Place ‘organic’ in front of coffee and it sparks a lot of questions. Is speciality coffee organic? Is decaf coffee organic? And is organic coffee worth buying?
We know that coffee is a way of life. That’s why you need a coffee that keeps to your values. Organic coffee is great if you want beans grown with the planet in mind. It’s also great if you like a top-tasting cup (who doesn’t?). Let’s dig a bit deeper…
What makes coffee organic?
Most important question first, right? Organic coffee is quite simple to define: it is coffee grown without the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators or genetic modifiers. The farmers harvest in a way that respects the planet and all the biodiversity within it. Organic farmers use synthetic-free processes like crop rotation and natural pest control methods alongside organic fertilisers such as coffee pulp. The organic badge doesn’t come easily. The farmer must have been growing organically for at least three years and are inspected each year after that.
Keeping the rivers fresh with chemical-free coffee
Why do people choose organic coffee? Or organic-anything, for that matter? The environment is perhaps the standout factor. Regular coffee farming methods can cause chemical residue to build up in surrounding areas. Non-organic pesticides and fertilisers (like phosphate and ammonium nitrate) can wash into the river and soil when it starts to rain. And coffee plants like rainy climates. So you can see where this is heading. The chemically dregs pollute the habitats of local fish and animals and play havoc with the soil.
Organic coffee, meanwhile, helps to keep the soil super healthy. Crop rotation rather than synthetic fertilisers maintain the ground’s nutrient levels, so fresh soil is always ready to give young coffee plants the best start. Awww…
Made in the shade: keeping coffee safe from the sun
Coffee plants are no sun worshippers. They like to grow in shady conditions, ideally under a canopy of taller trees. Good thing, then, that this is just how organic coffee is grown! The coffee plants are shade-grown to protect the soil below. No chemical treatments are used, which means the earth would quickly become scorched if left exposed to the sun. Huge tropical trees offer the ideal (chemical-free) solution by providing a shady cover for the coffee plants and soil.
This, happily, is also the way to go for grade A coffee. Shady conditions slow down the growing speed of the coffee plants, which gives the flavours in the beans more time to mature. Sun cultivation may give us a faster crop and cheaper coffee, but most certainly compromises on flavour. Why else don’t we like sun cultivation? Just think about where all those big trees might have gone… Yep, that’s right, speeding up crop growth results in severe deforestation. And then it’s all a vicious cycle because less trees means less habitat, which means fewer bug-munching birds, which then gives you more pests. And what do you need to get rid of pests? Chemical pesticides.
So let’s just stick with the trees.
Should I buy organic coffee?
It’s 100% up to you. You will not consume any harmful chemicals by drinking regular coffee; any chemical traces lingering on the green beans will be blasted away by the high temperatures of the roaster. Taste-wise, we doubt you’ll be able to tell the difference. Organic coffees do tend to taste pretty delicious, but this is more down to the shade-growing method than the absence of chemicals.
Keeping things people and planet-kind is, therefore, the main reason why coffee fans might opt organic. Organic coffee often (but not always) comes with the whole package. As well as chemical-free growing, you’re likely to find a coffee that’s sustainable, ethical and climate-friendly. No chemicals and a bit less climate change. We like the sound of that.
Is decaf coffee organic?
It depends. There are four ways to decaffeinate coffee, and two of them are chemical-free.
If your decaf coffee label says direct-solvent or indirect-solvent process, then it’s not organic. Both methods use chemical solvents (either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) to remove the caffeine from the unroasted coffee beans. We avoid sourcing coffees decaffeinated by either of these methods, mainly because they zap some of the lovely natural flavour from the beans. So if you want a decaf with all its coffee glory intact, steer clear of the direct- and indirect-solvent processes.
…And go for the Sparkling Water Process and Swiss Water Process instead! Both of these decaffeination methods are fully organic and sustainable, as their waste products can be purified and reused. Every decaffeinated coffee at Two Chimps is decaffeinated by one of these methods. Unlike the first two, the Sparkling Water and Swiss Water methods protect all the flavour in the beans to give you coffee that tastes as coffee should!
Quick heads up, though. Even though the Sparkling Water and Swiss Water methods are entirely organic, the coffee beans used might not be. Pesticides or other man-made substances may have featured in the growing process, so it’s worth checking this out if you want coffee that’s wholly organic.
Organic coffee at Two Chimps Coffee
Here at the roastery, we’ve got plenty of organically certified coffees to choose from. All are speciality graded and formally recognised by organic associations. Let’s take a look!
Don’t Poke the Bear is our morning saviour. The fruit bowl freshness of red apple and melon combine with brown sugar sweetness in a bright, medium/dark roast coffee. Or do you prefer sparkly unicorns to grumpy bears? Then try brewing Unicorn Resource Locator. Grown in Dansia, Ethiopia, by a small cooperative of 37 farmers, this light roast coffee comes with lovely hints of vanilla and berries.
Decaf lovers, we’ve got two organic coffees you’re gonna love! The Waving Goldfish is warming yet bright (it tastes like a good school crumble), while How many llamas did you say were in the Phonebox? is a lighter, slightly sweeter roast with the tinkling acidity of summer peaches. Don’t worry – we won’t tell anyone your mouth is watering.
Fancy learning some more about our scrummy range of organic coffee? Just give us a shout or tootle over to our online coffee shop. Lots of coffee goodness awaits!
Take me there!