Is That Organic Coffee in Your Cup?

Simply put, organic coffee is one that has been grown and produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Many coffee lovers swear it tastes better but it’s production can also be good for the farmer and environment.

In the US, organic coffee crops are overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). To be sold in this country as organic, imported coffee must gain certification as such. Among other standards, this includes meeting the following requirements:

  • The coffee is grown on land that was not exposed to synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for the three prior years.
  • A sufficient buffer of land exists between the organic coffee and the closest conventional crop.
  • A sustainable crop rotation plan is in place to prevent erosion, the depletion of soil nutrients, and to naturally control for pests.

After it is harvested, it is the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) that focuses on the production of coffee. OFPA regulates the use of chemicals and how coffee beans are handled throughout the production process.

Though non-organic coffee is typically higher yielding because it is not usually shade grown, attaining this certification is beneficial to both the producer and the consumer. Organic agriculture can strengthen the natural environment’s stability and resistance to disease.

shade-grown organic coffee

Shade-grown organic coffee in Guatemala.

Coffee of this standard is generally shade-grown, a quality that promotes forest preservation. That helps minimize soil erosion and encourage a healthy ecosystem. Bird populations develop mutually beneficial relationships with coffee fields, keeping insect populations under control and naturally fertilizing the soil. Other benefits of this process include an increased emphasis on recycling, composting, soil health, and protection of the environment.  These are important aspects to sustainability that are both cost effective and socially responsible. Because of this, coffee that is certified organic and those deemed fair trade often go hand in hand.

Due to increased demand for certified organic coffee in North America, production is generally on the rise in Latin America, where a large percentage of the world’s coffee of this type is grown. Mexico for example, produces over 100,000 bags of organic coffee annually and Guatemala is not far behind.

At Dilworth, we are proud to offer several fine organic coffees from locations around the world. Each represents the best characteristics of its specific growing region. To find out more about organic Dilworth coffee, call 800-835-5943 or visit your local Dilworth store.