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Organic vs Regular Coffee Beans – Is Organic Worth the Price?

12 August 2020
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The word “organic” has taken over the world by storm with most grocery stores offering organic versions of your favourite food, and the same goes with organic coffee.

What’s the difference between organic and regular coffee? Does it taste different and is the heftier price tag worth it? We find out.

What makes coffee organic?

soil in a coffee tamper placed on a white table
For coffee to be certified organic, it must be produced under strict conditions and guidelines. Photo from Miryam León.

Coffee is one of the most widely produced and traded commodities in the world, and meeting that demand isn’t an easy task. As coffee consumption increased globally, farming methods evolved to maximise production, even if it was at the expense of human health and the environment.

But over the years, things have changed as the consequences of chemical farming surfaced. Today, organic coffee is more prominent than ever, and obtaining an organic certification isn’t as simple as we think.

The first step is ensuring that the coffee farm abstains from using any form of chemical pesticides, herbicides, inorganic fertilisers or additives. Then, the coffee processing plant that handles the coffee before it is packaged must have its own organic system. This includes the exporter, importer, and coffee roaster.

Essentially, each player of the supply chain has to be certified organic. 

Is there a difference in taste?

For most coffee drinkers, taste is the most important factor in deciding whether a cup of coffee is good. Here’s a surprising fact: an organic certification has little to no correlation with the taste quality of coffee.

Coffee taste is more largely determined by other factors such as its growing conditions, bean variety, type of roast, and how it is stored. The best guarantee to a high-quality cup of coffee is purchasing from small-batch roasters that are meticulous about the entire coffee journey.

From grinding to storage, take note of these best practices to get the best out of your beans.

Nonetheless, the perceived taste of coffee is subjective from person to person. Who knows? You might prefer organic coffee more than conventional ones.

Have you ever wondered what does coffee really taste like? Use this coffee wheel to find out.

Is organic coffee healthier?

an Asian farmer watering his crops in a plantation
Chemical farming practices pose a significant health risk to coffee farmers. Photo from Steve Douglas.

Yes, it is – and not just for the consumer, but also for coffee farmers and our environment. As we all know, the use of chemicals and artificial pesticides poses a risk to health. Each coffee processing plant has its own processing method and not all coffee beans are “washed”. This means that chemical residues in the soil, air, and water are present in non-organic coffee beans.

Coffee plantations that practice chemical farming are putting the health of their farmers at risk – from the soil that they touch, to the air that they breathe and water that they drink. According to the Pesticide Action Network of North America, these farmers are exposed to a higher risk of chronic diseases that are linked to pesticides.

On the other hand, organic coffee is produced by farmers who focus on the use of renewable resources. They also conserve soil and water to enhance the quality of our environment for future generations.

If you want to avoid drinking chemical-infused coffee, you might want to consider switching over to organic coffee.

Is organic coffee worth the price?

It is no doubt that the cost of organic coffee is by far one of the largest obstacles to breaking into the general consumer market. But by purchasing organic coffee, you play a role in supporting the costs of sustainable farming and production methods while enjoying a healthier brew. 

If the taste of organic coffee isn’t your cup of tea (or coffee), you can also play a part by supporting big-hearted coffee producers that value our ecosystem and want to help out smaller farms. This includes purchasing from small-batch roasters like Dockyard Coffee and Aitch Coffee Roasters.

After all, the world is ours and we need to protect it and our farmers.