Organic Coffee Beans: What is Organic Coffee and Our Favorite Organic Brands
Whether or not you are a coffee drinker, you have definitely heard terms like certified organic or fair trade get thrown around on a daily basis on different items you purchase. After a while, it can certainly get a bit confusing as a customer to understand the bottom line on what exactly these terms mean, let alone all of the different types of coffee beans.
For all you coffee lovers today, we at Black Ink are going to unpack these terms a little bit, mostly pertaining to organic coffee. From everything to what it is, to which are the best organic coffee brands, best organic coffee beans, and exactly how organic farming helps brands move towards more fair trade coffee and environmentally safe practices.Best Organic Coffee →
Today we will show you why the organic label on your morning cold brew coffee cup doesn't just mean it will taste better, but also how it will have an impact on the entire industry, and the rest of the planet. So grab your breakfast blend, your medium dark roast, or whatever you're drinking today, and let us spill the coffee beans on everything that is organic.
What is Organic Coffee
Perhaps you may already be drinking organic bean coffee, and have no idea why, or what the organic label actually says about your cup of coffee. Before we even go into all the ways an organic coffee brand differs in its flavor profile, and the easily noticeable differences on your taste buds, there is a lot to be said about how the coffee is grown.
The Farming Process
As whole bean coffee has become just about the most desirable product available on the market this has led to organizations and one coffee company after another looking to produce more beans with minimal concern for the environment or human health.
Before we even get into what organic coffee is, its important to understand why it became necessary in the first place. So, lets have a look at the problems associated with conventional coffee growing methods.
How is Conventional Coffee Grown?
For the sake of mass production, the conventional coffee bean is produced with many harmful chemical additives that you'd never want in your cup if you knew what they were.
Indeed, a conventional cup of coffee is considered one of the most heavily processed products available, and one of the worst in terms of its carbon footprint. The way your average coffee company has come to process their coffee beans, you'd almost need to have a death wish to drink it.
Although it doesn't always show up in the flavor profile, the average cup is a combination of fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and insecticides. If that doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste, this gets even worse when you consider the impact of these chemicals on the country where the farm is located.
These toxic chemicals can easily find their way into the surrounding ecosystem, effecting the land and water, and all the inhabitants of the region as a result.
How about Organic?
When you buy organic coffee brands, its not just about all the reviews proclaiming top quality taste, or fitting in at the local fancy coffee shop, but another thing altogether. Yes, you may earn some respect amongst all the other coffee aficionados out there, but knowing the way organic coffee is grown as apposed to conventional brands makes it worth the change before you even sip your first organic roast.
For a certified organic cup of coffee to be produced, not even a bit of chemicals or synthetic fertilizers can be involved in the process. Free of any additives, this not only helps give organic beans their full bodied flavor, but keeps the whole organic industry good for human health and environmental health.
Organic coffee farms have been shown to emit less carbon than conventional producers by the way of using better procedures to tend to their crops. On top of that, the final result of the coffee itself has been shown to be richer in antioxidants, and not to mention, the flavor of each blend.
Even though coffee is supposed to be grown in the shade, most conventional coffee producers grow their beans in the sun. This allows them to grow more crops overall, maximizing production and their bottom line, at the cost of the quality for each coffee plant.
While this also effects the coffee plants, it goes even further to damage the ecosystem. In order to raise mass amounts of coffee plants in the sun, this requires that each conventional coffee brand demolishes massive amounts of trees, and flora and fauna in the process.
As a result, when there is rainfall, the lack of tree coverage causes an unnatural and increased level of water runoff into the soil. This causes the soil to lose many nutrients, and then leading towards erosion and degradation to the point that future growth in the area can be deemed impossible. On top of this, there are then less surrounding wild life which help to naturally fertilize the soil, creating a vicious circle where more synthetic fertilizer becomes needed.
And if that doesn't hurt your taste buds enough, the water runoff then finds its way into the local water supply, chemicals, fertilizers and all and all.
A Light in the Darkness
So, organic coffee farmers embrace this issue by ensuring that crops are all grown in the shade. Despite the added difficulty in growing coffee this way, and the lower quality of yields during the harvest, this is the cost farmers are willing to pay in order to produce the best organic coffee possible.
