What Does Organic Coffee Mean and Should You Drink It
What makes coffee Organic is more than the standard 'organic' criteria such as grown without any pesticides, herbicides, or other synthetic chemicals. Organic coffee also considers the farming, roasting and processing when determining whether coffee is considered organic.
Coffee is big business.
Americans drink over 140 billion cups of coffee each year. Many of these cups of coffee may be going organic. According to the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers are 44% more likely to drink coffee that is certified as organic. Made without pesticides and other harmful products, organic coffee is a growing trend. We dive into what makes organic coffee beans better for the average coffee drinker.
Why Organic Coffee Beans?
Coffee is the first thing many people consume each morning. Many people don't realize they could be consuming many pesticides if they aren't drinking organic beans. This is because coffee is the world's most sprayed crop that humans actually eat or drink. Behind cotton and tobacco, it is the world's third-most sprayed agricultural crop. Synthetic pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on non-organic coffee can be harmful to your health. This is one of the main reasons why many people are switching to organic coffee.
What Is Organic Coffee?
Organic means that something is grown under natural conditions without any pesticides, herbicides, or other synthetic chemicals. Organic coffee takes this a few steps further than just this definition. There are also different certification standards that vary from one region to another in the International market so the waters get a little muddy. This means that organic coffee in the United States follows the standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program. Japan will use the standards set by its Japan Agricultural Standards. Each country may have a different set of standards. Staying with the USA, this is the criteria used to obtain the organic label:
A label can only be 'organic' when it contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients. this excludes salt and water. During the farming of organic products, natural fertilizers can still be used on the grounds. The USDA does prohibit the use of any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms to produce coffee. Farmers are required to use substitutes like mulch, coffee pulp, manure, and compost instead of synthetic products. They also must farm these products in the shade using crop rotation.
Coffee must be roasted and processed in an organic way to earn its label. This usually includes wet and dry processing. After harvesting the coffee beans, farmers must store the ripe beans in special bags to avoid any contamination.
Coffee roasting is the last process the coffee beans go through before they hit the shelves. The roaster is required to only use non-artificial chemicals to roast the beans. Special equipment is often used to avoid any transfer of artificial substances to the beans.
Advantages of Organic Coffee
What makes organic coffee beans better?
There are many benefits to drinking organic coffee. It all begins with the farming of the beans. Organic farming often means growing the beans in the shade, which contributes to higher quality beans. When farmers don't use chemicals, the risk of pesticides and herbicides in the air is lowered. Most organic coffee is grown in shaded areas. This matters because this type of coffee sustains soil fertility keeping the regional ecosystem alive. This also helps the crops handle different weather patterns leading this type of farming to be a safer investment for many farmers. Organic coffee farming also boosts the natural nutrients of the coffee bean. These healthy, organic nutrients often improve stress levels, help your mood, boost your immune system, and boost metabolism. Organic coffee is higher in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many people believe organic coffee tastes better than non-organic coffee. It is often grown in higher altitudes so it takes longer to develop that rich flavor that many people love.
The Organic Label
Making organic coffee authentic isn't as easy as simply throwing a label on a bag of coffee beans. It's important to know you're drinking the most natural coffee when you choose organic. Many companies put the 'organic' label on their coffee beans as a way to lure you, when the coffee isn't truly organic. There are a few things you need to look for to ensure you're getting the real deal.
Label - There are a few different organic certifications, but the most trusted in the USA is the “USDA Organic” label.
Source - The source of coffee beans is important because of the different standards of organic farming. Places like Brazil are known to be one of the most popular origins of coffee, yet one of the largest users of pesticides on their crops.
Certification - Fair-Trade certification usually goes hand-in-hand with the organic label. Fair-Trade certification means that the production of the coffee bean entails gender equality, empowers producers, and maintains a fair price for all producers.
Decaffeinated Organic Coffee
Decaffeinating coffee isn't usually an organic process.
Many coffee brands use a chemical decaffeination process that includes solvents including Methylene Chloride, the main ingredient in paint stripper. Of course, there are standards just like roasting when it comes to decaffeinating non-organic coffee beans. A direct contact decaffeination method may use carbon dioxide as a decaffeination agent and involves rinsing the beans with ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. The indirect method to decaffeinate beans is using hot water to extract the beans and then extracting caffeine from this using chemical compounds. The best way to get around these methods with chemicals is to use the Swiss Water Process. This process is all about dissolving the beans and using osmosis to remove its caffeine. Making organic coffee without caffeine doesn't have to be with a complex chemical process. It takes a little more time and effort, but you can have all of the flavors you love without the caffeine and synthetic products.
The Flavor Of Organic Coffee
What is organic coffee without a bold flavor?
There are many factors that go into the taste and flavor of each coffee bean. They involve the roasting process, harvesting process, storage of the beans, growing conditions, and even a person's personal preferences. Organic farming will definitely influence the quality of coffee, but does it guarantee a nice flavor? Most coffee drinkers will say the flavor of organic coffee is better than non-organic coffee. It takes a lot longer to grow organic coffee beans. This means a farmer probably won't make as much profit on their crop of coffee, but the quality should boost the price making up for their time. When grown in the shade, the coffee beans are able to produce natural sugars that naturally boost the flavor. Many brands of coffee are grown in Africa where the soil has high levels of volcanic compounds. The dirt here offers some of the best places to farm coffee beans that leads to a bold, flavorful cup of coffee.
Some people fear the 'organic' label on their coffee means they lose caffeine. They could not be more wrong. Some organic coffees are much more potent than non-organic. One cup of some brands of organic coffee equals four coups of non-organic coffee brands.
Organic coffee is the choice for people that want to stay away from chemicals and sustain the earth. The flavor is full and the methods behind the taste are ethical. Going organic doesn't mean you have to change your entire life. By simply changing the coffee you drink each morning, you're making a small step towards a healthier future.