Organic certification is a big talking point in coffee. It's something we're asked about time and time again.
In this post we aim to answer some of the questions we get asked most frequently about organic coffee. Is our coffee organic? What is organic coffee anyway? What are the organic farming methods used?
Our hope is to help you better understand the lives and businesses of the farms we're proud to work with, and to introduce you to some delicious tasting coffees along the way.
This graphic is from the Soil Association’s campaign for Organic September 2020. This year, The Soil Association is outlining what Organic means and the reasons why we should consider switching to organic produce.
On their website they say organic produce should:
Let’s take a closer look at some of these points in relation to coffee:
Coffee thrives when grown in shade, so planting in forests & promoting biodiversity is a big win for coffee farmers looking to grow top quality coffee.
Many of the farms we work with are treated as nature reserves. Home to rare species of plant and endangered animals.
Coffee farmers feel the impact of climate change acutely.
They see it in inconsistent rainfalls, in new diseases which thrive in a warmer climate and threaten to decimate entire harvests.
They tell us that this is their number one concern.
You can see this in the infrastructure and design of the farms. Solar panels, recycling of water, collection of rainwater – all commonplace in the farms we work with.
Our responsibility is to ensure the lowest possible impact when it comes to transport (we transport by ship and never air) and also in the running of the roastery. Restoring second-hand roasters instead of buying new, recycling coffee waste into bio-fuels and green energy tariffs. We avoid needess are just some of the small steps we take.
Arabica Coffee is a picky plant! It likes high altitudes and very particular growing conditions.
Most of the farms we work with are up volcanoes and mountains. In such rural and challenging growing conditions, organic methods are not just environmentally better, but more efficient too.
Leaf litter left on the ground to protect new plants, farms making their own compost from coffee waste, developing disease resistant varietals instead of pesticides. All common practice in the farms we buy from?
We spend years developing long term, sustainable realtionships with farmers we are proud to call our friends. Farms
Organic certification and whether a coffee is classed as organic can be complex in the world of coffee.
The costs and paperwork involved are significant.
Once certified, farmers can sell their coffee for a higher rate, which should cover the direct and indirect costs of becoming certified.
(that seems a simple enough trade-off)
However, the coffee we buy is speciality grade coffee. Speciality coffee is top grade, scoring 84 points or higher when graded
The price of speciality coffee is based on the quality it scores at grading. We pay more for better quality.
This price may be above and beyond an organic premium.
In short, even though the coffee is farmed using organic methods, because it is sold for a premium related to quality, the organic certificate does not necessarily increase the earnings for the farm. (in some cases the costs are prohibitive).
Extract Organic Espresso; Honduras & Peru
Soil association approved and fully certified. Our organic espresso comes from an organic farm in the San Marcos region of Honduras.
Coffee is handpicked by skilled workers who are provided housing and medical care. After processing, the pulp from the coffee cherries is recycled as compost and reused on the farm.
Those big chocolate flavours! Natural sugars in the coffee caramelize during roasting giving this punchy espresso it’s delicious sweetness. Magic with milk where it softens with notes of caramel and hazelnut.
Remarkable coffee and a remarkable story. Grown by small scale farmers in an organic & fairtrade co-operative high in the mountains of northern Peru – one of the most rural growing conditions in the world.
Through the co-op, farmers have the machinery, drying facilities and training needed to improve the quality (and yield) of their crop, transforming their livelihoods.
Blended with the ever faithful and fruity Colombian Marianella, This remarkable coffee becomes our classic, Rocket Espresso. Big-bodied, smooth sweetness and a bold mouthfeel.
Roasted to a style that enhances the intense sweetness of this coffee, with notes of brown sugar, stewed stone-fruit & a nutty finish.
We found this year’s Dr Strangelove on Finca San Carlos. A farm in El Salvador using organic farming methods to provide incredible growing conditions and care for the environment – the farm is treated as a nature reserve.
Coffee trees are shade grown and leaf litter is left to accumulate, preserving moisture and helping the soil absorb more nutrients.
Adventurous yet accessible. Vibrant fruit flavours and bold sweetness make this coffee in easy leap into the world of exciting single origin coffees.
A delicious decaf grown by a collective of smallholders between the Eastern Andes and the Marañón river.
Since 2014 the group has offered education and organic certification to member farms. By working together they are finding new ways to overcome some of the challenges presented by climate change in this region.
Strong nutty flavours. Sweet flavour notes of molasses and dates. Complex, delicious and can be enjoyed by anyone, at any time of day.
When Finca Santa Teresa said they needed someone to help cup fifty geisha coffees, founder David was on the next plane. Surrounded by rainforest, the farm is adjacent to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a number of endangered animals.
It is active in protecting its surrounding environment, recycles coffee waste as fertiliser and is in the midst of a full conversion to solar power.
The Lot 39 Espresso is wonderfully complex with a flavour profile of victoria plum, black olive and cocoa nib.
The No 4 Espresso is sweeter and more floral. Strong citrus and floral notes dominate the aroma. The roasting process adds further sweetness with notes of milk chocolate and buttery caramel. Delicious.
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