On top of the impact this has on the flavor in an organic roast, growing the crops in the shade may earn even more points for its benefits to the environment. When you get a USDA organic label on your package of beans, you know you are receiving more than just the benefit of good coffee.
Despite all the destruction that has been wreaked upon rainforests and other regions across the world for conventional coffee production, the emergence of organic farming practices is helping to restore ecosystems all across different growing regions in the world.
This means that by choosing amongst any USDA organic coffee bean brands, you are not only entitled to a good coffee, but you're contributing to the need for more sustainable farming practices, and helping the planet as a result. Who knew that you could make such a difference just by which brand of arabica beans, or which medium roast coffee you choose?
Best Organic Coffee Brands
When it comes to purchasing organic coffee, we've consulted every different buying guide to give you the lowdown on the best ones available. The bottom line is, there are many organic coffee brands out there, and each have their own social qualities. Here are a few that are really worth the hype in terms of both their deliciousness, and their promotion of ethical business practices.
1. Black Ink Coffee
You probably could have guessed that we would place ourselves at the number one spot on the list. While we aren't an exclusively organic coffee company, we do offer Single Origins and Blends that are made up of 100% organic Arabic coffee beans.
Unfortunately, some growing regions and farms don't have the money to pay for organic certifications, yet the coffee was grown without chemicals, which makes it organic in our eyes. For this reason, we still buy coffee based on taste and carefully vet our importers. While it is not certified, the majority (if not all) of our coffee is organic.Try Our Coffee →
2. Death Wish Coffee
If you're a lover of a good medium dark roast, death wish coffee company has their Valhalla Java pre ground coffee that is rated one of the best around. Death Wish is known for their ties to Viking roots, and this reflects in the strength you taste in a cup of their medium dark roast. If you're a coffee drinker who enjoys a nutty taste to your coffee, these certified organic beans are one of the best organic brands you'll find to cater to your tastebuds.
This brand is known for having very unique blends, all from different origins, Using mixtures of both arabica and robusta beans, death wish is sure to meet your specific coffee need, no matter what it is. That is, unless, you're looking for decaf. Death Wish is largely known for its super high caffeine content. So, you can be sure of one thing, a death wish blend is bound to get you feeling pretty alive.
And despite the name Death Wish Coffee, the company prides themselves on being a fair trade company as well, quite the opposite from what their name would imply. So, when you purchase death wish coffee beans, you can rest assured that your purchase is helping to better the lives of the people producing the coffee making that full bodied dark roast coffee taste all the better.
3. Lifeboost Coffee
For those in search for a more medium roast the next time you buy coffee, have try of Lifeboost Organic Coffee. Based on the reviews, this one is known for a subtle earth flavor note, and a nice balanced body.
This coffee comes all the way from Nicaragua, on a single farm, so you can be sure that these organic coffee beans are single origin, all coming from the same place, and not blended with any other varieties. A big part of why this is one of the best organic coffee brands is because of the specific elevation at which they are grown. These coffee beans are grown at a mile above sea level, which produces a unique climate where they are shade grown until maturity.
Lifeboost is known for its low acid content, giving it a rich chocolatey flavor, a smooth caramel texture, and no bitter aftertaste. While the coffee is expensive, a large part of their proceeds have been known to go in donation to wildlife conservation efforts. So, you're paying top dollar, but receiving top quality, and a supporting a good cause to boot.
Organic Coffee Beans
One thing important to understand about the process of getting coffee beans to be certified as organic is that the standards can change from place to place. So, the United States may have their regulations for what is considered organic, but in Japan, these stipulations can vary.
In terms of the United States, first and foremost, for a product to have a USDA certified organic label, it must be grown without any synthetic substances, such as fertilizers and pesticides. On top of this, GMO's are strictly off limits for a product to be certified organic in the United States. This also means that even for companies from outside of the United States, in order to sell to customers in this country, they must meet the same criteria.
One popular misconception here is that organic crops are free of any pesticides or fertilizers. The fact remains that these are still an important part of the growing process, but you can be sure that the ones used for organic farming will not do the harm to your cup of coffee that conventional coffee farming practices will. Instead, the natural fertilizers used in organic farming can actually add nutritional benefit from things like compost, or coffee pulp.
