This month marks Organic September, a month for us to explore the processes behind organic coffee farming and the amazing benefits that this coffee can bring to the planet and its people. Over the years, we have actively been roasting more and more organic beans, and this demand has been echoed throughout the industry, with the market expected to reach US $6.55 billion this year.
This growing demand is said to be particularly driven by sustainability concerns of consumers and industry players, as well as a growing interest in consumers wishing to live healthier lifestyles.
But what’s involved in the coffee farming process, and why are we seeing such an increase in demand for these beans? Grab a brew and allow us to fill you in.
What is organic coffee, exactly?
Coffee is thought to be organic when it is grown naturally, without using fertilisers, pesticides, or genetically modified… well, anything. Instead, organic coffee farmers use alternative farming techniques such as growing coffee under shaded areas, using natural fertilisers and pesticides, intercropping and implementing environmentally-friendly waste management systems. These brilliant techniques help to support the earth’s biodiversity rather than prioritising higher crop yields.
However, whilst these swaps may sound simple to the everyday coffee drinker, unfortunately, there are a number of blockers that often prevent coffee farmers from being able to produce organic coffee.
First and foremost, coffee farms must gain organic certification to label produce as organic. And when it comes to applying for and receiving this certification, it can actually be an expensive process - especially for smallholder farms. In addition to this, it can also be a lengthy operation due to strict certification requirements. For example - farmers will only receive organic certification if the soil used for cultivation has received no prohibited substances three years prior to harvest.
Farmers who produce both organic and non-organic coffee also face a separate set of issues. E.g. they must use separate harvesting, milling and processing equipment for organic and non-organic coffee - or thoroughly clean between batches. This means that the farms often incur extra costs to cover extra machinery or cleaning supplies. Importantly, any cross contamination will result in the farm losing its certification.
The Organic Revolution
However, despite these potential pitfalls. Farming organic coffee can bring a whole host of incredible benefits to coffee farmers.
Firstly, organic coffee can be sold at a premium, compared to regular coffee. Typically, coffees sold under Fairtrade terms that are certified organic automatically receive a 30 cent premium per pound. This additional income can help producers to further invest in their coffee production processes and boost their overall income.
In the long term, choosing to produce organic coffee can also help to safeguard crops against the looming effects of climate change and global warming. For example, organic farming promotes excellent soil health and soil plays a key role in the carbon cycle - absorbing carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
Organic Coffee and the Consumer
There are a handful of ways in which choosing organic can have a positive impact on coffee lovers. First off, as organic coffee is grown naturally without chemicals or nasties, enjoying this coffee reduces the risk of potential chemical ingestion. Organic coffee is also super high in antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. So, drink up!
Organic coffee = good vibes guaranteed. When you enjoy a delicious cup of organic brew, you can do so knowing that you're supporting roasters and farmers who are working towards a fairer, more sustainable industry. We're almost certain that nugget of wisdom will make your brew taste all the sweeter...
Speaking of flavour - that has always been our focus after all - the organic coffee we buy is all 100% specialty grade, meaning the intensity, quality and balance of perceived sweetness and mouth watering acidity ticks yet another box in our coffee sourcing policy. More and more coffee which has been organically grown is now of a higher flavour quality and fits with the flavour profiles that we love to roast and to supply. It was also common place that organic certified coffee would be mostly traded on the commodity market, in recent years we have been able to form direct trade links to quality focussed cooperatives and producers thanks to the trusted relationships we have in the coffee supply chain.
A great example of where flavour, sustainable sourcing and environmental awareness can come together in a coffee success story!
Our Organic Coffee
Over the past few years we have began to increase our organic coffee offering, building on the foundations placed by the release of our Dear Green City blend. This has now been joined in our organic line-up by our Red De Mujeres, a washed Colombian coffee produced by a group of female producers made up of 830 women.
It is our commitment to continue sourcing organic coffees moving forward and we look forward to sharing them with you all.