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Organic Beans

I recently had the pleasure of tasting Coffee Unplugged coffees for the first time. All of them were superb, but admittedly there was something unique about the smooth velvety taste of the Organic Honduras. The logical conclusion was that it must be due to the organic nature of the beans, but as much as I love drinking good coffee, I could not say for sure. I had never really concerned myself too much with these labels. That was until Coffee Unplugged entered my life and I thought that perhaps it was time to do some investigation of my own.

What I discovered was that organic beans are in essence the same as regular beans (e.g. Arabica or Robusta) and the term organic refers to the farming process. No chemical pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilisers were used in cultivating these beans, nor have they mixed with regular beans. Organic coffees are grown in many countries around the world in natural and sustainable ways.

CoffeeBeans

As far as I understand, the purest form of certified organic coffee in the world can be found in the Kafa Biosphere in Ethiopia. Here the coffee grows wild, just as Mother Nature intended it and is entirely harvested by hand. In fact, most of the coffees from Ethiopia are organic by nature of their production. Small-scale farmers that produce most of this country’s coffees often cannot pay the exorbitant prices of chemical pesticides. Add to that the steep annual fee for certification and it becomes nearly impossible to qualify for the organic status. Consequently, although many of them farm organically, they are not certified. I learned that this is the case for many small-holder coffee farmers across the world, who make up a staggering eighty percent of the world’s coffee producers.

Organic coffee production has many benefits to the environment, as one can imagine. The absence of chemicals in the whole process not only yields a ‘cleaner’ crop, but the water sources and wildlife are not polluted. The farmers can breathe uncontaminated air and work in an untainted environment. For obvious reasons there are also personal health benefits when consuming products that have been organically produced. However, even though this is the way that most small holders farm, it is not enough for them to be considered organically certified.

Those who want to obtain their organic certification, have to go one step further. As I mentioned earlier, organic beans and beans that are regular cannot mix. If a farm produces both organic and non-organic beans, it would be like running two different farms entirely. Strict procedures must be followed to firstly ensure there is no cross-contamination of the fertilisers, pesticides, and the like. In the same way, during the harvest and post-harvest stage, measures must be in place to keep the beans apart. After the beans leave the farm, this chain of organic separation must continue all the way through to the roastery.

Organic Beans

In my opinion, this separation of beans is what makes all the difference. There is a general agreement between coffee drinkers that organic coffee tastes better. It tastes smoother and ‘cleaner’, they say. Almost everyone will tell you that this is due to the lack of chemicals and synthetic pesticides in its production. I do not argue this, but I think there is more to it than that. I have developed a deep appreciation for a certified organic coffee, because in addition to the absence of chemicals, it has come a long way. It has been carefully handled, nurtured, and kept separate from other beans all the way from farm to roastery. Coffee Unplugged has a separate, ultra-modern roaster that they use only for roasting organic coffee beans, which makes them one the few roasters in the country that are accredited according the ECOCERT ORGANIC STANDARD.With so much care and dedication that went into it, I am convinced that is what I tasted in that first sip of my Organic Honduras.

When something is made with such care, it just tastes differently, doesn’t it?