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Coffee Knowleadge

What is Organic Coffee:The Pros & Cons

In recent years, organic is considered a “key word” that people are interested in food and coffee is no exception. So what is organic coffee? Is organic coffee safe and good? Along Epicure learn through the article below!
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What is Organic Coffee

Organic coffee is a 100% high-quality coffee product that is natural coffee bean. Organic coffee is produced by the method of farming towards organic agriculture. Organic agriculture brings coffee trees to the nature in a comprehensive way. Organic coffee requires strict planting techniques.
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Organic coffee trees must be grown:
  • on a clean land
  • no poison
  • cultivation process without pesticides …
Organic coffee is a coffee that is organically grown. This means that coffee trees are grown on clean soil without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. Coffee trees are grown most naturally , people use only manual measures for the treatment, processing and use of compost to fertilize the tree.
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Organic coffee first appeared when some poor farmers could not afford to buy fertilizer. Organic coffee trees were not well developed at the time and the quality of grain was also poor. Later, the concept of organic coffee was developed more widely and also taken better care to improve the quality of organic coffee. Organic coffee beans are richer in natural antioxidants than conventional coffee.  

Quality standards for organic coffee

Organic coffee is the first choice of developed countries, because organic coffee is considered to be tasteful, free of harmful chemicals and safe for health. Quality standards of organic coffee:
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  • Contains no impurities
  • No residual toxic chemicals
  • Do not use chemicals to create colors, smell
  • Do not use foaming agents, creating a bitter, sour taste
  • Does not contain preservatives
  However, there is a disadvantage that, because of not using chemicals, chemical fertilizers, organic coffee does not reach the expected productivity, it is difficult to cultivate, requires careful care, takes a lot of time and effort of Farmers, therefore, the price of organic coffee beans are also in the special category.

Organic farming

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What is organic farming? In the world, many countries have implemented organic farming methods. For a purely agricultural country like Vietnam, organic agriculture is the indispensable development. Organic farming is to create a good environment for plants to grow naturally. There is no interaction of any chemical factors.
  • Land and water are two important factors. Organic coffee must be strictly controlled, ensuring safe and clean. The use of fertilizers and pesticides from natural herbs is always a priority.
  • Maintain favorable natural conditions – natural enemies to eliminate pests that are harmful to plants.
  • The environment for plants to grow and develop must be completely clean, isolated from residential areas, industrial parks and dust and smoke contaminated areas.
Coffee trees are cultivated in an organic environment, the farmers create the maximum natural development environment for coffee trees. In order for the plant to be called organic coffee, one must ensure that there are no chemical factors affecting the tree.
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The process of organic coffee farming must always be strictly controlled with factors, ensuring safety and cleanliness. Soil and water resources are two very important factors in organic coffee farming. Ensure water and soil are clean and free of chemicals to facilitate plant growth. At the same time, the areas of organic coffee farming must be far away from residential areas and industrial areas, free of dust pollution. To protect plants from pests, farmers must maintain favorable natural conditions for natural enemies. In addition, it is possible to use microbiological fertilizers or pesticides from natural herbs to treat pests and diseases to facilitate plant growth.

Clean roasting process

The process of organic coffee roasting is similar to that of ordinary coffee, however, absolutely do not use any other additives, raw materials or flavoring agents. Organic coffee must be roasted, ground, and completely separate processes from other types of coffee.
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  • Clean Roaster
Organic coffee is a product that is simply coffee. Therefore, in the roasting process, the product does not use any additives, other raw materials such as bean flour, corn flour ….
  • Clean preparation
Currently making coffee is an art. Artists need a way to prepare to have a good cup of coffee. However, if you want a cup of coffee quality assurance and organic standards, it is imperative that the preparation process must have appropriate procedures. Good coffee is pure coffee and says no to marinated substances or colorings that create odors, foam …

Safe preservation, no preservatives

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Organic coffee must be preserved in a safe and tight manner, ensuring that there are no changes in quality, smell and taste. People often preserve organic coffee with bags made from environmentally friendly agricultural products or packaging with a check valve. On how to preserve organic coffee to ensure safety, avoid changes in the process of product storage. Accordingly, on the market today, there are many units providing smart packaging products to overcome the limitations of plastic and nylon packaging.
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  • Using package made from:
    • Agriculture
    • Readily biodegradable
    • Environmental friendliness
    • Does not contain chemicals 
Moreover, in order to keep a delicious coffee product without loss of smell or quality change, people also use a type of valve with one-way valve. The main effect of this check valve is the exhaust of co2 gases. Because ground coffee always produces CO2. One-way valve works to push this gas out to avoid mold and odor of coffee products.  

