What is Organic Coffee?
Organic coffee refers to coffee grown and processed without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. To qualify as organic, coffee farms must adhere to strict guidelines and practices that promote sustainability, soil health, and biodiversity. Organic farming practices also focus on protecting the environment and conserving natural resources like water and soil.
Organic coffee has several benefits for both consumers and producers. Organic coffee offers consumers a healthier option, free from potentially harmful chemical residues. It also often has a richer and more complex flavor profile, as organic farming practices can enhance the coffee’s natural characteristics.
For producers, organic farming practices can lead to improved soil fertility and overall farm health, reducing the need for chemical inputs and lowering production costs in the long run. Moreover, organic coffee typically commands a higher price in the market, providing farmers with a better income.
However, transitioning to organic farming can be challenging for coffee producers, as it requires significant time, resources, and knowledge investments. Additionally, obtaining organic certification can be complex and lengthy, involving regular inspections and strict adherence to organic standards.
In conclusion, organic coffee is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to conventionally grown coffee. It offers several benefits to both consumers and producers, including improved health, better taste, and higher income potential. Consumers can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible coffee industry by supporting organic coffee production.
Organics certification overview
To summarize, to set the stage for the rest of this journey, here is a simplified list of Organics’ essential certification standards and crop principles.
- Certified soils must be free of all prohibited substances for at least three years before they can be approved.
- Certified Organics owners deliver at least $5,000 worth of organic products annually; Farms/businesses with gross revenue of less than $5,000 are not required to be certified, but they are also not required to use their official seal in their marketing.
- The land must be managed by natural means such as crop rotation and cover crops.
- GMOs (genetically modified crops) are banned, and organic products are preferred.
- Biological control measures are used to treat and prevent diseases, pests, fungi, and weeds; Approved synthetic substances may be used.
- Regular audits should be accepted and followed.
* According to USDA
Meaning of “Organic” certification
Technically, the word “Organics” refers to anything that was, is, or is related to living matter containing carbon compounds. For example, you are an organic being, and so is your dog – just like the flowers and vegetables in your garden, and the compost you use to fertilize them is made from a combination of leftovers, paper, and tree branches in the garden, all of which are used to live and store carbon.
We are entering a slightly different territory when discussing “organic agriculture.” In comparison, the term was coined in the early 20th century to refer to a traditional farming method that focuses more on techniques and natural inputs to farming, the “style” of the farm. It is inspired by organic farming that has existed for centuries. The term was coined in response to the growth of what we now call “industrial agriculture,” or industrial farming – until the mid-1800s.
Conventional farming arose from the desire to produce large quantities of food (namely all other crops, such as cotton) in less time and at lower costs. It has become more accessible and profitable for farmers, thanks to synthetic fertilizers’ development. This completely changed the agricultural side.
In 1800, a single farm could feed a family of five, and about 90% of the population lived and/or worked on a farm; By 1995, almost 130 people could get their food from a single farm, and only 1.3% of the population engaged in agriculture of any kind.
Certified Organic Coffee
In the 1940s in the United States, opposition against industrial farming and synthetic chemicals created environmental and human health concerns that led farmers to adopt traditional methods. To grow commercial agricultural products. Consumer demand for organic products increased, and in the 1970s and 80s, “Organic” became more common and largely unregulated.
This implies that the term “organic farming” or “organic farming” is not a new concept and that the Organic certification itself is only about 30 years old.
In the United States, it was not until 1990, when Congress passed the Organic Food Production Act, that those standards began to be written down, defining “Organic” in the sense of certified: This standard is established by a federal regulatory program called the National Organic Program (NOP). Official standards were issued in 2002, although they have evolved. (Historically, there are older certifications, but the 1990s – 2000s saw the first international adoption of official standards.) The NOP is responsible for accrediting party auditors. Third* and certification bodies can issue USDA certification to manufacturers and operators.
* Third parties – are party agencies or private companies hired to assess the Organic Certification.
There are a few basic principles for organic certification, and they mainly focus on soil, crops, and livestock: With a list of prohibited chemical and synthetic substances not found in the pages of farms certified organic, certain necessary practices (such as the use of mulch), and considerations for the ethical treatment of pets. However, organic certification has no social component and is not related to areas of farm management such as workers’ rights. We’ll explore certificates with a social element for posts associated with this content.
To be certified Organic Coffee
To be certified, a producer (or association) must have used organic methods and ingredients for at least three years before being eligible for certification. Once they have started organic farming, they can choose a certification body in their area and apply for inspection. An inspector will be sent to the farm to make a report, and the certification body will review the application along with the inspector’s findings. An organic certificate will be awarded if everything is checked, and the farm will be assessed annually to enforce compliance.
