The International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared (June 15, 2016, press release no. 244) that coffee is no longer in its category (2B) of substances that are “possibly carcinogenic.” In a change from a position taken in 1991, the Working Group on the subject of hot beverages now reports that there is “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.” So the Group says “drinking coffee was not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).”
Yet IARC did not place coffee in its Group 4, “Probably not carcinogenic to humans,” where “there is strong evidence that it does not cause cancer in humans.” That would have been a logical step, given many other studies. Oh, well, let’s just take the good news–which everyone in specialty coffee already knew.
IARC’s Dana Loomis also stated in a press conference that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of cancer of the liver and uterine endometrium. Actually, a number of other studies have shown clearly that coffee increases longevity, probably helps ward off colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more and more. See earlier posts here on coffee and health.
The bad (??) news: in the very same press release, IARC noted that consuming “very hot” beverages, at more than 65 degrees C or 149 degrees F, “probably causes cancer of the oesophagus in humans.” But the report noted that drinking tea or mate at that temperature has been studied in places “such as China, . . . Iran, Turkey, and South America,” where the practice has been linked to increased cancer of the esophagus.
Well, nothing at all there about coffee. We serve coffee (I took its temperature today) at about 140 F. It is plenty hot at that level. By the way, drinking coffee at a hotter temperature means that the heat overrides the subtle flavors in good coffee.
So I think that everyone at Oxford Coffee Co., and probably anywhere else that fine coffee is served, is quite safe. And, to try an experiment we’ve suggested before, taste the beverage when it has just been made. Wait 5 minutes, try again, etc. See if new and remarkable flavors don’t emerge as the drink cools. If not, maybe the coffee isn’t all that great.