While it is difficult for organic coffee producers to deal with pest control without using any pesticide, because they are grown predominately in the shade, this helps to reduce the amounts of pests by virtue of all the surrounding wildlife, such as birds, which eat the crop destroying insects.
If you're really looking for a brand that is conscientious of environmental initiatives, one of the best organic coffee brands by far to watch out for is Tiny Footprint. This company ensures that every bag of organic coffee beans sold goes towards preventing deforestation in the Mindo Cloud forest region in Ecuador. This is part of the company's overall goal to guarantee that their carbon emissions in producing the coffee is always outweighed by their positive contributions towards the ecosystem.
And besides embodying the great underlying principles of what makes certified organic coffee so great for the world, this company does not fail to deliver when it comes to the taste of their beans. The floral, cocoa notes in their aptly titled 'cold pressure elixir' is one of the best if you're looking for a cold brew cup of coffee. This brand's full bodied dark roast is sure to lighten up your day.
Where to get it?
Aside from all the great organic coffee brands mentioned here, if you're looking to just get a quick cup to try for yourself, there are bound to be some organic coffee shops around you. The thing is though, you also need to watch out, and make sure that stores serving what they call organic coffee, truly meets the criteria, and they aren't just trying to charge you more money.
Today, roasters tend to have an intimate knowledge of their beans and where they come from, especially with regards to organic roasters. Sometimes it can be a good idea to ask your local coffee shop about their beans, and the process involved.
Some questions that can be helpful to ask about, in order to learn more about the organic quality of the beans include: What types of chemicals are used (if any), what types of chemicals are used on the land, how they manage pests, whether or not the crop has come into contact with any non organic, or GMO products.
These questions are incredibly helpful because some shops can miss this step. In order for coffee to be considered organic, its not simply the farming process but also the roasting process. It is imperative that the coffee is dried with spring water, and not being cross contaminated with any non organic coffee, or exposed to any other chemicals in any of the phases afterwards.
Also, you can ask them on their take towards other surrounding issues regarding fair trade and rain forest alliance. These questions specifically show the true integrity of the roaster, and the producer, and if they truly embody the principles behind organic farming practices.
Organic Decaf Beans
If you want to enjoy organic coffee without the high caffeine content, you are right where you need to be. We know that decaf coffee can often leave a feeling of being a little off, but as the reviews have shown, these are the best organic coffee beans for you if you want decaf, but to still enjoy a regular, high quality cup of coffee.
One of best brands around for you decaf drinkers is going to be Jo coffee, with their No fun Jo decaf coffee beans. these medium dark roast beans offer a smooth, delectable hazelnutty finish. They are made through Swiss water process, and meet all the essential organic criteria to a T, so you can feel good about drinking it.
Another essential mention on this list includes the Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee beans made by Volcanica. This is a family run company, devoted towards quality, and ethical business practices. On top of this, despite being one of the most premier gourmet brands around, this organic coffee brand is also committed to delivering their beans at low prices.
The company has different growing regions around the world, each characterized by high altitudes and volcanic growing soil. The rich soil is one of the secrets to producing exceptionally high quality beans. While this brand has many decaf coffees available, and all of them are bound to satisfy your cravings, this one is special for its low acid content, exquisitely heavy body, syrupy texture and subtle earth aftertaste.
The beans are made through a Swiss water process, and are only roasted after you order them. This ensures they are fresh the moment they arrive at your place. On top of all this the brand upholds all the important features of being rainforest alliance certified, shade grown, and being fair trade.
Organic Green Beans
Here at Black Ink Coffee, our love of coffee is pure, and that's why we like to keep our coffee pure as can be. For every green organic coffee bean that is produced you can be sure that this is going towards a greener planet overall. While we love a good cup of coffee here at black ink, we also pride ourselves on the strong ethical considerations that go into our perspectives on the coffee industry.
While the coffee industry continues to produce better and better beans, it is important that producers, as well as consumers make sure that each bean is going towards a greener future. In the end, even if that means spending a little more green, you will probably feel its worth it overall, and seriously, it may leave the coffee tasting that much better.
As a coffee company that believes in the greater good of our customers and our planet, we understand that we can't take all of the coffee credit within the industry. We love to share other brands in the space that are doing amazing things and we encourage you to test out their coffee as well. Naturally, we believe our coffee is superior, but only testing will provide you with the results!Best Organic Coffee →