There’s WHAT in our coffee? Science finds some shady business in our cup of joe

So here’s some interesting/gross news. Some of the coffee we drink might consist of more than just coffee beans and caffeine. Like your coffee with a splash of creamer and a pinch of sugar? Well, how about mycotoxins? Researchers from the University of Valencia have reported some unsettling findings after analyzing over 100 different types of coffee sold in Spain. They found that many of the different types of coffees tested positive for mycotoxins — a toxic metabolite produced by mold. MOLD. Exposure to mycotoxins usually happens through ingestion, but can also occur through the skin and inhalation. So yeah. Gross. And dangerous.

The study, published in Food Controlconfirms the presence of toxic metabolites produced by filamentous fungi — such as Aspergillus or Fusarium — in commercial coffee samples at levels ranging from 0.10 to 3.570 micrograms per kilogram. Naturally, this news is leading to concerns about potential public health risks. Mycotoxins can be carcinogenic, and have been linked to liver cancer and other serious health issues. They may also affect the hormonal and immune systems. Ingesting or inhaling too much of the dangerous compound can lead to mycotoxicosis, where the toxins enter the blood stream and lymphatic system and can cause all types of gastrointestinal, dermatological and neurologic problems.

Ochratoxin A, one type of mycotoxin that has since been regulated in Europe due to its connection to liver disease and urothelial tumors, was found to measure in at six times the legal limit in the coffees tested. That certainly sounds like it would be harmful, but researchers point out that it’s still unclear whether or not those levels are high enough to cause any serious damage in humans. They also point out that more research needs to be done on all the different types of mycotoxins, as they’re all different in their toxicity levels.

So how do you know if your coffee is moldy? According to Consumer Affairs, one sign is a bitter taste. And not just dark roast bitter, but bitter bitter. Because plastic coffee makers tend to collect mold, it’s important to keep your CoffeeMate extra clean by running white vinegar through it. Check out the specific instructions to gut your pot of mold here. Of course we can’t control how mold-free our store bought coffee is, but here’s hoping your next morning juice is 100 percent coffee and zero percent mold.

Featured image via iStock