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If you’re reading this, you probably love a good cup of coffee morning, noon or night. Most of us do. And, if you’ve been starting to explore the subtle differences in beans and roasts from around the world, you aren’t alone. Coffee snobbery is trendy right now with craft roasters opening up across the country. From fruity and acidic to mellow and chocolatey, a cup of coffee can be as complicated as a glass of wine, and we haven’t even mentioned brewing methods, yet.
As consumers of coffee, we are becoming more and more knowledgeable about where our coffee beans come from. The Fair Trade movement was really one of the first consumer movements to ensure the welfare of coffee workers around the world. Now, coffee drinkers are beginning to concern themselves with the growing methods. This has resulted in an increased demand for the best organic coffee.
This makes sense when you realize that coffee is one of the most heavily chemically treated crops in the world. In fact, over 200 pesticides are used to produce a conventionally grown crop of coffee. And, while those pesticides are washed away during the production process when the coffee goes from raw to roasted, the conventional growing process is harmful to the farmers and to the environment.
What Is Organic Coffee?
To be certified by the USDA as organic, at least 95% of the coffee beans must be grown using non-synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Most of the time, this means that farmers use manure, coffee pulp or general compost. And, the coffee is usually shade-grown to help maintain its health without the use of chemicals. This actually helps farmers maintain as much of the local biodiversity as possible because the large, tropical trees surrounding the plants provide shade and a home to the rainforest’s critters.
In addition to using natural fertilizers and pesticides, organic coffee takes time. Before receiving a certification, coffee producers must first farm organically for three whole years. This time allows all chemicals to work their way out of the soil and shows regulators that a proper crop rotation strategy is in place to prevent erosion.
Finally, the resulting coffee beans must be processed and then packaged without harmful chemicals.
Is Organic Coffee More Expensive?
The short answer is, yes, organic coffee is more expensive. The regulations on the growing methods mean an organic coffee crop is difficult to produce, requiring much more time and energy for a smaller crop.
For that reason, organic coffees are usually about 30% more expensive than their conventionally grown counterparts. This increase is necessary to cover the additional costs of organic farming and to encourage conventional farmers to adopt organic practices.
Does Organic Coffee Taste Better?
Most of the time, organic coffee does not taste any different from conventional coffee. All the chemicals used in conventional growing practices are washed away during processing and do not impact the final flavor of the coffee bean.
The biggest impact of choosing organic over conventional beans is the environmental impact and the human factor. As noted above, organic farming practices are better at maintaining a level of biodiversity around the crops. Furthermore, these specialized farming practices prevent soil erosion and contamination, meaning they are more sustainable for long-term crop production.
And, although all those synthetic fertilizers and pesticides don’t impact the cup of coffee you drink, they do have a negative effect on the farmers and pickers of the crop. Many pickers will come into direct contact with these chemicals throughout the growing season. The chemicals can also make their way into the groundwater, impacting the health of communities surrounding conventional coffee farms.
1. Lifeboost Coffee Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee
If you want the best organic coffee that’s readily available online, look no further than Lifeboost Coffee. These beans are shade-grown in the high mountains of Nicaragua without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, allowing the coffee to be USDA-certified organic. It’s also tested by a third party for mycotoxins, heavy metals and pesticides, ensuring a clean cup of coffee. And, due to the growing process, Lifeboost produces a low acidic coffee, which is great for people who suffer from digestive or oral issues.
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2. 365 by WFM Coffee Decaf Morning Blend Organic
Even if you want to enjoy decaf coffee, you can sip on an organic product thanks to Whole Foods Market. Their decaf morning blend is produced by small growers around the world who prioritize sustainable growing practices. Furthermore, the beans have been decaffeinated 99.9% using the cold water pressed method to produce a buzz-free cup of coffee with the same boldness as a regular cup of medium roast.
3. Peace Coffee Birchwood Breakfast Blend
For a guilt-free cup of coffee, look no further than Peace Coffee Birchwood Breakfast Blend. These beans, which hail from Sumatra and Peru, are both organic and free trade, giving you the best of both worlds. The blend itself has notes of smoky chocolate and a surprising sweetness. And, as an added benefit, the mild acidity is less than many other coffees. This particular blend is great for a morning pick-me-up, but Peace Coffee also produces six other blends for various occasions.
4. Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee
BEST SINGLE ORIGIN
Many organic coffees tend to be single-origin due to the scarcity of beans worldwide. But, many of the top retailers of organic coffee do blend beans from different countries. However, Volcanica, which specializes in coffee from volcanic regions around the world, chooses only to sell beans from a single farm in any given bag. That’s why their Ethiopian Yirgacheffee Coffee takes our award for ‘best single origin’ coffee. It’s organically grown in Ethiopia and boasts a brilliant acidity as well as floral and fruit tones.
5. AmazonFresh Organic Fair Trade Peru Ground Coffee
Peru is the world’s leading producer of organic coffee beans, so it makes sense that Amazon’s most popular organic coffee has origins in the South American country. The medium roast coffee has notes of chocolate and brown sugar. In addition to being USDA-certified organic, these beans are also fair trade certified. And, if for any reason you dislike this coffee, Amazon will refund your purchase within one year, no questions asked.
6. Real Good Coffee Co Whole Bean Coffee
MOST RESPONSIBLE PACKAGING
In addition to being certified organic, Real Good Coffee Co. Whole Bean Coffee is also responsibly sourced and packaged after being roasted in Seattle. The dark roast is full-bodied and offers notes of bell pepper, lemon and cedar. Furthermore, the single-origin coffee is grown in Central and South America and sold as whole beans, so you can grind it to suit whichever brewing machine you use most.
7. Organic Coffee Co. OneCUP French Roast
Even if you use a Keurig or other single-cup brewer, you can still enjoy an organic cup of coffee thanks to the Organic Coffee Co. Their OneCUP French Roast is USDA certified organic and packaged in completely commercially compostable K-cups. The French Roast beans have origins in Central and South America, and the resulting brew boasts notes of milk chocolate, toasted almond and clove.
8. Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Coffee
Subtle Earth Organic Coffee is an Amazon sensation. With a 4.8 out of five-star rating after more than a thousand reviews, people are starting to take notice. The organic beans come in a five-pound bag, which means you’ll have plenty to enjoy. However, it’s the balance between the density of the high-altitude bean and the light roast that really help this coffee create a delectable brew. We should note that this coffee is certified organic by the CCOF rather than the USDA.
9. Mount Hagen Organic Freeze Dried Instant Coffee
For instant coffee drinkers, there may seem to be few options for an organic cup of Joe. However, Mount Hagen Organic Free Dried Instant Coffee has figured out a way to put organic beans into the instant form without the use of harsh chemicals. The single-origin coffee beans are sourced from Papua New Guinea, and the resulting brew boasts a velvety mildness that will still satisfy your caffeine cravings.
10. Lavazza ¡Tierra! Organic Amazonia Ground Coffee Medium Roast
The Lavazza Tierra Organic Amazonia Ground Coffee is about as down-the-middle as you can get. The medium roast has a balanced yet aromatic flavor with tropical notes and floral undertones. and a five-out-of-ten intensity. So, this might be the best choice for you if you intend to serve cups of coffee to guests. The beans are 100% USDA Organic and are hand-picked in Peru.