follows are two articles about organic coffee. One written by an author that is
a friend of Coffee Investigator and one written by the Coffee Investigator team.
What Is Organic Coffee!
To start off, "organic coffee"
means that it has been grown without the use of different pesticides
and chemicals. And in most cases it suggest a much healthier
alternative for the people that are looking to get rid of or simply
reduce their intake of toxic and harmful substances. This type of
farming is often used as a synonym along with "natural" meaning the
opposite of artificial.
On the other hand, when it comes
to coffee - it might refer to a bit more than just coffee grown
without the use of chemicals and such. In the industry, it takes on
a couple of more issues. Along with the practice of producing
organic coffee, chances are you'll see "fair trade" as well as
"shade grown" tied to it. And you should know that there's a little
history and some economic and environmental issues that stand behind
First of all, coffee was
introduced to Latin America in the 18th century by a couple of
intrepid explorers, and nowadays that particular region of Latin
America and the Caribbean also produces next to two-thirds of the
And as soon as it was introduced
to the New World, it was also cultivated in the shade of native
forest trees. The same practice was applied for cacao for a lot of
centuries as well.
However, the original varieties
that were first brought to the New World were actually intolerant of
direct sunlight and the canopy that was provided by the shade trees
filters the intense sunlight of the region from burning some of the
more sensitive leaves of coffee plants.
That is the same way coffee plants
have been grown for an entire two centuries in Latin America...
until recent times!
Coffee growing demands nowadays
As the demand increased world wide
for coffee, during the last thirty years farmers all over the world
have been looking for techniques and methods to increase their
coffee production yields. And the research produced new sun tolerant
varieties of the coffee plants themselves.
And even though sun grown coffee
systems can increase production yields by far, farmers still have to
introduce chemical fertilizers and different insecticides,
herbicides and fungicides in order to protect the plants from
ravages of insects and also disease. On top of that, these new sun
growing systems produce much more shallow root structures in the
soil causing increased erosion as well as toxic run off.
If we compare them, a sun grown
coffee plant is able to produce as much as three times more coffee
than a shade grown one. That is why elevated yields have accelerated
the transition from the traditional ways to the new sun grown
systems. However, this also comes with serious environment impact!
On top of that, along with the
transition to sun grown systems - the reduction of Latin America's
shade tree forestry has put ecosystem pressure on a a huge diverse
habitat for different kids of bird, reptile, insect as well as plant
species. There is a lot of attention focused on the threat to many
species of birds and the shade coffee plantations in that region
also provide shelter and protection for almost two thirds of the
bird species indigenous to it. It is a destructive trend that has
started concerning a lot of environmentalists.
Sun Grown Coffee versus Shade Grown Coffee
While producing lower yields, the
final shade grown coffee also translates to "organically grown"
coffee which leverages the natural protection and also soil
encircling characteristics of the shade tree canopies.
Whilst it continues producing
higher yields, sun grown coffee comes with an introduction of
different kinds of harsh pesticides and chemical fertilizers, as
well as a large environmental impact.
Certified Organic Coffee
Certification Coffee has to be
produced in compliance along with U.S organic production standards
for it to be sold as organic in the United States. There has been
several accredited agencies to monitor and manage organic
certification by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Some of the requirements for
coffee producers to be able to meet organic certification include:
1. The coffee has to be grown on
land without synthetic pesticides or similar prohibited substances
for at least three years.
2. There has to be a sufficient
distance between a certain organic coffee growing area and the
nearest conventional crop that is not following organic practices.
3. The grower has to practice
sustainable crop rotation in order to prevent erosion, depletion or
soil nutrients, and also control of insects, pests and crop disease.
On any product that contains at
least 95 organic ingredients and has a certified organic agency
accredited by the USDA you should look for the USDA Organic seal.
You might also notice that similar coffee products tend to carry
labels such as "100 Percent Organic" or just "Organic".
