Responsibility for our own health, benefit for the coffee producers and the betterment of our planet are some of the reasons that could lead us to this choice
Organic foods are still on fashion all around the world and in Bulgaria. Thanks to this simple fact there is an increasing variety of products that is being offered every day. Off course, for many people the label organic is not only a fashion they follow; it is a way of life and mindset. Coffee is among the foods with a very high percentage of organic production in the world. Luckily for us, organic production in the specialty coffee sector is also growing even though it is not as profitable for the farmers as consumers think.
Why is there an increasing number of coffee lovers who opt for organic?
There are several main reasons for the increasing number of people who choose organic coffee. If you are still hesitant and you have never tried coffee certified as organic, read on!
Health comes first – we take care of us and the farmers
For many consumers organic foods are healthier than the rest. However, if this is your reason to choose organic, you should know that roasted coffee comes with almost no harmful residue. Of course, when a coffee plant is treated only with natural fertilizers, the beneficial ingredients in it, such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – can only benefit more. You should know that the fleshy part of the coffee cherry is most affected when treated with pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, etc. However, until the bean reaches your cup, the fleshy part is separated from it during the dry, wet or semi-dry process.
However, when it comes to health, we have to keep in mind that by choosing organic coffee, we contribute to the well-being of the farmers who produced it.
The better part of the pesticides that are banned or which use is restricted in the US or in Europe are still used in many coffee-growing countries. Improper storage, poor occupational hygiene and lack of training of those who work with pesticides are widespread in developing countries and lead to direct exposure of workers to toxins. Even if these toxins are not deadly, the effects on human health can be detrimental and could lead to impaired reproductive function, low immunity, impaired hormonal function, cancers, genetic mutations.
Organic coffee for sustainability
Many organic coffee lovers cannot accept the fact that the agricultural chemicals could have negative impact on the environment. Most of all, they want to make sure that the products they buy are produced in an environmentally friendly way that prevents pollution, erosion and degradation of the soil and does not cause ecological disbalance.
Coffee is one of the most traded goods in the world with an annual production is over 10, 2 billion tons. Mass-produced coffee has long been grown in the sun, as higher yields are being chased. This logically leads to increased deforestation to make way for land where sun-loving varieties, often hybrids, are grown. Production is increasing but the wild ecosystems suffers. Natural coffee pest killers, such as various birds and reptiles, loose their habitat and this force them to migrate. As a result, the population of coffee-destroying insects is growing, which in turn leads to increased use of pesticides. For this also contributes the lack of natural fertilizers (bird droppings, natural decay and leaf decay, branches, etc.) in a disturbed ecosystem.
Mass-produced low-quality coffee is among the most heavily chemical-treated foods in the world – with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. No studies are carried out on the effects on the environment of the use of several products simultaneously or subsequently or in combination with other chemicalst. It is also unclear how different climates or soils affect these interactions and what their long-term effects are. And coffee is grown mainly in the tropical zone – home to some of the richest and most complex ecosystems that we need to protect at all costs.
When different trees are cut down to plant only coffee plants, during rain showers run-off is much stronger because there are not enough root systems to preserve water in the soil. Gradually, water washes away the soil natural nutrients, which causes erosion and growth becomes almost impossible. Rainwater manages to extract not only the soil nutrients but also all the chemicals with which it (or coffee) has been treated, so that everything finds its way to the local water supply.
Demand for specialty organic coffee is growing
According to the 2016 World of Organic Agriculture report, coffee is the largest single organic crop in the world. Although it covers only 2 percent of the total area of all organic crops, this equates to more than 20 percent of the permanent area of all organic crops and more than half of the permanent area of all organic plants in South America, where most of the organic coffee grows.
Some organic coffees may not necessarily be much richer in taste than mass-produced coffees but the organic coffee market is becoming more demanding for higher quality. For this reason, today, organic coffees are often in the specialty coffee segment.
