What Is Organic Coffee And How Is It Different From Inorganic


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When it comes to specialty coffee, we always hear coffee roasters and producers take pride in their organically produced products. Essentially, these so-called “organic coffee” are more expensive too when compared with the regular coffee on the supermarket shelves.

In this case, we somehow attained thinking that organic coffee is superior in quality, taste, and even healthier compared to the non-organic variants. But does that really hold the truth, or is it just a clever, effective marketing ploy?

Find out whether organic coffee lives up to the public claims and whether there is a distinctive difference between organic and non-organic coffee.

Focus what is organic coffee

What Does Organic Coffee Mean?

But first, what does it take for a coffee product to be called organic?

Fresh produce and pantry staples have been slapping “organic” labels on the packaging, but this claim goes beyond marketing. Essentially, certain produce (like coffee) can be determined as organic when it’s grown without the use of synthetic or chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Planting and growing coffee beans without the help of these farming staples really pose a challenge to the farmers. It involves heavy maintenance and lucrative processes to fulfill the gap that coffee plants need without using the products mentioned earlier.

As a result, high-quality, organically-grown coffee beans need more capital and resources to produce. Much more if it’s done on a larger scale. And because of this, it’s estimated that only 3% of the world’s coffee beans are produced organically. 

Furthermore, along with the limited yields to cover the demand, the high production cost drives the prices of organic coffee higher than the standard, staple beans.

Effects of Cultivating Organic Coffee

Focus what is organic coffee

There are several effects of cultivating organic coffee that is interrelated to each other. These can certainly go beyond the end-product or the yield profit and ultimately have long-term effects on you as the consumer, the coffee farmers and producers, and even the environment.

On the Consumers

The most obvious effect that you can get is from consuming organic coffee. With drinking coffee, what you really see is what you get. Since there are no chemicals or synthetic fertilizers used during the farming process, the risk that your beans are ever so slightly contaminated is essentially removed.

While you won’t get immediately poisoned from chemical residues during the farming process for non-organic coffee, your body will definitely feel it in the long run, especially if you are a regular coffee drinker.

And with organic coffee, every process is natural, so you can rest easy and mindfully consume your drink.

On the Farmers

But the actual effect of cultivating organic coffee is directed to the coffee farmers and producers. 

Your conventional coffee (non-organic ones) is one of the most heavily chemically-treated food products in the world. Coffee plantations like to grow coffee plants in unusual areas to produce a unique taste in their coffee beans.

This needs heavy doses of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and more to make sure that the coffee plants have the excess nutrients they need. As you might have guessed, this process is not optimal for the farmers.

The high level of constant exposure to these chemicals poses a serious health risk to them. Farmers are essentially working with these chemicals every step of the way —from maintaining the coffee plant until its harvest. 

Also, it’s not just the farmers. Communities surrounding large coffee plantations will likely get the same adverse effects from the chemical exposure.

With organically grown coffee, the process is much safer for the farmers. Organic farms are also often small- to medium-sized and are community-centered compared to traditional large-scale production farms that prioritize the coffee yield instead of the farmers’ welfare. 

On the Environment

Natural, organic coffee typically calls for a shaded planting environment. This is why a lot of organic plantations are grown in the forest. However, coffee plants grown within thick forests are harder to maintain and harvest. 

Non-organic coffee producers increase production yield by clearing out the forests and turn them into open fields. This factor certainly reaches the goal of the plantation, but it’s at the expense of the environment. This particular approach disrupts the local ecosystem, not to mention the effect of the chemicals and synthetic farm products used in growing non-organic coffee.

When the time comes that there is a heavy rain pour, all the chemicals from the topsoil will be washed away and absorbed to the nearest body of water. This thing alone may contaminate and pollute the nearby ecosystem. But with organic coffee plantations, since the farming is sustainable and doesn’t call for deforestation, they are better equipped and resilient when it comes to weather patterns and changes. 

Is Organic Coffee Healthier?