A lot of different consumers
decide to buy organic coffee for their own health benefit as to
avoid the intake of substances that include pesticides and chemicals
as well as toxic substances that are potentially harmful. However,
for some the marketing and promotion of everything natural, healthy
or organic might even be overdone or exaggerated, and maybe even
deceptive at certain times.
But within the coffee industry,
organic coffee growers are concerned as well because they are also
interested in reducing the environmental impact as well as employing
sustainable and easily renewable crop methods.
Gathered statistics from the year
of 2003 also place organic coffee at about 0.6% of the total amount
of coffee sold in between the major consuming countries globally.
And even though it might seem like a small percentage comparing it
to the overall market, that is still a little over 700,000 60-kg
bags for the major consuming nations at that time period. It's safe
to say that it is a growing and expanding trend.
Organic Coffee: The choice of
health minded people
Coffee beans that are produced
organically seam to have a slightly better taste and richer flavor as
compared to coffee beans that are grown using fertilizers and
There are many varieties of coffee available on the market that use
pesticides and chemical fertilizers to enhance the growth of the
coffee plant and beans.
chemicals not only pollute the environment, they also endangers
our health and have an effect on the delicious flavor of the
coffee. Some farmers choose to undergo the natural process
of growing coffee beans and use the shade of the forest trees
plus the leaves that fall make an excellent mulch and adds
nutrients to the soil naturally.
In the United
States coffee beans that are considered to be 100% organic
coffee beans must go through a variety of certifications by an
agency that is accredited by the USA Department of Agriculture.
farmers may even need to grow the coffee beans for a minimum of
three years without the addition of synthetic pesticides.
Sustainable crop rotation plan is also important if you want to
get the certificate as long term plantation may lead to soil
depletion and erosion.
the physical appearance, organic coffee beans seem to have not
much difference with other kinds of coffee beans, however,
inside of it, there is a huge world of difference between it.
What are the benefits of these coffee beans?
What are the differences and
benefits of organic coffee beans?
First, many expert coffee growers know that it is important to
maintain the habitat where coffees were grown. For good quality
coffee, it is essential to provide the nutrients that these
fertilizers or pesticides are added onto the plants, it will
actually reduce the soil fertility which then affects the growth
of coffee beans. Most importantly, the side effects of coffee
beans with pesticides are unpredictable; hence it increases the
risk of coffee drinkers in getting certain type of diseases.
Next, even if
you are not an environmental lover, you do not care about
destruction of rainforests, extinctions of living organism, how
fragile our ecosystems are now, there is still a reason why you
should stand for organic coffee beans.
Despite of the
contamination of the environment, which of course should not be
encouraged, these environmental friendly coffee give coffee
drinkers a pure taste of coffee without the addition of any
chemicals. Adding on to it, the prices of these coffee beans are
not overly expansive, as compared to some of the exotic coffee
beans that you can find out there. You may pay an extra $1 to
$2's for a pound (16oz) of organically grown coffee over that of
a non-organic coffee costing from $6 to $12 a pound.
lovers, coffee is in their life and the extra money to get a
chemical free organic coffee is worth paying a little extra
money. Besides the chemicals you are not ingesting you are
getting a better tasting coffee and that alone is worth the
little extra money. So it's a win win either way you look at
beans are just the best choice all around for healthier and
safer purposes especially if you are one of those people that
drink 6 to 10 cups a day like me. The coffee farmers are also
better off because they do not have to handle chemicals on an
If you can
afford the little extra get the organic!
Organic Coffee - Is it
worth the Price - Coffee made from
organic coffee beans have some advantages over the non-organic
version of almost the same coffee. Is it healthier for you than its
traditional counterpart? Is organic coffee really worth the price?
Gourmet Coffee What is Gourmet Coffee? What makes it so special? Is it really a
different experience? -
Gourmet Coffee is sometimes called
"specialty" or "premium" coffee and is usually made from very high
quality coffee beans grown under ideal climate conditions.