Organic is the new big thing, the label that almost guarantees to sell any product over its “non-organic competition,” with a promise of superior quality and health benefits. We cannot deny the advantages of organic produce as certainly nobody wishes to consume various pesticides and toxins if they have a choice.
So, how does this concern coffee drinkers? Is there a significant difference between organic beans and those sprayed with chemicals? These questions and much more is what we are going to be answering in this article. Besides that, we’ve also reviewed the best organic coffee brands currently available for purchase.
Sounds interesting? If yes, please read on.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Quick Look: 5 Best Organic Coffee Brands On The Market Today
- 2 What Constitutes Organic Coffee?
- 3 Growing Organic Beans
- 4 Organic Processing
- 5 Organic Roasting
- 6 Organic Decaffeinating
- 7 The Benefits Of Organic Coffee
- 8 Top 5 Organic Coffee Brands Reviews - Our Editors’ Choices for 2018
- 9 The Final Word
Quick Look: 5 Best Organic Coffee Brands On The Market Today
We’ve covered a lot of organic coffee below. So for your convenience, we’ve selected our Top 5 recommendations for 2018 and organized them into this handy table:
Medium Dark Roast
Death Wish Coffee
Don Pablo Coffee
Medium Dark Roast
Cafe Altura Coffee
Kicking Horse Coffee
What Constitutes Organic Coffee?
The term ‘organic coffee’ refers to beans which are grown in soil that is not contaminated in any way, without using pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The standards differ from country to country - some are rigid and strict while others have more loose policies.
For example, the FDA requires that for a product to be labeled organic, at least 95% of its contents have to come from organic sources.
Growing Organic Beans
According to some countries regulations, for a piece of ground to be suitable for organic farming it has to be chemical free for a certain period of time. This usually takes 3 to 5 years, which is estimated to be enough for the chemicals to leave the soil.
However, there are standards which do not take into account the contamination of the soil but only require that the crops are treated in a certain way.
Growing organic produce does involve the use of pesticides and fertilizers, but they have to be natural. To clarify, compost, animal manure, and coffee pulps are the most common forms of organic fertilizers, while certain insects and birds control the pest numbers.
Speaking of the latter, for organic farms to attract enough “good” insects and birds that eat pests they need to grow their beans in the shade. This means planting more trees around the coffee plantation which in turn benefits the environment.
Coffee beans can be processed in two methods - wet and dry.
The process known as wet milling uses water to extract and separate the seeds from the cherries. This method uses a lot of water, so some have deemed it as not environmentally friendly. Despite this, wet milling is still in extensive use as it produces coffee that has a fruity and bright character. It is a pricy and gruesome process, but it gives the highest quality beans.
Dry milling, is an entirely different method. The beans are spread out on a large piece of cloth or nylon and left to dry in the sun. They are frequently turned by hand or various tools to make sure that all sides dry evenly. After that, the beans are hulled and ready for roasting. The entire process takes around 4-weeks on average.
Farmers from Asia, South America, and Africa usually use this method, and it produces coffee of natural and earthy flavors.
After a company has acquired organic beans, it needs to make sure that the roasting process keeps the coffee organic. How is that done? The only condition is that the roasters haven’t been used for roasting anything else but organic beans.
The reason for this is that roasting non-organic beans might leave chemical residue on the surface of the machine which would then be mixed in with the organic ones and thus contaminate them.
Besides, the roasting process should also exclude any kinds of flavor enhancers or additives. The resulting flavor of the coffee must come from the beans only.
For a decaf coffee to be considered organic, it has to adhere to one of the following decaffeination processes - the swiss water process or carbon dioxide process. These methods also produce the most flavorful coffee and retain its high-quality
Other decaffeination processes use way too many chemicals that pollute the beans, and it can no longer be considered organic afterward
The Benefits Of Organic Coffee
Good For The Environment
As we’ve mentioned earlier, organic coffee beans are grown in the shade which requires the planting of trees which creates new habitat for the local wildlife. The areas of the world where most coffee comes from are already subject to severe deforestation, so it’s good to know that coffee farms do something to counter this.
The growing process doesn’t involve chemicals, so the land doesn’t get polluted. Instead, the employment of natural fertilizers helps to keep healthy microbe levels in the soil.
Healthier For Humans
As regular coffees are unsparingly treated with fungicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, these toxins eventually find their way into your favorite morning brew. You won’t have to worry about this when drinking coffee from organic beans.
Many coffee connoisseurs would make the argument that organic coffee tastes better than non-organic. However, it is hard to say whether this is due to a placebo effect or whether it has something to do with reality.
It is important to not that organic beans do contain more antioxidants than chemical-ridden ones, so it’s not impossible that an experienced drinker’s sophisticated palate is able to pick up some unique flavors and finesse.
Better For The Farmers
Probably the best thing about organic coffee has to do with the business side of it. The vast majority of beans that you purchase are bought from fair trade farms which guarantee that their workers are paid sufficient wages and that they do not have any unethical practices such as slave or child labor.
So when you buy organic beans, you can rest assured that you are supporting a good business instead of giving money to corporations who sometimes neglect human rights and the environment to get the highest profits.
Top 5 Organic Coffee Brands Reviews - Our Editors’ Choices for 2018
After discussing what you need to look for in an organic coffee, here are my reviews of the top 5 organic coffee brands for the money. I’ll address everything we learned in the previous paragraphs and consider the personal taste as well - which you should too.
Let’s dive in!
