic, but there are no plastic parts inside the pot. That fits our goal of choosing products made from mostly glass and stainless steel with small amounts of BPA, PVC, phthalate-free plastic or silicone. ~Alicia

      • K Smith

        Yes but my understanding is that because it is a percolator all the boiling hot coffee comes in contact with that plastic?

        • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

          That’s totally possible, but the contact is minimal because the hot water isn’t sitting in a plastic water tank inside the coffeemaker. We aren’t going for entirely plastic-free, just the smallest amount possible. We’ve listed several options that are plastic-free though in case that happens to be your goal. ~Alicia

          • Mary

            I think that top plastic knob can be replaced with a glass one but I’m not for certain.

          • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

            That would be great Mary! ~Alicia

  • jn

    OK…so I had just purchased the Bonmac dripper. I thought I was getting the white but I actually received the black. Really wanted the Chemex but went the cheaper route. Just wondering if you have any info on the Bonmac. Hoping I made a wise choice. If nothing else, it has to be better than my old plastic coffee maker.

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      I’d say you did a fine job choosing the Bonmac dripper. It’s made from ceramic so the only concern we’d have with it would potentially be lead content, but that only seems to be a problem in bright red-based colors (orange and red). Now that’s not a perfect science, but black and white should be fine. ~Alicia

  • Blanca

    I just want tea! Out of all of these, which is the best for hot tea? Are these really the only ones nontoxic and are some made in the USA and or Europe? I’m staying away from China made products as much as possible. Help please!

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      I hear you Blanca! The Brevile One-Touch Tea Maker is my personal favorite because has an auto start featured and will keep it warm for 60 minutes, but it’s not very affordable. A glass, stainless or ceramic coated cast iron pot would do just as well for heating water. And no, I’m sure that this list isn’t comprehensive – it’s just what we could find in our own research. Good luck! ~Alicia

  • Peter

    I found it! If you want toxin free coffee, buy a Cory or Pyrex siphon coffee pot with Cory glass filter. USA, made in the 20s-40s. They make great coffee, bit more work. Less work than getting sick.

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