Certification costs vary depending on several factors, including the size of the farm or business, the complexity of the analysis and products sold, and the rating agency. In general, organic certification can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars in fees, regardless of the operational costs of switching to organic (if necessary). This cost and the relatively higher production cost of growing certified organic coffee are partly why organic produce typically costs more.
When a farmer is a member of a grower’s association or cooperative, the cooperative itself can hold the organic certification, not an individual member. The assessment process is rigorous, and the requirements are the same, but this allows the farmer to reduce the certification cost. At the same time, accreditation for the entire group is at risk if any member refuses or fails to comply with organic standards.
Is certified organic coffee better?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about organics, and several ways exist.
Is certified organic coffee better for you? Countless reports show the health benefits of coffee; however, whether organic coffee is better for you is still a matter of debate.
Its shell protects the coffee bean relatively well–using chemical drugs is not so important for the coffee bean and the user.
But a more realistic question that often arises is whether organic coffee contains more or less toxic chemicals than non-organic coffee? Unfortunately, studies have shown that poisonous substances are most affected by the drying and processing of coffee during and after processing, but not during processing. Furthermore, most concerns about toxic chemicals in coffee have been misplaced and misplaced: The majority of specialty coffees will have very few toxins in the first place and even less after roasting.
- You can see more: The development of the coffee tree in Vietnam
Is organic certification better for the environment?
The short answer is yes. Coffee production uses a wide range of resources, from the need for nutrients in the soil to the constant attention needed to prevent weeds and pathogens in the water used in many processing methods. And facility for milling and storing it. Adding synthetic chemicals and pesticides to that chain of action only makes coffee production more impactful for the environment, especially the native flora and fauna.
From its history, Organic certification is a premier commitment to the environment – not quality or livelihood.
That said, there will be plenty of places where organic farming is difficult, if not impossible, and in others where environmental, logistical, or financial conditions get in the way—certified organic.
Business and Organic certification? (USDA organic coffee)
The rules say that to trade in organic coffee, you must also be “organic-certified” to correctly and legally use the organic seal on packaging and marketing. If you are roasting a batch of certified organic coffee but not certified organic yourself, you cannot use the seal and could be fined.
However, it is still possible to continue buying, roasting, and selling certified organic coffee. Still, your marketing language must say “organically grown” rather than the official USDA organic seal.
The USDA organic label is supported by a certification system that verifies farmers or processing facilities worldwide comply with USDA Organic Regulations. Five steps are required for certification:
STEP 1: Create an organic system design. The organic system plan serves as the basis for the organic certification process. It is written by the producer or handler seeking certification and explains how the operation will comply with the regulations based on its unique characteristics.
While plans vary depending on the type of operation and needs, they all address all farming or handling practices, such as tilling, grazing, harvesting, storing, and transporting. They also specify approved substances for use during the growing or handling process, organic system monitoring practices, recordkeeping systems, and barriers to prevent commingling with non-organic products or contacting prohibited substances.
STEP 2: Put the organic system plan into action. Request that a certifying agent review it. Organic operations are certified by USDA-accredited private, foreign, or state entities. These organizations are known as empowering agents, and they can be found all over the world. Certifying agents are in charge of ensuring that all organic standards are met.
STEP 3: Obtain inspection. A certifying agent inspects every operation that applies for organic certification on-site. The scope of these comprehensive top-to-bottom inspections varies depending on the farm or facility. For crops, for example, they include field inspection, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management approaches, water systems, storage areas, and equipment. The livestock inspection includes assessments of feed production and purchase records, feed rations, animal living conditions, preventative health management practices (e.g., vaccinations), health records, and the number and state of animals present on the farm. An inspector inspects the receiving, processing, and storage areas for organic ingredients and finished products at a handling or processing facility.
STEP 4: Have the inspection report reviewed by a certifying agent. After observing farm or facility practices and comparing them to the organic system plan, the inspector presents findings to the certifying agent. In addition to the abovementioned inspection points, the inspector assesses the risk of contamination from prohibited materials and may take soil, tissue, or product samples as needed. The inspector also examines potential hazards and critical control points and ensures adequate contamination prevention procedures. All findings are then presented to the certifying agent for review.
STEP 5: Wait for the certifier’s decision. If an operation follows the rules, the certifying agent issues an organic certificate listing products from that operation that can be sold as organic. The organic farm or facility’s plan is updated as its practices change, and an inspection is performed at least once a year to maintain certification.
The USDA Guide for Organic Processors has all the information you need to get started on your journey to certification: You can see it here.
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Cafe Imports, an independent specialty coffee importer and developer headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, published the coffee certification series.
- IMPORTED CAFE: Certificate series, part 1 – Organization Posted 11/11/2020