A Review of The Best Organic Coffee Beans
Coffee has been one of the world’s most delicious exported goods for hundreds of years and it has a dark and difficult history. With many coffee companies being Fairtrade these days, it’s also important to a lot of us that our coffee is organic too. Coffee is something to be cherished and enjoyed and do we really want to be drinking pesticides four times a day? Err, no.
What isn’t organic about coffee?
Coffee is a natural plant that usually grows in the wild anyway. Under it’s original circumstances, coffee grew in the shade, under the canopies of a wide variety of other trees. Coffee plants evolved this way and because plants in the wild are part of a co-evolving eco-system, the coffee plants weren’t affected by disease or pests because there were natural processes in place to help them; other plants, animals and birds.
In large scale commercial horticulture though, farmers take coffee out of it’s natural, sustainable habitat and stick it in huge pastures, out in the sunshine with none of its natural protection. Because it’s more expensive to grow coffee in the shade (often created artificially with a specific canopy plant), farmers turned to pesticides, manmade fertilisers and, basically, toxic chemicals.
How is organic coffee grown?
Organic coffee is usually grown in a way that looks a lot more like it’s natural habitat. Shade grown coffee is particularly good and is often organic. The manure that organic coffee farmers use has to be 100% organic itself to be used as a fertiliser for organic coffee plants and animal manures are a common option, where the animals are also brought up organically. Inorganic fertilisers cannot be used.
In order to be certified organic, coffee plants must be grown at a certain distance from any inorganically grown coffee plants, thus ensuring that soil toxicity isn’t spread. When organic coffee is shade grown, under a canopy of mixed or single species trees, this encourages a natural bird population which, in turn, manages the pests that might negatively affect coffee. Who needs a pesticide when you have a hungry population of birds?
Why should I drink coffee that uses organic coffee beans?
Organic coffee beans are crucial for long-term sustainability and have hugely beneficial effects on the local plant and animal populations. When no toxic fertilisers or pesticides are used, the soil retains its natural healthy and nutrition and there’s no dangerous run-off.
Shade grown organic coffee encourages forest preservation and new tree planting and these trees in turn help to stop soil erosion while providing habitats for wildlife and birds. The wildlife and birds help control pests and disease that could affect coffee plants and the coffee plants themselves are a working part of this eco-system.
Buying organic means that you are helping huge swathes or land and forest in vulnerable tropical areas become healthy and stay healthy. Organic producers are very often those who respect the farmers themselves as well, paying a fair living wage.
I’m sold, organic coffee sounds awesome, where do I buy organic coffee beans from?
There are tons of companies doing coffee well these days and by ‘well’, I mean right. They’re selling organic coffee, sustainable coffee and Fairtrade coffee. There are lots of companies now so let’s take a look at five.
#1 Puro Coffee
This charming and big-hearted company is the place to go for people who want to drink awesome coffee knowing that they’re actually doing some good while they’re sipping.
Puro, in short, cares. They’ve dedicated themselves to selling coffees that are not only organic and Fairtrade, but they’ve even put money back into the rainforest by buying tracts of forest. A family company started in Belgium way back when, Puro has gone through changes over the years and only became ‘Puro’ by name in 2005. So concerned are they with the care of the planet that they even installed solar panels over the roof of their coffee bean roastery.
Puro sell amazing coffee that’s come from Fairtrade, organic farms all over the world. Do they stop there? Hell no! They’ve started many community projects in poor, tropical coffee-growing countries and work to help the people in these areas. Just humans? Hell no! Puro helped buy acres of Bornean forest to prevent orang-utans from being riven out of their natural habitat by palm oil plantations. These guys just don’t stop.
I could go on for ages about how Puro Coffee kick ass but I’ll let you read their website yourself: www.purocoffee.com/about/
#2 Equal Exchange
This awesome coffee company with a heart kind of does what it says on the tin; it creates equality and encourages Fairtrade practices, supporting minorities and especially female farmers in Africa. Women have often done the majority of work on coffee plantations without getting fair pay or treatment and Equal Exchange have specifically strived to change that. By supporting women working in Fairtrade, Equal Exchange organic coffees help hundreds of African women get the wages they deserve and enable them to send their children to school and live healthy, happy lives.
Let’s face it guys, the best organic coffee beans are those that give back, because when you’re going to spend money on something, why should it just benefit you and the middleman? Let’s help give back to the oft-forgotten originators.
Get involved helping the world pay fair prices to local farmers in tropical regions and enjoy a deliiiiiicious brew at the same time. Try this organic whole bean coffee – grown by women!: Equal Exchange Espresso Roast Organic Whole Bean Coffee 1 kg
#3 Kingdom Coffee
This British coffee company comes with the tagline ‘Coffee with a Conscience’ and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. We’re not millionaires, but we can certainly afford to make more conscientious choices about what we put in our bodies and where it comes from.
Much like the above companies, Kingdom Coffee give back to the communities in the countries they source their Fairtrade and organic coffees from. Helping to fund classrooms, community development programs and clubs for children, this company uses your money to breakdown poverty.
Freshly roasted, Kingdom Coffees are a mix and combination or Fairtrade, certified Organic, certified by the Rainforest Alliance as well as certified Ethical. Can you get better than that? Why buy coffee beans that offer less to the world than this?
#4 Beanberry Coffee Company
The Beanberry Coffee Company is unusual in that it specialises in organic coffee rather than just carrying a small range.
‘Currently, more than 95% of all the coffee that we roast is organic. All of our blends are 100% organic.’ – The Beanberry Coffee Company
Based in the south of England, The Beanberry Coffee Company roast their own beans and send them out fast, meaning that you get high quality beans that haven’t been schlepping around a warehouse for god knows how long. With organic coffee beans from all over the world, you can try coffee from Peru, Brazil and Ethiopia.
Check out their coffee range here: www.beanberrycoffee.com
#5 Coffee Plant
Right in the centre of London’s Portobello Market, Coffee Plant has been around for a few decades now and business is booming. Roasting their own coffee beans in nearby Wembley, the shop sells snacks, smoothies and other delicious yums – but let’s face it, we’re all after the coffee.
With a vast range of organic and Fairtrade coffee, you don’t even have to visit the shop to buy (although if you’re in the area…) and they’ll send out coffee to anywhere you want to drink it.
If you read into the shops history and ethos, you’ll find a hell of a lot more there than just coffee and London priced snacks. Overall, this is a coffee company with opinions and y’know what? I like some intellect with my purchases. Take a look at them here: www.coffee.uk.com
Organic Coffee Beans And More…
If you are still looking for coffee beans, check out our very own guide here to the major types