Organic coffee beans have grown in popularity over the last couple of decades. The lack of information about organic products leads to a lot of misunderstanding on the actual benefits of organic coffee beans. Taste and caffeine levels don’t change that much. There are also a lot of health benefits that make choosing organic worth it for many people.
Everyone has different reasons for choosing one over the other. If you want the ability to stay informed and make your own decision on organic vs non-organic coffee beans, you’re in the right place. This article covers what you need to know about the cost, health benefits, and farming differences.
Non-organic coffee is full of hundreds of different synthetic chemicals, rivaling tobacco. Organic coffee means freedom from these harmful chemicals. The best part is that you don’t have to give up your favorite flavors.
- Key Takeaways
- What Are Organic Coffee Beans?
- What Sets Non-Organic Coffee Beans Apart?
- Pesticides and Coffee
- History and Rise of Organic Coffee
- Deciphering Certifications
- The Economic Impact of Coffee Choices
- A Global Perspective on Organic vs Non-Organic Coffee Beans
- Flavor Profiles: Does Organic Taste Better?
- The Environmental Impact
- Price Differences: Is Organic Worth the Cost?
- Brands Dive
- Organic coffee has a lot of health benefits
- It might not be for everyone, especially because it’s pricey.
- It’s important to understand certifications and labels to make sure you get what you’re looking for.
- Want to learn more about organic coffee and how it differs from non-organic? Keep reading below!
What Are Organic Coffee Beans?
So what does it mean when you see organic coffee beans? There’s a lot of complicated information to do with organic foods and drinks of any kind. The simple answer is that organic coffee uses no synthetic chemicals at any point in the growing, processing, and shipping process.
Synthetic substances mostly come in the form of fertilizers and pesticides. Many non-organic coffee companies will use synthetic ingredients in their farms. These synthetic ingredients stop bugs and make coffee beans grow faster and bigger.
For farmers growing organic coffee beans, the fertilizer and pesticides have to be fully organic. This means that they often use manure, waste, and pulp from the last coffee harvest and compost. For organic coffee, there has to have been no synthetic chemicals on the land used for at least three years.
There aren’t any caffeine differences that come from organic growing. Altitude plays more of a role in caffeine levels than whether it’s organic or not.
A more obvious health benefit is that your coffee doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides cause all sorts of birth defects, cancer, diabetes, and much more. Organic coffee also has the benefit of having higher levels of antioxidants.
What Sets Non-Organic Coffee Beans Apart?
Despite these obvious health benefits, non-organic coffee continues to be popular. A part of this is because of a lack of information. They don’t know about the many other health benefits.
Non-organic coffee is much cheaper. Because non-organic coffee can be mass-produced in a way that organic coffee can’t, they can charge a much lower price.
Pesticides and Coffee
Conventional coffee is one of the most heavily treated foods in the world. There are well over 200 chemicals thrown on coffee to prevent pests.
There are synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides as well. The only plant thought to have more chemicals is tobacco. Some of the chemicals you can expect to see used on coffee are Endosulfan, Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, and Disulfoton.
History and Rise of Organic Coffee
Organic coffee has been around for several decades now. It didn’t start to grow popular until the early 2000s. This was about when people started to care more about what they put in their bodies. The focus on more organic and natural foods started to increase in the early 2000s.
Certifications allow consumers to have some choices over what they are buying. They allow you to make choices based on your priorities. If you want to eat something healthier, better for the workers, or better for the environment, if not a mix of all three, you have the choice.
Fair Trade labels are there to show that the people handling and packaging your coffee beans have fair treatment. There’s usually a push to use fewer synthetic chemicals and GMOs as well, as they can harm farm workers.
Anything marked as USDA Organic has followed all the strict guidelines by the USDA. The certification pushes companies to follow good practices such as no harmful chemicals. This is the only label to guarantee your coffee is organic in the US.
This label has more to do with animal and environmental health than people. This certification is there to show that the farms the coffee focuses on good environmental practices. Some examples are fewer if any, chemicals and no massive deforestation.
This isn’t a certification but is a label used by companies that grow their coffee amongst other plants and trees to provide shade to the beans. This often means that the coffee is of higher quality and has better coffee flavor profile.
This is a label specific to coffee and cocoa beans. This means that your coffee is shade-grown and offers a sanctuary for migratory birds.
This label is for farms that have practices put in place to benefit the environment. They focus on reducing erosion control, composting as much as possible, and having more natural pest control.
The Economic Impact of Coffee Choices
For the most part, demand decides the supply. So as more people buy organic coffee, more companies are willing to switch to more organic methods.
A Global Perspective on Organic vs Non-Organic Coffee Beans
Every country has different requirements for what makes something organic. You can rest assured that anything labeled USDA Certified Organic has followed the US standards. That means no inclusions of fertilizers or pesticides that the US deems dangerous or unnatural. Every country has different lists of which chemicals are not allowed.
Flavor Profiles: Does Organic Taste Better?
There’s a lot of debate about whether organic coffee tastes better or not. Most people say that they do notice a difference, but it’s subtle. Organic coffee is often said to be smoother, sweeter, and cleaner tasting. For anyone using cream and sugar or a standard grinder and coffee maker, there’s not enough of a difference.
The Environmental Impact
Organic coffee is also better for the environment. Non-organic coffee needs a lot of energy and water to grow, much more than organic coffee. This is because non-organic coffee isn’t grown naturally in an ideal location like organic coffee has to, and needs more fertilizers.
Non-organic coffee practices also usually mean more harm to the environment. They often have chemical run-offs, erosion, and deforestation. This means it’s a pretty harmful practice. Organic coffee, with its lack of pesticides, is much safer and better for the environment.
Price Differences: Is Organic Worth the Cost?
The caffeine content and taste don’t change much, if at all. You ingest less harmful chemicals, take in more antioxidants, and protect farmers. You also benefit the environment when you choose organic.
If that sounds like what you’re looking for, and you don’t mind spending a few dollars, then it’s worth the price difference. If you’re solely focused on taste, you may not find the price without it.
Always double-check when you’re getting organic coffee. Some cheap brands will use some of the non-certified organic labels to trick people into buying their coffee. This saves them money as they don’t have to change their farming practices, and lets them raise their prices.
If you get your coffee from a small company, it may be good to talk with them and figure out their coffee practices. Many single-origin coffees and small brands already follow relatively organic practices. Certification is expensive. Your favorite company may be organic, and just unable to afford the certification.
While it’s worth buying organic coffee for your health, it’s not always a possibility for those on a tight budget. If you can splurge a little on organic options, coffee likely should be one of your first changes.
But everyone deserves a little coffee in their life. It’s important to do what you can with what you have. If you prefer your non-organic coffee over organic coffee, or you can’t afford expensive organic beans, then stick with what you have.
Do organic coffee beans have different storage recommendations than non-organic beans?
It doesn’t matter if it’s organic or non-organic, all coffee does best when stored in a dark, air-tight container in a cool place.
Are there any brewing recommendations specific to organic coffee?
There are no specific brewing requirements for organic coffee over regular coffee.
How do coffee drinkers around the world feel about organic vs. non-organic?
Many dedicated coffee drinkers care more about the flavor than the labels. So organic vs non-organic doesn’t matter. Only the taste matters to them.
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