Making clean organic coffee

Organic coffee and clean coffee must be clean during the preliminary stages. The coffee used must always be pure coffee, cultivated according to organic standards.  

Common characteristics of organic coffee

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There are many antioxidants and vitamins

A number of studies have shown that organic coffee often contains higher antioxidant levels and some micro-nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and iron. Antioxidants may actually be as high as 69 percent (according to Coffee plants are not protected by chemical pesticide sprays. Rather, they produce many of their own safeguards, i.e. antioxidants. The higher levels of antioxidants in coffee beans may be explained in part.  

Nitrate levels are usually lower

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Organic coffee plants have also been shown to have lower nitrate levels. In fact, studies have shown that nitrate levels are 30% lower in these crops. High levels of nitrate are associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. They are also associated with a condition called methemoglobinemia, an infant disease that affects the bodys ability to transport oxygen.
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The process of roasting and grinding organic coffee with 100% coffee materials, without any additives or colorants, helps keep the active ingredients and flavor characteristics.

Non-organic coffee

Characteristic of non-organic coffee

Trees grown in a non-organic manner are not much different from organic coffee, except that there is no regulation to look after the fertilization process. That is, they may be sprayed with more chemicals to increase resistance to pests or simply to increase productivity.  Chemical residues left over on post-harvest products are the biggest concern. It takes a certain amount of time for this drug to drop to the lowest level that people can take into their bodies.
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The composition of non-organic coffee products may be affected by the difference in the type of chemical residues from raw material selection, to the processing stage that includes additional additives and preservatives. governing.

Processing process

In coffee processing, additives are often added to increase the color of typical coffee, including roasted corn (corn), sugar butter to increase the aroma, even fish sauce to increase the intensity of coffee.
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This is because the content of non-organic coffee is greatly altered during cultivation leading to uneven quality of the raw materials, or the most inadequate quality. Very different from organic coffee, although it depends on many factors, such as soil quality, weather conditions and when the crop is harvested, but the nature of the ingredients in the beans is kept original. The variations of coffee in the production and processing of finished products make it extremely difficult for users to compare and select. Because it is difficult to distinguish if based solely on the naked eye.

The downside of organic coffee certification

The initiation of the organic coffee movement

In the 1980s and 1990s, except for the worlds most expensive coffees such as Blue Mountain in Jamaica (sold in wooden crates – and then buyers would destroy the box to avoid forgery), or Kopi Luwak of Indonesia is fortunate enough to maintain its status as the worlds top coffee, the trust in specialty coffee has almost collapsed. People are turning away from the typical “premium coffee” as the discovery that Kona coffee only contained about 10% of Hawaiian coffee in 1996, or almost all types of coffee in the Central region. The United States wears Panama coffee.
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And by itself, another popular way for farmers to sell coffee at a higher price is to integrate into the wave of organic coffee. In this movement, Gary Talboy of Coffee Bean International (CBI) took the lead in certifying and promoting organic coffee in the 1980s, working with Tom Harding of the Organic Crop Improvement Association ( Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) to certify coffee from Latin American cooperatives.

From personal contributions

Organic coffee has now grown to 5% of the specialty coffee market, although many coffee experts are still skeptical about its quality. Because at first, most of the organic coffee was rather unfortunate; it came from small, poor farmers whose coffee defaulted to being organic because they could not afford fertilizer or pesticides. They also only care through the speaker with appropriate pruning or processing. However, over the years, organic coffee has improved significantly, largely thanks to the efforts of the people, such as businesswoman Karen Cebreros in Sandiego.
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In 1989, Karen Cebreros was diagnosed with a rare heart condition and was advised by her doctor not to go far from the hospital area. However, determined to live a meaningful life, she flew to South America to visit George – her brother-in-law in a remote village, lacking many living conditions in Peru. With the desire to help, Cebreros persuaded the villagers to pick up a 100-pound bag of raw coffee on the back of the donkey and bring it down to the mountain to prepare, although the shipment was of inferior quality. But this was the start of a partnership with Gary Talboy at OCI and Tom Harding of OCIA, from which Cebreros helped Peruvian farmers improve coffee quality and be certified organic.  

To get the certification of “Organic Coffee.”

