Gourmet Foods 101
Did you know?
"The average working American consumes 3 cups of coffee per day"

Organic Coffee

Pesticide Free Coffees & Fair Trade Coffees

Like all other organic foods, organic coffee is produced without any chemicals, herbicides and pesticides. Most organic coffee is grown in the shade, and there is a wide variety of blends and roasts available on the market.

Coffee is a shade-loving shrub and naturally occurring varieties can only be cultivated under a canopy of shade trees. What is now referred to as shade-grown coffee was the only way coffee was cultivated until about 25 years ago. These days, there are many huge coffee plantations that grow coffee in the sun.

Shade grown coffee shrubs generally live twice as long as full sun shrubs and the trees that provide the shade generate natural mulch. This means there is less need for replanting and less need for the use of chemical fertilizers. Most coffee experts agree that the flavor of organic coffee is superior to that of full sun coffee and it is quite less bitter. Shade grown coffee shrubs mature more slowly and produce fewer coffee cherries, making the flavor more concentrated and mellowed in the resulting harvest. There has also been some public backlash over non-organic coffee growing as many people consider it to be destroying the environment.

Certified organic coffee is grown by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water. Organic coffee is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers to protect the health of the soil, the forest and the farmers. However, most experts agree that the chemicals used in non-organic coffee growing actually burn off during the roasting process. This means that only a few traces of these chemicals, if any, are left behind.

This may make organic coffee more of a social issue than a taste issue. Many of the chemicals that are used in coffee growing have allegedly destroyed lakes and streams in coffee producing regions of Latin America and elsewhere. These chemicals are still used by coffee growers today, sometimes without a basic understanding of the harm they may be doing to the environment, to themselves and to their families. The use of toxic chemicals may not only be hazardous to the workers and their families, but may also be hazardous to the environment they rely on to sustain themselves.

Organic coffee farming encourages sustainability, multi-layered crop production and a rich array of wildlife. Farmers who practice organic coffee farming methods depend on organic matter to fertilize their plants. Organic coffee farming aims at a healthier, more resistant crop. Mulching with organic materials and growing coffee under a canopy of trees decreases the need for irrigation and therefore it conserves water.

What type of coffee you purchase is a personal decision, but if you've never tried organic coffee it may be worth checking it out to see if matches the flavor of your regular coffee. If it does, you may want to do a little more research on the environmental effects of both types of coffee.