Finding organic coffee may not be as easy going to your local organic grocery store or shopping in the organic aisle. Unfortunately, “natural” does not necessarily mean “organic”, and wording on product packaging comes with no guarantees. So, it may take a little extra research and vigilance to ensure that you are buying quality organic coffee.
For example, did you know that there are organic coffees out there that do not have the certified organic label? To have this certification, the USDA requires farmers to follow very rigorous guidelines that some are not able to meet. Additionally, fertilizers and pesticides may cost too much for some farmers, resulting in them growing their crops organically by necessity.
With that being said, the certified organic label is one way to ensure that you are buying organic coffee. However, there are other ways to determine if a coffee is sustainable or ethically grown even if it does not have the certified organic label. In addition, looking for coffee with the other certifications listed below can be a way to hold your coffee to even higher standards than just being certified organic.
Here is a checklist we compiled that provides you with information on what to look for:
- USDA Certified Organic Label: Look for the USDA Organic seal, which indicates that the coffee is produced under standards established by the USDA’s National Organic Program. All Wildcrafter blends meet these standards and our packaging includes this label.
- Other Certifications: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance or Smithsonian Bird Friendly are other certifications that indicate your coffee meets sustainability standards.
- Growth Location: Research where the beans are from. According to the center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education in Costa Rica (CATIE), roughly 75% of organic beans in the world are grown in Latin America. The remaining 25% comes from Asian and African countries. If the beans are from outside of these locations, there is a high probability that they are not organic, unless they have the USDA Certified Organic label above.
- Environment: High altitude regions with densely populated forests reduce the need for pesticide and increase biodiversity. Look for wording on the packaging such as high altitude or high mountain grown.
The benefits of purchasing organic coffee go beyond personal health. Not only does organic coffee help push the market towards a positive change that helps sustain ecosystem health, it benefits the hard-working farmers by limiting their exposure to unnatural chemicals.