Coffee is the world’s most popular drink, and it is thought that around two billion cups are consumed around the planet each day. We’re not just consuming it at home; cafe culture continues to boom, with global chains and local coffee houses thriving worldwide.
So, if we are consuming copious amounts of this product (most coffee drinkers consume several cups a day), we need to know that we are choosing a variety that is best for our own health and the state of the planet, and of course, one that tastes amazing.
This is where organic coffee comes in.
Organic coffee refers to a specific way of producing coffee beans that avoids the use of anything unnatural such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Generally, the growing methods for organic products are smaller in scale, more time-consuming and more costly for the farmer. These downsides are usually outweighed by more ethically and environmental friendly and often superior products. And while organic doesn’t necessarily mean fair trade, these two principles often go hand in hand.
Coffeehouses specializing in organic coffee can now be found as well as a few organic brands available in supermarkets, but it still represents a small proportion of the coffee sold each day. Here are five reasons to switch from your current brand to organic every time:
1. It’s Chemical-free
Coffee is needed in such vast quantities that it’s of little surprise that most coffee is produced by mass farming methods that have evolved to maximize production and profit. Generally these methods involve the heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The effects of these chemicals entering the food chain and on human health are almost unanimously agreed to be detrimental to some degree.
Organic coffee is produced in smaller quantities using gentler farming methods; for example, using compost and manure as fertilizers rather than chemicals. While organic certification varies from country to country, it generally means that synthetic chemicals must not have been used on these particular producing plants and that the land the plant has grown on must have been also free from them for a number of years. While farmers need to charge more for their coffee beans produced in this way to maintain profit, most people would agree that it is certainly worth paying a little more for.
2. It’s Better for the Farmers’ Health
Not only is organic coffee better for your health, but it’s also better for the health of the farmers producing it. The spraying of large quantities of chemicals for mass produced coffee puts their health at risk as well since they are exposed to far greater levels than you or I during spraying and harvesting. When you consider that coffee production is concentrated in relatively few regions of the world, generally within 1,000 miles of the equator, it’s not just farmers that suffer from the risks of these chemicals, but their wider communities, too, where high levels of these chemicals can be found in the air and water supplies.
By buying a greater amount of organic coffee, consumers can encourage farmers to switch back to more traditional methods so that their locality benefits, too.
3. It’s Better for the Planet
Many people are unaware that coffee is naturally a shade-loving plant that thrives in forest areas. However, this makes it unsuitable for mass production. Instead, hybrid varieties suitable for large sun-soaked areas have been developed to maximize the amount of plants per square mile.
Inevitably, this means that huge areas of forest are regularly cleared to aid mass production of coffee, ripping away the natural flora and fauna. Ironically, this means that the natural pests of coffee plants are able to increase, whereas the natural predators of these pests such as birds are unable to thrive. This in turn leads to even greater synthetic pesticide use and destruction of vital local ecosystems.
However, organic coffee is grown, and thrives, in dense forest. Farmers are able to work alongside the natural ecosystem, taking advantage of pest predators over pesticides, and using naturally occurring fertilizer such as leaf decay and bird droppings.
4. It Has Significant Health Benefits
The antioxidant powers of coffee are well documented. Antioxidants benefit the human body by counteracting damaging free radicals and are believed to help protect the body against aging and some diseases. High levels of antioxidants can be found in all coffee.
Organic product, however, has been shown to contain even more of these antioxidant compounds than its regular counterparts, as well as lower levels of toxic chemicals often found in pesticides. This makes a compelling argument for switching to organic coffee.
5. It Tastes Better
Finally, and of course, this is all down to personal preference, and we all have our favorite brews. Our tastes in coffee can vary enormously, but regular drinkers of organic coffee are adamant it tastes better. Perhaps this is down to the gentler, more nurturing growing methods for organic coffee. Some people report a less metallic taste. There’s certainly no taste loss either way.
Kunal Lahori is the Founder & CEO of Pret To Go, a brand of organic and healthy cafes located across the UAE in 8 business clusters in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. His philosophy is very simple: providing wholesome, fresh, handcrafted and delicious food for busy professionals without the luxury of time.