Certified organic coffee beans are grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers, just like other organic produce you may see in your local market.
Growing the beans this way gives you healthier coffee, provides a better working environment for the farmers and workers and preserves the environment.
The beverage that you enjoy so much comes from the coffee plant seeds.
The quality of the coffee depends on the quality of the coffee beans and their processing.
And if you are looking for the perfect coffee, you must find the best coffee beans that produce that beverage.
From the Plant to the Beverage
Growing Coffee Beans
Organic green coffee beans are what you should be looking for. The beans are present within the fruit (cherry) of the coffee plant.
The plant grows yearly from sea level to approximately 6000 feet in the subtropical and tropical zones. The higher levels tend to have a much better-suited climate and produce such famous fruit like the Green Hawaiian, Colombian Supremo, or Caribou coffee beans.
Wet or dry harvesting is carried out to separate the raw coffee bean from the cherry. They are called "green coffee beans" because of their color at this stage.
Roasting Coffee Beans
Roasting dries out the coffee beans by exposing them to high temperatures. This process releases aromatic oils and darkens the beans until the familiar brown color is reached.
By controlling the process, it is possible to produce different types of coffee beans.
Grinding Coffee Beans
Your coffee maker will grind the roasted beans, and thus the bean that perhaps started from India finally lands up in your cup.
Types of Coffee Beans
There are numerous varieties of coffee grown all over the world. The best coffee beans of the different coffee plant species naturally have other characteristics.
But even the same species of coffee grown in different areas may taste different due to local influences like soil conditions, climate, wind parameters, etc.
Around 70 countries located within a 1000-mile radius of the equator are growing coffee beans. These include Arabia, India, parts of Africa, a part of Hawaii, South and Central America, and the Islands of Java and Sumatra.
It would be difficult to say which regions produce the best because each regional coffee has its own variations and taste is essentially a matter of individual preference.
A variety of coffee grown in Jamaica called the Jamaican Blue Mountain is, however, primarily considered by experts as the epitome of coffee excellence. These tend to be the most expensive coffee beans.
Two Major Varieties
The coffee trade is a huge worldwide business, and the economies of several producing nations depend solely on that.
Two of the most commercially important types of coffee beans are the Arabica and the Robusta.
Additionally, when the coffee plants are shade-grown, it offers habitats for many migrating birds, which keeps pests away from the plants.
A lot of benefits fit into one little word: Organic.
As with most industries, some people think they can grow coffee in bigger, better, and more productive methods. So they are clearcutting the rainforests, planting more sun-tolerant coffee plants, and using chemical fertilizers to feed the plants and chemical pesticides to keep insects from attacking them.
Chemical fertilizers pump vast amounts of chemical nutrients into the plants at once. The chemicals infuse the ground, poisoning soil, water, and everything else they come into contact with. The soil erodes because the large trees are not there to hold it in place. Yet they produce a massive amount of coffee this way.
Why is this so bad? Let's take a closer look.
Certified Organic Shade Grown Coffee
Natural coffee plants prefer shade. Planted within the canopy of the rainforests, they grow best. The rainforest not only provides shade, but the large trees also hold the soil in place, preventing erosion of the rich earth that coffee grows best in.
Regional plants and animals keep insect pests away in return for having a sheltered place to live. In addition, co-existing plants nurture the soil with nutrients annually, improving fertility rather than just taking out nutrients and not replacing them.
These organic shade grown coffee plants grow their beans more slowly, gradually letting the nutrients get to the beans. This results in a more flavorful, smooth tasting coffee bean.
Economically, the chemically farmed beans are produced in such numbers that the cost of raw coffee is kept very low. So low that small farmers attempting to grow certified organic coffee are having a tough time making a decent living. Yet they are spending the time and effort to produce better tasting beans than the large conglomerates.
It doesn't seem fair, does it?
To be a certified organic coffee farm, you also need to change working conditions. For example, in organic shade grown coffee fields, workers get to work in natural shade from the sun, don't have to handle any dangerous chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides, and harvest beans over a long period as they naturally hit their peak.
The types of beans are limited to more sun-tolerant varieties in the large sun-drenched coffee fields that are not certified organic. Farmers must toil out in the direct tropical sun, and harvest is done by every worker having to meet a very high quota for the day, or they don't make their full daily wage.
They are exposed to dangerous chemicals when applying them to the fields and again every time they enter the areas to work with the coffee plants.