Organic coffee has become very popular, with its market already being worth $50 billion in the U.S.
More and more coffee brands are coming up with their own organic blends to cater to their customers’ needs. However, there are still some misconceptions about what really makes organic coffee organic.
What does organic coffee really mean?
Organic coffee is a term used to describe coffee that’s been made without chemicals during its production, such as by eliminating harmful pesticides from the process.
But organic coffee also has other important features you should know about. So, with that in mind, let’s check out everything you need to know about organic coffee and why it should be making its way into your coffee machine.
Why Is Organic Coffee Becoming So Popular?
If you’ve ever noticed how organic coffee is becoming a more common sight in your local supermarket and online, with popular coffee companies also jumping on the trend, you might wonder what has caused it.
Here are some important reasons for the organic coffee movement.
There are problems with the way regular coffee is produced, both when it comes to unfair practices in the industry and the harm caused to the environment.
These problems include:
- A lack of transparency, such as when it comes to the origin of coffee beans.
- The unethical treatment of farm workers. This includes a variety of unfair practices, such as child labor, slavery, and not paying farm workers fairly.
- The use of chemicals. It’s common for the use of chemicals, such as in the form of pesticides, to be used to increase coffee yields. Some of these have been banned.
- The destruction of rainforests. In order to produce more coffee, plantations have been replacing forests. This causes environmental pollution and decreases biodiversity.
- There’s also the problem of commercial plantations. These tend to use large machinery that harvests all cherries simultaneously. The problem with this is that it can reduce the quality of the coffee that’s produced because both unripe and ripe cherries will be harvested at the same time.
It’s clear that we need to make a move to more environmentally-friendly coffee, and organic coffee is making great strides on this front.
4 Things “Organic Coffee” Means
So, you might be wondering what organic coffee is really doing to make positive changes in the industry and how you can benefit from this label on a pack of coffee. To answer those questions, let’s take a look at what it means when a coffee is labelled organic.
- The coffee was grown on land that wasn’t treated with chemical pesticides or other prohibited chemicals for at least the last three years.
- The fertilizers that are used on the farm are 100 percent organic.
- There’s a good buffer between conventional coffee crops and organic coffee crops to prevent them from coming into contact with each other.
- The farming practices involve a sustainable crop rotation plan. This is done to ensure that the soil won’t be eroded. This also helps to work as a natural pest-controller for the coffee plants.
So, based on the above, it’s clear to see that organic coffee has many benefits.
These include ensuring less chemicals in your coffee, which makes your daily brew much healthier. In addition, organic coffee production is better for the preservation of the land. It also produces a healthier ecosystem.
What Goes Into Making Organic Coffee?
To better understand why organic coffee can be better than regular coffee, let’s explore the process of growing organic coffee.
Organic coffee doesn’t make use of any synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, so organic fertilizer like chicken manure and compost is used instead.
A lack of chemicals makes pest control a bit tricky when it comes to organic coffee farming. Farmers need to make use of alternative methods as they can’t use chemical pesticides.
These methods include mechanical traps, the introduction of predators, and the development of habitats for animals that are natural enemies of the pests.
It’s worth bearing in mind that most coffee varieties like to grow in shady conditions, so it’s important for them to have the shade of other, larger trees.
The benefit of this from an organic point of view is that the trees that provide shade to the coffee plants also provide mulch to the soil with their fallen leaves, and this helps to preserve the soil’s moisture.
Most coffee will be harvested by hand, so it’s important that organic farmers ensure that the sacks they use to collect the coffee beans don’t contain any traces of chemicals.
The use of dry milling or wet milling forms part of how organic coffee is processed.
This is when the coffee cherries are cleaned before being put in the sun to dry. This process can sometimes make use of machines.
By comparison, this is when the coffee beans are washed in order to remove impurities from them. The coffee will also move through a machine that uses water and friction in order to remove its mucilage, which is a sticky layer around the coffee bean.
Usually, the organic processing of coffee will make use of wet and dry methods. That said, dry processing is much more sustainable and therefore preferable because the wet method uses a lot of water.
When it comes to roasting organic coffee beans, the methods that are used are usually hot-air roasting or drum roasting.
- Hot-air roasting: this is a method in which hot air is used to roast the coffee beans by circulating through them so that every coffee bean undergoes the same amount of roasting.
- Drum roasting: By comparison, drum roasting of coffee makes use of a drum. The beans are put into the drum and then the drum spins, ensuring that they can be evenly roasted.
It’s of the utmost importance that no chemicals or additives are added to the beans during the roasting process as this will compromise the quality of the coffee and prevent it from being organic.
Can You Roast Organic Coffee Beans At Home?
If you’ve purchased organic coffee beans and want to roast them, you certainly can, just like you would roast regular beans.
You can roast your coffee beans in different ways. If you’re interested in roasting a small quantity of beans, a popcorn popper is your best bet.
You’ll be able to keep an eye on the process – which you should do to prevent the beans from being burned – and the whole process will only take about five minutes.
Other methods include using your oven to roast your organic coffee beans.
HOW TO ROAST ORGANIC COFFEE BEANS IN THE OVEN
You’ll have to make use of a steamer or perforated pan and set your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also have to open the oven door every minute to move the beans around so that they will be evenly roasted.
You’ll hear the beans crack for the first time after about five minutes. When that happens, you need to check them even more regularly to ensure that you pull them out when they have the aroma that you want.
HOW TO ROAST ORGANIC COFFEE BEANS ON THE STOVE
The process of roasting coffee beans on the stove is quite similar to how you’d roast them in the oven. You will need to use a skillet with a lid and roast the beans on medium heat.