Focus what is organic coffee

The million-dollar question that everyone has on organic coffee is that if it’s actually healthier compared to your traditional brew. Well, the answer to that is yes and no.

First, organic coffee certainly removes all the health risks accompanied by exposure and ingestion of residual chemicals from the beans’ production. In places where most coffee is grown and exported, there are limited farming regulations on how many chemicals and pesticides to use. Essentially, you don’t really know what goes into your traditional, non-organic coffee.

But does it have other health benefits other than the coffee being chemical residue-free? 

Not really. The organic production of coffee beans doesn’t significantly impact your health to the point that it adds additional health benefits. Health claims made by organic coffee producers can be very likely that it’s just part of their marketing.

In fact, much research suggests that consuming organic coffee can lead to certain health risks. Because there are no non-organic products used to help maintain the quality of the coffee beans, there are chances that organic coffee can contain mold and mycotoxins due to the poor condition of processing and storage.

Does Organic Coffee Taste Better?

Focus what is organic coffee

Many people claim that they can taste the difference between organic and non-organic coffee —usually, they state that organic coffee tastes better.

That is maybe true up to a certain degree only. Essentially, not all organic coffee tastes better compared to non-organic ones and vice versa. The flavor, aroma, and taste still depend on the quality of coffee beans produced.

So, just because a particular coffee brand is certified as an organic product doesn’t mean that it automatically tastes better. The organic stamp doesn’t address the bean’s flavor profile, as well as the quality of your coffee.

The point is, if you’re only referring to the process of growing coffee beans organically, then it won’t ensure that your coffee will be better. But if you factor in the species of the coffee plant, environment, roasting process, and other back-end work that goes in your coffee cup, then that would make a huge difference in its quality.

What is Non-Organic Coffee and How is it Different from Organic?

We’ve been talking about organic coffee so let’s jump it to what makes a specific coffee non-organic.

Non-organic coffee is grown with the help of chemicals and other farming products that will ensure the beans’ quality and consistency. Conventional coffee farming involves using many chemicals in the growth process as coffee plants are finicky to grow.

A lot of farmers and large-scale producers grow non-organic coffee simply because it relieves the pressure off of the coffee production. There is such a high demand for coffee all over the world that farmers and producers need to keep up. After all, non-organic production seems to catch up with the increasing global demand for coffee and continuously produce consistent, high-quality beans without sacrificing the plants’ growing process.

More so, most coffee farmers prefer using the traditional, non-organic method of farming because it doesn’t leave them vulnerable to other elements that can be detrimental to their livelihood. That includes crop pestilence and climate conditions that can’t be solved by using organic pesticides and fertilizers. 

Is Non-Organic Coffee Bad?

Focus what is organic coffee

So is your traditional coffee really that bad as others project it? Again, that really depends.

When it comes to the health risks posed by other people, currently, there are no recorded and proven cases that doses of chemicals and other farming products used during the coffee growth end up on your cup. This is because these chemicals are only used during the growing process of the coffee plants and not on the production itself. 

The production of coffee beans is regulated in all countries under their respective food and safety laws. This is even stricter if a producer is certified to export their products into many countries. 

In terms of its environmental impact, farming methods, especially in such a competitive agri-business, are often improved to reduce the environment’s adverse effects. However, that cannot be taken as a blanket statement for all.

Conclusion

So what should you choose —organic or non-organic coffee?

To be honest, it really boils down to your preference and what you stand for. Organic coffee is great, especially when you’re trying to be mindful about what you consume. But at the same time, it’s more expensive and less available to everyone who just wants a cup of coffee. 

More so, we’ve already tackled that organic doesn’t automatically mean better. 

The same can be said for non-organic coffee. While pesticides and other chemicals won’t likely end up in your cup, many consumers prefer to support an environmentally friendly and sustainable product. But there’s also the fact that there are coffee farmers who are mindful of how they grow and produce their coffee even with the help of farming products.

Our advice? If you really want to know your cup of coffee beyond its taste and flavor, spend the extra time researching where it comes from and how the farmers and producers grow and process their coffee. That way, your decision will be well-informed. 

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