The story of Karen Cebreros inspired the ideal color for sustainable coffee. Still, through her narrative, many gloomy pictures of organic coffee were revealed: “Many coffee growers are illiterate or just speaking native languages, they cannot provide the certificates and surveys required by agencies like OCIA. They also do not have a huge filing fee (nearly $ 30,000) to be certified & tested for three consecutive years to make sure it doesnt contain chemicals.”
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Today, for farmers to get a US-certified organic coffee set by the USDA (National Organic Program), they must meet the requirements, including not using most (but not must all) synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, certified crop rotation methods prevent soil erosion … Farmers have to pay for these certifications, from $ 200 – $ 1,500 / years for three consecutive years – This is almost impossible for most coffee farmers to have only about 1 ha of land. Even after it is tough to obtain a certification for an organic coffee farm, the challenge has not stopped. For a roaster to be labeled “organic”, coffee of natural origin must be roasted, cooled, and packaged separately from other “non-organic” coffees. This requires doubling of equipment and personnel in a roasters business model. Therefore, even if farmers do everything they can to create a certified organic coffee, a roaster may not have an Organic label on the coffee bag.  

Organic coffee in production practice

Thereby we can see, since the beginning of the formation, organic coffee has brought a downside equivalent to the value it brings. And the choice of organic coffee farming also means more challenges for farmers, not merely labeling the added cost. The irony is that most genuinely organic coffee (such as most Indonesian and Ethiopian coffee) is not sold under the Organic Coffee label, because they are not certified enough. While coffee sold under the name of “organic” is not really organic. Explaining this paradox, Bill McAlpin, the owner of La Minita Plantation (an advanced, independent coffee model, and seen as a model at Costaria), established the notion that “one does not exist”. Organic coffee, and that the micro-fertilized plants (with soil), periodic insecticide sprays grow exceptionally well compared to other “vegan” coffee plants.
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Chemical medicine and livelihood

First, pesticides do not necessarily pose a threat to consumers, as they are used for berries, which protect the inner nut. After that, the processing and the temperature from the roasting process will remove the residue – if any. However, coffee has never been sprayed to an ominous level, because the top is still cotton and tobacco. So, this issue is only essential for a part of coffee drinkers who “really care” about the environment and health of coffee growers, and guarantee them a reasonable price.
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Even after all the difficulties to get certified, farmers still carry many other risks. Typically, when you pay for an organic certificate and immediately after the outbreak of rust, you risk losing all your assets (jobsworth 3-4 years) if you dont spray chemicals. At this point, you must decide to save your crop or keep your certification. Therefore, in countries where coffee is enjoyed luxuriously, it is easy to pay for organic coffee with health assurance without forgetting that it is the primary source of livelihood for poor farmers. Much harder.  

Organic coffee and environmental impact

“Organic coffee grows naturally – in the shade of lush forests, along with wildlife flora and fauna, thereby helping to maintain soil fertility and balance the natural ecosystems” – Here is a simple statement that confirms the importance of organic coffee in the impact on the environment. But in fact, coffee does not participate in a green revolution like rice, wheat. They are associated with the issue of livelihoods of growers, not the shade of trees. And, as Price Peterson said, a Panama farmer once said: “In a country where the average income is $ 1,500 per year, you have little environmental concern. When youre hungry, shoot birds to eat – not protect them; similarly, you cut down trees to build houses, not cover them with shade. Once again, organic coffee becomes the “prejudice” that customers in rich countries are imposing on where their coffee is grown.
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Finally, even coffee grown in the shade, seemingly very “organic”, pollutes the environment – more precisely, the water source. During wet processing, the mucilage after fermentation is discharged downstream of the river, where their decomposition robs the oxygen of water, creating a strong odor. In Costa Rica – where two-thirds of the polluted rivers originate from coffee waste, the countrys laws have begun to tighten the way coffee processing farms operate.  

Correlation between certification and quality

In the case of many foods (such as fruits and vegetables), organic certification may actually mean high quality, but “quality” itself is relative. When applied using the coffee model, we will have to consider many issues. Simply put, individual certifications such as organic coffee, (bird-friendly coffee, coffee is grown under shade, etc.) cannot represent all standards of coffee quality. 
The quality of coffee, in general, is determined by several factors, including seed sources, climate, farming altitude, care techniques, harvesting & processing, roasting process, duration, and conditions—storage, preparation, extraction, etc. Therefore, we can see that buying a bag of raw coffee meeting organic standards is relatively easy. However, it will be a lot harder to get certified coffee throughout the supply chain. Finally, the above are some relatively subjective views, and the perception of quality depends on the consumer. However, the power of organic coffee seems hard to push the supply chain to overcome obstacles, challenges, and sustainable development as an inevitable trend for many years to come.


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Organic coffee is produced through farming practices that use only natural substances. This means avoiding all artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Processing also uses 100% pure coffee beans without any other ingredients.

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