The first harvest of organic coffee was registered at Finca Irlanda in Chiapas, Mexico (1967). Organic coffees however were available on market only in the 1980s – all of them were Arabica varieties cultivated in Mexico. Today, there are also organic Robusta varieties. The first organic coffee imported to Europe is from a UCIRI cooperative of smallholders from Oaxaca, Mexico (1985).
What organic coffees does DABOV Specialty Coffee offer?
We offer you is from the new harvest of the well-known Santa Rita farm in Guatemala. Guatemala San Miguel – Bio has a rich fruity taste with hints of mandarin and red apple, complemented by toffee and honey sweet aftertaste. Farmer Dariusz Echeveria, who owns Santa Rita, follows the path to sustainability. His coffees have several certificates proving it – organic coffee, Rainforest Alliance, Bird Friendly certificate from the Center for Migratory Birds at the Smithsonian Museum.
How does the production of organic coffee affect its taste?
As you know, specialty coffee and, of course, organic coffee are grown together with a variety of other crops – usually under the shade of trees, surrounded by different shrubs, grasses, flowers, sometimes on hilly terrains, so that the typical the flora and fauna of the region are preserved. When a coffee is grown in the shade, it ripens more slowly which usually enriches its flavors. With selected harvesting of ripe cherries only, proper processing and storage, choosing a roasting profile for best taste, organic coffee is many times tastier than its mass counterparts.
Is it difficult to grow organic coffee?
When choosing organic coffee, farmers are driven by the same motives as its consumers but its is only natural that the financial factor is of great importancefor them. As consumers, we believe that organic farming has a higher income because the prices of organic products are higher than those of other products, but organic production often requires significant investment. Manual weeding, pruning trees that keep shade for coffee, and implementing integrated pest management adds additional labor.
It is especially difficult to obtain large volumes of organic compost for manure. Furthermore, synthetic fertilizers are not allowed due to the high use of fossil fuels in their production and their negative impact on soil. If the farm has a processing water station, the cherry waste pulp can be used for fertilizer, but the quantities are not sufficient and additional sources are still needed. As a result, organic coffee yields are lower than mass coffee – in some cases up to over 30 percent.
Growing organic products is not just about treating the products with natural fertilizers. It has been suggested that organic coffee should be called “natural” coffee and you may be surprised that the industry views it as unsustainable production. This is because in the long run the soil will be depleted of this natural production which is often referred to as “passive cultivation” or “organic by default”. For sustainable production, it is necessary to actively use various organic farming techniques, including composting of organic materials, mulching the soil under the trees with organic materials, use of biological pesticide control, and investment in the light regulation.
The principle of sustainable agriculture is that the value corresponding to the harvest must be returned to the soil. In order to increase soil fertility, all possible methods must be used. Therefore, passive coffee production, even when no chemicals are used, is regarded as unsustainable rather than organic.
The manufacturer may grow both organic and non-organic coffee, although this is not recommended. There must be a clear distinction between the two and the necessary measures should be taken to prevent pesticide contamination from neighboring sites.
Coffee can be sold with a certificate for organic product after organic farming has been practiced for at least three years and constant checks have been carried out during this time. These years are called a transitional period.
Depending on previous agricultural practices, in some cases, this transitional period may be reduced but only after the certifying authority approves it. Then, they must report its decision to the authority which issues the necessary import authorization. Manufacturers who can demonstrate that they have never used any agrochemicals may try to reduce the transition period.
Certificates are not for free
Do not forget that the certificates for organic coffee are not free and obtaining them increases the cost of producers. In some African countries such as Ethiopia, many coffees are grown under conditions that a certification body defines as organic but farmers cannot afford to buy such a certificate.
When we buy organic coffee:
– we look after our own health
– we take care of the health of the farmers because they are not exposed to the harmful effects of artificial fertilizers; they may recieve a higher price for their labor and invest more money in their farm
– we help preserve ecological balance because we preserve organic farms
Where can we buy specialty organic coffee?
You can buy our bio coffees from our online store, taste it in our showroom on Perlova 4 str. in Prague.