Coffee connoisseurs – united by their love for caffeine – are almost always divided between the many flavors, aromas, and brewing styles of coffee. With access to so many different options, passionate brewers experiment with different blends from around the globe to create the perfect cup of morning Joe. However, it is not the brewing style or blend type that makes the biggest difference to a cup of coffee but the choice between conventional and organic coffee beans. All coffee lovers face this dilemma when looking for their next bag of beans in the coffee aisle of a grocery store.
The ongoing debate about the benefits of drinking organic coffee and how those compare to the benefits of conventionally grown coffee has left many people confused. If you, too, are unsure whether to choose organic coffee or regular coffee on your next trip to the grocery store, hold tight and keep reading as we unravel all the secrets about organic coffee.
What is Organic Coffee?
When walking through the grocery store, you can see several foods and drinks on the shelf labeled organic or might even find a separate aisle for organic products. According to the layman definition, organic food products are those produced without the use of any synthetic fertilizers and/or pesticides. However, a food product can meet this dictionary definition of organic and still fail to meet the qualifications for a certified organic label.
For coffee to receive organic certification, it must fulfill all the requirements set out by the USDA NOP. Firstly, the coffee must not have had any contact with pesticides, growth stimulants, synthetic fertilizers, bio-engineered substances, or antibiotics during its growth or processing; the fertilizer used on the farm must be 100% organic, such as general compost, chicken manure, or coffee pulp. If the fertilizers used on the crop contain any synthetic nitrogen, potash, or phosphate, the coffee can not be certified as organic. Secondly, the farm must adopt a sustainable crop rotation plan to control pests naturally and prevent erosion and exhaustion of nutritions. Lastly, the coffee must also be processed and packed without coming in contact with any chemicals — all verified by official USDA NOP representatives.
Benefits of Drinking Organic Coffee
Organic Coffee is Free of Toxic Chemicals
Though it might sound surprising, coffee is not the only thing that goes inside your body when you sip on your morning cup of Joe. Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, which means non-organic coffee is drenched in synthetic chemicals during its production.
Those pesticides and fertilizers can negatively influence bodily changes and trigger various health issues. Ongoing research suggests that the chemicals used in the production of non-organic foods, including coffee, are carcinogenic and can cause damage to our reproductive and nervous systems. In addition to inflicting harm on human health, synthetic chemicals also pose grave threats to animal and soil health.
While little chemical residue survives the washing, roasting, and brewing process, it is better to stay safe and cut down any potential exposure from the food/beverage you are consuming. Since organic coffee is grown without any chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, you will not have to risk any exposure to toxic chemicals when enjoying your morning cup of Joe.
Organic Coffee Preserves the Health of Workers of Coffee Plantations
While many people argue that by the time the coffee reaches our lips, there is almost no chemical residue left in it, the harm has already been done. The toxic chemicals used in the standard coffee-growing process are hazardous not only for the environment but also for the health of the farmers and laborers involved in the growing, harvesting, and processing of coffee.
According to a study conducted on workers on a coffee plantation in the Dominican Republic, those exposed to pesticides and other synthetic chemicals had a higher risk of cancer and exhibited impaired well-being. So, when you choose to brew organically grown coffee, you not only protect the planet but also help save the lives of those who work so hard for you to be able to enjoy your morning cup of Joe.
Most farmers who produce certified organic coffee are Fair Trade compliant and thus, offer better working conditions and higher wages to their employees. So, in addition to ensuring the well-being of the workers in the coffee plantation, you will also help improve their quality of life by choosing organic coffee over regular coffee.
Organic Coffee Farms Protect the Planet by Promoting Eco-Friendly Practices
Naturally, coffee thrives in the shade, but it is tedious to tend to a crop grown in lush forests and can not be planted as densely in the foliage of trees. Therefore, large areas of forests are cleared to create open fields for growing massive amounts of non-organic coffee.
Most coffee plants flourish in the open sun, so while intense sunlight promotes rapid growth and the production increases in open fields, natural pest-deterrents are left without a habitat, demolishing the wild ecosystem. Due to the absence of natural pest-deterrents, like lizards and birds, coffee-ruining insects overpopulate, leading to greater use of pesticides. Moreover, without the natural fertilizers of these ecosystems (such as leaf litter and bird droppings), chemical fertilizers are used in large amounts to provide nutrients to the crop.
On the other hand, the farming process of organic coffee is totally different: it is shade-grown. Most organic coffee plants are grown in the shade of lush trees that are home to countless wild plants and animals. Therefore, instead of promoting deforestation and consequent soil erosion, organic coffee aids in the conservation of unique regional ecosystems and the sustenance of soil fertility. Not only does organically grown coffee impact biodiversity positively, but these forested farms are also more resilient in face of unusual weather patterns, making them a safer investment for farmers and laborers.
Other than growing and processing practices, many organic coffee farms also commit to other measures that promote sustainability and conservation of natural resources, such as using renewable energy resources and manufacturing products with recyclable materials. In short, organic coffee farms are actively protecting and preserving our environment through their practices and encouraging their customers to do the same.
Organic Coffee is Healthier and Tastes Better
In addition to being a delicious beverage, coffee also contains several natural compounds that provide different health benefits, such as boosting metabolism, protecting from cell damages, reducing stress, and strengthening the immune system. 100% USDA Certified organic coffee is a rich source of nutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, which are imperative for the healthy functioning of our body. Moreover, pure caffeine in organic coffee is an energy booster, which enhances the proper functioning of the brain and improves mood. All the health benefits of coffee are enhanced when you consume organic coffee due to the lack of chemicals used in its farming and processing.
As a bonus, organic coffee might even taste better and more delicious to some people. The quality and taste of coffee beans are a direct result of the soil they are grown in. Organic coffee beans that are grown in chemical-free soils rich in natural fertilizers ensure you taste nothing but pure bliss in your morning cup of Joe.
While organic coffee might taste more refined than non-organic to some, the nutritional value of both is the same. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and The American Dietetic Association, organic and regular foods share the same quantity of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. So, nutritionally, organic coffee is not any healthier compared to non-organic coffee. However, if you wish to adopt a diet that limits your exposure to synthetic chemicals without having to forgo your love for coffee, organic coffee is your best option.
Coffee is not only the second most-consumed beverage but also the most selling product in the world, second only to oil. Therefore, it is imperative that we purchase coffee that not only tastes delicious but is grown and distributed through environmentally-responsible practices. Certified organic coffee is free of any chemicals and comes from a farm that promotes sustainability and preservation of our ecosystem. In addition to protecting our planet, organic coffee farms also improve the health and quality of life of the farmers who work on them. So, by choosing organic coffee, you will be able to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee every morning without putting the health of other humans and the health of our planet at risk.