Being organic just means that it is produced without artificial chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. There are many factors that are taken into consideration before a coffee can be considered organic.
(Please note that it is very expensive and difficult to become certified. The coffee often crosses a few paths before it reaches your cup so it doesn’t always fall back on the grower to keep things organic.)
What makes it Organic?
The farm must use a fertilizer that is 100% organic, these may include compost, coffee pulp, and manure. If a fertilizer contains phosphate, synthetic nitrogen and potash then it can’t be certified as organic.
Organic coffee is overseen by the USDA and sometimes exemptions are made in the use of chemicals. So you can’t always trust that USDA certified organic are free of pesticides. There are 3 different levels of organic. 100% which means what it says, “organic” which is 95% and “made with organic” which is between 70-94% certified organic. So what I’m saying is that you need to read carefully and do your own research before trusting what the label says.
You also need to take into consideration that not all countries are overseen to guarantee organic and they may not be following all the rules. You have to understand that farms disrupt the natural habitat when they clear land off and even though they do their best to not disturb, when pest control animals like lizards and birds have no home, it could lead to the need for pesticide.
Shade Grown Coffee
Most organic coffee is shade grown (meaning they are protected from the sun and can grow slower which makes the beans more nutrient rich and have better flavor) and uses birds to help keep insects off the coffee.
Are Pesticides in Coffee really a problem?
Speaking of pesticides, coffee beans are protected by their thick outer skin so really and truly, it would be hard for the pesticides to touch the bean and since most coffee is roasted at 400 degrees chances are, they won’t make it past that.
I try to look at it as, if they are making all available efforts to keep it organic than it is better than not being organic at all. I only give you this information so you can do your own research and decide what you are ok with living with on your quest to healthy coffee.
Kinds of Organic Coffee
Equal exchange‘s organic coffee states that the majority of their coffee is certified organic through the Oregon Tilth. They state that 98% of their coffee is certified organic by volume and they try to use smaller farm co-ops that are shade grown.
Lifeboost coffee claims be healthy, single origin, chemical free, low-acid, and non-GMO. Their coffee comes from small farms in the mountains of Nicaragua and is spring water washed. They test for mycotoxins and say the third party testers guarantee the coffee to be free from them.
Death Wish Coffee claims they are USDA certified organic and on top of that, they also claim to be the strongest coffee around or they will gladly give you a refund. They are high in caffeine but low in acid. They source their coffee to make sure its organic and fair trade only. Lifeboost gets their shade grown beans from India and Peru.
Kicking Horse Coffee claims to be certified organic, fairtrade, shade grown in Arabica and the Rocky mountains. They go by the Canadian guidelines which say that they must be 95% or greater organic to get the logo. This to me is pretty dang organic.
Volcanica offers various kinds of coffee beans that are certified organic, fair trade certified and rainforest alliance certified. They also participate in a program where they give back 1% of sales to provide clean water for people all over the earth.
They also have 5 star reviews and 100% customer satisfaction ratings.
Tiny Footprint Coffee says they are carbon negative meaning they donate money to plant a tree from every bag sold. They are organic, fair trade and rain forest alliance certified. They do try to buy from smaller farms that aren’t fair trade eligible but grow some of the best tasting coffee on the planet.
Tiny footprint coffee is working to make their roastery carbon negative with fully bio-degradable coffee bags, high efficiency lighting and burners on their roasters. They also compost coffee grounds and reduce waste around their shop.
And, if you have a favorite organic coffee please leave it in the comments below so I can check it out.