When the beans crack for the first time, you need to move the pan around so that the beans will be roasted evenly. You must ensure you watch the process closely so that you can take them off the heat when they reach the flavor and color you want.
Some important tips to bear in mind when roasting organic coffee beans at home:
- Watch the temperature! The higher the temperature you use, the darker your beans will turn out.
- If you want them to be darker, you’ll have to wait until after they’ve cracked the first time and then continue roasting them.
- Avoid bitterness. It’s easy for the beans to become too brown, or even burned, and that will result in a very bitter coffee! It’s important to stop and taste them to be sure they haven’t become too bitter and lost their flavor.
Pros And Cons Of Organic Coffee
While we’ve already touched on various advantages of organic coffee, there are some others we need to consider as well as possible disadvantages. There are, after all, some important obstacles that present themselves in organic coffee production.
- Getting organic certification is expensive. The costs involved in getting certified as organic is one of the main obstacles for farmers. They are required to take responsibility for these costs, which include inspection of the coffee (this also includes lodging and travel costs of the certifying auditors) and annual certification costs. This makes it impossible for small-scale farmers to become certified.
- It’s not easy to keep pests at bay naturally. There is certainly convenience associated with using chemical pesticides. When farmers are involved in organic coffee production, they have to ensure that they make use of proper soil drainage, encourage soil health, and have the right amount of shade on their farms to deter plant diseases and pests.
- Natural methods aren’t always successful when it comes to treating coffee-plant diseases, such as coffee leaf rust, which is caused by a fungus and can be devastating for plants.
- Sometimes farmers experience lower yields of organic coffee as compared to non-organic coffee, and that’s because of the difficult management processes that are involved.
- It’s possible for organic coffee to be sold at a premium as compared to non-organic coffee varieties, as Perfect Daily Grind reports. These premiums have been set with the intention to offset certification costs, but they can also ensure that farmers earn more money for their coffee. In addition to the above, if coffee is sold under fair trade terms, farmers will get a premium of 30 cents per pound.
- Organic fertilizers that are used during coffee farming are not only healthy for the coffee plants but they also boost the quality of the soil and this, in turn, reduces soil erosion.
- Preventing the use of chemicals that are used in traditional coffee farming decreases the negative effects that these chemicals can have on the environment, such as in the water and soil. This also prevents coffee farmers from being exposed to the chemicals that can lead to various health conditions.
Can You Trust Organic Coffee Brands?
“Greenwashing” is a term that’s used to refer to how some companies try to fool consumers into thinking that their products are organic when they’re not.
This is why it’s so important to remain informed about brands and look for products that tick all the right boxes so that you can be reassured that what you’re consuming is really organic coffee. With that in mind, here are some things to look for in a coffee product.
Make sure the coffee is fair-trade certified. This ensures respectable income for farmers and prevents unhealthy working conditions for them. How can you tell if a product is fair trade?
It has to be produced by workers, farmers, or a cooperative that meet(s) the specific standards that have been set out by the Fair Trade body – there are many certifiers all over the world and they have their own standards and requirements. Check that the product carries a Fair Trade Certified seal on it.
Make sure it’s certified organic. The coffee should have the USDA organic label on it so that it guarantees that it’s really organic as it claims to be.
Find out where it’s sourced. You have a right to know where your coffee comes from and this can also help you avoid chemicals in it.
For example, if you know the coffee you want to buy comes from Brazil, it helps to know that coffee in this country is mostly treated with pesticides. This will make you even more particular about reading the coffee’s labels to ensure that it’s been properly organically certified.
The Best Organic Coffee To Buy
Not sure where to buy organic coffee that you can trust and enjoy?
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular organic coffees.
These Arabica coffee beans hail from Nicaragua. They’re certified organic, free of GMOs, and fair trade. They’re also free of mycotoxins, which are mold toxins that can make you sick.
Lifeboost coffee beans are said to have a full flavor with notes of caramel and cacao. You can choose from a variety of roasts, such as light, medium, or dark roasts.
There are also decaffeinated versions of their coffee, which is wonderful if you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine but don’t want to give up your coffee habit.
CAFÉ DON PABLO SUBTLE EARTH ORGANIC COFFEE
This organic coffee also comes in a range of roasts and you’ll love that it’s 100 percent Arabica coffee that’s certified organic by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) and doesn’t contain GMOs.
The coffee originates from Honduran Marcala, where no chemicals are used and the cherries of the coffee beans are composted and used as natural fertilizer.
The company roasts its organic beans in small batches and ensures that they are slow-roasted in order to bring out their best flavor.
VOLCANIC COFFEE COMPANY
This company’s coffee is harvested from coffee trees that are grown in organic ways, such as by making use of birds to eliminate pests.
There are a range of organic coffees to choose from, such as French roast, Dominican coffee, Nepal Himalayan coffee, and much more. The coffee is also Kosher certified.
WHAT’S THE DANGER OF CONSUMING PESTICIDES?
Pesticides are toxic to humans and cause a variety of health problems, such as those affecting the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems. They are also linked to cancer (via World Health Organization).
IS ORGANIC COFFEE HEALTHIER?
While the jury’s still out on this one, there are studies that confirm organic coffee is healthier.
It’s been found that organic coffee beans contain more phenolic compounds and flavonoids than non-organic beans, which boosts their nutritional content, as a study in Beverages has reported.
Organic coffee helps to prevent damage to the environment while also ensuring a healthier cup of coffee with no chemicals!
In this article, we’ve delved into the topic of organic coffee and why it’s become so popular, as well as why we should all be reaching for organic coffee instead of the conventional kind.
The future is organic, so let’s ensure our coffee makes a positive difference in the world. When fewer people choose non-organic coffee, we can make organic coffee a better way to brew!