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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  • Denise Beall

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

    • 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

      • Kristin Brown

        I heard the Breville single serve is BPA and BPS free (or close), is that true? I would love a single serve–not sure why someone won’t make one.

  • 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.

  • Kimberly Gonzales

    We love our Chemex coffee “maker.” I’ve been looking for a 100% stainless (18/10 or 18/8) carafe to keep it warm. I thought I had found one, but when it was delivered found the stopper was made of rubber and silicone. Can you tell me if rubber is safe with hot liquids? Thanks!

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

      Great question Kimberly! We’re comfortable with both rubber and silicone in this situation. ~Alicia

  • Wendy

    Thank you for your recommendations! My espresso machine was on its last leg and I wanted to replace it with something that had the least amount of chemicals/toxins. I purchased the IIsa stovetop espresso maker and the Chef Star mild frother and LOVE them! My morning lattes are delicious!

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

      That’s fantastic, Wendy – so glad to hear it! ~Alicia

  • Lauren Ashley Carruth

    Love the article. Do you have any suggestions for a coffee grinder?

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

      Thanks Laura, and great question! We’ve found a couple of nearly plastic-free stainless steel/glass coffee grinders that you might like:

      http://bit.ly/CopperCoffeeGrinder
      http://bit.ly/SecuraCoffeeGrinder
      http://bit.ly/CozynaCoffeeGrinder

      Hope that helps! ~Alicia

      • bguest

        I did some reasearch and the Secure Coffee Grinder and the Cozyna Coffee Grinder both have plastic parts that come in contact with the beans or the ground beans. I could not find plastic part information on the Copper Coffee Grinder.

        Do you know of a coffee grinder that does not have ANY plastic parts that come in contact with the coffee beans or the ground coffee?

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

          I’m afraid not, bguest. We’ve listed every product we’re aware of with minimal plastic above. ~Alicia

  • Lauren Ashley Carruth

    Thanks!

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

      You’re very welcome! ~Alicia

  • Rebecca

    I know you don’t have this on your list, but one of the reviewers for SterlingPro Double Wall Stainless Steel French Coffee Press on amazon stated that all coffee presses would cause nickel toxicity : “If the plunger base (where you find your fine mesh filter on all French Presses) comes in contact with the inner wall of the stainless steel unit at any point, which it will, the ring/rim of the mesh portion of the plunger will scrape the side and take tiny flecks of stainless steel with it, a fine powder of metal that you will be drinking with your coffee, as it is so fine as to easily pass through that metal mesh filter.” Do you find this to be possible? He put down a source: The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Oct 2;61(39):9495-501. doi: 10.1021/jf402400v. Epub 2013 Sep 19.) Or perhaps Dan and Ibong’s, “IMPACT OF COOKING UTENSILS ON TRACE METAL LEVELS OF PROCESSED FOOD ITEMS” from Annals. Food Science and Technology

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

      I’m afraid there’s a risk of chemical exposure no matter which direction you go, Rebecca. Our goal is to make the safest choices possible. It’s frustrating, but there’s just not a perfect solution available. ~Alicia

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  • MM

    What do you recommend for a timed and programmable coffee maker. I want to set it at night and have fresh coffee to go in the morning. Is there a safe option for this?

    • Asdf

      Get an outlet timer.

  • Amanda

    Hello,
    I like the idea of the percolator, but when looking into filters for it, we’re back into chemical land. Do you know of any percolators that get around this problem or of a less toxic filter to be used with it?
    I started to look into the Le Creuset french press. Have you looked into the enamel used on the inside of their products by chance?
    Thank you!

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

      Hi Amanda! I personally don’t use an additional filter with my percolator. I’ve heard that some people use square, unbleached filters like these: http://amzn.to/1EtwdSk ~Alicia