The Jo Espresso
Jo Espresso is a brand that’s redefining the word quality as they only pick the beans from the finest 2% Arabica plantations in the world. The company, Jo Coffee Inc. originated in the early 2000’s and its founder is Kevin Kaptaun.
The company is a member of some international organizations such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America, Slow Food USA, Roaster’s Guild and Rainforest Alliance, which guarantee that it is organic and fair-trade. If this isn’t enough for you, the coffee is USDA certified as well.
Now let’s talk about the best part - the taste. Jo Esppresso beans can be described as dark, earthy and fragrant. It is a medium dark roast that doesn’t contain any bitterness or toastiness which are often associated with this kind of coffee. For best results, we suggest that you follow the grinding instructions provided by the company and that you use a quality espresso maker.
Those who aren’t fans of plain espresso can brew Americanos, or mix the coffee with milk for delicious lattes and cappuccions.
Death Wish Ground Coffee
If you are a true coffee enthusiast, we’re sure that you’ve encountered the name Deathwish several times by now. The company is growing ever more famous for its quality as well as more notorious for the high-caffeine content of the beans. So now, let’s inspect this product more closely.
Deathwish beans come to us from farms in India and Peru. They are USDA certified as organic and fair trade. If it concerns you, they are even kosher. The shelf life of a standard pack of coffee is somewhere around 6 months, and this is the case with Deathwish as well.
Flavor-wise, this coffee has notes of dark chocolate, roasted almonds, and some would say, even cherry. It is pretty smooth especially when brewed with a drip method. This particular package contains a mixture of Robusta and Arabica which brings us the best of both worlds - loads of caffeine and heaps of flavor.
So, just how much caffeine hides in one cup of Deathwish coffee? The answer is around 60 mg. To compare, an average cup of ‘regular’ beans has about 15-20 mg, so you do the math. Those who are looking for a sharp kick in the morning and like a bold-tasting cup of brew without bitterness should definitely try this one.
Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth
The Cafe Don Pablo company is an arm of the Burke Brands LLC, which was founded in the late 1980’s by Darron J. Burke. This is a high-quality, CCOF certified, organic and non-GMO coffee that aims to provide its drinker with the highest of pleasures a cup of coffee can produce.
The beans are grown in the Marcala region of Honduras in high altitudes. It is said that the earth and the air from this area give them their unique, dense flavor, but the growing process plays a significant role as well.
For fertilizing, the farmers use coffee cherries and organic food which is broken down by worms so that its nutrients can be absorbed by the soil. As there are no pesticides employed in this process, pepper plants are used to repel undesired insects.
The taste of these beans contains hints of honey and caramel, as they counter its full body and balance out the flavor nicely. The coffee is 100% Arabica, so the caffeine content is not too high, and the acidity is quite low. The recommended brewing methods for Subtle Earth include drip, espresso, French press, and hand drip.
You can buy these beans in two or five-pound bags, and, of course, as single-serve cups.
Cafe Altura Ground Coffee
Hailing from Ventura, CA, Cafe Altura company started operating in the 1980’s. They sell ground and whole bean coffee, as well as instant coffee and even a decaf brewed from mountain water. Altura offers a variety of roasts such as dark, medium, light, French, and many more, and today, we’re writing about their regular roast.
The beans come from Villa Rica-Pasco which is located in Peru. The company likes to label their coffee as biodynamic which leaves many curious of what do they mean by that? The term refers to the farmers’ practice of taking the biodiversity of their farms into account and making sure that everything they do is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Altura’s coffee plantations are situated at an altitude of around 1.500 m. They are grown in clay soil which is packed with minerals. After picking, the beans are washed, sun-dried, hulled and sent off to California where they are masterfully roasted before getting sealed in packages.
The flavor of the regular roast is smooth and creamy, with notes of toffee and caramel. It is best brewed with a drip method, and it can be drunk steaming hot or left to cool off for a refreshing cool cup of ice coffee.
Kicking Horse Coffee
Kicking Horse is a Canadian-based company and roaster has been providing the world with fantastic coffee from their headquarters in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. They offer many different roasts, but the one that we picked for this roundup is called Kick Ass. Let’s talk about it a bit more.
The beans used for Kick Ass come from South America and Indonesia and are 100% Arabica which means that they have low acid content. They are grown, picked, wet-processed, and shipped halfway across the world to Canada where they get roasted.
The aroma of the coffee can be described as smoky, sweet, and a bit chocolatey. As far as the tasting notes go, Kick Ass has a malty and licorice flavor, with a long earthy finish. It is a dark roast and tastes the best if brewed with the French press, drip machine, or pour over methods. It works great for cold brews as well.
Even though it is a dark roast, Kick Ass is a bit lighter than what you’d normally expect, so keep this in mind before buying. When it comes to the packages, you can purchase whole beans in 2.2lb and 10 oz packs, or ground coffee in 10 oz packs.
The Final Word
We’ve reached the end of today’s article, and we would like to leave you with a few last words to think about. But, first, let us declare the winner!
Our top pick for today is Jo Espresso, due to its amazing combination of taste, quality and price. However, we realize that some people prefer different kinds of roasts and beans so please, do not take our decision as the ultimate truth.
Coffee is a commodity which is in very high demand in the global market, and it’s estimated that this industry is worth around $20 billion. This is more than gold, by the way.As consumers, we all have a responsibility to make sure that the products we buy are sustainable because this doesn’t concern only us, but the entire world.
To conclude, do not hesitate to spend a few extra dollars (if you can) on organic brands as the quality and the positive impact that you’ll make will be truly overwhelming.