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Note: What 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 this.


Short coffee history

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 world's coffee.

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".


Organic Coffee

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 pesticides.
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.

These harmful 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. 

At times, 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.

Although from 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 plants need. 

When 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.

For coffee 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 it. 

Organic coffee 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 everyday basis.

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.

Medicinal Mushroom Coffee - are mushrooms used in the practice of medicine and are found in many natural remedies. Many species of mushrooms have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years and is best documented in the East, China and Malaysia.

Magical Flavor Of Gourmet Coffee Beans - If you drink coffee and have ever stopped to look at the different types of gourmet coffee beans, you might want to actually give some a try next time you're shopping for coffee.

What Is Organic Coffee! - To start off, "organic coffee" means that it has been grown without the use of different pesticides and chemicals.


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